• PoeticUniverse
    592
    Right now, I come down on the side that it doesn't make sense to think things are caused, although I can't really give a satisfactory reason yet.T Clark

    How about a 'transitioning', via laws.

    Or just the one big effect of the Big Bang continuing? Our local cause and effect analysis has to draw a boundary, as a cutting off?
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    Or just the one big effect of the Big Bang continuing? Our local cause and effect analysis has to draw a boundary, as a cutting off?PoeticUniverse

    I think stuff just happens and "cause" is just an overlay we superimpose on the world. As I indicated, I haven't gotten it figured out yet.
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    I think stuff just happens and "cause" is just an overlay we superimpose on the world.T Clark

    As we've kind of measured, there may be trillions of tiny changes in tiny constituents every second, although the semblances containing them, such as the sun or a tree or a rock last very long. Perhaps events happen, which we take as stuff, and the laws of nature underlie.

    It appears that there is such a continual transitioning of the 'World' that not anything in particular can remain the same, even for an instant, or the instant is incredibly short. To me, this indicates something very energetic. It's hard to specify.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    It appears that there is such a continual transitioning of the 'World' that not anything in particular can remain the same, even for an instant, or the instant is incredibly short. To me, this indicates something very energetic. It's hard to specify.PoeticUniverse

    This made me think of something. Is there a Planck length of relative motion or time as there is a Planck length in spacial extension? If not, then what are the implications? If so, then what are the implications for cause and effect?
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    Is there a Planck length of relative motion or time as there is a Planck length in spacial extension?Noah Te Stroete

    There is a Plank time, the shortest time in which anything can happen, and there are zillions of these times a second. Presumably, the discreteness of this and other quanta indicates a digital universe, casting Einstein's analog continuum into doubt—but it could still very well approximate a continuum.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    There is a Plank time, the shortest time in which anything can happen, and there are zillions of these times a second. Presumably, the discreteness of this and other quanta indicates a digital universe, casting Einstein's analog continuum into doubt—but it could still very well approximate a continuum.PoeticUniverse

    So if there are ‘jumps’ from one discrete state to another, what does that say about causality? It seems that at the quantum level, cause and effect break down, no?
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    As we've kind of measured, there may be trillions of tiny changes in tiny constituents every second, although the semblances containing them, such as the sun or a tree or a rock last very long. Perhaps events happen, which we take as stuff, and the laws of nature underlie.

    It appears that there is such a continual transitioning of the 'World' that not anything in particular can remain the same, even for an instant, or the instant is incredibly short. To me, this indicates something very energetic. It's hard to specify.
    PoeticUniverse

    When I say that stuff happens, I mostly mean human scale stuff. That's what humans experience in their lives. So - the cue ball is hit toward the 5 ball, which hits the 8 ball, which then goes into the pocket. The player causes the cue ball to go toward the 5 ball which causes the 8 ball to go into the pocket. It's when you get away from such simple situations and scales that causation becomes less clear.
  • PoeticUniverse
    592
    So if there are ‘jumps’ from one discrete state to another, what does that say about causality? It seems that at the quantum level, cause and effect break down, no?Noah Te Stroete

    It's confusing, for in quantum mechanics, there's no underlying objective state, as all is in a superposition until some interaction occurs, for which we understand the probability of the result, as unitary, meaning that the probabilities add up to 1. They say that some kind of wave function, either as real or just as a math tool, goes along deterministically until the wave function collapses, giving the probabilistic result. All of our computers work, so QM is telling us something right.

    Or, maybe at every Planck instant the universe is created anew.

    Philosophically, I'd think that randomness has to be the bedrock of reality, but, upwards of that there would be deterministic cause and effect when possible, it the operation doesn't touch the bedrock.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k
    This is over my head. I suspect I’m not the only one confused about it, though.
  • S
    11.3k
    Not anymore. :wink:Wittgenstein

    Much better. :up:
  • Janus
    8.1k
    The notion of efficient causation is the idea of one thing directly acting upon another, it generally involves the concept of force.

    Two of Aristotle's other three "causes" (material and formal) are more what we would think of as constitutive and formative conditions that determine, respectively, what a thing is and what a thing is for, which in turn determine how it can act upon, and be acted upon by, other things.

    Final cause is the idea of necessary and universal conditions that globally determine every thing and every process, every causally efficient action and every event; whether those conditions are thought to be the will of God, the Dao, entropy or whatever.

