chapter  3
69 Pages

The Historical Background

There is a sense in which it can be argued that a primitive notion of psychic causality was the first conception of causality. The animistic cosmogony explains natural events as the effects of the occult operation of so many souls, spirits, or wills.2 The pre-Socratic concept of causation was, in large part, a projection of the psychological, moral, and juridical concept of human responsibility onto nature. Anaximander, for example, refers to the actions of one element upon the others as "injustices," for which each makes reparation to the other: "the warm elements committing an injustice in summer and the cold in winter" (Copleston, 1962, p. 41).