No Infinite Regress

Aristotle and St. Thomas both tell us that there must be First Cause; otherwise there would be an infinite regress.  By why is an infinite regress a problem?  I’ve been wondering about this for some time; I know that the integral and differential calculus were controversial at one time precisely because of their reliance on limits as x goes to infinity, but this is now a commonplace.  Is an infinite regress of causes a similar case?

Aristotle and Thomas would doubtless say not; and John C. Wright explains why.

3 Responses to “No Infinite Regress”

  1. I recall Aquinas writing that an eternal world is not contradictory – it can’t be proven one way or the other. If this is true there is no reason there can’t be an infinite sequence of falling dominoes.

    So, no infinite regress must depend on some other analysis of cause and effect.

  2. Will says:

    Well, this is true. But is an eternal world consistent with that infinite sequence of dominos?

  3. I think there can’t be an infinite sequence of dominoes unless the world is eternal. If there was a first domino something other than a domino knocked it down. If there is no first domino, something other is still responsible for all motion, namely, the first unmoved mover. That’s where the no infinite regress applies: there would be no motion (eternal or otherwise) if there wasn’t a first unmoved mover. This is not something I’ve read but it makes sense to me.