A cycle of causation is a recurrent series of events or a sequence of cause and effects. Mist rises from the meadows to form clouds, clouds become water heavy and precipitate rain, rain enters the earth and the physiologies of living things. The moisture again rises to form clouds : a cycle of causation
An example of cycle of causation is found in the writing of William James. Two quotes follow and the second contains the actual phrase:
William James was impressed with Darwin's explanation of the theory of natural selection. He wrote of Darwin:
"It was the triumphant originality of Darwin.... Separating the causes of production under the title of 'tendencies to spontaneous variation,' and relegating them to a physiological cycle which he forthwith agreed to ignore altogether, he confined his attention to the causes of preservation, and under the names of natural selection and sexual selection studied them exclusively as functions of the cycle of the environment." (in a lecture before the Harvard Natural History Society; published in the Atlantic Monthly, October, 1880 entitled Great Men and Their Environment.) THE WILL TO BELIEVE AND OTHER ESSAYS IN POPULAR PHILOSOPHY BY WILLIAM JAMES LONGMANS GREEN AND CO NEW YORK
James felt that Darwin was successful because he separated and kept separate the two cycles of causation: the cycle of causation that produced spontaneous variations in the lineages of living things from the cycle of causation in the ecological environment which allowed favorable variations to be promoted or preserved
"Pre-Darwinian philosophers had also tried to establish the doctrine of descent with modification; but they all committed the blunder of clumping the two cycles of causation into one." From the essay entitled Great Men and their Environment
Darwin managed to separate the two explanatory domains of ecology and evolution to render the field of biology a fully explanatory science. And William James was first to realize it. Later Bernard Lonergan, S.J. worked out the metaphysics of the explanation in his master work INSIGHT-a Study of Human Understanding.