An attempt to re-write the first way without using the word “motion” or “infinite”

(like the first way, the proof is given in summary form, and the fullest defense of every premise is not always given)

The first and more manifest way is the argument from things that go from one thing to another. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things do this: they go from one place to another; from one temperature to another; from this size to that; from this color to another one. This action is is nothing else but having an ability to get to something followed by to actually getting it. But nothing can go to something unless what causes the thing to go to something actually possesses the endpoint. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, causes combustion in wood; and what is pushed into a room is pushed by someone who is aware of the room. Now it is not possible that the same thing to really go towards something, and yet really possess what is at it, except in different respects. There is therefore a real difference between what moves towards something and what is at it; and if that which is possesses also goes to the term, then what possesses is moved by something really different, and so on ad infinitum. But there is some limit to this process, because going to something is a way of coming after another, which requires that something come before. So what has but must also go to comes after what only has, but does not go to. Therefore there is some way of existing that already has what can be attained by labor or effort or change, but which has it in such a way that it can never go to some other state; and therefore what it possesses can never be lost, diminished,  increased, or cease to be. But this sort of existence is manifestly supernatural and divine.


  1. Mike said,

    September 30, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    if that which is possesses also goes to the term, then what possesses is moved by something really different

    You lost me.

  2. October 1, 2009 at 7:38 am

    There are a couple of answers here:

    (mine, in keeping with the attempt of the post)

    1.) There is a real difference between going to and being at (or possessing).
    2.) The the second is causing the first.
    3.) If the second is itself “going to” in some way, then you add another “being at”, giving you a third term (all natural things are like this, what causes motion itself is moving)
    4.) repeat repeat repeat.

    St. Thomas’s way:

    1.) A mobile requires some really different “other” to explain why it is in motion
    2.) All natural causes of motion are all themselves in motion
    3.) Others and others and others

    Aristotle’s way

    1.) Natural things, as such, require extended parts to be in motion (i.e. it is impossible for partless things to be in motion)
    2.) Things composed of extended parts are A.) other than their parts and B.) require some other that composes their parts
    3.) Natural motion, as such, requires some other to explain their motions.

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