Theory Of Causation

Theory Of Causation

Theory Of Causation: Let us first consider the Sankhya theory of causation on which its doctrine of Prakrti is based. The basic question involved in any theory o f causation is: Does the effect pre-exist in its material cause?

Those who answer this question in the negative are called Asatkaryavadins, while those who answer it in the affirmative are called Satkaryavadins. According to the former, the effect is a new creation, a real beginning.

The effect (karya) does not pre-exist (asat) in its material cause. Otherwise, there would be no sense in saying that it is produced or caused.

If the pot already exists in the clay and the cloth in the threads and curd in milk, then why should the potter exert himself in producing the pot out of the clay, and why should not the threads serve the purpose of the cloth and why should not milk taste like curd?

Moreover, its production would be its repeated birth which is nonsense. Nyaya, Vaishesika, Hinayana Buddhism, Materialism and some followers of Mimamsa believe in Asatkaryavada, which is also known as Arambhavada,  the view that production is a new beginning.

Materialism believes in Svabhavavada; Hinayana Buddhism in Anitya – paramanuvada or Ksanabhangavada and Nyaya-Vaishesika and some followers of Mimamsa in Nitya-paramanu-karanavada.

The Satkaryavadins, on the other hand, believe that the effect is not a new creation, but only an explicit manifestation of that which was implicitly contained in its material cause. Here, another important question arises: Is the effect a real transformation or an unreal appearance of its cause?

Those who believe that the effect is a real transformation of its cause are called Parina-mavadins (parinama= real modification); while those who believe that it is an unreal appearance are called Vivartavadins (vivarta = unreal appearance). Sankhya, Yoga and Ramanuja believe in Parinamavada.

The view of Sankhya-Yoga is called Prakrti-Parinamavada, while the view of Ramanuja is called Brahma-Parinamavada. Shunyavada, Vijnanavada and Shankara believe in Vivartavada. Their views may be respectively called Shunyata-vivarta-vada, Vijnana-vivarta-vada and Brahma-vivarta-vada.

The view of Jainism and of Kumarila may be called Sadasatkaryavada because according to them the effect is both real as well as unreal before its production— real as identical with the cause and unreal as a modal change thereof, though ultimately both incline towards Parinamavada.

                    Sankhya believes in Satkaryavada. All material effects are the modification (parinama) of Prakrti. They pre-exist in the eternal bosom of Prakrti and simply come out of it at the time of creation and return to it at the time of dissolution. There is neither new production nor utter destruction.

Production means development or manifestation (avir-bhava); destruction means envelopment or dissolution (tirobhava). Production is evolution; destruction is involution. Sankhya gives five arguments in support of Satkaryavada :

  1. If the effect does not pre-exist in its cause, it becomes a mere nonentity like the hare’s horn or the sky-flower and can never be produced (asadakaranat).
  2. The effect is only a manifestation of its material cause, because it is invariably connected with it (upadanagrahanat).
  3. Everything cannot be produced out of everything. This suggests that the effect, before its manifestation, is implicit in its material cause (sarvasambhavabhavat).
  4. Only an efficient cause can produce that for which it is potent. This again means that the effect, before its manifestation, is potentially contained in its material cause. Production is only an actualization of the potential (shaktasya shakya-karanat). Were it not so, then curd should be produced out of water, and cloth out of reeds, and oil out of sand particles.
  5. The effect is the essence of its material cause and as such identical with it. When the obstructions in the way of manifestation are removed, the effect naturally flows out of its cause. The cause and the effect are the implicit and the explicit stages of the same process. The cloth is contained in the threads, the oil in the oil-seeds, the curd in the milk. The effect pre-exists in its material cause (karanabhavat).