formal causes

Lois Shawver (
Mon, 11 Mar 1996 11:17:09 -0800 (PST)


Okay, then if I understand you your work is based on the presumption that
cognitions cause behaviors and that these causes can be discerned through
a regression analysis of the behaviors, which would weight the various
cognitions and optimalize their predictive capacity. Right? But you
refer to "formal cause" and so I think you are using the word "cause" in
the Aristolean sense, and I'd like to check out what you mean here.

Let me review Aristotle's theory of causes so we can make sure you and I
are on the same wavelength. Aristotle, of course, postulated 4 causes:
material, efficient, final, formal. The material is that out of which
somthing is made, the efficient, is that force which caused the thing to
become what it is, the final is the desire that set the force in motion,
and the formal is the form of the thing that causes it to be what it is
(as a table is a table because it has the form of a table). Is that what
you mean to imply by your reference to "formal cause"? If not, maybe you
can explain what you mean by the term. If so, would you explain why you
see the variables multiplied by beta weights in regression equations as a
"formal causes"? Is it because the equation has a _form_ that suggests

..Lois Shawver