The cause is not something very simple to be known. Rather it is so complex that it requires a lot of investigation to be known.

It may be analyzed into several conditions. It is considered by some as the sum total of all conditions. Conditions are classed as positive and negative. Thus the positive conditions and the negative conditions taken together constitute the idea of cause.

Accordingly a positive condition is one that cannot be omitted and a negative condition is one that cannot be introduced for the occurrence of the effect. In short positive conditions must be present and negative conditions must be absent if the effect is to be produced.

Negatively speaking the effect cannot be produced if the positive conditions are absent and the negative conditions are present. For example if a man fell down from the top of a tree and later on died the positive conditions for his death would be the height from which he fell, the nature of the ground on which he fell, the parts of the body that dashed against the ground, the stroke he received etc.


Similarly the negative conditions would be some support on the ground, immediate medical help, resistance of the person to sustain a stroke etc. Likewise if a student secures the first position in HSC examination the positive conditions are his preparations, intelligence, clarity, favorable questions, proper valuation etc. whereas the negative conditions are erratic .valuation, bad health at the time of examination, too much of mental tension etc.

A positive condition is thus a necessary factor of a cause. There may be different factors as well. Science treats all the necessary conditions and their invariability for the occurrence of the effect. Effect too also consists of conditions. So a set of invariable conditions called the cause gives rise to succession of other conditions called the effect.

In science all conditions which are necessary and sufficient are listed in the idea of a cause. Scientifically the relation between cause and condition is analogous to the rela­tion between the whole and the parts.

Conditions taken together constitute the cause. Cause stands for the whole and conditions are its different components. In order that the effect will be produced all the positive conditions work to give rise to the effect. Mill too says “the cause is the sum total of all conditions, positive and negative taken together.


It is to be mentioned in this connection that it is not possible to know all the negative conditions. That is why a negative condition is described as the absence of all preventing circumstances.

Those circumstances that prevent the occurrence of the effect are the negative conditions. In a circumstance the number of the negative conditions may far exceed the positive conditions. As they are too many it is not that easy to list all of them.

But if in presence of the positive conditions the effect does not occur, then the preventing circumstance that stands on the way is investigated. Science takes note of the preventing factors and treats them as negative conditions.

But a common man does not distinguish between the necessary conditions and the preventing conditions. Sometimes an important condition or a striking factor is regarded as the whole cause. Even at times a negative condition is considered as the cause of a phenomenon overlooking the positive conditions.


These are considerations of a popular mind. But in scientific analysis all conditions are explained to give a vivid description of what the cause of a phenomenon or of a class of phenomena is.

We have already mentioned in this chapter the idea of necessary condition and sufficient condition in the context of concept of cause. Sometimes “cause” is used in the sense of necessary condition and sometimes in the sense of sufficient condition.

But these ideas necessary condition and sufficient condition-are different from each other though both are conditions for the occurrence of an event. A necessary condition for the occurrence of an event is a circumstance in whose absence the event cannot occur.

While investigating the cause of a disease if a particular germ is detected, the germ is taken as the necessary condition, for in its absence the disease cannot occur. For admission into a +2 college passing of HSC examination or its equivalent examination is a necessary condition for without it one is not eligible for admission into a college.


But a sufficient condition for the occurrence of an event is a circumstance in whose presence the event must occur. If an event has several necessary conditions they must be included in the sufficient condition.

In the above example passing of HSC examination is a necessary condition for admission in to a college but securing the requisite mark on merit selection is a sufficient condition for admission. But sufficient condition is regarded as the combination of all necessary conditions.

Further when an effect is present and the cause is to be inferred or investigated, there the necessary condition is sought for. But when the effect is to be inferred from the cause, the sufficient condition is sought. That means cause is identified with either necessary condition or sufficient condition depending upon the context.