From Propers Studies (1927) by Aldous Huxley:
Sociologists and historians are inclined to talk altogether too glibly about the ‘causes’ of events, thoughts, and actions in the human universe. Now the human universe is so enormously complicated that to speak of the cause of any event is an absurdity. The causes of even the simplest event are very numerous, and any one who would discover even a few of them must take into consideration, among other things, the race to which the men and women participating in it belonged, the physiological state of the principal actors, their innate psychological peculiarities, and the tradition, the education, the environment which modified, restrained, and gave direction to their instincts, impulses, and thoughts. After having exhausted all the strictly human origins of events, the enthusiast for causes would have to consider the share taken by its non-human antecedents and accompaniments in bringing it about — the share taken by matter on the one hand and by such spiritual or metaphysical entities on the other as the seeker for causes may care to postulate. The facts of history have been explained in terms of the will of God, of the class war, of moral law, of climate, of the caprices and physiological peculiarities of those in power, of economic struggle, of race, of pure reason making judicious choice of the pleasurable, of blind animal instinct. You pay your money and you take your choice of a social and historical philosophy. Now it is obvious that the quality of the event changes completely according to the cause you choose to give it. Historical facts are qualitatively functions of the causes to which they are attributed. For example, a revolution caused by economic forces is not identical with the same revolution caused by the chronic indigestion of a king, or the will of a revengeful and outraged deity. An outburst of artistic activity caused (as the Freudians would have us believe) by a sudden happy efflorescence of sexual perversity is not identical with the same renascence caused by the stimulating and liberating action on the spirit of a multiplicity of inventions, discoveries, economic changes and political upheavals. Historians and sociologists who set out with preconceived ideas about the causes of events distort the facts by attributing them to causes of one particular kind, to the exclusion of all others. Now it is obvious that, in the nature of things, no human being can possibly know all the causes of any event. (And anyhow, as the Americans would say, what is a cause?) The best that any observer can do is to present the facts, and with them a few of the most humanly significant antecedents and accompaniments which seem to be invariably connected with facts of that particular class. He will make it clear that the antecedents and accompaniments he has chosen for exposition are not the sole and exclusive causes of the facts, which he will describe, so to say, neutrally and without prejudging them, so that it will always be possible, without changing the quality of the facts, to add fresh causes to the list of determining correlations as they are discovered. I do not pretend to have achieved this difficult and perhaps humanly impossible neutrality. I have attributed causes with too much facility, and as though they were the exclusive determinants of the facts in question. In doing this I have prejudged the quality of the facts, and thereby, no doubt, distorted the total picture of them. The process is doubtless inevitable. For the powers of every mind are strictly limited; we have our inborn idiosyncrasies, our acquired sentiments, prejudices, scales of value; it is impossible for any man to transcend himself. Being what I am, I attribute one kind of causes to facts, and thereby distort them in one direction; another man with a different mind and different upbringing would attribute other causes, and so distort the same facts in another way. The best I can do is to warn the reader against my distortion of the facts, and invite him to correct it by means of his own.