• unenlightened
    1.7k
    No, dude. You see, I don't see. You need to point it out with some quotes, because from what I see, you are misunderstanding.
  • Janus
    4k
    That still fails to explain how we came up with the concept of causality. Saying that it's a habit of mind is not explaining how the concept could form.Marchesk

    That causation is not an object of immediate observation seems right. But Hume seems to be assuming the narrow view that belief only in phenomena that can be derived from the 'single point' of immediate conscious observation can be rationally justified.

    This narrow prejudice ignores the fact that as embodied we feel the forces involves in causal efficacy; we feel ourselves being pulled, pushed, impacted and generally acted upon by natural forces in phenomena such as sunlight, wind and water, and also we experience pulling, pushing, impacting and generally acting upon other things. The bodily feeling of these forces is the source of the concept of force which distinguishes causation from mere impotent correlation.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    This narrow prejudice ignores the fact that as embodied we feel the forces involves in causal efficacy; we feel ourselves being pulled, pushed, impacted and generally acted upon by natural forces in phenomena such as sunlight, wind and water, and also we experience pulling, pushing, impacting and generally acting upon other things. The bodily feeling of these forces is the source of the concept of force which distinguishes causation from mere impotent correlation.Janus

    Good point. Perception in philosophy is so often focused on vision that I wonder if it doesn't sometimes lead philosophers astray. If we're the billiard balls feeling the strike as we move in response, does Hume still make the claim that we don't perceive causation?
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.4k


    Kant is mistaken because in making the argument causality must be equivalent to our thinking, he forgets causality is not our thinking.

    Our thinking only needs to reflect events of causality when we understand a causal relationship. In this respect, our insistence of what is causally necessary can be fucked by the world doing it's own thing.

    There might, for example, be a perpetual motion machine. All it would take is a state with an endless supply of it own power, a state which didn't draw on other energies to move, unlike we have observed so far. We cannot say there is no possibility.

    Our case against the perpetual motion machine only holds for instances of the world we have observed. Outside this context, we cannot say what the world is doing.We simply don't know.
  • Janus
    4k
    If we're the billiard balls feeling the strike as we move in response, does Hume still make the claim that we don't perceive causation?Marchesk

    If only we could ask the jolly old fella. Maybe a computer simulation...?
  • Agustino
    8.8k
    Usually, the pencil has to move before the paper is marked. That's because the mark is made by the pencil leaving behind part of its graphite tip on the paper. For that to happen, a force is needed that breaks the bonds that bind the graphite that will make the mark to the rest of the tip. That force is created by moving the pencil sideways which, by the operation of friction, stretches the bonds to the point where some break.andrewk
    Okay, but as far as I see, this just moves the explanation back a few steps. It's not directly the pencil that causes the writing, but through the means of the graphite breaking. The graphite breaking (cause) and the marks appearing on the page (effect) are simultaneous.

    Alternatively, you can replace the pencil with a marker. As soon as the marker touches the page, its liquid already colours it.

    Or you can think of an example such as a potter shaping the clay with his hands. The cause and the effect are again seen very clearly to be simultaneous.

    This provides no argument that the cause is simultaneous to the effect. What you seem to be saying is that the potential for the effect is simultaneous with the actual cause. But your conclusion is just a category error. It's like saying that the potential for sunrise tomorrow morning exists simultaneously with the actual setting of the sun tonight, therefore the sunrise is simultaneous with the sunset. Do you see the category error of mixing actual and potential in this way?Metaphysician Undercover
    Nope, you didn't understand what I was saying.
  • Agustino
    8.8k
    For Kant, our models are not constitutive of things we experience, of the things-in-themsleves.TheWillowOfDarkness
    Hmm I'm not sure about this. The things-in-themselves are precisely what is impossible for us to experience or know for that matter.

    It's not that our experience of the sun constructs the sun, but instead that our experience of the sun is our construction (literally our existence, rather than anything we might be aware of).TheWillowOfDarkness
    Agreed. But we only ever experience our experience, ie the model.

    He's pointing out our knowledge can only be our own, not claiming our minds create the things we encounter.TheWillowOfDarkness
    He does claim that our minds create space, time, causality, etc. But of course our minds don't create sensation itself.

    Unfortunately, this is not any sort of account of either causality or ontology. Kant's mistake (or maybe more so, the mistake of many readers of Kant) was to fail to properly recognise he was talking about us, about our knowledge, rather than the actions of things we perceive. Cause and effect does not need us to occur. Our minds, in the sense of being awareness of logic meaning, are not involved at all. It's other things which are doing it-- the sun, a ball thrown through a window, someone's body producing a state experience of a limb which isn't there, etc. The doing of cause and effect is another life entirely.TheWillowOfDarkness
    I think Kant's fundamental point was that we add cause and effect to the world. So whatsoever we perceive will be seen through the lens of cause and effect, much like if you were wearing red spectacles, you'd see everything in red.
  • Marchesk
    1.6k
    But we only ever experience our experience, ie the model.Agustino

