Primary and Secondary Causality

Authored by: Richard C. Taylor

The Routledge Companion to Islamic Philosophy

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  August  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415881609
eBook ISBN: 9781315708928
Adobe ISBN: 9781317484332


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In the study of philosophy today, the nature of primary and secondary causality is often discussed under the headings of creation, concurrence, and conservation. Each of these involves consideration of the way God as primary cause efficiently brings about and sustains reality as a whole, and even acts through other secondary causes to sustain all individual things. Different from Deism which generally requires Divine involvement only at the start of the universe, and from Occasionalism (Lee 2014) which requires Divine immediate involvement in every action in the universe, the doctrine of primary and secondary causality takes a middle ground. It seeks to explain how the Divine first cause is both remote from lower effects arising from a plurality of intermediary causes and at the same time somehow powerfully present to those distant effects (Kvanvig 2007).

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