Hardships of early human life favored the evolution of certain cognitive tools, among them the ability to infer the presence of organisms that might do harm, to come up with causal narratives for natural events and to recognize that other people have minds of their own with their own beliefs, desires and intentions.
Robin Marantz Henig
For any one who is pervaded with the sense of causal law in all that happens, who accepts in real earnest the assumption of causality, the idea of a Being who interferes with the sequence of events in the world is absolutely impossible. Neither the religion of fear nor the social-moral religion can have any hold on him.
With the unknown, one is confronted with danger, discomfort, and care; the first instinct is to abolish these painful states. First principle: any explanation is better than none. . . . The causal instinct is thus conditional upon, and excited by, the feeling of fear. The "why?" shall, if at all possible, not give the cause for its own sake so much as for a particular kind of cause -- a cause that is comforting, liberating, and relieving.
Under opacity and in the newfound complexity of the world, people can hide risks and hurt others, with the law incapable of catching them. Iatrogenics has both delayed and invisible consequences. It is hard to see causal links, to fully understand what's going on. Under such epistemic limitations, skin in the game is the only true mitigator of fragility.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Quantum physics presents a new and exciting worldview that challenges old concepts, such as deterministic trajectories of motion and causal continuity. If initial conditions do not forever determine an object's motion, if instead, every time we observe, there is a new beginning, then the world is creative at the base level.
Beyond institutional amnesia, a rejection of causal analysis is the existential rock on which American Exceptionalism sits. The United States unique sense of itself depends on an ambiguous relationship to the past. History is affirmed, since it is America's unprecedented historical success that justifies the exceptionalism.
Like all of modern science, the field of psychiatry, especially in its current biological incarnation, has become smitten with materialist reductionism, the idea that all phenomena can be explained by the interaction and movement of material particles. As a result, to suggest that anything other than brain mechanisms in and of themselves constitute the causal dynamics of a mental phenomenon is to risk being dismissed out of hand.
Jeffrey M. Schwartz
When common sense sees a puzzling phenomenon it looks for a causal agent. When it sees organization it looks for an organizer. This works amazingly well for purposes ranging from the diagnosis of diseases to the creation of governments. But it cannot account for emergence ... the appearance of complex phenomena not predictable from the basic elements and processes alone.
The aim ... is to provide a clear and rigorous basis for determining when a causal ordering can be said to hold between two variables or groups of variables in a model . . . . The concepts refer to a model-a system of equations-and not to the 'real' world the model purports to describe.
Since the effects of your life that lead to pain and annoyance are always consequences of inner elements, what you commonly regard as 'problems' are more accurately seen as outer symptoms of inner, causal problems. The practical approach is to begin looking at those specific aspects of your life that are not as you desire to find their source, rooted in your mindset.
Thomas Daniel Nehrer
In the 'in-itself' there is nothing of 'causal connections', of 'necessity', or of 'psychological non-freedom'; there the effect does not follow the cause, there is no rule or 'law'. It is we alone who have devised cause, sequence, for-each-other, relativity, constraint, number, law, freedom, motive, and purpose; and when we project and mix this symbol world into things as if it existed 'in itself', we act once more as we have always acted- mythologically.
A living organism must be studied from two distinct aspects. One of these is the causal-analytic aspect which is so fruitfully applicable to ontogeny. The other is the historical descriptive aspect which is unravelling lines of phylogeny with ever-increasing precision. Each of these aspects may make suggestions concerning the possible significance of events seen under the other, but does not explain or translate them into simpler terms.
Gavin de Beer
However inadequate our ideas of causal efficacy may be, we are less wide of the mark when we say that our ideas and feelings have it, than the Automatists are when they say they haven't it. As in the night all cats are gray, so in the darkness of metaphysical criticism all causes are obscure. But one has no right to pull the pall over the psychic half of the subject only . . . whilst in the same breath one dogmatizes about material causation as if Hume, Kant, and Lotze had never been born.