    What does it mean to experience our experience? Isn't that how we get in these philosophical muddles in the first place? Do I experience the tree, or do I experience the experience of the tree?
  • Agustino
    8.8k
    What does it mean to experience our experience? Isn't that how we get in these philosophical muddles in the first place? Do I experience the tree, or do I experience the experience of the tree?Marchesk
    That Kantian point is that the world is our representation - we construct it. So basically our mind takes the sense impressions that are of an unknown origin - and then organises them through the forms of space, time, causality, etc. - into the representation that we're all so familiar with. Think about it like a computer's desktop - that's our representation, and all that we ever see. So we represent the world - we create a model of it - that helps us navigate it (ie survive). That model is of course not directed towards truth, and therefore very likely it's not what the world as thing-in-itself is really like.
  • Bitter Crank
    4.3k
    So, how do we know there is such a thing as a thing in itself?

    Do you think that if we could see all the dings in siches, would they seem closer to what we think our senses tell us, or might they seem unrecognizable and alien? What I mean is, maybe we are victims of a monstrous hoax.

    quote-noumenon-n-that-which-exists-as-distinguished-from-that-which-merely-seems-to-exist-the-latter-ambrose-bierce-324870.jpg
  • Agustino
    8.8k
    Do you think that if we could see all the dings in siches, would they seem closer to what we think our senses tell us, or might they seem unrecognizable and alien?Bitter Crank
    "Seeing" the dings in siches makes no sense, since all seeing takes place in space. There very likely isn't any space out there per a Kantian viewpoint.

    The sense impressions that we receive are of an unknown origin. We never experience these sense impressions directly. We experience the phenomenon. What's the phenomenon? It is the sense impressions organised by our minds through the forms of space, time, causality, etc. So you never feel pain in-itself. You always feel pain out there in space, in the leg.

    You never experience hunger in-itself. You experience it as related to your stomach, in your body.

    Now your entire experience is like the computer's desktop. To delete something from the computer, you grab it on the desktop and drag it to the trash folder. Now, in reality, this isn't how things really get deleted. That's just the interface which helps you do it more easily instead of entering some code in the command prompt to do it for you (or instead of giving 0 and 1 instructions). So likewise, eating food is merely the interface that shows you how to get rid of hunger - it's not what really happens to get rid of hunger. Eating food (cause) and ending hunger (effect) is merely the desktop interface of life that allows you to deal with survival most efficiently. So you project your hunger out there in space, you attach a cause to it (food, which you also project out there), and then proceed to eradicate your hunger by means of eating the food. But whatsoever really happens behind this interface is a mystery.

    So, how do we know there is such a thing as a thing in itself?Bitter Crank
    Because we do not control the sense impressions that we receive + space, time, causality, etc. are a priori forms of the mind, and cannot be really out there. Kant follows Hume here who shows that causality cannot be a sense impression. But yet, we nevertheless necessarily perceive things in terms of cause and effect, Kant notices. So how does that happen? That can only happen if those are a priori forms of our minds always imposed on top of sense impressions to organise them (since we've eliminated the possibility of them being sense impressions themselves).

    So the sense impressions are not of us, and the forms which are of us aren't real, they merely organise our impressions.

    Now the first point that we have sense impressions that we do not control is obvious.

    The second point, Kant argues at length for in the CPR. If you just read the introduction and the transcendental aesthetic (around 10-20 pages maybe, it's short) you will see the arguments made with regards to space and time being a priori, transcendentally ideal. If you agree with those arguments, then there must be a thing-in-itself, since sense impressions, whatever they are, are always organised by these a priori forms of cognition (space, time, etc.) which don't really exist out there. So whatever you perceive is only the desktop interface. Now if you see the desktop interface, and you see that it is a desktop interface (since the forms in which experience is given are a priori), then you know that there must be a computer behind.

    So really, to summarise, it all revolves around if space/time/causality, etc. are sense impressions, and if they are not, then where are they coming from? If they aren't sense impressions, where else could they be coming from?
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.4k


    I think there is a problem with this account of causality: the role of the states themselves is eliminated. We walk away saying causally is only in our minds, rather than recognising it inheres within the things we encounter.

    Kant talks about it in terms of our “minds” because it reflects a logical significance of the world we know. Causality is not some individual thing in front of we observe. Like other a priori significances Kant points out, such as space and time, causality is an extra logical significance not granted in the mere presence of an object. Insofar as this goes Kant is right, but I think it’s a huge mistake to assign this conceptual meaning merely to our mind.We should not be making the mistake of equivocating the a priori truths we know with our minds which are the knowing. Logical expression is not dependent on us to be true.

    If we didn’t notice the ball caused the widow to break, action of the ball and widow would still be a causal states. The ball and widow are doing the causality. To say our minds "add in" causality is obviously wrong, unless we were to equivocate our awareness of causality with the casual actions of state we are talking about.

