- [Causality in Aristotle’s Metaphysics]
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[ 227 [Causality in Aristotle’s Metaphysics] [Causality in Aristotle’s Metaphysics] is the third surviving essay of the six to eight on Aristotle that Eliot wrote for Joachim during the 1915 Trinity term. I suggested in the preceding paper that the distinction between matter and form held good only so far as we were compelled to consider any substance under a temporal aspect.1 Where we can think of the matter under another form (and this means thinking of it as existing at another time), under a form either prior, as the form of bronze is prior to the form of statue, or different, as the form of one statue is different from that of another; only in the cases of substances which have had a history, which are generated and are perishable, is there any meaning in the distinction drawn between matter and form. Consequently, when form without matter is spoken of, it may be meant in either of two ways: as the form of a complex substance abstracted from the matter, or as a simple substance which is form without matter. In the former case the form is universal or abstract; in the latter case it is individual and concrete. Now as the analysis into matter and form is a temporary instrument for handling temporal reality, so the efficient and final causes as well as the material and formal have their being with regard to perishable substance only, and are gradually taken up and included within the substance as we approach nearer and nearer to the real. Their relation is indeed analogous to that of matter and of form: they are the dynamic categories of cause, as the former are the static. As in illustrating the distinction of matter and form, so the simplest and most immediate cases of efficient cause and end are those of human activity. In questioning the possibility of completely external cause, in investigating the relation of agent and patient and in passing from lower to higher grades of reality, we are led to find the real to be that which is its own source of movement and its own source of value. Whether Aristotle makes this conception, or that of a whole in which form and matter shall be completely one, intelligible, is an unanswerable question. But in discussing his use of the concepts of efficient and final cause, it must be rememberedthatwhatisdescribedisaprocesswhichisnotcompletelyapprehensible at any one level of experience; and that the most that Aristotle can do–and 1914-15: Merton College, Oxford University 228 ] the most that he does–is to indicate what the relation of things to the two causes is on various levels of reality–without being able to state precisely in any instance what the relation is. The efficient cause is primarily the motion which terminated in this result, or the motion which originated the motion which is this result: whether the object is itself a movement, or the end of motion, the cause is a motion which is distinct. But it is, of course, movement inhering in a substance ; so we speak more loosely of the one substance as the efficient cause of the other, the sculptor qua sculptor, or the father qua father. Evidently, the cause and the effect cannot be completely heterogeneous from each other; agent and patient must be alike in some respect. The relation may be further generalised beyond that of particular cause to particular effect: not only the physician, but the science of medicine, is the cause of health. Three grades or types, at least, may be distinguished: mechanical causation, as the influenceofonebodyinspaceuponanotherorofoneelementuponanother; self causation, as a man is the cause of his own actions; and the causation of any result by the art or science rather than by the individual man through whichitoperates.Clearlyinanyσύνθεσιςtheδύναμις2 intheelementsbrought together is as much responsible for the result as the motive force which unites them. They are already cognate. So far as the operation is merely one of particular upon particular, we can distinguish an efficient cause which in no way fills the role of formal cause; but such operation can hardly be called causal in any sense. For as particulars, the two are isolated and independent; their union to produce the result is inexplicable and indeed meaningless; the relation of cause and effect will be reduced to one of antecedent and consequent ,willbe,thatistosay,describedonlyandinnowiseexplained.But Cause is essentially explanation: it exhibits the ground of the effect and the ground cannot lie in mere...