Immanent and Transeunt Potentiality

The alleged but unclear distinction between so-called “immanent” and so-called “transeunt” causation is structurally similar to an Aristotelian distinction between two kinds of potentiality (dunamis). It is argued that Aristotle’s distinction is in turn grounded in one between a metaphysically basic notion, rooted in his property theory, and a metaphysically posterior notion proper to the understanding of change in the science of nature. By examining Aristotle’s distinction, we can give a satisfying account of immanent and transeunt causation more generally. Furthermore, once we clarify the distinction in this way, some contemporary appeals to immanent causation turn out to be misguided, while others look promising.