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Causation

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Something I am curious about which I don't see any previous topic on is the nature of causation. Suppose, for the time being, that we use the Einstein-Minkowski four-dimensional view of time (if this is controvercial, please let me know). In that case, I envision each moment in time like a picture, and all of the universe is a linear progression of these pictures, like in those picture-flip-books (what are those things called again?). As we all know, we cannot sensibly ask the question, "Why is reality here?" or "Why is reality the way that it is?" So each picture that we posit must be taken as a given, BUT what about the rule by which each picture necessarily leads into the picture that follows it--i.e. causation? What is that? What is it that makes one thing push another when the former strikes the later, rather than say merging with it? Must we simply accept that it does, or can we answer this question further? Is this question just another way of asking, "Why is reality the way that it is?"

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The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature. An action not caused by an entity would be caused by a zero, which would mean a zero controlling a thing, a non-entity controlling an entity, the non-existent ruling the existent—which is the universe of your teachers' desire, the cause of their doctrines of causeless action, the reason of their revolt against reason, the goal of their morality, their politics, their economics, the ideal they strive for: the reign of the zero.

In other word, things do what they do because they exist and have a certain identity that includes and requires certain actions to take place.

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I would just like to add that it's the 4D model that is wrong. The identity of a thing is not just what it is in a given moment, and then you need something else to tie the moments together. The thing is given, and one aspect of it's identity is its color, weight etc, another aspect is the way it acts.

There is no 4th dimension which the other three move through. There are things, which act a certain way, and then by relating the actions of one to another, for example the running of feet to the hands on a clock, we come up with the concept of time. "Time is in the universe, the universe is not in time."

(The idea that there are things on the one hand, and then laws that guide them separately is actually religious in origin, it comes from the story that the universe was chaotic and then god imposed the causality from on high.)

Edited by ian
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In other word, things do what they do because they exist and have a certain identity that includes and requires certain actions to take place.

Saying that 'certain actions take place' presupposes the question.

Why is it assumed that 'proper time' and 'reference frame time' must, <i>at all scales and in all contexts</i> coincide? By reference frame time, I mean the direction that 'proper times' flow GENERALLY with respect to other 'proper times'. By generally, I mean in the contexts we deal with daily.

No current model of quantum physics that explains a sufficient amount of facts about this manifold - or as we can call it without evidence of other manifolds, universe - comes without the idea that at certain scales of spacetime, IE scales of spacetime at which the number h plays a large role, some particles/waves go against the flow. (Obviously they wouldn't all go against the flow, since that would define a different 'direction' of time, and obviously at larger scales you wouldn't have even a few particle/waves going against the flow, otherwise there WOULD be contradictions, since at that scale 'h' doesn't play much of a role at all.)

Proper time can be assumed to go in one direction, because of causality, but why should reference frame time? It just happens to do so, but is that because of some metaphysical property, or because of the law of statistics? I'm arguing the latter, but some people argue the former, which means that, without any SCIENTIFIC evidence against a theory, we must reject it for PHILOSOPHICAL reasons.

If science explains something, isn't that a good enough reason to accept something as not violating philosophical premises, since science derives from philosophy?

(I do not believe there to be a dichotomy between science and philosophy, so that's why I brought this question, which was originally philosophical, to the realm of the scientific.)

Edited by Starblade
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The 4-D model in no way precludes progression over time, and as an actually scientific question, I would be curious to know if there is any evidence contradicting the model. It appears to me th 4-D conceptualization is just another way of understanding space-time, and not different in kind.

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Starblade-- if I am interpretting your comments correctly then you seem to be asking why there is a direction to time while at the Plank level of interaction there is a symmetry with regard to time. For instance an electron moving in the reverse direction of time acts as a positron would, and so on. Is this correct? If I am on th right track then the reason why we sense a direction to time is twofold.

First, we can use the Second Law of Thermodynamics and use the statistical model that entropy always increases in a closed system, such as the universe itself, and make the assuption that the universe was in a highly ordered state when the phase transition known popularly as the "Big Bang" event occured.

Second, and more primarily, is the fact of CPT violation. Not only does it explain the dominance of matter over anti-matter in the present epoch, but it also explains the fact of a perceived direction to time at the deepest levels available at present.

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Hello

I've been thinking about something...

In a classical universe....all interactions are based on cause and effect. So although, in practice, it is not possible to know position and trajectory of all of the physical entities contained therein; it should, in principle, be possible. That being the case, the entire history of the universe was, in some way, predetermined at the very beginning of its existence (including you and me - including, even, my act of writing this post).

There is an alternative to the above scheme known as "quantum mechanics". This seems to suggest that cause and effect relationships are not, in principle, knowable because of random fluctuations in the trajectory, velocity and (bugger me!) the very existence of physical entities at the smallest level of physical existence.

However, this would seem to be a hollow comfort. This is because these random fluctuations are exactly that: Random. Thus, all that a quantum physical description of the universe offers is that it is still utterly determined. It's just that now we can't even predict outcomes in principle (never mind in practice!) due to the random nature of determinants.

Thus, in this scheme, the universe's future history is re-determined every time a quantum fluctuation occurs anywhere in it. So, to reiterate a previous point, my very act of writing this post is just the inevitable consequence of a very, very large number of cause and effect interactions between an unimaginable number of physical entities in the universe's history prior to this point in time. These previous interactions stretch back either to the beginning of time or merely to the last quantum fluctuation.

But then....I would say that....wouldn't I.....?

