Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Causality, the name given to the relation of one fact or set of facts, to another fact or set of facts, as being necessarily concerned in bringing it or them about. Possibly no point of philosophy has been more disputed than the doctrine of cause and effect. Aristotle arranged causes as Material, Formal, Efficient, and Final. Material and Formal disappeared with the scholastic philosophy (q.v.), and Efficient has passed into the "invariable antecedent" of Hume and Mill: while the final cause - or purpose for which a thing was made or exists - was soon banished at least from the region of physical research, and in this department, seeking the cause of a thing meant little more than looking for an explanation of change. Sometimes cause has been defined as the invariable antecedent conditions of any event, and nothing more, and in general it is taken to mean one or two of these conditions. Later writers upon logic base their doctrines of causation upon two things, the law of universal causation, i.e. that every event is preceded by certain other events which determine it or enable it to be known, and the law of uniformity of nature, i.e. that similar conditions precede similar events. These laws are held by some to be nothing but observed sequences, by others to be necessary laws of thought. Spencer (First Principles) explains at some length that assigning the cause of an event is simply bringing one phenomenon under a wider set of phenomena.