formally, virtually, and eminently

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In scholastic terminology, an effect is contained formally in a cause, when the same nature in the effect is present in the cause: fire causes heat, and the heat is present in the fire. An effect is virtually in a cause when this is not so, as when a pot or statue is caused by an artist. An effect is eminently in a cause when the cause is more perfect than the effect: God eminently contains the perfections of his creation. The distinctions are part of the view that causation is essentially a matter of transferring something, like passing on the baton in a relay race.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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