Question four: "why?" 

Question: "Why do the heavenly bodies exist, and why do they have influence?" 
     We consider this question "Why?" in three ways. The first way is as cause and effect, like a room that exists because someone built it. And in this way we say that heaven and the stars exist because they have a maker, namely a creator, who created the heavens and all that exists. And thus, because God is a creator, there is heaven, which is his effect and operation. 
     The second way of answering this question is through the mode of formality. For instance a man is formally a man, because he is a being made of a rational soul joined to a human body. And bread is bread because it is made of water and flour. And likewise with heaven, which exists because it is formally and essentially made of heavenly form and matter. And the from of heaven exists because it consists in the form of goodness, the form of greatness and so on with the rest. And the matter of heaven exists because it consists in the matter of goodness, the matter of greatness and of the others as we have proved in the previous chapter. 
     The third way of replying to the question is the mode of purpose. For instance, man exists as man in order to remember, understand and love God and to serve him. And bread exists so that man may live on it. Likewise, heaven and the stars also exist so lower substances can have life, and so generation, corruption, and privation can proceed through the alteration of life and ensuing death. Because without heaven and the stars, there would be no generation or corruption, nor would there be any days and hours, summer and winter, nor any natural operation at all. This is because without the influence of heaven, elemented things could not be generated from the elements as there would be no natural mover to move the natural instincts and appetites to act in elemental, vegetal and sensual substance. 
And this is because the lower principles such as fire, plants, man and other similar things, cannot compel themselves to act in a way contrary to their own nature. For instance, without the help of the Sun, fire could not compel the water in a pot to heat meat, which water heats and cannot cool because fire is causing it to act in a way that is against the cooling nature of water. And the reason why fire cannot compel water to heat anything without the help of the Sun, is because water concords with earth through coldness, and with air through moisture. And fire per se cannot destroy this concordance and transform it into a contrary nature by heating it without the Sun, which helps fire more than it helps water. And likewise with other things similar to these, for whose purpose heaven and the stars exist, and so that natural operations can proceed. 
     We have stated why heaven exists and why the stars exist. Now we will state why there are twelve signs in heaven, neither more nor less, and why there are only seven planets. 

Book contents
Site contents