First Cause

First Cause

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In philosophy, the uncreated or self-created cause to which every series of causes must ultimately be traced.

Used by ancient Greek thinkers, the concept was adopted by the Christian tradition and became the basis of one version of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. According to this argument, every observed event is the result of a series of causes that must end in a first cause, which is God. The argument was given its classic formulation by St. Thomas Aquinas. It was rejected by many later thinkers, including David Hume and Immanuel Kant.

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      in philosophy, the self-created being (i.e., God) to which every chain of causes must ultimately go back. The term was used by Greek thinkers and became an underlying assumption in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Many philosophers and theologians in this tradition have formulated an argument for the existence of God by claiming that the world that man observes with his senses must have been brought into being by God as the first cause. The classic Christian formulation of this argument came from the medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (Aquinas, Thomas, Saint), who was influenced by the thought of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. Aquinas argued that the observable order of causation is not self-explanatory. It can only be accounted for by the existence of a first cause; this first cause, however, must not be considered simply as the first in a series of continuing causes, but rather as first cause in the sense of being the cause for the whole series of observable causes.

      The 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant (Kant, Immanuel) rejected the argument from causality because, according to one of his central theses, causality cannot legitimately be applied beyond the realm of possible experience to a transcendent cause.

      Protestantism generally has rejected the validity of the first-cause argument; nevertheless, for most Christians it remains an article of faith that God is the first cause of all that exists. The person who conceives of God in this way is apt to look upon the observable world as contingent—i.e., as something that could not exist by itself.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • first cause — noun an agent that is the cause of all things but does not itself have a cause God is the first cause • Syn: ↑prime mover, ↑primum mobile • Hypernyms: ↑causal agent, ↑cause, ↑causal agency * * * …   Useful english dictionary

  • first cause — /fɜst ˈkɔz/ (say ferst kawz) noun a cause which does not depend upon another: God is the first cause …   Australian-English dictionary

  • First Cause — noun Philosophy a supposed ultimate cause of all events, which does not itself have a cause, identified with God …   English new terms dictionary

  • first cause — noun That which causes everything else; the ultimate creative force or being behind the universe, identified with God by such Christian thinkers as . Syn: first mover, prime mover …   Wiktionary

  • first cause — noun Date: 14th century the self created ultimate source of all being …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • first cause —  Первопричина …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • first cause argument — One of the classic arguments for the existence of God. Every event in the natural world has a preceding cause. But this opens up a regress of causes stretching back forever in time. To stop the regress we must postulate a first cause, and this… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • first-cause argument — /ferrst kawz /, Philos. an argument for the existence of God, asserting the necessity of an uncaused cause of all subsequent series of causes, on the assumption that an infinite regress is impossible. Cf. cosmological argument. * * * …   Universalium

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