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JOHN READING ON THE EXISTENCE AND UNICITY OF GOD, EFFICIENT AND FINAL CAUSALITY One of the legacies which David Hume left to philosophical posterity may be called the 'crisis of causality.'1 His skepticism highlighted linear and horizontal causality and terminated in the human (and Humean) equivalent of Malebranche's divine occasionalism which regarded creaturely causality as illusory. It has been suggested more recently2 that Hume's 'crisis of causality' had been anticipated in the medieval period, but more of this later. We might suggest that if billiard balls — which as far far as I know have never been observed to inter-penetrate — are taken as prototype of causality, little wonder that philosophical inquiry into the subject is in deep trouble. If one insists, à la extreme materialistic positivism, that proof be restricted to observable (which in my opinion is precisely where the medieval discussion of causality begins) and measurable phenomena , then we are restricted to what is trivial whether they be horse races, chess games or present Kings of France. This arbitrary restriction of what counts as either proof or evidence leads to a trivialization of causality. The Greek perspective was one of a linear efficient causality, or a cyclical causality which is no more than a variation on the linear theme. By his stance of eternal repetition, his position on the dichotomy of the divine and cosmic and his conclusion that even a divine knowledge of things human was a defilement, Aristotle did much to foster pessimism about man's origin and destiny. If indeed God is no more than a disinterested, undefilable thinker, the attempt to 1 Cf. Richard Taylor, "Causation," Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Paul Edwards (New York: Macmillan Co., 1967, vol. II, 56-66); A. B. Wolter, "Causality ," Proceedings ofAmerican Catholic Philosophical Association, 32 (1958), 1-27. 8 H. R. Klocker, "Ockham and Efficient Causality," The Thomist, 23 (i960), 106-123; M. M. Adams, "Was Ockham a Humean about Efficient Causality?" Franciscan Studies, 39 (1979), 5-48. John Reading on God and Causalityin prove the existence of the unmoved mover is a rather uninteresting endeavor as well. It is this very same perspective which allowed Jean Paul Sartre to assert that man was nothing but a dirty pool of water running down the drain. Linear causality, viz. y preceded ? and ? preceded y and w preceded ? ad infinitum is the favorite, and perhaps the only viable posture, for materialistic positivists who opt to consider only measurable and time-sequential phenomena. The material positivists solve the problem of origin and destiny by arbitrarily ruling certain questions to be out of order. For them, questions such as 'Where did it all come from?' and 'Where is it all going?' are deemed nonsensical apriori. What this does to the reality of and the study of history is frightfully clear. Because 'proof of causality cannot be furnished in such an arbitrary framework, causality is doomed. The result is a pure associationism of ? and y which are left as unrelated variables . Actually, 'proof of causality is readily available and 'observable' to anyone who is sui compos. My decision to write an introduction to John Reading's text leads me to take up a black bic pen and to begin composing sentences on paper. The observed relationship between mental acts and the bodily movements which they ultimately execute is the best possible proof of causality. Indeed, this experience furnishes the prototype proof par excellence.3 Moreover, under pain of lived and philosophical inconsistency, we know that the decision and the execution have been observed. This is a verticalization of causality, since I know I am capable of executing certain bodily movements. This experience of real causality is so fundamental that paralysis is understood as an abnormality which makes sense only as a loss of an otherwise constant capability. The evidence of 'other' causality is equally compelling. It is readily available in the phenomenon of resistance, as the American philosopher Sheldon pointed out long ago. If I get extremely angry and slam my fist into a concrete all, I will experience resistance not to mention pain. This is not a mere Humean mental association. It is an encounter in reality. The only cure for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 110-221
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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