    Biology, animal behavior and to an even greater degree human behavior, cannot be understood comprehensively in terms of efficient causation.
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    This is over my head. I suspect I’m not the only one confused about it, though.Noah Te Stroete

    As I indicated, It's over my head too. I just have an intuition that causation is not needed to explain how things happen. I'm not using that as evidence or making any claims. I need to spend more time thinking about it.
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    The notion of efficient causation is the idea of one thing directly acting upon another, it generally involves the concept of force.Janus

    When I talk about cause and the fact that I don't think it exists, I think I'm talking about efficient cause. It seems to me the other three modes of causation are just metaphorical. Maybe I can be talked out of that.

    Biology, animal behavior and to an even greater degree human behavior, cannot be understood comprehensively in terms of efficient causation.Janus

    If I thought that efficient cause were the most effective concept for dealing with physical phenomena, I don't know why anything more would be required for biology, animal or human behavior, consciousness, or any other "higher" level phenomenon.
  • Janus
    8.1k
    It seems I'm not understanding your thinking here; would you deny, for example, that influenza can be caused by a virus, or that if I jumped off a cliff and died my death could have been caused by impacting the ground?
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    It seems I'm not understanding your thinking here; would you deny, for example, that influenza can be caused by a virus, or that if I jumped off a cliff and died my death could have been caused by impacting the ground?Janus

    The causation you write about is similar to what I wrote about in my previous post:

    When I say that stuff happens, I mostly mean human scale stuff. That's what humans experience in their lives. So - the cue ball is hit toward the 5 ball, which hits the 8 ball, which then goes into the pocket. The player causes the cue ball to go toward the 5 ball which causes the 8 ball to go into the pocket. It's when you get away from such simple situations and scales that causation becomes less clear.T Clark

    As I said, it seems to me things get a lot less clear when we talk about more complex situations. I can flip a coin 1,000 times and the results will come out close to 50/50, but I can't predict exactly. That's probably caused by a lot of unknown factors which are difficult or impossible to predict. Of course there's the weight and balance of the coin and the geometry and force of my hand and thumb, but then there are lots of other factors like wind resistance, me hiccuping or sneezing, differences in the force of my thumb, etc. etc. The chain of causation is too complex to track and, seems to me it will ultimately become impossible even in theory. Many of the phenomena in the world behave under the same kind of probability systems except much more complex. There is also complex behavior related to chaos and complexity theories and emergence. In complex situations, very small or infinitesimal differences in actions lead to large differences in effects, i.e. the butterfly effect.

    I don't even want to bring up uncertainty associated with quantum mechanics, since that seems different in kind than the others.
  • Janus
    8.1k
    OK, it seems you are not denying causation, but instead you are emphasizing the impossibility of prediction except in the simplest mechanical cases. I would certainly agree with that!

    Your point about complex "chaotic" systems is well-taken; even if nature were completely deterministic it would still be impossible to accurately predict outcomes with high reliability, all the more so the longer the time-frame. Quantum indeterminacy would not seem to make much, if any, practical difference to our ability to model such systems, since the randomness averages out nicely. It's actually the, for all intents and purposes, complex nature of statistically deterministic macro systems that presents the problem. It's interesting that complex systems such as for example the weather may be more or less accurately modeled and reasonably reliable and accurate short terms predictions made; but that is only possible on account of being able to model systems on powerful computers.
  • Amity
    694
    That's why, in my opinion, Aristotelian philosophy is enjoying a revival particularly in the biological sciences.Wayfarer

    Interesting. Where is the evidence for this ?
  • Wittgenstein
    190

    There is a Plank time, the shortest time in which anything can happen, and there are zillions of these times a second. Presumably, the discreteness of this and other quanta indicates a digital universe, casting Einstein's analog continuum into doubt—but it could still very well approximate a continuum.

    I think the reason behind restriction on the shortest time as plank time is because that is the shortest time we can measure but mathematically speaking, consider " t " to be Plank time , wouldn't t/2 be shorter than that.
  • Wittgenstein
    190

    All of our computers work, so QM is telling us something right.
    I would disagree with the following arguments simply for the reason that practical success indicates a good theory, not a perfect one. Newton's law work fine with average size objects traveling far slower than the speed of light.Once we get to really big objects or the really small ones, the errors are not negligible. QM is a mathematical construct and that's probably why they had to decide a physical interpretation of it and a philosophical one too in some sense.