The emotional, physical and aesthetic value of a sound is linked not only to the causal explanation we attribute to it but also to its own qualities of timbre and texture, to its own personal vibration. So just as directors and cinematographers (even those who will never make abstract films) have everything to gain by refining their knowledge of visual materials and textures, we can similarly benefit from disciplined attention to the inherent qualities of sounds.
God is thus entrenched in the Flow systems as a causal belief, but an unordered one. Within Flow, this is implemented as unordered in relation with the ordered. The responsibility of first Cause and causes as effects including physiological causes are passed on to God. In fact, to devout Christians, God is all causation incessantly.
Synchronistic phenomena prove the simultaneous occurrence of meaningful equivalences in heterogenous, causally unrelated processes; in other words, they prove that a content perceived by an observer can, at the same time, be represented by an outside event, without any causal connection. From this it follows either that the psyche cannot be localized in time, or that space is relative to the psyche.
In one of the most brilliant papers in the English language Hume made it clear that what we speak of as 'causality' is nothing more than the phenomenon of repetition. When we mix sulphur with saltpeter and charcoal we always get gunpowder. This is true of every event subsumed by a causal law in other words, everything which can be called scientific knowledge. "It is custom which rules ," Hume said, and in that one sentence undermined both science and philosophy .
Philip K. Dick
Development of Western science is based on two great achievements: the invention of the formal logical system (in Euclidean geometry) by the Greek philosophers, and the discovery of the possibility to find out causal relationships by systematic experiment (during the Renaissance). In my opinion, one has not to be astonished that the Chinese sages have not made these steps. The astonishing thing is that these discoveries were made at all.
It seems important that the social value factor be more generally recognized as a powerful causal agent in its own right and something to be dealt with directly as such. No more critical task can be projected for the 1970s than that of seeking for civilized society a new, elevated set of value guidelines more suited to man's expanded numbers and new powers over nature, a frame of reference for value priorities that will act to secure and conserve our world instead of destroying it.
Roger Wolcott Sperry
Perceived self-efficacy also shapes causal thinking. In seeking solutions to difficult problems, those who perceived themselves as highly efficacious are inclined to attribute their failures to insufficient effort, whereas those of comparable skills but lower perceived self-efficacy ascribe their failures to deficient ability
You are the witness of the three bodies: the gross, the subtle, and the causal, and of the three times: past, present and future, and also this void. In the story of the tenth man, when each of them counted and thought they were only nine, each one forgetting to count himself, there is a stage when they think one is missing and do not know who it is; and that corresponds to the void. We are so accustomed to the notion that all that we see around us is permanent and that we are this body, that when all this ceases to exist we imagine and fear that we also have ceased to exist.
But it so happens that everything on this planet is, ultimately, irrational; there is not, and cannot be, any reason for the causal connexion of things, if only because our use of the word "reason" already implies the idea of causal connexion. But, even if we avoid this fundamental difficulty, Hume said that causal connexion was not merely unprovable, but unthinkable; and, in shallower waters still, one cannot assign a true reason why water should flow down hill, or sugar taste sweet in the mouth. Attempts to explain these simple matters always progress into a learned lucidity, and on further analysis retire to a remote stronghold where every thing is irrational and unthinkable. If you cut off a man's head, he dies. Why? Because it kills him. That is really the whole answer. Learned excursions into anatomy and physiology only beg the question; it does not explain why the heart is necessary to life to say that it is a vital organ. Yet that is exactly what is done, the trick that is played on every inquiring mind. Why cannot I see in the dark? Because light is necessary to sight. No confusion of that issue by talk of rods and cones, and optical centres, and foci, and lenses, and vibrations is very different to Edwin Arthwait's treatment of the long-suffering English language. Knowledge is really confined to experience. The laws of Nature are, as Kant said, the laws of our minds, and, as Huxley said, the generalization of observed facts. It is, therefore, no argument against ceremonial magic to say that it is "absurd" to try to raise a thunderstorm by beating a drum; it is not even fair to say that you have tried the experiment, found it would not work, and so perceived it to be "impossible." You might as well claim that, as you had taken paint and canvas, and not produced a Rembrandt, it was evident that the pictures attributed to his painting were really produced in quite a different way. You do not see why the skull of a parricide should help you to raise a dead man, as you do not see why the mercury in a thermometer should rise and fall, though you elaborately pretend that you do; and you could not raise a dead man by the aid of the skull of a parricide, just as you could not play the violin like Kreisler; though in the latter case you might modestly add that you thought you could learn. This is not the special pleading of a professed magician; it boils down to the advice not to judge subjects of which you are perfectly ignorant, and is to be found, stated in clearer and lovelier language, in the Essays of Thomas Henry Huxley.
