Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: Chapter IX.—On the Different Kinds of Cause.
Chapter IX.—On the Different Kinds of Cause.
Of Causes, some are Procatarctic and some Synectic, some Co-operating, some Causes sine quâ non.
Those that afford the occasion of the origin of anything first, are Procatarctic; as beauty is the cause of love to the licentious; for when seen by them, it alone produces the amorous inclinanation, but not necessarily.
Causes are Synectic (which are also univocally perfect of themselves) whenever a cause is capable of producing the effect of itself, independently.
Now all the causes may be shown in order in the case of the learner. The father is the Procatarctic cause of learning, the teacher the Synectic, and the nature of the learner the cooperating cause, and time holds the relation of the Cause sine quâ non.
Now that is properly called a cause which is capable of effecting anything actively; since we say that steel is capable of cutting, not merely while cutting, but also while not cutting. Thus, then, the capability of causing (τὸ παρεκτικόν) signifies both; both that which is now acting, and that which is not yet acting, but which possesses the power of acting.
Some, then, say that causes are properties of bodies; and others of incorporeal substances; others say that the body is properly speaking cause, and that what is incorporeal is so only catachrestically, and a quasi-cause. Others, again, reverse matters, saying that corporeal substances are properly causes, and bodies are so improperly; as, for example, that cutting, which is an action, is incorporeal, and is the cause of cutting which is an action and incorporeal, and, in the case of bodies, of being cut,—as in the case of the sword and what is cut [by it].
The cause of things is predicated in a threefold manner. One, What the cause is, as the statuary; a second, Of what it is the cause of becoming, a statue; and a third, To what it is the cause, as, for example, the material: for he is the cause to the brass of becoming a statue. The being produced, and the being cut, which are causes to what they belong, being actions, are incorporeal.
According to which principle, causes belong to the class of predicates (κατηγορημάτων), or, as others say, of dicta (λεκτῶν) (for Cleanthes and Archedemus call predicates dicta); or rather, some causes will be assigned to the class of predicates, as that which is cut, whose case is to be cut; and some to that of axioms,—as, for example, that of a ship being made, whose case again is, that a ship is constructing. Now Aristotle denominates the name of such things as a house, a ship, burning, cutting, an appellative. But the case is allowed to be incorporeal. Therefore that sophism is solved thus: What you say passes through your mouth. Which is true. You name a house. Therefore a house passes through your mouth. Which is false. For we do not speak the house, which is a body, but the case, in which the house is, which is incorporeal.
And we say that the house-builder builds the house, in reference to that which is to be produced. So we say that the cloak is woven; for that which makes is the indication of the operation. That which makes is not the attribute of one, and the cause that of another, but of the same, both in the case of the cloak and of the house. For, in as far as one is the cause of anything being produced, in so far is he also the maker of it. Consequently, the cause, and that which makes, and that through which (δἰ ὅ), are the same. Now, if anything is “a cause” and “that which effects,” it is certainly also “that through which.” But if a thing is “that through which,” it does not by any means follow that it is also “the cause.” Many things, for instance, concur in one result, through which the end is reached; but all are not causes. For Medea would not have killed her children, had she not been enraged. Nor would she have been enraged, had she not been jealous. Nor would she have been this, if she had not loved. Nor would she have loved, had not Jason sailed to Colchi. Nor would this have taken place, had the Argo not been built. Nor would this have taken place, had not the timbers been cut from Pelion. For though in all these things there is the case of “that through which,” they are not all “causes” of the murder of the children, but only Medea was the cause. Wherefore, that which does not hinder does not act. Wherefore, that which does not hinder is not a cause, but that which hinders is. For it is in acting and doing something that the cause is conceived.
Besides, what does not hinder is separated from what takes place; but the cause is related to the event. That, therefore, which does not hinder cannot be a cause. Wherefore, then, it is accomplished, because that which can hinder is not present. Causation is then predicated in four ways: The efficient cause, as the statuary; and the material, as the brass; and the form, as the character; and the end, as the honour of the Gymnasiarch.
The relation of the cause sine quâ non is held by the brass in reference to the production of the statue; and likewise it is a [true] cause. For p. 566 everything without which the effect is incapable of being produced, is of necessity a cause; but a cause not absolutely. For the cause sine quâ non is not Synectic, but Co-operative. And everything that acts produces the effect, in conjunction with the aptitude of that which is acted on. For the cause disposes. But each thing is affected according to its natural constitution; the aptitude being causative, and occupying the place of causes sine quâ non. Accordingly, the cause is inefficacious without the aptitude; and is not a cause, but a co-efficient. For all causation is conceived in action. Now the earth could not make itself, so that it could not be the cause of itself. And it were ridiculous to say that the fire was not the cause of the burning, but the logs,—or the sword of the cutting, but the flesh,—or the strength of the antagonist the cause of the athlete being vanquished, but his own weakness.
The Synectic cause does not require time. For the cautery produces pain at the instant of its application to the flesh. Of Procatarctic causes, some require time till the effect be produced, and others do not require it, as the case of fracture.
Are not these called independent of time, not by way of privation, but of diminution, as that which is sudden, not that which has taken place without time?
Every cause, apprehended by the mind as a cause, is occupied with something, and is conceived in relation to something; that is, some effect, as the sword for cutting; and to some object, as possessing an aptitude, as the fire to the wood. For it will not burn steel. The cause belongs to the things which have relation to something. For it is conceived in its relation to another thing. So that we apply our minds to the two, that we may conceive the cause as a cause.