    If we leave behind cause and effect relation, most of the laws would be senseless. This takes me back to philosophers in the 11 century who thought of reality as being created in every instance with a tiny gap in time that is too small to measure. They used that theory to explain miracles or as they called it , the suspension of habit. If we continue with this theory, we will have to regards laws as describing a habit in reality, not the reality itself.
  • Janus
    8.1k
    I think the point is that it is understood that there is no t/2.
  • Wittgenstein
    190

    As I said, it seems to me things get a lot less clear when we talk about more complex situations. I can flip a coin 1,000 times and the results will come out close to 50/50, but I can't predict exactly. That's probably caused by a lot of unknown factors which are difficult or impossible to predict.
    If an effect has multiple causes, as in the case of the flip of a coin. There can be multiple questions raised to examine the behavior. If someone asked me what caused it to fall. Gravity as an answer won't suffice because my releasing of the coin enabled gravity to make it fall as it was there before l released it but not effective. I dont think science will have much of a problem with regards to the confusion behind the cause as scientists have some effective method of ruling out many causes to focus on the cause which is essential. With regards to predicting head or tail, it gets a bit complicated. If we get a computer that analyzes the behavior of the coin as it gets closer to the ground, we will have more accurate prediction as we get closer to the event and it will be more clear.
  • Wittgenstein
    190

    Why not ? I am not a physicist but casually browsing about plank time, l think that we don't have any theory currently in physics ( that which combines relativity with QM ) to use any time period shorter than plank time. It doesn't imply that plank time is the shortest time period.
  • Wittgenstein
    190

    As a disciple of Wittgenstein, l will fight scientism wherever l find it. :smile:
  • Wayfarer
    8.2k
    That's why, in my opinion, Aristotelian philosophy is enjoying a revival particularly in the biological sciences.
    — Wayfarer

    Interesting. Where is the evidence for this ?
    Amity

    There have been some books discussed here over the last few years, One here. It grows out of the need for some account of final cause especially in biology. Biosemiotics, which is derived from C S Pierce, often talks about the need for an idea of final cause. None of which is news to neo-thomists.
  • Coben
    770
    To start, I think you are being a bit unfair to Pattern-Chaser. Or are you just joking around. He's said this explicitly - when he says you cannot know anything directly about OR, he's not talking about you, he's making a metaphysical statement about what can be known and what can not be. It's not a matter of fact, it's a matter of opinion, a statement about how it is useful to think about thingsT Clark

    Of course. I did make that clear in there, the part about it not being specifically about me. I brought it down to a me you level, just to make it concrete. People often think as if they have a bird's eye view. But we don't, we're in situ. So, here I have someone saying we - note that, we - can't know anything about the OR.

    I am part of his OR.

    So, how does he know.

    But the truth is I don't have to go to that level. He thinks we don't know things about the OR because of his ideas about the OR. How objective, perceivers, perception all work and don't work. He also talked about scientists not talking about objective reality. IOW they study AR - apparant reality - and that is what they can draw conclusions about. I think he was confusing absolute with objective. But beyond that, here he is talking about OR based on whatever his epistemology is. He goes so far as to say they can't approach OR at all. How could one even state an opinion? How could one compare one model of the OR with any other.

    Noah defended him by saying that he can have models of the OR based on AR. Well, that's exactly what scientists are doing. But if scientists can't approach the OR at all, then presumably he can't either. So why would any model be better than any other? How does he get a model of the OR?
    The Reality Principle. Reality is a metaphysical concept, and as such it is beyond the reach of science. Reality consists of things-in-themselves of which we can never hope to gain knowledge. Instead, we have to content ourselves with knowledge of empirical reality, of things-as-they-appear or things-as-they-are-measured. Nevertheless, scientific realists assume that reality (and its entities) exists objectively and independently of perception or measurement. They believe that reality is rational, predictable and accessible to human reason. Baggott, Jim. Farewell to Reality: How Modern Physics Has Betrayed the Search for Scientific Truth (p. 8). Pegasus Books. Kindle Edition.T Clark

    Same problem. Mr. Baggott just talked about OR and said 'never'. This position is not consistant because it contains a model of the OR that he is happily using to say 'never'. No qualifying, no possibility that this model is incorrect. Perception subjects objects. That's the way things are. And implicit in this is 'no action at a distance' or 'no intermingling at a distance', iow that causes must move through media so all experience must be filtered and interpreted and indirect.

