Several problems are associated with the determination of the boundary between the theology and mechanics that were fronted by Aristotle. Aristotle’s theology did not only consist of the study of a single God but also addresses the study of gods and divine things in general (Shields, 2012). The use of the term “unmovable mover” does not just pick one being rather, it applies to the essence of the beings that it refers to. The central feature that is associated with Aristotle’s mechanics is the fact that he discussed local locomotion from one place to the other, which he categorizes as either natural or violent. He then divides the natural motion into celestial motion that is uniform, circular and everlasting and the terrestrial motion that may be described as being finite and linear. He notes that all the unnatural forces are violent. This study addresses the problems of the supernatural in Aristotle’s mechanics and theology (Shields, 2012).
The theology of Aristotle is one of the longest and most famous pieces of writing that was made by the philosopher to explain the natural and supernatural. It attempts to explain phenomena in the world, including the genesis of phenomena. Aristotle argued for the existence of an unmovable mover is taken to be a mechanical argument. The deities that were presented by Aristotle are supernatural because they defined the difference that exists between the natural and the supernatural. Aristotle gave out various arguments about the existence of the unmovable mover (UMM). The arguments include the fact that UMM has to act on something that is in motion. He argued that if something is in motion, then it can be moved by another. He argued that whatever is moved by another is either moved by another thing that can itself be moved by another thing or can be moved something that cannot be moved by another thing. According to Aristotle, the existence of an unmovable mover means that the chain carried on to infinity or it ends, which brings us to the unmovable mover. He notes that in the case where something is in motion, then an unmovable mover exists; hence the existence of an unmovable mover cannot be disputed (Doyle, 2007).
Aristotle notes that the unmovable mover has to be eternal because of the movements that the unmovable mover makes are everlasting. He notes that for an unmovable mover to be eternal, then the unmovable mover is supposed to be lack matter because anything that has matter must go out of existence. He notes that the power to cause motion in itself does not fully guarantee one to be eternal. It must, therefore, be pure actuality (energeia). According to Aristotle, the revolving heavens do not have the possibility to change. However, there exists the potentiality because of the fact that all the objects that are located in the heavens have the ability to move elsewhere in its diurnal round. He argues that the movement of the heavenly bodies has to be made possible by a mover because they have the ability to move from one place to the other. Such a mover could not act as an efficient cause, because that would involve a change in itself, but it can act as a final cause. Aristotle noted that the movement that is done by the stars and planets is an imitation of the perfection of the unmovable mover. They note that the stars and the planets are moving in a circle, which is the perfect shape. He notes that for this to happen, then the heavenly bodies must have souls that are able to love the unmovable mover. The claims made by Aristotle with regards to the planets are a bit contrary to the beliefs that are held by religion. According to the major religions in the world, such as Christianity and Islam, only creatures such as human beings and other animals have souls. The arguments made by Aristotle, therefore, make it hard for individuals that are believing in the Christian and the Islam religions to relate to what he is saying or to understand his theology (Varlamova, 2019).
In the argument that the heavenly bodies have souls that make them love the unmovable mover, he notes, “On such a principle, depend the heavens and the world of nature.” Aristotle is prepared to call the unmovable mover “God.” He says that God must be having a life that is the best compared to the lives that human beings lead in the world. Aristotle reveals the tendency of human beings to think of the perpetual nature of God. He then asks “What, Aristotle asks, does God think of?” he argues that he must be thinking of something because if that is not the case then “He is no better than a sleeping human” and whatever he may be thinking about, he thinks about it eternally. He argues that he might be thinking about himself or about something else. Aristotle notes that the value of a though is dependent on the value of whatever is being thought of. Aristotle, therefore, notes, “if God were thinking of anything other than himself, he would be somehow degraded.”
The conclusion that was made by Aristotle has sparked many debates in the world. A good number of the people in the world have taken it to be the sublime truth. The people that believe in religion have embraced Aristotle’s argument, whereas other people in the society, such as the atheists, have thought that it is a piece of exquisite nonsense. The latter group of individuals has portrayed the whole system that was brought about by Aristotle to be absurd. A good number of them have noted that Aristotle intended it to be reductio ad absurdum. They hold such a thought because it is clear that the object of thought of the unmovable mover does not include the contingent affairs of the individual human beings. It, therefore, means that the points that have been brought forth by Aristotle’s causal hierarchy stand the movers, moved, and the unmoved, which is the final cause of all the generation and corruption (Postiglione, 2018).
The major problem between Aristotle’s theology and mechanics is the establishment of the boundaries that exist between the two. The challenges in understanding the mechanics and theology that have been described by Aristotle is that there is no clear boundary between the theology and the mechanics. Different people will understand theology and mechanics. One of the important points that have been raised from the works of Aristotle is how the supernatural affects the natural. Aristotle finds it hard to convince the people in the society about his theology and mechanics. The divergent groups of people make it hard to explain the occurrences. The biggest challenge in explaining to the people about spiritual matters is the fact that it is not easy to prove that the supernatural exists; hence it will take the people with faith to understand all about it. The fact that Aristotle’s theology and mechanics do not have clear evidence makes many people in society not to believe what he says.
Doyle, J. (2007). Hispanic Scholastic Phylosophy. The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Philosophy, 250-269.
Postiglione, E. (2018). Aristotle on the Distribution of Consciousness. Ancient Ontologies. Contemporary Debates ed. by Riccardo Chiaradonna, Filippo Forcignanò and Franco Trabattoni 5 Riccardo Chiaradonna, Filippo Forcignanò e Franco Trabattoni Presentazione 13 Francesco Fronterotta, 28(1), 177.
Shields, C. (Ed.). (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Aristotle. Oxford University Press.
Varlamova, M. N. (2019). Aristotle as a Historian of Philosophy. History as a Method of Inductive Reasoning of the First Principles. ИСТОРИЯ ФИЛОСОФИИ, 24(1), 16.