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Sorin Sabou

Letter to the Romans, Nicomachean Ethics, and more

Aristotle's Argument for God

The main observation made by Aristotle concerning God is related to the 'final cause'. He says that 'a final cause may exist among unchangeable entities.' (Metaphysics, XII.7) This final cause 'produces motion as being loved.' 'There is something which moves while itself unmoved, existing actually,' and this cannot be otherwise than it is. This first mover 'exists of necessity.' It is a first principle because 'its mode of being is good.' Its life is the best, 'thinking in itself' (see also Russell: 'God is pure thought'). The act of contemplation is what is most pleasant and best. God is 'a living being, eternal, most good.'
So, this substance is 'eternal and unmovable and separate from sensible things;' it is 'without parts and indivisible,' it is 'impassive and unalterable' (Metaphysics, XII.8).
This argument regarding God seems to be the product of Aristotle's understanding of perfection. He understands perfection in terms of being unchanged, static, unalterable. Necessity is linked to change and seen as against perfection. If a substance is not like that it cannot be God. When perfection is understood in such terms love is not present, and knowledge of the world is missing (Russell). We can be 'moved to action by admiration and love of God' (Russell) but we are not loved by him; this can be a reason why Aristotle's religion is not very known.

Aristotle. Metaphysics. tr. W.D. Ross. http://classics.mit.edu//Aristotle/metaphysics.html.
Russell, Bertrand. History of Western Philosophy. London and New York, Routlege. 2009.
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