The unmoved mover is not an argument in favor of the existence of God


Leandro Castelluccio

Image obtained from Wikipedia, see in: link

The prime mover or unmoved mover is an argument or concept within the thought of Aristotle that makes reference to metaphysical questions or questions about the nature of the reality in relation to movement (in the Aristotelian conception of it) that is usually used like an argument in favor of the existence of God. Here there is a link to a recommended article that deals with the concept in relation to God in more detail: link.

The idea of movement in Aristotle seems to go beyond the displacement of an object, it also includes other processes such as the evolution of potentiality to actuality, the modifications of things, the processes of development, growth, change, etc. Aristotle argues that in order to explain the movement of things in a solid way, we need a first unmoved mover, that is, a cause of the movement of another entity that in turn does not move, is fixed, that is, remains unchanged and nothing is the cause of it (see reference in the link above). In my work “Propositions” (see in book publications’ menu) I develop similar concepts in a certain way, but with marked specific differences. Aristotle seems to speak for example of the motionless cause or the first immobile motor as an end, that is, that moves entities in terms of a goal, as something that attracts something, that generates or induces its movement but that in itself does not change.

If we think about the causes of the movement of the entities, to explain it we have to see what led to their movement, and we probably find a reason that generated it that in turn has another cause that generates the movement of the latter and so on. However, to continue infinitely we would have problems to explain the movement, something should be the basis, which means that the latter is not in turn moved or affected, hence the idea of ​​an unmoved mover. This has been identified with God and many times the argument of the unmoved mover is used to justify the existence of it since if it did not exist, the movement would not be possible, and therefore the reality would not be as we observe it. For many it seems that this also has moral or ethical repercussions to the point that we can only argue an ethical conduct based on purposes or goals given by God or this unmoved mover, and that without it we would live in a universe not only impossible but also without moral sense.

In the thought of Aristotle this unmoved mover comes to be conceived as something eternal composed of pure thought, beyond matter. But outside of this, what I want to reflect on here is the idea of something in some way additional or external to our material universe to explain the movement, that God is necessary for the existence of our universe and how then all this has repercussions by extension in moral issues.

Well, the first thing is to consider that such an unmoved mover, at least in an interpretation of it as a fundamental cause to explain processes in reality, is not something separated from reality in a certain way but part of the structure of reality itself, something embedded in reality, so that the entities themselves are merged with it, so to speak, so the argument does not become a necessity to explain the movement of the entities of the universe, but the unmoved mover is the movement itself to put it in a way, the movement is such given the very structure of reality, that is, movement is part of reality itself and has no need to be explained or sustained by any unmoved mover. And that this is so is necessary in fact in the sense that to generate the movement of something, apart from the way in which something moves, we need to talk about movement previously (in the broad sense of the term, as the change of things), so that the concept of movement is already presupposed in our reasoning, so that it is something axiomatic, it is part of reality and something not caused, and ultimately, it does not need to be caused.

Having this in mind, then with the simple fact of alluding to structures of reality we can explain how things move or behave. There would be basic structures in terms of existence, where we no longer find inferior structures, this is necessary for a solid basis of the behavior of things, but they are structures of reality as such, which could be said to move, but as basic structures movement is all of their property, besides their form (see in work “Propositions”). This is in general terms different from the idea of ​​the unmoved mover, and we can allude to this to explain the movement, so that we do not need to speak of a first unmoved mover in the Aristotelian sense. In a way what I propose is similar to logic in the world, it is part of reality, is embedded in it to say it in a way, and it is not necessary to go beyond reality to talk about it, there are axiomatic things of reality that simply are. In the same way the basic structures of reality plus the change of state of things (the change of state as the closest thing to the movement in terms of Aristotle) ​​would explain how things manifest in the universe, that is, we have movement that simply is and the form of it, which would be given by the form of the structures of reality, so that the movement and everything that in Aristotelian terms refers to actuality and potentiality of things is contained in the things themselves, in the material universe that we inhabit.

Consider the illustrative example of my work “Propositions”:

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*”Estado” means “State” – “Cambio de estado” means “Change of state”

We could say that the state 2 of the position of the point is the valley of the structure, the state 3 of the position of the point is the crest of the structure and so on. The thing here is that if the point were a particle it would have a structure that determines its shape, and so on, until it reaches the primordial structure of existence, which will determine the next level, and so on with the rest. The behavior will be determined by the structure of reality, we could say, in general terms, that it includes the specific form of the matter in a certain context, where the causality reaches the limit of the primordial structure. Such a primordial structure is part of reality itself, like any other object, so that the movement and form of the behavior of things is explained and contained in reality itself, without the need of a God above or beyond it.

In a certain way, the closest we can apply the concept of the unmoved mover within this scheme is in the form of reality that causes the fundamental particle to move in one way and not in another, but this form does not explain the movement, the movement is part of the reality, it would only explain the form of the same in terms of the specific way that the movement acquires for the particle, but in turn the structure or the unmoved mover does not require to allude to the pure thought or something external to reality or something immaterial, or even to something intelligent with goals or ends.

Now, the final point, both for existence in the terms we have discussed, where things are explained within the system itself, so to speak, or in the case of an entity such as God, there would be no ultimate reason to abide by reason for our existence or an ethical or moral mandate. Let us not forget that an unmoved mover has nothing to explain it, if it contains ends, they do not have a reason to be or an argument to justify them, so that there is no need in reality or in the scope of God to abide by them. Of these aspects I also speak in my work “Propositions”, but in simple terms, if for reality there are basic structures or limits, and if there is a God or unmoved mover that is not explained by something else, then there is no reason in last instance that justifies the ethical or moral mandates of this God, so that its existence is not a good argument or rather a solid basis to support ethics or morality. Neither is reality itself, since there would be no causes in the end. This does not mean that we cannot find good arguments and firm foundations for ethics or morality, we simply must look for them in another place different from God or abstract principles in reality itself.

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