Lecture 4 - Lecture 4 Causality and the four causes. I....

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Lecture 4 Causality and the four causes. I. Causality for us: We think of causality as a link between causes and effects. The link between the two allows us to bring about the cause, and thereby bring about the effect. Causes, in this view, are triggers (naively): Striking the match in order to light the match. The striking against the right surface is the cause for the lighting of the match. Causal explanations explain effects. We explain an effect if we are able to appeal to a law according to which whenever the cause occurs the effect will follow or co-occur. Presupposed in such explanations, as well as in the possibility to use a causal nexus is the fact that we hold stable the environment of the cause, and maintain favorable conditions in it. We want to light a match. We not only need an appropriate surface, but the right kind of strength in striking, under conditions where there is not too much wind, the surface and the match are dry, etc. The law we use says that the chemical substance at the head of the match ignites when it reaches a certain temperature. E xplanation and use of the match to obtain fire coincide: whenever we have a scientific causal explanation we can use it to bring about the effect, by bringing about the cause, and to guarantee the necessary and appropriate initial conditions. Our everyday understanding of causality is effectuating causality. It links things, conditions and events with events in the bringing-about way. When someone asks: ‘why did such-and-such occur?’ we first think of searching for a cause in this sense. II. Causality for Aristotle ‘Causality’ is our word. Using “cause” as a translation for Aristotle’s ‘aitia’ and ‘aition’ we need to treat our word as if we were free to give to the term the meaning it may have had for Aristotle. Instead of “cause,” “type of explanatory factor” (in Ackrill: Aristotle the Philosopher , p. 36) would be better, because it
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
is more open. He starts with a question that is different from our modern question ‘why did such-and-such occur?’ Aristotle asks: ‘On account of what?’ (194b20). And he thinks that it is a question of knowledge or, in an other translation, of science. (Not all questions are asked for knowledge). Everything that can meaningfully figure as an explanatory factor qualifies for ‘aitia.’ ‘On account of what?’ is an incomplete version of Aristotle’s question for it does not specify two things that belong to a question. The first thing: It does not say where we should turn to answer the question. About what kind of item is the question ‘on account of what?’ being asked? It is, as we by now expect, primarily asked about individual substances. They are the items we are to explore looking for an answer to Aristotle’s question. We will focus on things, living beings like animals and plants, people and action. Our more complete question is now: ‘On account of what is this item . . .?’ But this is still incomplete. For we have not specified
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course HUM CORE 1b taught by Professor Lupton during the Spring '08 term at UC Irvine.

Page1 / 10

Lecture 4 - Lecture 4 Causality and the four causes. I....

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online