It is, in fact very late in the day and I need to go to bed. Although I have written the above in sincerity...I truly do need someone with more intelligence than I to tell me if I am talking bollocks. If so, please enlighten me.

Thanks

Steve Cook

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Hello

I've been thinking about something...

In a classical universe....all interactions are based on cause and effect. So although, in practice, it is not possible to know position and trajectory of all of the physical entities contained therein; it should, in principle, be possible. That being the case, the entire history of the universe was, in some way, predetermined at the very beginning of its existence (including you and me - including, even, my act of writing this post).

There is an alternative to the above scheme known as "quantum mechanics". This seems to suggest that cause and effect relationships are not, in principle, knowable because of random fluctuations in the trajectory, velocity and (bugger me!) the very existence of physical entities at the smallest level of physical existence.

That's not exactly a good interpretation of quantum mechanics. Also, you seem to be thinking of causality in terms of cause and effect. A view that things act according to their nature, and that the nature of things are statistical at some level, is a lot more coherent. So the nature of quantum systems is that space/time and particle/waves are causal agents that follow the law of statistics in large numbers, though they seem quite random in small numbers.

However, this would seem to be a hollow comfort. This is because these random fluctuations are exactly that: Random. Thus, all that a quantum physical description of the universe offers is that it is still utterly determined. It's just that now we can't even predict outcomes in principle (never mind in practice!) due to the random nature of determinants.

Thus, in this scheme, the universe's future history is re-determined every time a quantum fluctuation occurs anywhere in it. So, to reiterate a previous point, my very act of writing this post is just the inevitable consequence of a very, very large number of cause and effect interactions between an unimaginable number of physical entities in the universe's history prior to this point in time. These previous interactions stretch back either to the beginning of time or merely to the last quantum fluctuation.

But then....I would say that....wouldn't I.....?

It is, in fact very late in the day and I need to go to bed. Although I have written the above in sincerity...I truly do need someone with more intelligence than I to tell me if I am talking bollocks. If so, please enlighten me.

Thanks

Steve Cook

A quantum fluctuation would have an extremely little influence on the world, and several quantum fluctuations act according to their statistical nature, so the influence of a whole system of quantum fluctuations would have very little variation. So we are not at the whim of quantum fluctuations. The only systems that ARE at the whim of quantum fluctuations are chaotic systems, because of their nature of having large influences derive from very small ones.

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That being the case, the entire history of the universe was, in some way, predetermined at the very beginning of its existence (including you and me - including, even, my act of writing this post).

There can be no such thing as "the very beginning" of the history of the universe. This implies that the universe appeared ex nihilo, which is impossible. The determinism you mention seems to imply a belief in Mechanistic Materialism ("billiard ball metaphysics"), which is rejected by advocates of Aristotelian causality such as Objectivists.

There is an alternative to the above scheme known as "quantum mechanics". This seems to suggest that cause and effect relationships are not, in principle, knowable because of random fluctuations in the trajectory, velocity and (bugger me!) the very existence of physical entities at the smallest level of physical existence.

However, this would seem to be a hollow comfort. This is because these random fluctuations are exactly that: Random. Thus, all that a quantum physical description of the universe offers is that it is still utterly determined. It's just that now we can't even predict outcomes in principle (never mind in practice!) due to the random nature of determinants.

Thankfully, Heisenberg and his followers do not constitute the entire field of Quantum Mechanics. But they do make it seem so on The Discovery Channel and other popular resources. I agree with your assessment-- that point of view would undercut basically all knowledge as such, if it were true. But it's not. : )

So, to reiterate a previous point, my very act of writing this post is just the inevitable consequence of a very, very large number of cause and effect interactions between an unimaginable number of physical entities in the universe's history prior to this point in time.

Why do you assume only physical entities are capable of cause and effect interactions? Doesn't this ignore the rather self evident existence of cognitive phenomena?

But then....I would say that....wouldn't I.....?
I don't know-- I didn't consult your horoscope today. Just kidding. : )

It is, in fact very late in the day and I need to go to bed. Although I have written the above in sincerity...I truly do need someone with more intelligence than I to tell me if I am talking bollocks. If so, please enlighten me.

I'm about to hit the sack, too. I know my reply might have been overly brief. I'm not the most intelligent person on these types of threads, either, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

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There can be no such thing as "the very beginning" of the history of the universe. This implies that the universe appeared ex nihilo, which is impossible. The determinism you mention seems to imply a belief in Mechanistic Materialism ("billiard ball metaphysics"), which is rejected by advocates of Aristotelian causality such as Objectivists.

Well, strictly speaking yes, it is impossible that the universe "appeared" ex nihilo, but there is a similar formulation that I don't think is implausible and, to my mind, quite likely. To have "appeared" implies that there was something before the beginning of the universe which came to pass and the universe then materialized like something in Star Trek. But were we to say that there is a beginning and an end to the universe, I don't see what is contradictory about that and since you bring up Ari, he thought the idea of an infinite regress and an infinite future were contradictory.

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"Why do you assume only physical entities are capable of cause and effect interactions? Doesn't this ignore the rather self evident existence of cognitive phenomena?"

In reply to the above I would say:

Why do you assume that cognition is somehow independant of the physical laws of the universe? Doesn't this rather ignore the self evidently physical nature of the brain in which cognition occurs?

Or are you suggesting that cognition is a non-physical process and, as such, is not therefore subject to the same principles of cause and effect as mentioned in my previous post?

Edited by SteveCook
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