TABLE OF CONTENTS
Chapter One: Introducing the Basic Issues
1. The Importance of Science
2. Historical Study of Science
3. The Philosophy of Science
4. The Nature of Science.
Chapter Two: History of Science
1. Periods of Science
2. Development of the Method of Science
i. The Pre-Socratic Method
ii. Aristotle’s Method in Antiquity
iii. Aristotle’s Method in the Medieval Period
iv. 17thCentury (Modern) Criticisms of Aristotelian Method
(i). Galileo Galilei
(ii). Francis Bacon
(a) The Idols
(b) Parables of the Ant, Spider and Bee
(iii) Newton and the Scientific Method
(a)Newton’s Three Laws of Motion
v. Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend on Scientific Method
Chapter Three: The Abiding Problems of Philosophy of Science
1. The Problem of Causation (Hume)
2. The Problem of Induction
3. The Nature of Scientific Laws
4. The Mind-Body Problem
5. Nature and Growth of Scientific Knowledge
Chapter Four: The Problems and Promises of Science
1. Scientist’s Social Responsibility
2. Science and Human Values
3. Western Science and the African Predicament
4. Cybernetics and the Human Mind
5. Information Technology and the Vision of a Global Village
6. Science and the Environment
Chapter One Introducing the Basic Issues
1. The Importance of Science
The importance of science cannot be over-emphasized. As a matter of fact it is almost, if not absolutely, impossible to imagine our world without science. Living in the twenty first century is almost synonymous with living the scientific life. Science has touched every aspect of human existence so much that man, today, cannot do without science. Living is today characterized by the use of the discoveries of science which to a large extent makes for safer,faster and easier ways of doing things.
A good instance of a scientific discovery that has positively impacted all aspects of human existence is electricity. Electricity has changed the way we live, play, work, eat and communicate, among others. The invention of electricity gave birth to the idea of electric bulbs, electric kettles, electric heaters,refrigerators, air conditioners, elevators, automated teller machines (ATM), computers and tele-communication, among others. But for the discovery of the scientific phenomenon called electricity, humans would have remained crude, unsafe and at the mercy of the vagaries of nature.
Similarly science has transformed the way we move and transport goods and services. Motorcycles, cars, trains, ships, jets and airplanes have all made movements of people, goods and services, safer, easier and faster. A journey of days from one part of the world to another is today only a matter of hours with air-planes. Livestockare moved in transport facilities that not only ensure their safety, but also ensure fast delivery in any part of the world.
This brings us to the impact of science on agriculture. Hardly does a day go by without the need for food by both humans and animals. Food production is key to survival. Science has impacted on food (crop) production processes from planting, harvesting, storing and distributing. With the inventions of science such as bulldozers, planting machines, harvesters, insecticides and herbicides, among others, farmers today farm with ease and less stress as against the hardship faced by farmers in earlier centuries.
The importance of science is particularly felt in the continued human enterprise of preservation of life. There is the age-long saying that ‘health is wealth’. Human health and human life have benefitted immensely from the growth in the sciences. Life-saving and life-sustaining vaccines, drugs and new therapeutic methods are being discovered from scientific researches all over the world. Humanity has benefited, and continues to benefit, from the advances in the medical sciences with the discovery of medical equipment (armamentarium) that continue to aid in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of medical conditions. The invention of ultrasound machines, dialysis machines and blood pressure monitors have impacted greatly in the prevention of diseases or ailments that would have led to loss of lives.
The place of science in the areas of education and communication cannot be under-estimated. Science is gradually changing the way we teach and learn. Face-to-face teaching is gradually being replaced with virtual learning or e-learning. Face-to-face examination is being replaced with computer-based tests (CBT) or e-examination. More and more books, journals and academic material are becoming more available on the internet as e-books, than does physical libraries. The global educational landscape is therefore being refined and re-defined by the advances in the sciences.
Communication between persons, group of persons, governments, and continents have been made easier and faster with the phenomenon known as Information, Communication and Technology. This invention of science has made it possible for persons, businesses and governments to have access to current and relevant information just by going making use of the internet or going on-line. Timely access to information in turn informs decision making which impacts lives.
We conclude this section with the submission that with the impact that science has made, and continues to make in education, communication, agriculture and health, among others, it becomes almost impossible to imagine our world without science.