[P]hilosophical theories are structured by conceptual metaphors that constrain which inferences can be drawn within that philosophical theory. The (typically unconscious) conceptual metaphors that are constitutive of a philosophical theory have the causal effect of constraining how you can reason within that philosophical framework.
In astronomy, the law of gravitation is plainly better worth knowing than the position of a particular planet on a particular night, or even on every night throughout a year. There are in the law a splendour and simplicity and sense of mastery which illuminate a mass of otherwise uninteresting details.... But in history the matter is far otherwise.... Historical facts, many of them, have an intrinsic value, a profound interest on their own account, which makes them worthy of study, quite apart from any possibility of linking them together by means of causal laws.
Life is not made of atoms,it is merely built out of them. What life is actually 'made of' is cycles of cause and effect, loops of causal flow. These phenomenon are just as real as atoms - perhaps even more real. If anything, the entire universe is actually made from events, of which atoms are merely some of the consequences.
Nonetheless, GAO's conclusion that employer sanctions had somehow caused employment discrimination was contradicted by GAO's own Chief of Methodology, who criticized the GAO report. ...here is what she said, 'I believe the truth is that we have no strong causal link between IRCA and discrimination, and in [my] view it is just as likely that the discrimination we found has always been there, or that it is spurious, as that IRCA has caused it.'
Alan K. Simpson
The investigation of causal relations between economic phenomena presents many problems of peculiar difficulty, and offers many opportunities for fallacious conclusions. Since the statistician can seldom or never make experiments for himself, he has to accept the data of daily experience, and discuss as best he can the relations of a whole group of changes; he cannot, like the physicist, narrow down the issue to the effect of one variation at a time. The problems of statistics are in this sense far more complex than the problems of physics.
I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn't even know that I'm alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck... I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.
I established the opposite view, that this history of the embryo (ontogeny) must be completed by a second, equally valuable, and closely connected branch of thought - the history of race (phylogeny). Both of these branches of evolutionary science, are, in my opinion, in the closest causal connection; this arises from the reciprocal action of the laws of heredity and adaptation... 'ontogenesis is a brief and rapid recapitulation of phylogenesis, determined by the physiological functions of heredity (generation) and adaptation (maintenance).
In the current environment, attributing low student performance to teacher tenure is one of the great unproven causal links out there. The relationship just hasn't been examined very carefully, but we should all recognize that in higher education the strongest institutions generally have the most robust tenure systems, and in elementary and secondary, the states with the strongest teacher unions (and tenure systems) tend to have the highest student performance.
If a supernatural being is to be exempt from natural law, it cannot possess specific, determinate characteristics. These attributes would impose limits and these limits would restrict the capacities of this supernatural being. In this case, a supernatural being would be subject to the causal relationships that mark natural existence, which would disqualify it as a god. Therefore, we must somehow conceive of a being without a specific nature, a being that is indeterminate-a being, in other words, that is nothing in particular. But these characteristics (or, more precisely, lack of characteristics) are incompatible with the notion of existence itself.
George H. Smith
Quantum fluctuations are, at their root, completely a-causal, in the sense that cause and effect and ordering of events in time is not a part of how these fluctuations work. Because of this, there seem not to be any correlations built into these kinds of fluctuations because 'law' as we understand the term requires some kind of cause-and-effect structure to pre-exist. Quantum fluctuations can precede physical law, but it seems that the converse is not true. So in the big bang, the establishment of 'law' came after the event itself, but of course even the concept of time and causality may not have been quite the same back then as they are now.
