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Aristotle’s Divine Cause

Chapter
Part of the Philosophers in Depth book series (PID)

Abstract

In Metaphysics Lambda (book XII), Aristotle argues that there is a substance which is eternal, intelligent, and, in a word, divine. This imperceptible and incorporeal entity, which exists separately from perceptible, material substances, is “the principle on which heaven and nature depend” (7.1072b13–14). The foundation for this doctrine is laid in Physics VIII which argues that the eternal movement of heaven is caused by an eternal prime mover which is itself not in motion’. Lambda, “the coping-stone of the Metaphysics,”2 has been the subject of extensive interpretation and criticism over the past two millennia. Scholarly debate continues unabated over such questions as: What is the nature of Aristotle’s divine mind and can it be understood as a monotheistic god? To what extent does his argument depend upon an obsolete cosmology, which views the sun, moon, and stars as eternal bodies imbedded in spheres revolving eternally about an immovable Earth located in the centre of the universe? Does he commit the logical missteps found in other traditional arguments for the existence of God? Rather than revisiting these familiar questions, however, this essay will focus on an issue fundamental to Aristotle’s thesis: In what sense of “cause” is the prime mover supposed to be the cause of motion?3

Keywords

Celestial Body Prime Mover Heavenly Motion Eternal Activity Internal Principle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Fred D. Miller, Jr. 2013

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