Creation and Artifice: The Metaphysics of Primary and Secondary Causality

31st May 2017
Room 2.1, Second Floor
The Institute of Ismaili Studies
210 Euston Road
United Kingdom


Prof. Taylor will explicate the notion of primary and secondary causality as it appears in various forms in philosophical thinkers of the Greek, Arabic and Latin traditions, including Plotinus, Proclus, the Plotiniana Arabica, the Kalām fī maḥḍ al-khayr (Latin: Liber de causis), al-Fārābī, Ibn Sīnā, Ibn Rushd and Thomas Aquinas. He will then address the following questions: (i) Does this notion necessarily entail efficient creative causality (i.e. “creation”) or can it also be applied to Aristotelian efficient causality of motion, final causality and formal causality? (ii) What, if any, is the relation of the notion of creation to the concept of primary and secondary causality in the contexts of these thinkers? Finally, he will conclude with some remarks on the papers of the workshop.*


* This is a Plenary Lecture preceding the workshop on this topic organised by The Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ International Working Group at the Warburg Institute (1-2 June). For more information on the workshop see


Prof. Richard Taylor

Prof. Richard C. Taylor (Ph.D. Medieval Studies and Philosophy. University of Toronto, 1981) has completed 35 years as professor of philosophy at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he has regularly taught graduate and undergraduate classes on ancient and medieval philosophy. He is also a member of the DeWulf-Mansion Center for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium where since 2011 he has regularly co-taught with Prof. Andrea Robiglio the course, Aquinas in Context, with special emphasis on the importance of the Arabic philosophical tradition for the thought of Aquinas. He is co-editor with Peter Adamson of The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy (2005) and with Luis López-Farjeat of The Routledge Companion to Islamic Philosophy (2015). He has also published the translation, Averroes (Ibn Rushd) of Cordoba. Long Commentary on the De Anima of Aristotle (2009, Th.-A. Druart, subeditor) with an extensive introduction on the philosophical psychology of Averroes. He is co-founder and current director of the Aquinas and ’the Arabs’ Project which promotes the study of Arabic / Islamic philosophy in its own right and in its influence on the medieval Latin philosophical and theological traditions. He is editor of the new Brepols book series, Philosophy in Abrahamic Traditions of the Middle Ages. He has written on the Kalaminfo-icon fi mahd al-khair / Liber de causis, the Plotiniana Arabica, al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes and Aquinas. He has published over 20 articles on the thought of Averroes. A recent recipient of a three-year Fulbright Global Flex Fellowship to teach and research on Aquinas and the Arabic philosophical tradition, he is currently working on a book manuscript on this topic. In May-June of 2016 he taught an intensive seminar on this topic at Marmara University Divinity School and he will teach on the same topic in Fall 2017 at KU Leuven and in Spring 2018 at the University of Pisa.