Rafed English

Types of Causes

Adapted from: "Three Topics in Theological Philosophy" by: "Dr. Ahmad Ahmadi"

Causes are of different types; amongst them are: complete and incomplete, simple and compound, real and preparing, contiguous and distant, internal (matter and form) and external.

A complete cause is one which has in itself all necessary and suffi­cient conditions for the realization of the effect. On the other hand, the incomplete cause is one which lacks some of the necessary factors for realization of the effect; it is not sufficient for creating an effect. In short, the absence of cause (whether complete or incomplete) implies the absence of the effect.

A compound cause, is one which has parts. These parts may be either material or rational (formal); for instance, the idea of species is a compound of the ideas of genus and differentia. A real cause is like causality of the self in relation to its own states such as knowledge. An example of the preparing cause is situation of a moving body at preceding positions in space for arriving at a successive position.

A contiguous cause directly acts to produce an effect, as, for example, the movement of a hammer is the direct cause of driving in of a nail. But the distant cause is an indirect cause, such as the movement of one's hand by exercise of one's will; the will acts on nerves, the nerves on muscles and muscles move to cause the movement of the hand.

Material, formal, efficient and final causes can be explained by the example of a chair: wood is its material cause; the shape its formal cause; the carpenter its efficient cause, and the purpose for which it is made, namely, to sit on it, is its final cause. The first two of these are called `internal' causes, and the latter two are termed `existential' causes (al‑`illah al‑wujudiyyah).


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