Reading through Lojban for Beginners on a Friday night (like everyone else who knows how to party—am I right?), I got to the chapter where causation and implication are discussed. In it, the authors explain that Lojban has 4 ways to say “because.”
The inventors of Lojban were not the first to preach a Doctrine of Four Causes. Aristotle also believed that when you asked Why?, you could be reasonably taken to be asking one of four different questions, which I have summed up below in Table 1. In Table 2, I summarise the four ways to say “because” in Lojban.
I made an attempt to see how well these things would match up by giving examples and rough equivalents. Unfortunately for Aristotle, they only seem to correspond decently well in two cases. But then I guess if I were trying to write a timeless philosophy, and someone told me that after ~ 2300 years, people would still be interested in half of the questions that I identified, I’d probably think that I did pretty well. Especially considering that Aristotle spoke Ancient Greek, which is pretty much the anti-Lojban if any language is.
For the other two of Aristotle’s causes, there are words in Lojban for the ideas expressed, but they aren’t really “causation” type words in the same way.
Table 1. Aristotle’s four causes
|Cause||Example||Rough Lojban equivalent|
|Material cause||The house is here because there were bricks, mortar and wood here previously.||te zbasu (?)|
|Efficient cause||The house is here because Bob built it.||rinka|
|Formal cause||The house is here because the materials have been arranged in a certain way.||tarmi (?)|
|Final cause||The house is here because Bob wanted to have dance-parties inside it.||mukti|
Table 2. Causes in Lojban
|Cause||“Because” word||Root gismu||Example||Rough Aristotelean equivalent|
|Physically caused||ri’a||rinka||la bab. morsi ri’a lonu mi darxi by
Bob is dead because I hit him.
|Motivated||mu’i||mukti||la bab. morsi mu’i lonu mi na’e nelci by
Bob is dead because I didn’t like him.
|Justification||ki’u||krinu||la bab. morsi ki’u lonu by djuno lo dukse
Bob is dead because he knew too much.
|Logically entailed||ni’i||krinu||la bab. morsi ni’i lonu ro lo remna mrodimna kei .e lonu by remna
Bob is dead because all humans are mortal and Bob is a human.