2. Historical Study of Science
Haven realized the impossibility of imagining our world without science, we may want to ask: how did science begin? What is the origin of science? Answering these questions requires that we have a sense of history and a sense of the history of science in particular. History itself is a discipline concerned with the understanding, interpretation and representation of the past in relation to man. Historians in general seek to make intelligible the various experiences of the past in relation to man. Just as it is possible to learn from one’s understanding or interpretation of the past, it is possible to learn from the understanding or interpretation of the past of another person. Also, making intelligible understanding of the past happens within particular cultures and also between two or more cultures. In fact cultures are said to be dynamic to the extent that cultures learn from the past. The dynamism of culture is a reflection of the dynamics of history – human understanding, interpretation and representation of the past. Individuals, groups, managements and societies, learn from understanding the past as a way for planning, organizing and controlling the future.
Thus when we relate history with science, we see that history, with respect to science, attempts to understand, interpret and represent the past of science, in relation to man. The discipline History of Science deals with the study of the past of science. Implied in the study of the past of science is the study of the development of science. Historians of science see the need to document and study the growth of science and also the body of knowledge derived there from – that is, scientific knowledge.
In discussing the historical study of science it is important we identify types of knowledge that has become known, with time, as science. Developments in the sciences, as we shall in subsequent sections, show that we can identify three broad areas of knowledge that would qualify as science thus: natural science, social science, formal science and applied science.
It is the concern of natural science to use observation and empirical evidence in describing, predicting and understanding natural phenomena or occurrences. Today such subjects as biology (life or biological science) and physics, chemistry (or physical sciences) would qualify as examples of natural science.
Social science is however science in the sense that it deals with the study of society and the relationship among persons or individuals within a society. Disciplines or subjects such as economics, political science, history and law are considered as social sciences. Man is at the center of the social sciences. The behavior of man in relation to happenings or changes in his environment is of particular interest to the social scientists. To this extent, the term social science was particularly used, especially in the 19th century to refer to sociology, the ‘science of society’.
The historical study of science shows that not all social scientists deploy or use observational and empirical method as tools for understanding society. Social scientists who make use of observation and the methods of the natural sciences are called positivists. While social scientists who use social critique or interpretation of symbols as tools for understanding society, are called interpretivist social scientists. In modern social research however, we find social scientists employing both the positivists and interpretivist approach in the ultimate goal of having a better understanding of the society.
We now turn attention to the formal sciences. An historical study of science would not fail to recognize mathematics, logic, systems theory and information theory, as sciences. Though formal sciences do not depend on empirical observations, the logic or methods of the formal sciences are applicable in all the empirical sciences. Formal sciences being conceptual systems (2 x 2 = 4) lack empirical content. The formal statements of the formal sciences are however, such that, they hold in all possible worlds.
Albert Einstein’s submission on the historical importance of formal sciences is imperative at this juncture. In his celebrated work “Geometry and Experience” published in 1923, Albert Einstein submits that “one reason why mathematics enjoys special esteem, above all other sciences, is that its laws are absolutely certain and indisputable, while those of other sciences are to some extent debatable and in constant danger of being overthrown by newly discovered facts”. Thus, the formal sciences had always aided and contributed to the growth of the other forms of sciences by providing foundational information about the structures of making inferences and describing the natural world.
The above takes us to that aspect of science that applies the findings and outputs of science, that is, the applied sciences. An engagement in the historical study of science cannot but take us to fields like engineering sciences (such as thermodynamics and kinematics) and medical sciences (such as medical microbiology and biomedicine).
The inventions and technologies that man has come to experience with the passage of time are products of the application of the finding of the sciences. Thus applied sciences develop practical applications (technology) or inventions by applying existing scientific knowledge. Without the applied sciences, for example, mankind would have been far from the idea of inventing the internet, which today has helped in creating and shaping the phenomenon called the global village.
Meanwhile we should note the distinction between the history of science and the historiography of science. While the history of science is concerned with the historical study of science and the development of science, the historiography of science deals with the study of the methodology of historians of science. Historiography itself, and speaking etymologically, means the writing of history.
A study of historiography would thus imply the study of the method of writing history. In other words, while the concern of the historian of science is that of studying the origin, growth and development of science and scientific knowledge, it is the goal of the historiographer of science to study the methodology of writing the history of science.
