The Unmoved Mover

As I recall from Dr. Loyal Rue's History of Western Philosophy classes at Luther College which I took in 1989 or 1990, Thomas Aquinas was credited with the "unmoved mover" proof for the existence of God. A quick search on Google demonstrates that the Catholic Encyclopedia deems him the author as well.

I just read Gregory of Nazianzus "Second Theological Oration - on God" in which he asks, "what is it that moves all things, and what moves that, and what is the force that moves that? And so on ad infinitum. . . . "1 Does anyone know why this is not referenced as an earlier source for this proof for God's existence?

Yes, I do know that Aquinas was in the West and Nazianzus in the East and yet, it seems that one might have at least mentioned him. . . Mind you, I am equally excited that I still remembered this little "fun fact" about Aquinas!!!

1In Christology of the Later Fathers, ed. Edward R. Hardy(Louisville: Westminster, 1954), 141.


The proof of the unmoved mover goes further back that St. Thomas and St. Gregory. It is found in Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics.
Debra said…
Thanks for your post. . . what then is the significance of this argument being attributed to Aquinas? In other words, what has arisen in Aquinas' time that raises the argument to the fore?
During St Thomas' time Aristotle had been rediscovered (via the Islamic scholars Averroes and Avicenna). Despite some initial Church resistance, the Saint was able to integrate Aristotelian philosophy with Catholic theology (most notably in his Summa Thelogica).
...e... said…
It gets worse, though. A concise and almost perfect version of "I think, therefore I am" can be found in St. Augustine. This kind of thing happens all the way through philosophy, which prompted me to study it to try and figure out just your question.

I'm still working on it.