Motion and Motion's God: Thematic Variations in Aristotle, Cicero, Newton, and Hegel

Motion and Motion's God: Thematic Variations in Aristotle, Cicero, Newton, and Hegel

Copyright Date: 1971
Pages: 296
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    Motion and Motion's God: Thematic Variations in Aristotle, Cicero, Newton, and Hegel
    Book Description:

    The existence of God as demonstrated from motion has preoccupied men in every age, and still stands as one of the critical questions of philosophic inquiry. The four thinkers Father Buckley discusses were selected because their methods of reasoning exhibit sharp contrasts when they are juxtaposed.

    Originally published in 1971.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6756-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  3. Introduction: Problem and Procedure
    (pp. 3-12)
    Michael J. Buckley

    When Moses Maimonides purposed to justify Jewish revelation to thinkers versed in the cosmological and scientific sophistications of the twelfth century, reconciling scriptures with the demands of philosophy, he proposed to found a continuity between human and divine wisdom upon a doctrine of God demonstrated from the evidences afforded by motion. Following the lead of Ibn Daoud of Toledo, he vindicated belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through an illation to a moving cause, an unmoved mover, whose agency ultimately explains all changes and movement and whose demonstration occupies the initial books of theGuide of the...

    • I. Problematic Method
      (pp. 15-29)

      The problem which initiates the Aristotelian inquiry into a single principle beyond sensible form is that of the endless perdurance of natural motion. That motion is eternal is not a given of observation and experience; it is a conclusion obtained through an investigation whose methods and devices have been specified by the character and attributes of motion and whose alternatives are framed within its opening question

      Whether motion became once, not having been before, and will perish again so that there will be nothing moved Or it neither became nor will perish, but always was and always will be, and...

    • II. Nature: Hypothesis of Physics
      (pp. 30-38)

      “We physicists must take for granted that things that exist by nature are, either all or some of them, in motion—which is plain by induction.”¹ The existence of motion, єί ڠστι, is properly speaking not a scientific question, for movement is presupposed by the sciences which study or employ it and the advance of scientific method is made constantly from that which is clearer and more known by men to that which is clearer and more known in itself.² These are not polar extremes marking off a single, linear progression, but contraries between which the method is continuously moving....

    • III. The Definition of Motion
      (pp. 39-43)

      The correlation of motion with nature as its reflexive principle turns the method of nature towards a definition of motion. The question is now τί ڠστι. In problematic inquiry, movement enters into the very intelligibility of nature; the principle is only understandable in terms of that which it authors.¹ But the determination of the general meaning of motion poses peculiar difficulties: “There are as many kinds of motions or changes as there are of reality (τον ỗντος).”² Just as “is” can be divided into substance, quantity, and quality or into potency and act,³ so it provides the devices both for...

    • IV. Motions, Mobiles, and Movers
      (pp. 44-49)

      As it was to counter the Eleatic denials that Aristotle defended the existence of motion, so it was against the patternless process of Heraclitus’ existential interpretation that he asserted the kinds of change and movements.¹ This was to progress from problems of definition to those of propositions, from questions of τί ڠστι to τò ỗτι. The previous treatment had been a methodological development and determination of the terms involved in nature as a principle of motion, concluding to the definition of each. That motion is and what motion is have both been established. Now the question is, What are the...

    • V. The Eternality of Motion
      (pp. 50-54)

      Physical science, no matter how divergent its methods or contrasting its conclusions, was essentially concerned with the making-of-a-cosmos (Kóσμοπονεîν); this was the interest, contended Aristotle, which had induced a general consensus on the existence of motion, and which in turn led to speculation on the principles and properties of generation and corruption.¹ The problematic of a cosmos was that of a world order, and the theories which were advanced to establish this order had been those which clashed on the principle by which it was to be explained: Was there a principle, a beginning, which initiated all movement? The question...

    • VI. The Unmoved Mover: The Principle of Motion
      (pp. 55-72)

      Every variety and each subject of which motion is predicated possesses the principle which explains this conjunction in a first mover unmoved. None of the particular motions and none of the individual mobiles is absolutely first in time; movement always was and always will be, and this eternal movement is related to the individual, finite movements “like a certain kind of life to all those things which are constituted by nature.”¹ Whatever is the principle of eternal movement, then, is responsible for all natural motions, and this allows the inquiry into the eternal mover to begin with a causal question...

    • VII. The Unmoved Mover: The Principle of Being
      (pp. 73-86)

      To have demonstrated an indivisible being as the moving principle of eternal movement concludes the general physical investigations, but this conclusion not only indicates the task of the subaltern sciences as the determination of moved movers, specific forms, and ultimate material cause, but directly initiates further inquiry by providing the subject for an entirely new science.¹ The explanation of natural motion has led to a cause that is above nature, neither subject to the generation and death of the perishable forms nor to the locomotion of the eternal heavens, and the problems which such a transcendent being posits merge with...