    Now that all sounds just peachy and logical, but here he is saying the way reality is. Because friends, we are a part of reality. And Mr. Baggot is talking about all other people, and they are a part of OR. And he has a model, based on AR, so how come he is so sure it applies universally in the OR.

    I don't really care how common this is. It is self-contradictory.
    He compared his understanding with that of eastern religions - Buddhism and Hinduism. His idea of "will" was similar to eastern ideas that the world as we know it is an illusion and that underlying reality is undifferentiated and unknowable. I think of "will" as being like the "Tao," although nothing I've read indicates Schopenhauer read Lao Tzu.

    Again - this is all metaphysics. My point isn't that your way of seeing things is wrong, only that the other way of seeing things is useful, meaningful, and mainstream.
    T Clark

    What's my way of seeing things?

    All of my posts have been about the contradictions in his position, that it undermines itself.

    Earlier in the thread I was likely mixing a bit the topics where science and metaphysics and science and philosophy are being contrasted. My point was that scientists definitely consider themselves to be finding out thigns about objective reality. I think there are excellent arguments for this. However I actually think the situation is more complicated and my position is very complicated and I have not even started trying to convey it.

    All I am saying is that Pattern and Mr. Baggott are contradicting themselves.

    If they said something like: I have found it useful to think of things like X, then I wouldn't have a problem. But both make very blunt unqualified statements about how things are. And in some sense, built on the ideas of thinkers who were working with the idea that they are talking about the OR in a factual way.

    If we want to go to the East it would be better if when asked if we can know about the OR

    they should say 'Mu'.

    But they tell us we can't know about it since we and the OR are like X.

    And that is self-contradictory. If it is merely an opinion, this stil causes problems since one cannot approach the OR (Pattern). And given that the model that one can seems to be working for so many people, why should one switch over to this other opinion that undermines itself?

    It also includes the very Western assumption that we are separate from reality, but that's a whole nother can of worms.

    Your focus is on the idea which looks fine on paper. Great. But the problem is asserting it. It is a claim to access to the OR, because other people, causation, reality, other people's perception, those are all part of the OR. And his model, however common, is about the OR. So asserting his position is problematic, hypocritical.

    And what I believe about OR and perception are irrelevent. I could be wrong and he could be wrong. My focus is on his position and I think it is self-contradictory.

    And I find it odd that I have been called pedantic and unfair, by Noah and now respectively. Maybe I am wrong, but pedantic? unfair?

    I am raising points I think undermine him asserting his position. I have tried to word it in a number of different ways. I don't think it's a small point - so I don't get the pedantic criticism - and I don't think I am treating Pattern, whom I enjoy as a discussion partner and respect, differently than I treat other people. So, I don't get the unfair charge either.

    I'm gonna drop the subject. I actually decided that but then noticed you'd joined in, so I wanted to see if there was something new.

    I think I presented my case well in a couple of different ways. That might have an effect or it might not, but I've put in the effort I am willing and I think I did a good enough job for it to be evaluated. A lot of the points raised against my arguments ahve seemed irrelevent. Though I do understand that it is a tricky area of discussion.
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    OK, it seems you are not denying causation, but instead you are emphasizing the impossibility of prediction except in the simplest mechanical cases. I would certainly agree with that!Janus

    I think you can see from my posts that I am uncertain about my footing on this issue, so I'm not sure if I am headed in your direction or not. It feels intuitively to me that in some, many, most? cases unraveling cause is not possible even in theory. It's not just a case of being ignorant. Part of that feeling is a conviction that sufficiently complex systems, even those that are theoretically "caused," could not be unraveled with the fastest supercomputer operating for the life of the universe. There is a point, isn't there, where "completely outside the scope of human possibility" turns into "not possible even in theory." Seems to me there is.

