Rationale and Thomas Aquinas Part the Second

In my last post on Rationale, I illustrated using the software to map the first of Thomas Aquinas’ Five Ways—logical proofs of God—that God is the prime, or unmoved, mover. In this post, I’ll makes some further remarks on working with Rationale to refine and polish a largely complete map resulting in an updated version of the Prime Mover argument and an argument map of the second way: God the the first cause.

Mainly so I can have a picture at the start of the post, I’m displaying a colour version of this wonderful, famous cartoon of Sidney Harris, Then A Miracle Occurs. It doesn’t quite get the Thomistic argument right as the miracle should be at step 1.



Reviewing A Map

Bloody Instant Zooming

This is where the zooming behaviour of Rationale maps became a real PITA. Zooming is activated by a two-finger drag on either my magic Mouse or my trackpad. Normally, in Safari two-fingered dragging scrolls the web page up or down, and zooming is activated using a pinch gesture. It is very, very, very easy to inadvertently zoom in or out when you are trying to navigate a map. The problem is exacerbated because the map very quickly zooms to be either too small or too large.

This behaviour was bad enough when building a map, but usually manageable because you’re working in a small part of the map at one time, but for reviewing when I was moving around the map much more, the zooming became scream-worthy. I have previously emailed the developers about this issue and received the response that no action was planned, but recently another member of the Rationale forums has complained about the problem, and a review has been promised.

Printing the Map

The first thing I tried was to print the map. This really didn’t work very well, as there is no control over page breaks; the Prime Mover map now spreads over 12 pages and boxes are just split across pages. Printing might be all right, if I had a flatbed plotter.

My next attempt to make reviewing easier was to use screen clipping with Esc-Shift-4 (on Mac OS X) to split the map into meaningful chunks, then printing the PNG files generated each on a single A4 page. This resulted in 3-4 pages per map. I could then scribble amendments on the print and update later.

During the course of all this activity, I spotted a feature that I’d forgotten (or not noticed—I forget).

Map References Are A Good Idea

This is a feature in the View Tab, Map References, that toggles a unique elect id on and off. Here’s what they look like:

This map snippet shows elements with map references.

This map snippet shows elements with map references.

This feature became very handy when I tried my next strategy for map review.

Using the PDF

For people without a Rationale account, I posted a PDF copy of the first first of the Prime Mover argument. With the addition of the map references, it became easier to perform a review “offline”. I was still jotting down notes on paper with the PDF displayed in Preview, but I could use the map reference to indicate where a change should be made. It’s still not perfect because changes require an intermediate step; on the other hand, it did provide an opportunity for reflection before committing a change. So all things considered, this, so far, has proved to be the best option for map review.

It does mean that updates should be done from right to left to avoid map references being changed because an element has been added or deleted to the left.

Guidance Notes

Guidance for claim definition. Click for larger image.

Guidance for claim definition. Click for larger image.

In the last post, I published a copy of the mind map I created with my notes of how to properly define claims and review the argument being displayed. I kept a copy of this map in from of me as I worked through the various iterations of the first and seconds ways—I’ve still to work in more detail on three, for and five.

I think they were very helpful.

Argument Maps for Prime Mover and First Cause

At some point, I will release these as public maps on the Rationale website. But in the mean time, here are PDF versions:

Prime Mover and First Cause

Recap of the Five Ways

Previously, I have quoted the (translated from the Latin) text for the Five Ways. As a reminder, here’s my New English Bible version. I should have included this in the previous post, but I didn’t think of it in time. I confess this is a bit self-indulgent, but what the hell? They make me smile.

The Prime Mover

Stuff moves.
Stuff cannot move without being pushed by a pusher.
Each pusher requires a previous pusher.
No-one can push forever.
Therefore, God.

First Cause

Everything happens for a reason.
Nothing happens for no reason.
Once there was nothing, now there is something.
Therefore, God.


Everybody needs somebody.
Once there was nobody.
Now there is somebody.
Therefore, God.

Maximal Example

Some things are good.
Some things are bad.
Something is the best.
Therefore, God.

The Designer

Things do stuff for a reason.
Most things cannot reason.
Therefore, God.

The reference list of sources has been updated.


  1. […] have written several posts about Rationale argument mapping software. In the last post, I complained […]

  2. […] Mapping with Rationale More on Argument Mapping with Rationale Rationale and Thomas Aquinas Rationale and Thomas Aquinas Part the Second If Not Rationale, […]

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