1st Edition

Cause and Explanation in Ancient Philosophy

Edited By Alberto Ross, Daniel Vázquez Copyright 2024

    This volume offers an updated analysis of the use, meaning, and scope of the classical notion of aitia. It clarifies philosophical and philological questions about aitia and offers bold and innovative interpretations of this key concept of ancient philosophy.

    The numerous meanings and nuances of aitia remain difficult to grasp. Ancient philosophers use aitia to explain the existence and activity of substances, bodies, souls, or gods. Paradoxically, its own definition remains difficult to establish. This book reconstructs some of the most important uses, variants, and scopes of the term aitia within different philosophical perspectives in antiquity, including early Greek philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism, and Islamic philosophy. The chapters analyze metaphysical aspects, epistemological issues, and logical implications of aitia. They engage with the most relevant critical literature generated in several modern languages. In doing so, they offer an inclusive and overarching re-evaluation of our assumptions about causation and explanation in ancient philosophy.

    Cause and Explanation in Ancient Philosophy will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working on Pre-Socratic philosophy, Plato, Aristotle, Hellenistic philosophy, late antiquity, and medieval philosophy.

    Introduction Alberto Ross

    1. Note on the original meaning of Greek aitios David Lévystone

    2. What good is the Form of the Good? Mary Margaret McCabe

    3. That’s What Makes the World Go Round: Causation in the Myth in the Statesman Saloni de Souza and Daniel Vázquez

    4. Chance, Necessity, and Demiurgic Causation in the Timaeus Viktor Ilievski

    5. Causality and Explanation in Aristotle: logoseidos and tropos Alberto Ross

    6. Aristotle with prime matter Cristina Viano

    7. Aristotle on the efficiency of accidental causes José María Llovet Abascal

    8. The Relevance of Environmental Conditions as Causes for Animal Generation in Aristotle María-Elena García-Peláez

    9. Aristotle’s causes and the problem of the necessity of our actions Carlo Natali

    10. Theories of Causation in Early Stoicism Daniel Vázquez

    11. The scientific epistemology of al-Naẓẓām Michael Chase

    12. Recovering Causality? Ibn Taymiyya on the Creation of the World Luis Xavier López-Farjeat


    Alberto Ross is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Universidad Panamericana, Mexico. His works include The Causality of the Prime Mover in Metaphysics Λ (2016); Causality, Nature and Fate in Alexander of Aphrodisias (2016); The Causality of the Prime Mover in Simplicius (2020); and he coedited the volume Time and Cosmology in Plato and the Platonic Tradition (2022).

    Daniel Vázquez is Associate Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. He is also a member of the Trinity Plato Centre. He has published in various areas of ancient philosophy, especially on Plato, the Stoics, and the skepticism of Sextus Empiricus. He is coeditor of Time and Cosmology in Plato and the Platonic Tradition (2022) and Plato on Time and the World (2023).