The above outline on the historical study of science shall be further appreciated in chapter two where we come to discuss the ‘Development of the method of Science’. Meanwhile, in line with the theme of this chapter, let us now introduce the next basic issue.
3. The Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of Science is a discipline that attempts a philosophical study of science. Philosophy of science is a field of study where philosophy interrogates science, Understanding the nature, meaning and scope of philosophy of science requires that we, as a first step, have a grasp of what philosophy itself is, and what philosophers do.
Philosophy is perhaps the most difficult field of study to define. Why? Philosophers themselves do not seem to agree on a universally accepted definition of the discipline, philosophy. There exists many conceptions and varied definitions of philosophy.
This is not to say, however, that we cannot identify some key concepts or ideas that are of interest to philosophy and by extension, the philosopher. The philosopher, for example, is a lover of wisdom; he seeks to know the ‘big picture’, if any, including its details and, he doubts even if it is possible to know. The philosopher does not just accept beliefs, traditions and practices; he wants acceptable reasons for such beliefs, traditions and practices. Thinking is like breathing to the philosopher. Just as humans breathe for life, the philosopher thinks, for existence. The philosopher abhors dogmatism; he is open-minded and never believes a belief cannot be challenged.
Against the background of the above interests, likes and dislikes of the philosopher, and for the purposes of this work, we shall attempt a working definition of philosophy. By philosophy we shall mean a critical attitude to all of existence, be it social, spiritual or scientific. Philosophy as conceived implies critical or rational thinking about the totality of what exists or may possibly exist. The tools of philosophy include logic, reasoning and argumentation.
Philosophy has come to be characterized with five major branches and several sub-branches. The major branches of philosophy include metaphysics (the study of being), epistemology (the study of knowledge), logic (the science of good thinking), ethics (the study of morality) aesthetics (study of art or beauty).
Examples of sub-branches of philosophy include philosophy of law (a philosophical inquiry of the nature of law and interplay between law, morality and philosophy) and, philosophy of religion (a philosophical inquiry of the subject-matter of religion and an interplay between philosophy and religion). The philosophy of science is an even more interesting sub-branch of philosophy. A discipline concerned with the philosophical examination of science, the philosophy of science is an interplay of science and, all of what is considered today, the major branches of philosophy – metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics and aesthetics.
The branch of philosophy called metaphysics is related to science in the sense that science attempts to answer the central question of metaphysics ‘what is reality?’. Epistemology, the study of knowledge, queries science: ‘how do we know?’ and ‘how do we know that we know?’. Logic, the study of good thinking, asks science: is scientific reasoning good thinking?’. Ethics, the study of morality, seeks to know, from the scientist, the rightness or goodness of scientific knowledge’. Lastly but not the least, aesthetics, the study of beauty, demands from science: ‘what is the relation between beauty and truth?’.
Deducible from the foregoing is the submission that the philosophy of science is concerned with thinking about science in manners that are describable as metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, logical and aesthetical. We define philosophy of science as the critical examination of the assumptions, practices and implications of science. It is for example the interest of the philosophy of science to seek answers to questions such as ‘what is science?’, ‘what is a scientific law?’, and ‘what is the purpose of science?’, among others. The philosopher of science attempts to seek answers to these questions, among others, in a manner that is critical, logical and rational.
In line with the nature of philosophy, the philosophy of science does not provide uniform or universally accepted answers to the questions it seeks to address, such as ‘what qualifies as science?’ and ‘what is the relation between science and truth?’. In essence philosophers of science hold divergent views on the nature, method and purpose of science. Interestingly, however, this lack of consensus among philosophers of science, have continued to help in shaping, defining and re-defining the content and progress of science through the ages. If there is a police for science, the philosophy of science would infact qualify that description. Through the ages, the philosophers of science have asked metaphysical, epistemological and ethical questions concerning science, scientific knowledge, and scientific practices.
In the philosophy of science we find interplay between philosophy and science. Thinking or philosophizing about the nature of existence informs the scientific or empirical quest for knowledge about reality. The responses generated by the scientific quest for the nature of existence do not pass without being subjected to the rigor of the philosophers tools of critical reasoning; argumentation, logic and analysis.
Interests in the philosophy of science have developed to the extent that this sub-branch of philosophy is increasingly becoming a major discipline with its own sub-branches. Today for example, we can identify philosophy of specific sciences as briefly described below.
