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KALADIN

The Causal Efficacy of Relationships

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25 minutes ago, Plasmatic said:

This does not follow at all. You are the cause of your behavior. You, as an indivisible whole, posses the faculty of volition. That a faculty is made possible by physical properties possessed by an entity does not justify the elevation of a metaphysical principle that sunders the men into separate metaphysical categories of causal agency.

ITOE is fine, I just didn't want the appendix again. The appendix is not as good as an essay would be.

I don't know what you're referring to as a metaphysical principle that sunders. I already said only entities are causal agents, and properties aren't agents, so I didn't say there is more than one kind of causal agency. I get what you're saying about me being the cause of my actions, I just don't see what's wrong with saying a property is causal. After all, it sounds like an identification of one of several causal features of an agent. Reflexes and volition are from me, but they don't depend on each other to work. So it might be useful to say "volition caused my action", as in "I, a whole entity, used a specific faculty that I posses called volition for my decision to go to France, but I didn't use reflexes at all."

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Of related interest is a remark of Harry Binswanger in his 2014 book: “When one billiard ball collides with another and sets it in motion, the interaction is causally determined by the nature of the entities involved, including their state of motion” (HWK 347–48). By state of motion, he means such things as velocity and spin. It is odd to regard such things as part of the nature of a thing. To be sure, it is part of the nature of a thing to be possible for it to have or not to have such states and, if so, in certain possible ranges of magnitudes of those states (magnitudes of spin, magnitudes of linear velocity). But the actual values of those traits at hand are attributes, and removable ones, not natures of the billiard balls. That is not to say that all actual attributes of entities are not part of what we ordinarily mean by natures of the entities. The elasticity of the balls, an attribute whose magnitude is invariant for ordinary billiard balls, is more aptly called part the balls’ nature in the collision.

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1 hour ago, Boydstun said:

Of related interest is a remark of Harry Binswanger in his 2014 book: “When one billiard ball collides with another and sets it in motion, the interaction is causally determined by the nature of the entities involved, including their state of motion” (HWK 347–48). By state of motion, he means such things as velocity and spin. It is odd to regard such things as part of the nature of a thing. To be sure, it is part of the nature of a thing to be possible for it to have or not to have such states and, if so, in certain possible ranges of magnitudes of those states (magnitudes of spin, magnitudes of linear velocity). But the actual values of those traits at hand are attributes, and removable ones, not natures of the billiard balls. That is not to say that all actual attributes of entities are not part of what we ordinarily mean by natures of the entities. The elasticity of the balls, an attribute whose magnitude is invariant for ordinary billiard balls, is more aptly called part the balls’ nature in the collision.

 

I agree that velocity as a certain kind of attribute is not invariant, while others seem to be so (at least temporarily and when speaking of composite entities).  This I feel is somewhat of a superficial distinction if one looks at the constitution of fundamental particles in particular arrangements. 

Elasticity is a composite property which depends on the composition of fundamental particles into certain atoms, and the particular bonds between those atoms. The arrangement of the particles into atoms, atoms into molecules and the particular lattices, polymer molecules etc. albeit "seemingly permanent" are not so in fact.  If left undisturbed, a ceramic ball will remain so as would a rubber ball.  That said, the same collection of matter (one elastic, the other inelastic) could be rearranged and transformed so as to exhibit a different property (albeit given current technology with a time consuming complicated process).  The "ball" could now be elastic where formerly it was not elastic... of course the arrangement of the constituents of the ball would totally be different to achieve this.

A moving ball is "seemingly temporary" as one can imagine (I do not mean to invoke a Walt Disney test) intervening with the motion of a ball on a short time scale and with little difficulty.  If left undisturbed (technically if the system including the ball and the thing with which you see it has relative motion is left undisturbed) the "moving ball" will remain so.

 

A rubber ball is no more a elastic-ball-as-"permanent", as a thrown ball is a moving-ball-as-"temporary".  The "elasticity" and the "velocity" identified about the natures of each ball are what they are, whether or not the identity of ball is momentary or will change.  It is what it is.

