[asa] Re: Malebranche and Causes

From: Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca>
Date: Thu Oct 30 2008 - 17:35:20 EDT

I'd really appreciate it if someone could explain this notion of primary (or First) cause and secondary causes more in depth. I've read about it (as well as having read Malebranche), but the notion seems confusing, especially when compared with Aristotle's four causes, none of which is called 'primary' or 'secondary.'
Can we attribute this primary/secondary distinction mainly to Aquinas? Is it mainly meant to deal with theodicy? Should it hold as a necessary dichotomy or an unnecessary one (e.g. George might bring in natura naturans here)?

As it is, Malebranche seems not so easy to dismiss, for example, when reading something like Freeman Dyson's Templeton lecture.
If this need take the form of another thread, in any case, I'd be glad to hear some views on this.
Regards, G.

--- On Thu, 10/30/08, George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com> wrote:

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Subject: Re: Malebranche (Was Re: [asa] Advice for conversing with YECs (miracle timing))
To: asa@calvin.edu
Received: Thursday, October 30, 2008, 10:36 PM

Moorad -
I'm no expert at all on Malebranche & will gladly yield to Dave S concerning what his detailed position was.  On the broader question thought, I agree that God is the First Cause who cooperates with 2d causes, & that the latter is what science studies.  I would emphasize that 2d causes are real causes so that, inter alia, humans are real agents.
The traditional view of providence is that God preserves creatures, cooperates with them in their actions, and governs creation toward God's desired ends.  If we think of creatures as having static natures then we'll picture providence as God keeping those natures in existence & then concurring in their motions.  The similarity of this view with the Newtonian picture that I sketched earlier is significant, though it's originally Aristotelian.  But things in the world aren't inert.  They are "composed" of the same interactions that are involved in their motions.  It seems to me then that we ought to understand God's cooperation with creatures as fundamental, and to say that God preserves creatures precisely by cooperating with them.
I discussed divine action in http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2001/PSCF3-01Murphy.html & in greater detail in Chapter 6 of The Cosmos in the Light of the Cross.
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Received on Thu Oct 30 17:39:35 2008

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