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Paper Information

Journal:   PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION RESEARCH (NAMAH-I HIKMAT)   FALL 2005- WINTER 2006 , Volume 3 , Number 6; Page(s) 165 To 201.


Author(s):  TAYLOR R.*

This article is a translation of causation entry from Paul Edwards’s Encyclopedia, beginning with a definition of the word, and the difference between generation and qualitative motion in the view of Aristotle. Then Aristotelian four causes i.e. efficient cause, final cause, formal cause and material cause are discussed and it is maintained that today, what is exclusively mentioned in various sciences and humanities is the efficient cause.
The article is then divided in to two main sections dealing with old and new problems related to efficient cause respectively. The old issues consist of: the utility of the concept of causality, causality and change, inclusiveness and identity, the conception of power, the conception of necessary connection, priority of causes over their effects, direction of necessity. The new discussed issues are: necessity versus invariable sequence, the question of similarity, relevant similarities, laws of nature and the concept of causality, laws as necessities, laws as uniformities, revision of necessary connection, causes as necessary conditions, causes as sufficient conditions, plurality of causes, causality and induction, distinction between cause and effect, causes as "levers", causality and time, contemporaneous causes and effects.
The important point here is the predominance of positivism in all discussions such as the elaboration on positivist philosophies. Those have attempted to reject the metaphysical dimensions of causality, such as necessity and the necessity of the emanation of effects from the cause. The article, however, avoids an explicit critique of positivism, despite the insufficiency of the above opinions in explaining causality.
The article ends up with this statement: »Here, then, as in many areas of philosophy, Our advances over our predecessors appear more illusory than real.«

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