 

I read HBs statement "causally determined by the nature of the entities involved, including their state of motion" as meaning the state of motion is "included" in the nature of the entities.

Barring this interpretation of the meaning of "including" in this particular sentence, what could one possibly mean by "their state of motion"  (here the minimum object of discussion is 2 billiard balls since motion, space and time are relative, and the property is "relative motion") if not something about the identity of the two billiard balls? 

 

For that matter what could any attribute or property OF a system of two billiard balls be if NOT something we identify about the identity of the system?  This Is a system of balls in relative motion, THIS is a system of balls in collision, THIS is a system of balls at rest wrt each other. etc.

 

A.  Is not the identity of entities exactly the same as their nature (individually and collectively)?

B.  What else could there possibly be about entities or OF entities beyond the nature of the entities? 

(Here I take compositions and complex systems as entities i.e. we do not need to restrict ourselves to individual fundamental particles although we must keep in mind that they are they constitute the composition and/or complex system)

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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I take identity as including both the nature and the state of a thing, but not identical with either alone. Then too, I take identity as including both the nature of a thing and its temporal standing with other things, but not identical with either alone. Similarly, I take identity to include both actualities of a thing (its past and present) and potentialities of a thing, but not identical with either alone.

Edited by Boydstun

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Fascinating.

I'm drawn to the "inclusive" language.  I understand why you have used it and why a blanket statement such as anything "of", or "about" a thing would likely be too broad given common usage of the words. 

You state that the identity of a thing includes the nature, the state, the temporal standing with other things, the actualities and the potentialities of a thing, etc.

This seems mostly correct except perhaps for 2 issues

A. the [actual] standing with other things.  I would take the identity of a first thing not to include its standing or relationship with a second thing, BUT I would take the identity of the "first and second things" (e.g. the system) as including the relative standing and the relationship.  Relationships are between things, and are not "of" a single thing, but are "of" the system of things.  We can identify a thing as being in a relationship as easily as we can identify a thing is observable but these I do not take as constituting identity of the thing as such but identity of the system including the thing. This difference between us seemingly only has consequences if we do not identify the system of relevance first, i.e. determine its extent and scope properly, for analysis.

B. separation of "nature" from the rest of the inclusive list. The vast majority of "things" are compositions or systems, if we do not restrict ourselves to speaking of fundamental indivisible particles and the like.  As such we are almost always dealing with a "multitude".  Everything about that multitude I take to be part of the inclusive list, all the various constituents and the temporal standing in relation to each other, all the constituents and their arrangement and configuration in relation to each other, each and all the constituents' energy momentum states, all the constituents' potentialities and actualities including the actual thermal motions and potential for reflecting color from its surface constituents... If I list all the components their states, and standings, actualities and potentialities, I get a host of properties, attributes and [at least internal] relationships, being part of the thing's identity... and I am left wondering what is left to fall under the category "nature"?  Or at the very least at a loss to identify the relevant differentia distinguishing (in a meaningful way) between all these various aspects "of" or "about" the identity of a thing from the "nature" of the thing.

It leaves me with a sense that there is a purported distinction between "WHAT it is" and "what it IS"... if that makes any sense.

In common language "what it is" is statement about the identity of a thing, in its entirety.  What of the "what it is" is identified when one speaks of the purported subcategory, the "nature of a thing"?

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I’d take capability for standing in such-and-such relations as well as actuality of such standing on a particular occasion as part of the identity of a thing. I’d take a thing’s history as part of its identity and the relationships in which it stood in that history as part of its identity.

I’d take capability for standing in such-and-such relations as part of the nature of a thing. But not it’s particular standing in such a relation on a particular occasion. Similarly, the history of a thing is part of its identity, but not part of its nature.

Capturing the species natures within total identity of a thing is a work in progress for me. I’ve surely appreciated your reflections.

 

Edited by Boydstun

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I am glad you have raised these interesting points about identity and what it means. 

Surely identity is in actuality an unbreakable whole, but it has aspects which we discern, identify and abstract away from the total.  Your insight regarding those aspects has started me on another journey of identity, identification, and abstraction.