The same relation holds with the creator, and maker, and father. A thing is not the cause of itself. Nor is one his own father. For so the first would become the second. Now the cause acts and affects. That which is produced by the cause is acted on and is affected. But the same thing taken by itself cannot both act and be affected, nor can one be son and father. And otherwise the cause precedes in being what is done by it, as the sword, the cutting. And the same thing cannot precede at the same instant as to matter, as it is a cause, and at the same time, also, be after and posterior as the effect of a cause.
Now being differs from becoming, as the cause from the effect, the father from the son. For the same thing cannot both be and become at the same instant; and consequently it is not the cause of itself. Things are not causes of one another, but causes to each other. For the splenetic affection preceding is not the cause of fever, but of the occurrence of fever; and the fever which precedes is not the cause of spleen, but of the affection increasing.
Thus also the virtues are causes to each other, because on account of their mutual correspondence they cannot be separated. And the stones in the arch are causes of its continuing in this category, but are not the causes of one another. And the teacher and the learner are to one another causes of progressing as respects the predicate.
And mutual and reciprocal causes are predicated, some of the same things, as the merchant and the retailer are causes of gain; and sometimes one of one thing and others of another, as the sword and the flesh; for the one is the cause to the flesh of being cut, and the flesh to the sword of cutting. [It is well said,] “An eye for an eye, life for life.” For he who has wounded another mortally, is the cause to him of death, or of the occurrence of death. But on being mortally wounded by him in turn, he has had him as a cause in turn, not in respect of being a cause to him, but in another respect. For he becomes the cause of death to him, not that it was death returned the mortal stroke, but the wounded man himself. So that he was the cause of one thing, and had another cause. And he who has done wrong becomes the cause to another, to him who has been wronged. But the law which enjoins punishment to be inflicted is the cause not of injury, but to the one of retribution, to the other of discipline. So that the things which are causes, are not causes to each other as causes.
It is still asked, if many things in conjunction become many causes of one thing. For the men who pull together are the causes of the ship being drawn down; but along with others, unless what is a joint cause be a cause.
Others say, if there are many causes, each by itself becomes the cause of one thing. For instance, the virtues, which are many, are causes of happiness, which is one; and of warmth and pain, similarly, the causes are many. Are not, then, the many virtues one in power, and the sources of warmth and of pain so, also? and does not the multitude of the virtues, being one in kind, become the cause of the one result, happiness?
But, in truth, Procatarctic causes are more than one both generically and specifically; as, for example, cold, weakness, fatigue, dyspepsia, drunkenness, generically, of any disease; and specifically, of fever. But Synectic causes are so, generically alone, and not also specifically.
For of pleasant odour, which is one thing genetically, there are many specific causes, as p. 567 frankincense, rose, crocus, styrax, myrrh, ointment. For the rose has not the same kind of sweet fragrance as myrrh.
And the same thing becomes the cause of contrary effects; sometimes through the magnitude of the cause and its power, and sometimes in consequence of the susceptibility of that on which it acts. According to the nature of the force, the same string, according to its tension or relaxation, gives a shrill or deep sound. And honey is sweet to those who are well, and bitter to those who are in fever, according to the state of susceptibility of those who are affected. And one and the same wine inclines some to rage, and others to merriment. And the same sun melts wax and hardens clay.
Further, of causes, some are apparent; others are grasped by a process of reasoning; others are occult; others are inferred analogically.
And of causes that are occult, some are occult temporarily, being hidden at one time, and at another again seen clearly; and some are occult by nature, and capable of becoming at no time visible. And of those who are so by nature, some are capable of being apprehended; and these some would not call occult, being apprehended by analogy, through the medium of signs, as, for example, the symmetry of the passages of the senses, which are contemplated by reason. And some are not capable of being apprehended; which cannot in any mode fall under apprehension; which are by their very definition occult.
Now some are Procatarctic, some Synectic, some Joint-causes, some Co-operating causes. And there are some according to nature, some beyond nature. And there are some of disease and by accident, some of sensations, some of the greatness of these, some of times and of seasons.
Procatarctic causes being removed, the effect remains. But a Synectic cause is that, which being present, the effect remains, and being removed, the effect is removed.
The Synectic is also called by the synonymous expression “perfect in itself.” Since it is of itself sufficient to produce the effect.
And if the cause manifests an operation sufficient in itself, the co-operating cause indicates assistance and service along with the other. If, accordingly, it effects nothing, it will not be called even a co-operating cause; and if it does effect something, it is wholly the cause of this, that is, of what is produced by it. That is, then, a co-operating cause, which being present, the effect was produced—the visible visibly, and the occult invisibly.
The Joint-cause belongs also to the genus of causes, as a fellow-soldier is a soldier, and as a fellow-youth is a youth.
The Co-operating cause further aids the Synectic, in the way of intensifying what is produced by it. But the Joint-cause does not fall under the same notion. For a thing may be a Joint-cause, though it be not a Synectic cause. For the Joint-cause is conceived in conjunction with another, which is not capable of producing the effect by itself, being a cause along with a cause. And the Co-operating cause differs from the Joint-cause in this particular, that the Joint-cause produces the effect in that which by itself does not act. But the Co-operating cause, while effecting nothing by itself, yet by its accession to that which acts by itself, co-operates with it, in order to the production of the effect in the intensest degree. But especially is that which becomes co-operating from being Procatarctic, effective in intensifying the force of the cause. 3710
[The book reaches no conclusion, and is evidently a fragment, merely. See Elucidation II.; also Kaye, p. 224.]
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