(i) Philosophy of medicine: a sub-branch of philosophy of science concerned with the epistemology and metaphysics of medicine. The philosophy of medicine asks the epistemological question: how is medical knowledge generated. There is also the metaphysical or ontological question of causation: what causal relationship exists between diseases and well-being or ill health.
(ii) Philosophy of biology: as a sub-branch of philosophy of science, the philosophy of biology is concerned with the issues that are of a metaphysical, epistemological and ethical dimension in biology. The philosopher of biology, for example, seeks to investigate the foundations of evolutionary theory, which is a central theme in biology.
(iii) Philosophy of chemistry: the discipline concerned with the philosophical study of the method and interests of the science of chemistry, the philosophy of chemistry raise asks, for example: is it possible to explain all chemical phenomena in terms of quantum mechanics. The seemingly simple question about the possibility of explaining all chemical phenomena in physical terms, have generated documented arguments to the effect that it is possible, after all to reduce chemistry to physics.
(iv) Philosophy of physics: the philosophy of physics is concerned with the study of the basic questions or fundamental assumptions underlying physics – which attempts a study of the nature of, and interaction between, matter and energy. Philosophers of physics raise and seek answers to questions such as: what is the nature of space and time?, what is the nature of atoms?, and what is the nature of physical laws, among others.
(v) Philosophy of social science: this is a philosophical concern with the logic and method used in the social sciences. Philosophers of the social sciences ask: what are the differences or similarities between the social and natural sciences and; do scientific laws have the same characteristics as social laws, if really there are social laws?
Answers to the questions and issues raised in the philosophy of social sciences have implications for the social sciences including, sociology anthropology and political science. Contemporary literature on the philosophy of social sciences, however indicate that the philosophy of economics and the philosophy of psychology are becoming independent sub-branches of the philosophy of science. The philosophy of economics and the philosophy of psychology are both rooted however in the epistemological quest for knowledge and the metaphysical quest for explanation of the nature of causal relations. While the philosophy of economics is concerned with the study of the foundations and morality of economics, the philosophy of psychology is on the other hand concerned with the study of the methodology or theoretical foundations of psychological investigations.
With the foregoing outline on the history of philosophy of science, we now direct attention to addressing the next basic issue, science
4. The Nature of Science
The word science is from the Latin scientia meaning ‘know’. In English it denotes ‘knowledge’. Technically, and historically speaking however science refers, first, to that kind of knowledge which people can communicate and share, and second, to the methods or process of acquiring such knowledge. Speaking generally, by science or scientific knowledge is also meant that body of knowledge about the natural world that is not only practical or empirical but could also lead to further observation, explanation and prediction of natural occurrences. Thus, science is not just a body of knowledge about natural phenomena, but a body of ordered and systematized knowledge of natural phenomena.
William Whewell (1794–1866) is known to have coined the term scientist to refer that individual who in the quest of knowledge about the world uses observation and experimentation. Scholars or students of nature before William Whewell were mostly referred to as Natural Philosophers.
Identifying what should pass or go as science can be problematic. There is for example the universally unresolved problem of distinguishing science from non-science. In the philosophy of science this is called the demarcation problem. If we define science in terms of observation or experimentation would psychoanalysis and macroeconomics qualify, for example as science? Responses to the demarcation problem of distinguishing between science and non-science have continued to characterize the philosophy of science.
It is also in the nature of science to take the enterprise of discovering the truth its ultimate objective. Practitioners of science, scientists, conduct their research in a manner that they attempt to give final answers to the questions of existence. Whether or not science, will, can or would not be able to discover the truth about ultimate reality is another discourse that has generated philosophical interest through the ages.
Another key feature of science is that its findings are manipulate-able in such a way that we can make predictions and inventions. The science of weather forecasting makes it possible for example, for us to make predictions concerning seasons (rainy, dry and summer). Such predictions make it possible for individuals, industries and governments to plan. Similarly application of the findings of science – technology – has benefited man through the years. The predictive and inventive nature of (the findings of) science, makes science a powerful tool in the hands of man.
We understand the nature of science further if we go down history to see what characterized the development and growth of the phenomena science, and scientific knowledge.