    • VIII. Operational Method
      (pp. 89-103)

      In Cicero’s philosophic dialogues as in his textbooks on rhetoric, every serious method of discourse (omnis ratio diligens disserendi) was a composite of two moments: invention (discovery) and judgment.¹ The Stoic dialectic failed seriously in its omission of the former, while the preeminence of Aristotle lay in the mastery which he had exercised over both.² Each was an art, and both were necessary if the philosophical enterprise was to bring its union ofratioandoratioto term.³ Invention, or the topical art, was an ability to discover things or arguments or what might pass for either; it was a...

    • IX. The Existence of the Gods
      (pp. 104-120)

      A pivotal presupposition for the Academic method is that the evidences for the existence of the divine—whether this divinity is singular or plural—depend upon the differing standpoints from which men view their world. In a universe that is a commonwealth of gods and men, rationality and its concomitant insights are realized in divergent fashions and distributed throughout the cosmos in distinct philosophical systems. The Ciceronian method uncovers these rational perspectives, and the value of the debate lies not only in the unique lines of argumentation which are invented, but in the peculiar pattern of facts upon which each...

    • X. The Identification of the Gods
      (pp. 121-122)

      The definitional issue does not occupy the central position within the operational method that it holds in the problematic. In the latter, it is the final specification of the subject in terms of its proper intelligibility; in the former, it is the initial identification which constitutes a subject apt for the subsequent, qualitative predications which progressively realize an intelligible structure through the restriction and delimitation of attributions. The Ciceronian questions, as also the Aristotelian, make for an ongoing progress within the inquiries of philosophy, but the shift in method has its correlative shift in the location of argumentation. Within the...

    • XI. The Nature of the Gods
      (pp. 123-144)

      Epicurus’ contribution to theology, Velleius contended, issued from the proficiency with which his scientific work moved through the two moments of philosophy: invention and judgment. His logistic inquiries are reduced, within the rhetorical context of the Ciceronian dialogues, to these two periods: “These have been both discovered very acutely [inventa sunt acutius] and expressed very subtly [ei dicta subtilius] by Epicurus, so that not everyone is capable of understanding them.”¹ This conjunction underlies his vital role in the history of thought: he not only understood the abstruse and the recondite, but expressed their significance with the precision and mastery with...

    • XII. The Judgment of Cicero
      (pp. 145-156)

      Within the complexus of the Ciceronian dialogues, a schematism emerges which is both diagrammatic in its structure and encyclopedic in the options which it offers for decision. Distinguishing between locomotion and the motions of the mind, the Epicureans established reflexive deities principally characterized by happiness. Stoics assimilated all movement, change, and variation to the organic motion of the world, arguing from this basis to a comprehensive god who identified with the universe and whose fundamental attributes appeared in a provident care of events and history. The Academic, Cotta, differentiated the spontaneous movements of nature in change from the traditions of...

    • XIII. Logistic Method
      (pp. 159-170)

      The justification of a universal mechanics for Isaac Newton lay in an understanding of the history of science, as its formation issued through the progressive corrections during the continuous battle between the ancients and the moderns.¹ Pappus of Alexandria attested the importance given mechanics in the investigation of natural things, and this evaluation by theSynagogeremained even after the moderns had purified physics of inquiries into substantial forms and occult qualities.² The errors in ancient philosophy stemmed not only from false principles employed in the explanation of phenomena, but from the problematic diremptions introduced between mathematics and natural philosophy....

    • XIV. Through Definition to Principle
      (pp. 171-177)

      The enterprise of Newtonian mechanics might be successfully launched in astronomical inquiries, progressively enlarged through an assimilation of optics, thermodynamics, and hydrostatics, and suggests hopes of an eventual explanation ofcaetera naturae phaenomenaonly if one discovered a basis comprehensive enough to found so universal a science. The task is not to discover or to erect assumptions correlative to a particular subject-matter, but to derive a total principle correlative to the entirety of physical reality. Physics becomes mechanics in Newton because of his method; the mechanics becomes universal because of its principle. So inclusive a source of motion, the definitional...

    • XV. Absolute Motion
      (pp. 178-185)

      This differentiation between the apparent and the real transforms the question of existence. In Aristotelian physics, one could refute any denial of the reality of motion by an appeal to sense perception: “We have sufficient grounds for rejecting all these theories in the single fact that weseesome things that are sometimes in motion and sometimes at rest.”¹ The Ciceronian debate presumed a consensus of all participants about the experience of motion as warrant enough for its validity, a confluence of perspectives and philosophic doctrines. In Newtonian mechanics, neither phenomenal interpretation is adequate, whether one find a structure of...

