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Causality


Causality is an influence by which one event, process, state, or object (a cause) contributes to the production of another event, process, state, or object (an effect) where the cause is partly responsible for the effect, and the effect is partly dependent on the cause. In general, a process has many causes,[1] which are also said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of, or causal factor for, many other effects, which all lie in its future. Some writers have held that causality is metaphysically prior to notions of time and space.[2][3][4]
Causality is an abstraction that indicates how the world progresses.[5] As such it is a basic concept; it is more apt to be an explanation of other concepts of progression than something to be explained by other more fundamental concepts. The concept is like those of agency and efficacy. For this reason, a leap of intuition may be needed to grasp it.[6][7] Accordingly, causality is implicit in the logic and structure of ordinary language,[8] as well as explicit in the language of scientific causal notation.
In English studies of Aristotelian philosophy, the word "cause" is used as a specialized technical term, the translation of Aristotle's term αἰτία, by which Aristotle meant "explanation" or "answer to a 'why' question". Aristotle categorized the four types of answers as material, formal, efficient, and final "causes". In this case, the "cause" is the explanans for the explanandum, and failure to recognize that different kinds of "cause" are being considered can lead to futile debate. Of Aristotle's four explanatory modes, the one nearest to the concerns of the present article is the "efficient" one.
David Hume, as part of his opposition to rationalism, argued that pure reason alone cannot prove the reality of efficient causality; instead, he appealed to custom and mental habit, observing that all human knowledge derives solely from experience.
The topic of causality remains a staple in contemporary philosophy.

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