CHAPTER TWO HISTORY OF SCIENCE
1. Periods of Science
History of science, as discussed in chapter one, is concerned with the historical study of science. Historians of science are interested in studying the process, progress and content of science, over time. The method and content of what is called science has been shaped, and continues to be shaped by human experiences over time. The best method prescribe-able, perhaps, for studying the history of science, is that of studying the development of the method of science. In a lot of ways, the history of science implies the history of the method of science.
The history of science is quite synonymous with the content of science to the extent that what informs the content of science is shaped by historical realities. Against the background of the fact that scientific knowledge (or content of science) is influenced by scientific methods or thinking of different epochs or periods, we adopt a periodization method based on the development of the scientific method. Impliedly covered in this periodization method are the Greek period, the medieval period, the modern period and the period 20th and 21st centuries, which contextually, may also be referred to as the postmodern period.
2. Development of the Method of Science
i. The Pre-Socratic Method
What we refer to today as the method of science dates back to man’s earliest attempt to understand nature for the purpose of sustaining himself. Man’s early quest for knowledge through observation birthed science. Man realized that there was the need to conquer nature for the provision of basic needs - food, shelter and clothing. Thus Pre-historic man was inquisitive about nature. To satisfy man’s basic needs, pre-historic man needed to understand the workings of nature – the sun, the moon and the earth, among others. Aided by observing the changes in nature – seasonal changes, for example – man began to make predictions and distinctions about his environment: night and day, cold and hot, dry and wet and, planting and non-planting season, among others.
Pre-historic societies were characterized by some form of elementary science. Early man engaged in agricultural practices that required some knowledge about soil, seed and storage, among others. Pre-literate societies across the world pass knowledge about their understanding of the natural world through oral communication from generation to generation.
The earliest documentation of man’s quest for knowledge dates back to the Greek Pre-Socratic philosophers: Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Empedocles, among others. As we shall see further, the pre-Socratic philosophers were concerned with the question: what is the ultimate stuff of reality? Before the advent of the Greek philosophers however, we find instances of quest for knowledge in early cultures. In Ancient Near East, and around 3500BC for example, the people of Mesopotamia attempted a numerical (data) documentation of some observations about nature. Mesopotamian tablets, around 1900 BC documents early instances of Pythagoras laws, which today is well articulated by the Pythagoras theorem.
Similarly todays Western calendars (solar year and lunar month) are largely influenced by early Babylonian astronomy. Babylonians observed and documented motions of the moon, stars and planets on several tablets. Kidinnu, a popular Chaldean mathematician and astronomer, is for example known to a great extent to have given astronomical occurrences the best mathematical explanation possible.
Generally speaking however, the Greek Age is referred to as the period that actually gave birth to the development of the scientific method.
The Greek thinkers that predated Socrates, commonly referred to as the pre-Socratic philosophers, were pre-occupied with the quest for knowledge about the ultimate stuff of reality. The Pre-Socratic philosophers include the Milesians (for example, Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes); the Pythagoreans (Pythagoras and Philolaus, for example); the Ephesians (majorly Heraclitus); the Eleatics (for example, Xenophanes and Parmenides); the Pluralists (Empedocles and Anaxagoras, for instance) and the Atomists (Leucippus and Democritus); among others.
To see how the pre-Socratic philosophers impacted on the development of the scientific method, we discuss some of the key contributions of selected Pre-Socratics, with particular reference to what they conceive to be the ultimate reality.
a. Thales (624-546BCE). According to Thales, the ultimate element worthy of attention in the quest for understanding nature is water. Thales, by this submission, was the first of the Pre-Socratics to attempt an explanation of nature without reference to the gods or prevailing mythologies.
b. Anaximander (610BC-546BC). For Anaximander the ultimate or first principle is the apeiron (unidentified, unlimited substance without qualities). According to Anaximander the primary opposites, hot and cold, moist and dry are different forms of the apeiron, which explains every other natural phenomena.
c. Anaximenes (585BC – 525BC). Anaximenes postulated air as the ultimate reality from which every other creation originates. For Anaximenes, other things in nature are explainable in terms of the thickening and thinning of air, for instance into fire, wind, clouds, water and earth.
d. Pythagoras (582-496 BCE): In attempting a non-theistic account of nature, as did his predecessors, Pythagoras proffered a mathematical understanding of existence. The world, according to Pythagoras is a perfect harmony, dependent on numbers. He is the founder of the influential movement called Pythagoreanism, to which the Pythagorean Theorem is credited.
