If we want to say that A depends on none but all depends on A. A needs no one but everyone needs A. What is the best word that fits best this trait?

  1. Independent
  2. Self-reliant
  3. Self-sufficient

Let me give my own research that the word 'independent' seems to be covering this particular trait a little less than the other two.

  • 2
    By A you mean God? (judging from the title) – Andrew Tobilko Mar 19 '19 at 10:08
  • @ Andrew Tobilko yes 'God' – Zeeshan Siddiqii Mar 19 '19 at 10:35
  • None of your three options deal with the second clause "all depends on A". If you want to indicate both that A needs nobody and that everyone needs A then you need another word. Nothing comes to mind immediately but there may be something. Note also that independent would indicate there is no relationship between A and everyone else so it could be considered to negate your second clause rather than just not talk about it. – Eric Nolan Mar 19 '19 at 15:54
  • How about all three? I have no idea why so many people on this site want to reduce large concepts to a single word. It's not always possible. – user91988 Mar 19 '19 at 17:39
  • 1
    You could say A is indispensable – solarc Mar 19 '19 at 18:01

All (independent, self-reliant, self-sufficient) are suitable to say: "A depends on none" or "A needs no one".

However, I am not aware of a word to mean: "all depends on A" or "everyone needs A".

  • I think the reason there isn't a word to mean "all depends on A" or "all need A" is that its use would be so limited. In contrast, independence/self-reliance/self-sufficiency is used frequently, and thus warrants several different names. – Monty Harder Mar 19 '19 at 18:48

The technical terms in theology are:

  • First Cause — as given in another answer, although theologically this does not encompass being more than the "Alpha", the thing that caused everything else, rather than the thing upon which other things' existences continue to depend after creation.
  • necessary — A necessary being is defined as one that has no cause for existence, and simply must exist by its very nature. Again, however, this does not imply that other things are contingent upon it.
  • non-contingent — the opposite of contingent, i.e. caused by something else. It's not the same as necessary because non-contingency simply means not depending upon something else for existence; it does not incorporate the notion of existing by definition. A non-contingent thing has no dependence; it however does not necessarily exist.
  • a se — an older theological term from which aseity is derived, the state of self-causation or self-dependence, a necessary being that is (also) contingent upon nothing more than itself.
  • Prime Mover or Unmoved Mover — an even older term from Aristotle et al. that encompasses both parts of the question, as the concept here encompasses being the source of all motion (i.e. change and cause, the original term encompassing more than what "motion" does today) in the universe.

I'm not going to even attempt to give more exact definitions. There are millennia of writings on these and exactly what they are, from Aquinas, Anselm, and Aristotle, through Spinoza, to Zappa. ☺


The normal way of expressing this is to say that God is the first cause (of everything):


: the self-created ultimate source of all being

That encompasses all of the meanings you want.

  • I have a different opinion :) The definition covers everything, except: after being created, everybody / everything / all still depend(s) on A. Or? Of course, we talk strictly about definitions, not about theology, dogma or anything else. – virolino Mar 19 '19 at 12:15
  • @virolino As I've understood it, the implication (in a religious sense) is first cause of everything, past, present, or future. Which means events, but not those things related to free will. – Jason Bassford Mar 19 '19 at 13:13
  • What you just said is totally true. But it does not touch the part with "depends" or "needs" from the original question. Example: A created the stones. (covered, OK) All stones (already created) need A (really?). I hope I clarified what I had in mind. – virolino Mar 19 '19 at 13:17
  • @virolino Many people (following debate on this) would argue that reality and everything in it would disappear if God ceased to exist. (Should that be possible.) Therefore, everything really is contingent on God. – Jason Bassford Mar 19 '19 at 13:20
  • OK, from this point of view, the definition fits. Thank you. – virolino Mar 19 '19 at 13:28

Self-Sufficient would be most appropriate as the word clearly describes that A is not dependent on anyone for anything and he alone is sufficient for himself.

  • I agree with this. Both of the other two allow for circumstances in which A might need something. – Eric Nolan Mar 19 '19 at 15:52
  • Self-sufficient only covers half of what the OP is asking for, which is not only that A isn't dependent, but that everything else is dependent on A. – Monty Harder Mar 19 '19 at 18:50
  • @MontyHarder I agree, but neither of the words that are suggested describe that aspect (others being dependent on A) – Bella Swan Mar 20 '19 at 4:53

You would say that God is not "independent" (that would suggest that some other entity is trying to politically control him but he does not have to abide by that), but rather is self-sustaining (and additionally that God sustains everything else), for that sort of intrinsic dependency on another being for one's existence and survival.

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