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The equations of Newtonian Mechanics which describe a bowling ball headed towards bowling pins make no reference to the gravitational attraction between the pins and the ball, nor do the equations account for any energy imparted to the bowling ball by the overhead lights.  This is not to say that they are not part of the System, but rather that they are not deemed relevant for our purposes of understanding what governs the behavior of the System.

However, in QM and General Relativity, energy and gravity do find their way into the equations describing the  System of such things as the behavior QM particles interacting with classical instruments [QM]  or the calibration of clocks on satellites in orbit with clocks in cell phones, etc [GR].

On one of my early posts, I provide a link to a lecture given by Carlo Rovelli and his Relational Quantum Mechanics.  In the first seven minutes, he gives, what I believe to be a good account of how Mechanics (QM, CL, GR and Cosmology) is concerned about quantifying Information regarding the degrees of freedom of a System.

Edited by New Buddha

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17 hours ago, KALADIN said:

4 different posts completely absolved my confusion. Thanks for the responses.

Would you share how you resolved it? I'm curious.

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I logged in to this topic of interest to me, but by the time I had read all of the replies I found I had nothing of importance to contribute.  I agree that  "to be is to be something and to be something is to act in accordance with one's nature as that something" and that relationships participate in being.  It is not the case that only entities exist, nor that the laws of identity or causality apply only to entities.

I would have added something about magnetic fields but nevermind now.  

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Grames said:

 

Quote

 It is not the case that only entities exist, nor that the laws of identity or causality apply only to entities.

 

Kaladin wanted to know the Oist position on the OP which is that only entities exist as primaries and that only entities are causal primaries.

Clearly many answers here are motivated by inverted hierarchy. (A desire to reconcile Oist metaphysics with current popular theories in physics) I wonder how many responders besides Stephen hold this premise explicitly?

Or "To be is to be an entity with a specific nature or identity".

Edited by Plasmatic

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My question is this: Is the application of causality and causal efficacy delimited to entities only, as opposed to the relationships or attributes they make up or have or establish?

hey Plas.   

This question as posed by the OP Kaladin does not distinguish between "causal primaries" and "causal derivatives".  

The point of emphasizing that entities are causal primaries is to prevent or rebut the error that causality means actions cause actions.  Attributes and relationships are not actions.  The "only entities are causal primaries" principle does not work against attributes and relationships because the attributes and relationships are the identities of the entities involved in any particular scenario.  

 

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Grames said:

 

Quote

Attributes and relationships are not actions.  The "only entities are causal primaries" principle does not work against attributes and relationships because the attributes and relationships are the identities of the entities involved in any particular scenario.  

 

There is nothing for the principle to work against because attributes and relationships are nothing more than the entities which instantiate these "categories". Any separation of attributes or relations is an act of abstraction. 

Edit:

Grames said:

 

Quote

This question as posed by the OP Kaladin does not distinguish between "causal primaries" and "causal derivatives".  

 

But the Oist principle of causality does require one to and Kaladin is asking about the Oist position. 

Edit:

I am skeptical of the term "causal derivative" depending on what is meant. (Causal primary vs epistemic primary, etc.)

Edited by Plasmatic

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On 3/10/2016 at 2:17 PM, Grames said:

The point of emphasizing that entities are causal primaries is to prevent or rebut the error that causality means actions cause actions.  Attributes and relationships are not actions.  The "only entities are causal primaries" principle does not work against attributes and relationships because the attributes and relationships are the identities of the entities involved in any particular scenario.  

 

Hello Grames. I am a huge fan of many of your previous posts regrading topics of causality, volition, and perception specifically. Will you be returning to post more on the forums?

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Concerning the premise that the point of stressing the primary nature of entities in causality is restricted somehow to actions causing action, one can hear Dr. Peikoff stress explicitly in the 1976 lecture on Causality and entities as primary, to "please note that this is true of action as well as the rest"  of the so called "categories". 

Lecture 2 approx 68 min

Edited by Plasmatic

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