From Ibn sīnā to Ockham
Later medieval philosophers typically recognize natural, rational, and divine agents. This generous view of the scope of efficient causality invites several debates about its character. Some of these focus on differences between creative and natural efficient causes. Others have to do with differences between natural and free agents. The relationship between efficient causality and final causality is also at issue. These debates contribute to the development of several influential ideas related to efficient causation: the definition of the efficient cause as a giver of being, the view that causal necessity is akin to logical necessity, the identification of a self-moving will as the source of freedom, the view that the efficient cause depends on the final cause for its causality, and the view that only cognitive agents can act for ends. This chapter traces the development of these ideas in the work of several philosophers, starting with Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) and ending with William of Ockham.
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