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Cause.

1. “Cause” and “effect” are correlative terms denoting any two distinguishable but related (antecedent, consequent) phases of experienced reality in a time series, such that whenever the temporally prior (“cause”) ceases to be, the temporally posterior (“effect”) appears.

2. Pre-Socratic used arche to denote a thing existent prior to and along with others, and without which others would not be. Plato used arche to denote a reason why a thing has its essential qualities so that we call it by a certain name.

3. Aristotle used aitia to denote reasons or principles of explanations: (1) efficient cause: the productive agent or force bringing forth an effect; (2) final cause: the purpose or end of a thing, that for the sake of which it possesses certain qualities or was produced by some intelligence; (3) formal cause: the essence accounting for the thing's nature, the qualitative characteristics making it what it is, distinguishing it from other things and making it like similar things; (4) material cause: that from which something arises, is fashioned, or produced. Medieval scholastics employed and modified these principles.

4. With the Renaissance growth of natural science, “substance” replaced material cause, and formal cause was set aside; “cause” was interpreted mainly as efficient cause.

5. Hume, who assumed that every idea is copied from some preceding impression or sentiment, traced belief in the “necessary connection” of cause-effect to the recurrence of certain experiences of uniform sequence (constant conjunction) which create in the perceiver a habitual expectation, a custom of anticipation whereby the mind habitually passes from perception of antecedent to expectation of consequent.

6. To rescue science from Humean psychologism, Kant posited the principle of causality as an a priori, necessary category (form) of the understanding which is not dependent on, but is constitutive of, experience. It is through this form of understanding that empirical knowledge of nature becomes possible. (See Kant, Immanuel).

7. J. S. Mill identified regularity of sequence as the essence of causality, “cause” being defined as the antecedent, or concurrence of antecedents, on which an event is invariably and unconditionally consequent.

8. J. H. Poincareé and P. Frank adopt a conventionalist view of causality as a definition (or regulative canon of procedure) of a state of a system.

See also Apologetics, II A; Causa secunda; Causality.

Plato, Phaedo and Timaeus; Aristotle, Metaphysics; D. Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, III, and An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding; I. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason; J. S. Mill, System of Logic; P. Frank, Philosophy of Science: The Link Between Science and Philosophy (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1957); J. H. Poincaré, Science and Hypothesis, tr. W. J. G. (New York, 1952) and Science and Method, tr. F. Maitland (New York, 1952). RVS


Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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