what is the meaning of "advance the cause" in this context?

It was in this year 1871 that Kate Fox's visit to England was brought about through the generosity of Mr. Charles F. Livermore, a prominent banker of New York, in gratitude for the consolation he had received from her wonderful powers, and to advance the cause of Spiritualism. He provided for all her needs, and thus removed any necessity for her to give professional sittings. He also arranged for her to be accompanied by a congenial woman companion.

from http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0301051h.html

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    To promote Spiritualism as a belief. Mar 21, 2020 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


"Advance" is usually an intransitive verb with the general meaning to move forward or to get closer to a goal, with the movement being done by the verb's subject directly.

Tom advanced toward the light

means that Tom went toward the light

However, "advance" also has a transitive sense, with the general meaning that the subject causes the object to move forward or toward a goal.

Joe of course advanced his son's political career

means that Joe took actions with the purpose and effect of assisting his son's poltical ambitions.

Notice that "advance" in both the transitive and intransitive meanings can be used figuratively to discuss purposeful changes that do not involve physical motion.

X advances the cause

is a stock phrase meaning

X acts, or causes someone or something else to act, in a manner that helps achieve the goal of a cause

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