    It's interesting that complex systems such as for example the weather may be more or less accurately modeled and reasonably reliable and accurate short terms predictions made; but that is only possible on account of being able to model systems on powerful computers.Janus

    That's a timely point. We're on vacation at the beach. The weather's been nice, but there have been a few days where the weather forecasts have been very inaccurate. That doesn't really undermine your point, but is "statistically deterministic" really what people mean when they say that something is caused?
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    If an effect has multiple causes, as in the case of the flip of a coin. There can be multiple questions raised to examine the behavior.Wittgenstein

    If something is completely unpredictable, does it still make sense to say it is caused. Isn't cause inextricably tied up with prediction? It may be possible to model and predict a coin flip or build a machine that can flip a coin with near perfect uniformity, but how about 1,000 flips using 1,000 random coins flipped by 1,000 random people?
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    Of course. I did make that clear in there, the part about it not being specifically about me. I brought it down to a me you level, just to make it concrete. People often think as if they have a bird's eye view. But we don't, we're in situ. So, here I have someone saying we - note that, we - can't know anything about the OR.Coben

    My responses on this subject all come back to the same point - this is a metaphysical argument. It's not right or wrong, it's a question of which approach is most useful and productive in a particular situation. @Pattern-chaser' indicated we do not have access to OR. That, again, is a metaphysical statement. It's one I happen to agree with, by which I mean it find it the most useful way of thinking about things in situations where I am trying to understand the world.

    But beyond that, here he is talking about OR based on whatever his epistemology is. He goes so far as to say they can't approach OR at all. How could one even state an opinion? How could one compare one model of the OR with any other.Coben

    Again - a metaphysical statement. Yes, exactly - it's "based on whatever his epistemology is." That's the point. At least that's my point.

    Same problem. Mr. Baggott just talked about OR and said 'never'. This position is not consistant because it contains a model of the OR that he is happily using to say 'never'. No qualifying, no possibility that this model is incorrect. Perception subjects objects. That's the way things are. And implicit in this is 'no action at a distance' or 'no intermingling at a distance', iow that causes must move through media so all experience must be filtered and interpreted and indirect.Coben

    My interpretation of Baggott's opinion is that the "reality principle" as he's related it is the most useful and productive approach for scientists. Here's what he says"

    Just because I can’t perceive or measure reality as it really is doesn’t mean that reality has ceased to exist. As American science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick once observed: ‘Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.’

    And this is indeed the bargain we make. Although we don’t always openly acknowledge it upfront, ‘reality-in-itself’ is a metaphysical concept. The reality that we attempt to study is inherently an empirical reality deduced from our studies of the shadows. It is the reality of observation, measurement and perception, of things-as-they-appear and of things-as-they-are-measured. As German physicist Werner Heisenberg once claimed: ‘… we have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning’.


    In my own thinking, I take it a step further, although I'm not sure it really matters practically. I say objective reality doesn't exist. What's the difference between "X is a metaphysical concept" and "X doesn't really exist?" Not sure.
  • T Clark
    4.1k
    My point was that scientists definitely consider themselves to be finding out thigns about objective reality. I think there are excellent arguments for this. However I actually think the situation is more complicated and my position is very complicated and I have not even started trying to convey it.Coben

    "Scientists definitely consider themselves to be finding out thigns about objective reality," is clearly not true if by "scientists" you mean "all scientists." As I indicated before, the ideas that we can only know apparent reality, objective reality is a metaphysical concept, and even that objective reality does not exist are not wild and crazy ideas. They are mainstream epistemological understandings about the scientific method. And yes, not everyone agrees. And yes, many people don't understand that the discussion is a metaphysical one and not a matter of true or false.

    And that is self-contradictory. If it is merely an opinion, this stil causes problems since one cannot approach the OR (Pattern). And given that the model that one can seems to be working for so many people, why should one switch over to this other opinion that undermines itself?Coben

    I guess we could have a discussion about which approach is most useful and the possible pitfalls of each. Is this the place to do that? Am I ready to have that discussion? Are you interested?

    Here in America, we don't say "mu." We say "whatever."

    I think I presented my case well in a couple of different ways. That might have an effect or it might not, but I've put in the effort I am willing and I think I did a good enough job for it to be evaluated. A lot of the points raised against my arguments ahve seemed irrelevent. Though I do understand that it is a tricky area of discussion.Coben

    I have found myself doing just what you are doing here recently - giving it my best shot, deciding that I've made my best case, and calling it a day. It's a good way to end a discussion when we've all done the best we can.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    2.1k


    I didn’t mean to offend you. I value your contributions to the threads I’ve encountered you in. My personal approach is that OR is modeled by observing, perceiving, and measuring AR. This method of approximating OR from studying AR implies a gap between AR and OR which is the nature of having conscious beings in a physical world. This is metaphysics, not science, as TClark pointed out.
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