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Difference Between Cause and Reason

Cause vs Reason

Cause and Reason are two words that are often used as synonyms. Strictly speaking they are not synonyms. They have to be used with difference. Hence they are not interchangeable.

A cause is the one that produces the effect. For example you can say that a typical virus is the cause of the disease of chickenpox. It is understood that the particular virus produces the effect called chickenpox. Hence anything that produces an effect is called a cause.

On the other hand reason refers to a thought or a consideration in support of an opinion. Observe the usage of the word ‘reason’ in the sentences given below:

1. What is the reason for your decision?

2. You may give me the reason behind your suggestion.

In both sentences given above the word ‘reason’ is used in the sense of ‘a thought’ in support of an opinion or a decision.

The word ‘cause’ on the other hand can be used in expressions such as ‘causes for the downfall’, ‘causes of the disease’, ‘causes for the development’ and the like. For example, if you are laying down the causes for the Waterloo of Emperor Napoleon, then you would mean the various points or events that led to the downfall of Emperor Napoleon at Waterloo. Hence the causes led to the effect, namely the downfall of the Emperor.

Reason has special application in the subject of philosophy. Reason is the faculty or the capacity of the human mind by which it is distinguished from the intelligence of the lower animals. Hence reason includes judgment, conception, reasoning and intuition too. On the other hand cause has nothing to do with judgment, conception, reasoning and intuition for that matter.

The word ‘reason’ should be understood in the sense of ‘thought’ and hence it should be construed as conveying the action of ‘thinking’. Reason is mental in purpose whereas cause is instrumental in purpose. This is one of the main differences between reason and cause.

In short it can be said that a cause is of different types such as instrumental cause, material cause and the like. For example mud is the material cause in the making of a pot. On the other hand the potter’s wheel is the instrumental cause in the making of a pot. Hence both the causes are indeed necessary in the making of a pot.


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