Persons and causes: beyond Aristotle

While Aristotle does not consider (as Libet) the physical universe causally closed, his understanding of causality is insufficient: 1. Aristotle does not grasp the indispensable role of persons for the “four causes” he distinguishes: Physical efficient causality can neither explain itself nor the entire chain of physical events, nor is it the primary form of causality, nor sufficient to explain personal agency. Also formal and final causality are inexplicable without persons. Without the essential relation to persons efficient, formal, and final causes are impossible and unintelligible. Moreover, Aristotle attributes wrongly fundamental traits (to be the source of individual being and the ultimate subject of form and change) to material causality as such, which is incorrect, because these traits belong more perfectly to spiritual persons. 2. There are entirely new causes of human acts that cannot be subsumed under the four causes encountered in intentionality, cognitive relations to objects, human motivation and behavior etc., which, when reduced to efficient causes (let alone to mere brain-causes) are entirely misconstrued. If such a reductionist causal theory were true, its truth would destroy the cognitive value of the theory itself which advances such a causal reductionism. Therefore a personalist rethinking of causality is necessary.


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