The fundamental principle in the fourth way is that whatever is most such in any order is the cause of all things in that order. St. Thomas picked fire as an example, but in other places he also gave the example of a seed being caused by a tree, or an animal being the cause of the semen with which it generates- i.e. that which is most fully this particular tree is a cause of that which is a particular tree in an imperfect or potential manner. That there is another sense in which this seed is the cause of this tree is also evident, but to say this is beside the point and changes nothing. The general principle one is supposed to get from the example of the seeds is that what potentially has some completion (and all potential is potential for some completion) has to receive the completion from something else. To deny this principle of the fourth way is the same as saying that something is able to receive what it already has; i.e. that something is able to become what it already is; i.e. that something already is what it is not.
The fundamental principle in the fourth way
February 21, 2007 at 7:27 pm (Uncategorized)