The primacy of the immanent to the transitive

Naturalism believes that immanent acts like knowledge or consciousness bottom out causally in the sort of transitive acts describes and measured by physics. In fact, all things have their foundation in these transitive actions or the substances that act in these ways. So the order of transitive action is prior to immanent action not just in some way or another but fundamentally and absolutely.

At Met. 9.1048b 20 Aristotle argues this is impossible, since transitive action has a good and telos only in virtue of something extrinsic to the motion or action (e.g. the good of the arrow is hitting the target, the good of racing is the prize) while immanent action has good intrinsically and as such (the goal of knowing is to know, of living is to live.) This is why, as Aristotle will explain at b30, energia divides into kinesis (motion) and energia (immanence) not because it energia is its own species but because immanence is energia simpliciter. The Naturalist primacy of kinesis – of “physics” to “consciousness” in such a matter as to deny supernatural consciousness – conflates the simpliciter and secundum quid. Approached from another angle, making the transitive the foundation for the immanent is to make potential or imperfection the ontological foundation for act even while potential is only intelligible from presupposed act.

All physics from Aristotle till now rests finite actions on infinite ones. In our own time, this axiom is fleshed out in the reduction of motions to conserved quantities. Aristotle simply takes the axiom to its conclusion by noticing that even infinite kinesis is still finite qua motion so far as motion is unintelligible except from the term of motion or at least from something that would serve as a term. Even local motion is to another place, regardless of whether the motion ceases at that place or not. The motion has its definition from something extrinsic to the motion and outside of it in a way that immanent activity does not.

It should go without saying that not every consciousness is prior in time or prior in every causal sense to every transitive action. There is a clear sense in which consciousness arose in history from physical forces. But this is again another consideration secundum quid that leaves the absolute question of the order between the transitive and immanent untouched, which is only coherently resolved in some sort of cosmological argument.

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