Causa sui

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For the Danish band, see Causa Sui (band).

Causa sui (Latin pronunciation: [kawsa sʊi], meaning "cause of itself" in Latin) denotes something which is generated within itself. This concept was central to the works of Baruch Spinoza, Sigmund Freud, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Ernest Becker, where it relates to the purpose that objects can assign to themselves. In Freud and Becker's case, the concept was often used as an immortality vessel, where something could create meaning or continue to create meaning beyond its own life.

Norman O. Brown, in his masterpiece, Life Against Death, argues Sigmund Freud's Oedipal complex is essentially the causa Sui (father-of-oneself) project where, after the traumatic recognition that we are separate from the mother; that we are 'other,' we seek for reunification with the mother.[1]

In traditional Western theism, even though God cannot be created by any other force or being, he cannot be defined self-caused (causa sui) or uncaused, because this concept implies the Spinozian pantheistic idea of becoming, which contrasts with the belief of scholastic theology that God is incapable of changing.

The Catholic concept of [...] God as absolutely independent and self-existent by nature, and, consequently, all-perfect without any possibility of change from all eternity, is altogether opposed to the pantheistic concept of absolute or pure being [that] evolves, determines, and realizes itself through all time.[2]

Changing implies development, and since God is to be considered the Absolute Perfection, there is no further need to change: he is the so-called actus purus or aseity.[3][4][5] Instead, the recent process theology inserts this concept among the attributes of God in Christianity.

On the other hand, Baba Nanak defined God as self-existent in his bani Japji.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Norman O. (1985). Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History (Second ed.). Wesleyan University Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-0819561442. According to basic psychoanalytic theory, the castration complex establishes the peculiar capacity of human bodies to devise nonbodily activities (sublimations) and the peculiar capacity of the human self for self-denial (the super-ego). We can begin, I think, to make sense of these paradoxes if we think of the Oedipal project as the causa sui (father-of-oneself) project, and therefore in essence a revolt against death generally, and specifically against the biological principle separating mother and child. The castration complex is the consequence of the collision between this project and the perception of the fact of sexual differentiation separating mother and son. 
  2. ^ Sauvage, George (1907). "Aseity". Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent. Retrieved July 14, 2012. 
  3. ^ John Panteleimon Manoussakis (2006). After God. Richard Kearney And the Religious Turn in Continental Philosophy. New York: Fordham University Press. p. 439.  P. 413.ISBN 978-0-82322-532-3.
  4. ^ Thomas Joseph White (2010). The Analogy of Being. Invention of the Antichrist Or the Wisdom of God?. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 440.  P. 384. ISBN 978-0-80286-533-5.
  5. ^ Dolf te Velde (2010). Paths beyond tracing out. Eburon Uitgeverij B.V. p. 698.  P. 302. ISBN 978-9-05972-366-5.
  6. ^ "Sri Granth". Retrieved 4 September 2015.