e. Heraclitus (535-475 BCE): According to Heraclitus all things are in a constant flux. Thus he submits, no man steps into the same water twice’. The perpetual flux in nature is, according to Heraclitus, linked to and supported by a logical pattern called the Logos. At the heart of Heraclitus’s Logos is fire, from which, in a process of eternal cycles, all things originate and return.
f. Xenophanes (570-470 BCE), Parmenides (510-440 BCE) and Zeno (490-430 BCE): The trio of Xenophanes, Parmenides and Zeno, commonly referred to as the Eleatics, proffered the doctrine of the One, the eternal unity which permeates and governs the universe. The One, for the Eleatics, is unchanging. The Eleatics put up a number of arguments and paradoxes to demonstrate that change is only an appearance, and not real.
g. Empedocles (490-430 BCE) and Anaxagoras(500-428 BCE): The duo of Empedocles and Anaxagoras, commonly referred to as the Pluralists, agree in part, and also disagree in some part with the Eleatics. While maintaining the unchanging nature of substance for example, Empedocles still supposes the plurality of substances – earth, water, air and fire, governed by two forces, love and strife. Anaxagoras on the other hand postulated Mind (Nous) as the motive force or divine reason (principle) ordering the imperishable primary elements (earth, water, air, and fire)
h. Leucippus (5th century BCE) and Democritus (460-370 BCE): The history of science credits the Atomists, Leucippus and Democritus with the enterprise of being the first scholars to articulate the world not just in terms of matter but also in terms of a materialistic system, founded on the doctrine of atoms; infinite in number, atoms are primary, indivisible and imperishable bodies, from which are derived bodies, as they eternally collide and unite through the infinite void.
What informed the Pre-Socratic Method of Science is then the need to have a holistic explanation for nature. This quest for the nature of existence resulted, in the ultimate to the question: what is the ultimate stuff of reality? As shown above the Pre-Socratic philosophers differ in answer and approach to the question of identifying the ultimate element of the universe. The Pre-Socratics however laid the foundation for the method of science – critical reasoning. The deployment of critical reasoning in the study of nature, largely devoid of appeal to gods or theistic explanations, distinguished the Pre-Socratics as early scientists or natural philosophers. That the Pre=Socratic method of critical reasoning impacted much on the scientific method is evidenced by the factone of the 20th century’s influential philosopher, Karl Popper, acknowledged and emphasized the critical tradition in the development of his epistemological theories. As a matter of fact and tribute to the Pre-Socratics, Karl Popper’s influential book Conjectures and Refutations - The Growth of Scientific Knowledge in fact, included an essay “Back to the Pre-Socratics".
B. Aristotle’s Method in Antiquity
Aristotle (384 – 322 BC), a student of Plato developed in antiquity the Aristotelian Method, a critical and empirical method, which has contributed to the development of the scientific method. Central to Aristotle’s method in antiquity is the submission that there are four different types of simultaneously active causal factors that account for anything coming about or coming into existence. In his books, Physics and Metaphysics, Aristotle outlines these causes as material cause, formal cause, efficient cause and final cause.
Material Cause: The material cause of a thing refers to the material out of which a thing is made. The material cause of a football is rubber, and the material cause of a wooden table is wood. The material cause of an object, say a wood, also explains the general sort of properties of the object. For example, the reason wooden furniture burns is because they are made up of, or composed of wood.
Formal Cause: The formal cause of a thing, according to Aristotle, refers to its form or pattern. The form or pattern that a thing takes denotes the arrangement of the matter of which that thing is composed. Formal cause is what distinguishes a thing one thing and different from other things. The organization of cells in human bodies, for example distinguish human bodies from animal bodies. The idea or mental image of what an artist or architect intends to draw or create, is for example a formal cause. Thus there exist two dimensions to the formal cause of a thing: first, as an idea that exists in the mind of the artist or architect, and second, as the intrinsic cause embodied in the matter.
Efficient Cause: The efficient cause of a thing refers to that from which change proceeds. Thus the carpenter that shapes matter into a table, is regarded as the efficient cause of the table. Note must be taken however that the efficient cause of a thing could refer to living and non-living things. What this implies is that living and non-living things could be agent or ‘primary source’ of change, motion or rest. Efficient cause in essence answers the question ‘what did that?’