First Way in least terms

Put in simplest form, the First Way is four claims:

1.) All potentials are moved (or actualized) by a mover

2.) All things in motion are potential.

Thus, all things in motion are moved by a mover.

3.) Not all movers have movers.

4.) All movers without movers are divine.

1.) “The mover” is a portmanteau term for things that trigger motion, assemble something that moves, push a thing along, give objects a position with potential energy, create some nature that moves in some way by nature, etc. Potentials as such are reservoirs that various movers can draw upon, not agencies that initiate or continue activities. The claim is more or less just a recognition of what “potential” means, whether used in common speech or physics.

2.) All things in motion are able to be so. They are a lot of other things too, but they are at least this.

3.) This claim is based on a conceptual incoherence. STA tends to express this as a denial of an infinite regress, but shifts in our notion of infinity have made the old formulation more a liability than a source of insight. Even if one had infinite movers responsible for an action, not all movers could be such.

It’s this incoherence that demands transcendence of the sensible order. It demands that no matter how much activity or motion is explained by causal interaction, there is at least one cause that does not act in this way.

To give movers to all movers is to fall into the contradiction of positing something as an explanation which in incapable of explaining anything. If we explain the stability of the earth by resting it on a turtle we venture an explanation that cannot explain, and “the infinite regress of turtles” that arises from this is only way of pointing to the inherent contradiction of positing things that cannot explain as explanations.

4.) “Divine” means an immaterial and therefore non-interactive source of natural motions. On this account, even a human intellectual soul would count as in some sense divine, and STA has no problem with this. But if nature is in any way a unified system then there is a single divinity for its activity, and our sense that the incompatibility of Relativity and QM means that both are incomplete arises from just this sense of nature as a unified system.


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