African Philosophy: Traditional Yoruba Philosophy and Contemporary African Realities

By Segun Gbadegesin | Go to book overview

5
CAUSALITY AND THE CONCEPT OF HEALTH AND ILLNESS
In a useful essay on the concept of cause, R. J. Collingwood identifies three senses of the term 'cause' as follows:
Sense 1: That which is caused is the free and deliberate act of a conscious and responsible agent. Such agents may be non-human provided that they are believed to act in the same conscious ways attributed to human agents. 1 Here, 'causing' an agent to do something means affording him or her a motive for doing it; and 'causing' is synonymous with compelling, inducing, forcing, persuading etc. Thus, "Ojo's death is caused by Ade"; "Ancestral wrath is caused by the neglect of the offspring" are good examples of this usage.
Sense 2: That which is caused, X, is an event in nature, and it is caused by another event or state of affairs, Y, which can be produced or prevented by a human agent, as a means to producing or preventing X. Here, Y, as the cause of X is within the power of the agent to bring about or prevent. 2 Thus, "The accident was caused by brake failure"; "Mosquito bite is the cause of malaria"; "Aina's dullness is caused by witchcraft" are good examples of this usage.
Sense 3: That which is caused is an event or state of affairs, X, and its cause is another event or state of affairs, Y, which stands in a one-one relation of causal priority to it such that [a] if Y, then X necessarily follows; and [b] X occurs only if Y occurs. Here causation designates the dependence of events in nature on one another, but not necessarily on humans. 3 Thus, "climatic change is caused by the

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