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The Cosmological Argument

1. The Cosmological Argument

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About this Lecture


In this module, we introduce the cosmological argument, focusing in particular on (i) the historical philosophical background to cosmological arguments (ii) the nature of cosmological arguments as a posteriori and inductive (iii) moving from the observed to the unobserved in other methods of enquiry (iv) the separation of Aquinas’ proofs of the existence of God from arguments about God’s nature (v) Aquinas’ first three ways for the existence of God from motion, causation and contingency.


In this course, Professor John Cottingham (University of Reading) explores the cosmological argument. In the first module, we introduce the a posteriori and inductive methods involved in cosmological arguments for God’s existence, and outline Aquinas’ first three ways for God’s existence. In the second module, we look at the arguments from motion and causation. In the third module, we look at the Kalam version of the cosmological argument, and address conceptual problems with infinite causation. In the fourth module, we explore the famous argument from contingency, challenges to the argument from Bertrand Russell, and look at Leibniz’s principle of sufficient reason. In the sixth and final module, we evaluate the cosmological arguments, with particular focus on existentialist responses to finitude and contingency, and the question as to why there is something rather than nothing.


John Cottingham is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Reading and an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford. He has published thirty books — thirteen as sole author, a further nine editions and translations, plus (either as single or join editor) eight edited collections — together with over 115 articles or chapters in journals or books. His books include Descartes, The Rationalists, Philosophy and the Good Life, On the Meaning of Life, The Spiritual Dimension (Cambridge, 2005), Cartesian Reflections (Oxford, 2008), Why Believe? (Continuum 2009) and Philosophy of Religion: Towards a More Humane Approach (Cambridge, 2014). He is co-editor and translator of the three-volume standard Cambridge edition of The Philosophical Writings of Descartes. From 1993-2012 he was editor of Ratio, the international journal of analytic philosophy. The Moral Life, a Festschrift honouring his work on moral psychology, ethics and religion, was published in 2008.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cottingham, J. (2022, June 16). The Cosmological Argument - The Cosmological Argument [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cottingham, J. "The Cosmological Argument – The Cosmological Argument." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 16 Jun 2022,