    In this way, we might say that Kant denies causality is real, claiming it is merely something humans like to add in with their minds, rather than recognising it as a feature of things (i.e. not just our experiences and models-- the instances when we notice "causality"-- but a meaning inherent in the things moving about in causality) we've encountered.

    If causality is to have teeth, it cannot be merely our minds. Things, which are not the human experience of causality, are interacting and moving, forming the states of the world in relation to each other, defining when one thing bringing about another (as opposed to something else), etc.

    Otherwise we just have a pretence "causality" which has nothing to do without things interact.
  • Agustino
    8.8k
    I think there is a problem with this account of causality: the role of the states themselves is eliminated. We walk away saying causally is only in our minds, rather than recognising it inheres within the things we encounter.TheWillowOfDarkness
    You should be careful here when talking about "things" we encounter. Kant fully buys into Hume's model that there are no "things" we encounter as such (I'm stating a lie here technically, but I will correct it soon - take it as truth for now). We only encounter bundles of sense impressions. An apple isn't a "thing", it is the sense impression of red + sense impression of soft + sense impression of sweet/sour + etc. etc. So this bundle of senses right? That's what Hume says. So there is no "thing" there according to Hume, just this constant conjunction of sense impressions.

    Now Kant comes along, and says, wait a second, there actually is a "thing" there that we experience! But Hume is right, the thingness cannot come from the sense impressions themselves - there is no "thingness" given by the senses. So where does the thingness - the substance - come from? It comes from the understanding - that is Kant's answer.

    So you are right, causality (and space, time, etc.) does inhere in the things we experience, but not as sense impression, as matter or as content of what we experience - but rather as their form, which is given by the mind. We don't experience things directly - naively - but through these forms. So there are no objects or things outside of the phenomenon. And the phenomenon is sense impressions organised by the understanding.
  • Agustino
    8.8k
    Now I'm not saying I actually agree with this Kantian position, but you (or BC or anyone else in this thread) have yet to provide any refutation of it.

    In my opinion, the Kantian position, much like the Aristotelian position is one of the strongest there is in philosophy.
  • TheWillowOfDarkness
    1.4k


    The trouble is Hume has an implicit and unstated a priori notion of things: that's how he indexes bundles in the first place. Hume didn't begin with undifferentiated impressions. He indexes them in distinguished objects. Otherwise, Hume would have no distinct bundles or impressions at all. He would just have a mess impressions which weren't distinguishable from each other at all (i.e. to say "the bundle of" would be impossible).

    In this way, Kant is starting with a misreading of Hume (though admittedly assisted by Hume's discourse) which spoils the party. He mistakes that bundles of impressions (as argued by Hume) could somehow be given without a priori understanding of the presence of a thing. In effect, Kant already pointing out something Hume (somewhat unwittingly) knows and is used in putting forward a bundle theory of states/objects and things-- i.e. there is this bundle, and there is that bundle, etc.

    On the surface this might not see like a big issue, what's wrong with talking about the logical notion of a "thing?" Surely, this could be a worth topic given the way Humean discourse would seem to discard it against reason? The problem is Humean discourse doesn't really discard it. In thinking it does, Kant sets up this schism between sense impressions and a priori definition of things, as if they had nothing in common. The impressions of "bundles" come to be seen merely as human experience, rather than meanings of things we encounter.

    We can see this all come to a head in analysis of the logic of sense impressions themselves. Is not anything we encounter in sense impressions equally a logical meaning? How will I recognise the phenomena of a tree if I lack the a priori concept of tree? If I do not have an a priori indexing of sense impressions, how will I even pick them out as of particular things? Our sense impressions are no less given by understanding than space, time or causality. No-one's senses (as distinct from understanding the meaning of what you sense) can give them an understanding of sense impression.

    In the same way that observation doesn't get us causality, it doesn't get us anything in sense impressions either. Any instance of awareness or understanding involves an a priori meanings of whatever is involved, whether it is a sense impression or causality.
  • Agustino
    8.8k
    The trouble is Hume has an implicit and unstated a priori notion of things: that's how he indexes bundles in the first place.TheWillowOfDarkness
    I'm not quite sure I follow. An impression is like redness. A thing (or substance) is like whatever has redness as a property. So redness by itself is an impression and an impression is not a bundle. A bundle is multiple impressions which occur in constant conjunction with each other - that's how we get our notion of a "thing" or "substance" according to Hume in his Treatise from what I remember.

    Hume didn't begin with undifferentiated impressions.TheWillowOfDarkness
    The impressions are differentiated from each other (redness is not blueness), but they aren't things. Do you mean to say that being a thing - having substance - is merely being differentiated?

    Our sense impressions are no less given by understanding than space, time or causality.TheWillowOfDarkness
    Well, I'm not sure how to understand this statement. Kant and Hume would ask you if space is a color, if space is hard, if space has a taste, a smell, etc. So if you answered no to all those, they'd say that space cannot then be an impression. An impression is like a property. It's like red, or hard or sour, etc.
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