TNH 1.3.14.28

Before leaving this subject I shall draw some corollaries from my theory—ones that will enable us to remove four prejudices and popular errors that have held sway in philosophy. (1) We can learn from my doctrine that all causes are of the same kind, and that there is no basis for distinguishing •making causes from •enabling causes, or for sorting out causes according to whether they are

efficient,
formal,
material,
exemplary,
or final.

[The efficient cause of a coin is the stamping of a die on hot metal, its formal cause is its roundness etc., its material cause is the metal it is made of, and its final cause is the commercial end for which the coin was made. The notion of ‘exemplary cause’, employed by some mediaeval philosophers wishing to combine Plato with Christianity, can’t be briefly explained here.] Our idea of efficiency ·or making· is derived from the constant conjunction of two ·kinds of· objects; when this is observed the cause is efficient; and where it is not, there is no cause of any kind. For the same reason we must deny that there is any essential difference between cause and occasion. If constant conjunction is implied in what we call ‘occasion’, it is a real cause. If not, it isn’t a ·natural· relation at all, and can’t give rise to any argument or reasoning. [Some philosophers, notably Malebranche, held that created things cannot really act on one another, and that what happens in billiards (for example) is that God causes the cue-ball to move on the occasion of its being struck by the cue.]

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