Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Dictionary of philosophy and psychology including many of the principal conceptions of ethics, logics, aesthetics ... and giving a terminology in English, French, German and Italian, vol. 1 [a-laws]
Baldwin, James Mark
to exist upon the occurrence of its effect, and 
that their relation should be absolutely in¬ 
variable, are sacrificed. 
There is no regular correlative to the Greek 
words alria, alnov. The term which comes 
nearest in meaning to effect is dnoßahov ; 
but cTvfxßalvov or inopevov, which also signify 
consequence, are more commonly used as 
correlatives. Alria itself is used from the be¬ 
ginning in all the three senses afterwards dis¬ 
tinguished by Aristotle as ‘ efficient,’ £ final,’ 
and ‘ formal ’ causes. It thus includes some¬ 
what more of the meaning of reason than 
commonly belongs to the Latin and modern 
terms, being used in answer to the four dif¬ 
ferent questions : What existed previously 
from which we might have inferred that this 
would happen ? (efficient cause) ; With what 
purpose was this done 1 or, What good 
result does this produce 1 (final cause) ; 
What are the properties which make this 
thing what it is ? (formal cause). All these 
meanings have in common the implications (a) 
that from a knowledge of the fact called 
cause, the existence of a fact, having the 
nature denoted by this, might have been in¬ 
ferred ; (b) that the cause itself is capable 
of existence, being thus distinguished from 
a mere reason or ground ; but one or 
other of the additional meanings, which dis¬ 
tinguish the above questions, seems in general 
to have been vaguely included under the term. 
Before Aristotle, the chief points worthy of 
notice are (a) that the pre-Socratic philo¬ 
sophers made little use of the term, chiefly 
using the word àpxrj, in a sense most nearly 
analogous to Aristotle’s material cause, to 
denote an existent thing, generally conceived 
as prior in time to all others, but also existing 
along with them, and such that its existence 
was necessary to theirs, but not vice versa ; 
(&) that in Plato strong emphasis is laid on 
those two meanings of alria, in which it denotes 
either the reason why a thing is what it is, 
i.e. the qualities whose presence justifies us in 
calling it by the same name as other things, 
or the reason why a thing ought to exist. It 
was the method of Socrates which drew atten¬ 
tion to these two questions. Aristotle dis¬ 
tinguished byname four different kinds of cause, 
for each of which he has several synonyms, of 
which the following are perhaps the most im¬ 
portant : (a) v\rj or ov yiyverai, material 
cause ; (b) eidos, \6yos, TO ri rjv elvai, formal 
cause ; (c) àp^rj rîjs Kiv-rjcreas, efficient cause : 
(d) TéXoç, to ov «WKa, final cause, (i) The 
first of these conceptions is derived from the 
popular distinction of the material, out of 
which a thing is made as one of its causes. 
This does, of course, generally exist unshaped, 
before a thing is made out of it ; and it is this 
fact of its priority in time which allows it to 
acquire the name of cause. But to philo¬ 
sophical analysis it soon became doubtful 
whether such priority can be ascribed to it 
universally ; and hence in Aristotle it rather 
denotes one of the elements of an actu¬ 
ally existing thing, without any prominent 
implication that it existed before the thing in 
question. It is distinguished from the other 
three causes in that, from a knowledge of its 
existence, you could not infer the existence of 
any particular thing, although it could not 
exist, unless some particular thing existed, 
(ii) The eidos, meaning originally the visible 
qualities, particularly the shape, and hence 
also the other qualities, which distinguish one 
kind of thing from another kind, was conceived 
by Plato as existing eternally, separately from 
the things resembling it, which from time to 
time came into existence ; and though he 
distinguishes eternity from everlasting dura¬ 
tion, he does undoubtedly commonly regard 
the eidos as prior in time to that which it 
‘informs.’ Aristotle denies its separate exis¬ 
tence ; and with this its priority in time 
is also strictly destroyed, so that it becomes 
the mere correlative of vXrj, denoting that one 
of the two elements composing an actually 
existing thing from which the existence of 
that thing could be inferred. Neither Plato 
nor Aristotle clearly distinguish the two 
meanings covered by this phrase, both of 
which they seem to affirm : (a) that the com¬ 
bination in the eidos of certain properties is 
the reason why those properties are combined 
in things resembling it ; (5) that the existence 
of the eidos is the reason of the existence of 
things resembling it. (iii) The efficient or 
‘ moving’ cause is a thing which existed in time 
before that of which it is the cause. It thus 
corresponds to cause as now used, and defined 
above, (iv) In the conception of ‘final’ cause 
are mingled the three different senses which 
may be conveyed by the two questions given 
above. A final cause is (a) that for the 
sake of which a thing ought to exist, i. e. 
either the good qualities which the thing itself 
possesses (eidos), or some other good thing of 
which it is the efficient cause ; (b) that for 
the sake of which a given thing was produced 
by some intelligence ; (c) the design, con¬ 
sidered as a mental fact, which was the effi¬ 
cient cause of its production. It is only the 


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