Friday, November 04, 2005

efficient vs final causes

Kenny has an interesting post on Leibniz on "Efficient" vs. "Final" Causes in Physics. It is an interesting point that any event has many "causes" each which are causes of Leibniz says

Moreover, it is unreasonable to introduce a supreme intelligence as orderer of things and then, instead of using his wisdom, use only the properties of matter to explain the phenomena. This is as if, in order to account for the conquest of an important place by a great prince, a historian were to claim that it occurred because the small particles of gunpowder, set off by the contact of a spark, escaped with sufficient speed to push a hard and heavy body against the walls of the place, while the little particles that make up the brass of the cannon were so firmly interlaced that this speed did not separate them, instead of showing how the foresight of the conqueror enabled him to choose suitable means and times and how his power overcame all obstacles.

This sort of thing results in many people (not jsut theists and athiests ) having nonsese arguments about what is the "real" cause.


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