American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 85, Issue 2, Spring 2011

Edward Feser
Pages 237-267

Existential Inertia and the Five Ways

The “existential inertia” thesis holds that, once in existence, the natural world tends to remain in existence without need of a divine conserving cause. Critics of the doctrine of divine conservation often allege that its defenders have not provided arguments in favor of it and against the rival doctrine of existential inertia. But in fact, when properly understood, the traditional theistic arguments summed up in Aquinas’s Five Ways can themselves be seen to be (or at least to imply) arguments against existential inertia and in favor of divine conservation. Moreover, they are challenging arguments, to which defenders of the existential inertia thesis have yet seriously to respond.