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Efficient CausationA History$
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Tad M. Schmaltz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199782185

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199782185.001.0001

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Efficient Causation in

Efficient Causation in

Late Antiquity and the Earlier Medieval Era

(p.83) Chapter Three Efficient Causation in
Efficient Causation

Ian Wilks

Oxford University Press

The Platonic understanding of efficient causation restricts this entirely to the operations of the soul. Bodies are not to be counted as substances, and therefore lack what is required for involvement in genuine relations of efficient causation, a view both affirmed and entrenched within the Christian tradition by Augustine’s discussion of the sense in which the human soul exercises free will. The ninth-century figure Eriugena presents a detailed picture of how nature looks under this assumption. By the late eleventh century, however, a tradition of natural speculation is clearly developing, which is open to the idea of construing relations of efficient causation as holding among bodies. Even in the writings of Anselm we find early intimations of this outlook. But we see it present in developed and unmistakable form in the scientific speculations of such twelfth-century figures as Adelard of Bath and William of Conches.

Keywords:   Adelard of Bath, Anselm, Augustine, efficient causation, Eriugena, free will, Platonism, souls, William of Conches

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