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In Thomas de Aquinos Summa Theologiae, the Second Way was described as that which

is based on the notion of efficient causation. He further elaborates by relating the concept of
efficient causation to the sensible world where we discover an order of efficient causes, but no
case is found, or ever could be found, of something efficiently causing itself. This only
suggests that a happening could not have happened before the happening happened. Maboloc
and Fernandez also expounds that certain efficient causes cannot exercise their efficient
causalityi.e. their own capacity to cause an effect on somethingunless they are also created
by something else. Given this premise, it can be drawn that there exists some kind of order of
efficient causes that seems to approach infinity. However, Aquinas immediately discards this idea
as it is impossible to go on forever in this series of efficient causes. Just as crucial as the point
presented in the first way, Aquinas implies that in such order of efficient causes, there must be a
first efficient cause that actually caused all the other intermediate causes and bring about the
ultimate cause in the order. This first efficient cause is no other than God himself.
In connection to the First Way, there is an Aristotelean theme that underlines the Second
Way and all the other Ways after close perusal. In Aristotles Metaphysics Delta, he mentions
four types of causes namely, material cause (causa materialis), formal cause (causa formalis),
efficient cause (causa efficiens), and final cause (causa finalis). Obviously, the Second Way is
more inclined with the third cause which is basically depicted by Aristotle as the origin of a
change or a state of rest in a thing. However, Aquinas further divides this idea into two similar
yet unique phenomena: causa efficiens/agens and causa movens; and specifically uses the former
as the subject of the Second Way which considers the process from the other end, starting from
the agent rather than from the patient. Apparently, change can occur even when an agent would
not necessarily effect change on a specific element but rather, the agent brings elements into
existencea causa efficiens without a res motaimplying that change is not only about
movement in substance from one form to another as already depicted in the First Way. While
Aristotle sees that efficient causality would be centered on motion that ignites change in an
already existing material in an infinite material universe, Aquinas believes that the first efficient
cause is that one efficient cause that could acts without a mover and this is God whom he
believes to have created the world from nothing. The other phenomenon, causa movens, is
alternatively used by the First Way at the perspective of the effect or the body acted upon.
Clearly, these two ways are distinct from each other as they are with the remaining three Ways
and last three Aristotelian causes.
Antony Kenny claims that understanding the correspondence of the first two Ways with
the divisions of efficient causality, it is logical to believe the entire Five Ways to be certainly
mapped to the Four Causes of Aristotle where the remaining Third, Fourth, and Fifth Way
connects to material, formal, and final causes, respectively. These three causes portray source
material element which and from which a thing is made, form or pattern a thing undertakes, and
the end goal of a thing in the correct order, proving how these indeed support the last three ways
and the whole Four Causes to serve as the common backbone of the Five Ways. This implies,
according to Antony Kenny, that the Five Ways maintains a formal structure. He further clarifies
that the identity of the structure is not immediately apparentbecause in the different
arguments, different premises are left implicit and different additional conclusions are argued
for. He believes that each of the Five Ways takes a two-place relational predicate R and
shows the relation in question to be irreflexive (nothing has R to itself) and transitive (if a stands
in the relation R to b, and b to c, then a also has R to c). This structure, as Antony Kenny would
described it, is a sound one especially since it is based on E.W. Beths Principle of the
Absolute. This principle is used by Aquinas and as well as Aristotle which highly depends on
the transitivity and irreflexivity of the relation in question. It gives a valid comment on the
formulation of the structure of the Five Ways in such a way that it recognizes a logical truth if
and only if given the transitivity and irreflexivity of the relation which revolves in a finite
domain. Hence, Kenny considers it unwisefor a critic of the Five Ways to attack their formal
structure . He believes that in order to argue against their structure, one must show either that
the relation in question does not hold of anything, or that it does not have the properties of
transitivity and irreflexivity, or that there is no reason to restrict it to a finite domain.
Antony Kenny then suggests that the better approach is to examine the relation of
efficient causation. Although Aquinass efficient causation comes from the modern sense of
cause of Aristotle, there are still factors that need to be considered. Aquinas sets his paradigm
where his efficient cause is a substantial agent. This is definitely more than just the modern
concept of the Third Cause of Aristotle where effects are similar to causes and causes come
before their effects. With such paradigm, Aquinas would naturally discuss the Second Way with
regards to the bringing things into existence through this substantial agent. It is only then
unavoidable for Aquinas to find it incoherent to conceptualize the notion of things causing itself
as if a man can give birth to himself. He believes that the generation of one member of a
species by another gives a prime example of an irreflexive causal relation. It cites how man
begets man: the son is a man like the father, and the father is prior to the son. This concept of
human generation serves as the true premise for the Second Way. Moreover, in contrast to
Humes argument that cause is not a matter of fact but rather an arbitrary act of the mindan
association we make in imagination and that relations are just mental impressions, Aquinas
claims that he does not presume that every event is caused by something. Unlike what Hume
wants to point out, Aquinas does not associate causes with their respective events just to support
succession of events, which Hume believes is just a habit of the mind. In fact, Aquinas
believes Humes premise that every beginning of real existence has a cause. However, Aquinas
also claims that Humes concept is not an example of universal determinism where in every
event there exist conditions that could cause no other event.
Aquinas, as Kenny would explain, also refutes the accusation that he sees the idea of an
infinite order of efficient causes to be preposterous. In Ryan Mabolocs God Question, Hume
notes that since regress in numbers can go infinite, there is nothing that would prevent the
infinite regress in causes. Furthermore, he says that if the series was to be finite, it would be
simpler and easier to observe to relate the first efficient cause to the universe itself unlike to an
idea of a mysterious, totally unknown cause that one cannot even fully grasp. In defense of
Aquinas, Kenny expounds on the preliminary refute of Aquinas regarding this matter. He states
Aquinas believes that there is a possibility of infinity to dwell in the series of men begetting men
and he defines it as a series of efficient causes per accidens especially since it is not important
for any particular man, qua begetter, to be begotten by another man; for he begets qua man, and
not qua son of another man. However, Aquinas also believes that this possibility would be
eradicated if the generation of one man depended on another and [not] on an element, and on
the sun, and so on to infinity. He believes that this series per accidens must be put into the
context of man-element-sun per se. This means that human multiplication does not only
reproduce itself endlessly with man being the uncaused cause. For it to be truly endless, it should
involve another external cause influencing it and as cited in Kenny, this refers to the sun.
However, Kenny clears out the statement by emphasizing that the sun is not a necessary
condition for men to beget men as if it was like air to a breathing planet. The sun is a
representation of the heavenly bodies themselves or in general, the heavens. This is supported by
Aristotle when he attributed the rise and causation of substantial forms to heavenly bodies which
acts as a mobile active principle which by its presence and absence causes the phases of
generation and corruption of bodies here on earth. The sun or the heavens just acts as a co-cause
of the human generation concept where they use men as tools. With this proposition, it is clear
that the Second Way is contextualized by medieval astrology and archaic fiction especially as
it connects the sun or the heavens to God, claiming that efficient causality does not [only]
stretch backwards in time, but stretches into the heavens simultaneouslywhich must come to
an end with God. This is where Kenny drives his whole point that beyond archaic astronomy
which is deemed quite irrelevant today, there is no reason to trace efficient causality to God. It
would only be logical to trace the uncaused cause to the human parent for the human generation
series as it is to trace to some element the identity of an uncaused cause for elemental generation.