    • XVI. Motion in Statement and System
      (pp. 186-192)

      In the initial moments of his geometry, Euclid defines those elements which will enter into the problems, theorems, and porisms or into the figures to be constructed, the propositions to be demonstrated, and the possibilities to be explored. The subsequent postulates bring the defined elements into propositions of existences, not by examining deeper levels within the phenomenally given, but by indicating operations which can be performed or processes which can be authored through which these lines, points, circles, angles, and parallels can be given reality. The existential in Euclid becomes a problem of establishing the reality of what has been...

    • XVII. The God of Natural Philosophy
      (pp. 193-204)

      Concomitant with the history of natural philosophy runs the issue of theological inference, and the resolution of this question bifurcates also between the ancients and the moderns. The Greek and Phoenician atomists constructed a philosophy whose first principles were the void, the atoms within the void, and the gravity of the atoms; but they opened physics to theological speculation in “tacitly attributing Gravity to some other Cause than dense Matter.”¹ Later physicists shut off this inquiry, problematically relegating any consideration of divine causality to metaphysics, and isolating natural philosophy through the artificial projections of mechanical explanation, “feigning Hypotheses for explaining...

    • XVIII. Dialectical Method
      (pp. 207-225)

      The foci of divergent philosophies are formed by the dominant intellectual tendency of an age to converge its inquiries either upon the structures of things or the processes of thought or the expressions of men in language and action. The “selection” of the philosophic community dictates both the primary area of discussion or investigation and the fundamental source of categories and principles. This selection is itself indicated by the subsequent doctrine elaborated on world-order. Aristotelian science came to bear directly upon the nature of things, and the god of movement entered in the constitution of a cosmos either for physics...

    • XIX. The True as Movement
      (pp. 226-231)

      As the conjectural question either initiated or grounded Aristotelian inquiry and Ciceronian debate, dialectical science must open with the questions about the beginning of its own movement, about the beginnings of philosophy. The search for a beginning does not immediately identify with the principle. This latter is the objective beginning of all things or an epistemological criterion of all knowledge, while the former can be considered as “something subjective in the sense of some contingent way of introducing the exposition.”¹ The dogmatists concern themselves exclusively in the demonstrations of a single, absolute basis of all things, with some content from...

    • XX. The Contingent as Motion
      (pp. 232-243)

      In the initial moments of speculative reflection, the true was found identified with movement; the subject was coincident with dialectical becoming. “This universal principle is better characterized as Becoming, the truth of Being; since everything is and is not.” Heraclitean philosophy introduced this synthesis of being and nothing as a dynamic unity, and “its principle is essential, and it is to be found in the beginning of my Logic.”¹ This enables idealism to oppose the common belief that the proofs for the existence of God conclude only to his existence, that no matter what the starting point, the conclusion reads...

    • XXI. Nature as Motion
      (pp. 244-253)

      The cosmological argument takes a priority among the proofs for the divine existence in that, through it, the infinite is affirmed and defined as absolutely necessary essence. Through the category of contingency-necessity other logical characteristics were subsumed and concretized, while that reflexivity which identifies with infinity was found to be the truth of the finite.¹ The establishment of the infinite constitutes the heart of the Idealist enterprise: “The proposition that the finite is of ideal nature constitutes Idealism. In Philosophy, Idealism consists of nothing else than the recognition that the finite has no veritable being.”² Only the infinite resolves the...

    • XXII. God as Motion
      (pp. 254-266)

      The self-negating movement of the finite has affirmed the infinite. The pre-Hegelian argument had run from the being of the contingent and of the ordered to the divinely necessary and rational; the illation in the dialectic was precisely the opposite: “The truth, however, is that the absolute is just because the finite is self-contradictory opposition—just because itis not.”¹ Logic achieved the infinite as the absolutely necessary; Science of Nature obtained the infinite as universal life. Philosophy of Spirit could begin from a radically different starting-point, not from limited being but from infinite concept. Again the devices of form...

  8. Conclusion: Theme and Pluralism
    (pp. 267-276)

    After theSumma Theologiaehad determined the nature, the subject, and the methods of its inquiries, sacred doctrine turned to the problems of the reality of God, rejecting three demonstrations of the divine existence and elaborating another five. One cannot pass from the meaning of God to his existence, for though it is evident in itself that God is, it is not evident to us. The proof cannot be ademonstratio propter quid,whose middle term would be the definition of the cause, but ademonstratio quia,an illation which proceeded from effect to cause. Among the five ways by...

  9. Index of Persons
    (pp. 277-279)
  10. Index of Subjects
    (pp. 280-287)