Sten F. Odenwald
Insofar as the intervention of grace constitutes the core of religious experience, the constant aim of every religious movement ought to be a reduction of transcendence coupled with an unswerving dedication to immanence. Let metaphysics and science pursue the elaboration of transcendent, causal economies; the domain of religion is immanence and, more precisely, the immanence of what is actually given as a gift. Religious thinking will be religious in character precisely to the extent that it is capable of faithfully thinking immanence. Religion, for the sake of grace, forsakes transcendence.
If God created our will, then he's responsible for every choice we make... So- as I recall, the official philosophical answer is that free will doesn't exist. Only the illusion of free will, because the causes of hour behavior are so complex that we can't trace them back. If you've got one line of dominoes knocking each other down, one by one, then you can always say, look, this domino fell because that one pushed it. But when you have an infinite number of dominoes that can be traced back in an infinite number of directions, you can never find where the causal chain begins. So you think, That domino fell because it wanted to... Even if there is no such thing as free will, we have to treat each other as if there were free will in order to live together in society.
Orson Scott Card
A Super-Integral Spirituality has all the features of an Integral Spirituality, plus, among other things, an inherent conjunction of each stage with a given state, giving all of its stages a transpersonal or spiritual flavor (at least the possibility of either gross nature mysticism, subtle deity mysticism, causal formless mysticism, or nondual Unity mysticism). These mystical states are, of course, available to virtually all the lower 1st- and 2nd-tier stages, although there are likely some significant differences in 3rd tier, given its inherent conjunction of structures and states.
Leaving the age of materialism and duality behind us, we now seek to become Masters of the Spiritual Kingdom ~ moving into the penthouse of ourselves, the crown chakra, as it were. Herein lays all our joy, our progress and our discovery of our superior and limitless Divine powers. By loosening identification with the sense world, we begin to access the greater causal gifts and realms. I believe we must always learn to use our power of choice ~ to develop Spiritual authority, and come out of victim consciousness. It is important to encourage the setting of strong goals (focusing around fulfillment of pure heart's desires). When the will is highly focused, the reader become receptive to the Higher Way and technologies of God I wish to impart.
Linda De Coff
We are particularly concerned with the question to what degree approval and implementation of an explanatory model minimising collective or institutional responsibility for certain problems and emphasising individual responsibility promotes detrimental perceptions and behaviours amongst individuals, who adopt and adapt similar explanations to justify their own lack of responsibility. For instance, admissibility of diminished responsibility arguments in criminal sentencing can be viewed as a direct consequence of a broader public acceptance of explanatory models purporting to prove a direct causal relationship between pharmacology, mental health and/or diminished ability to function.
What is the use of the colon? What is a colon? Generally it opens onto an explanation, but it is always done with the help of an interruption. It can be said that the colon is not the period, it is the period of the period, the canceling of the period. It is a moment mute and marked; it is the most delicate tattoo of the text. It is also in place of, instead of, everything that would be causal. For example, when we read: "It's simply that: secret." "Secret, " is a sentence, it is the shortest sentence perhaps. But it is a sentence in one word. It is a sentence that is secret and that at the same time says its name. One could invert and say: "Secret: it is simply that." This is secret, the secret is the secret of this, it is a word which makes infinite sense all by itself, it is a sentence which performs the secret itself [Clarice Lispector, The Stream of Life, trans Elizabeth Lowe and Earl Fitz, Foreword by Hele¨ne Cixous trans Verena Conley, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989]
I spent the beginning of my focus on activism by doing what most everyone else was doing; blaming other people and institutions. Don't like the war? Let's blame the president, congress, or lobbyists. Don't like ecological disregard? Let's blame this or that corrupt corporation or some regulatory body for poor performance. Don't like being poor and socially immobile? Let's blame government coercion and interference in this free market utopia everyone keeps talking about. The sobering truth of the matter is that the only thing to blame is the dynamic, causal unfolding of system expression itself on the cultural level. In other words, none of us create or do anything in isolation - it's impossible. We are system-bound both physically and psychologically; a continuum. Therefore our view of causality with respect to societal change can only be truly productive if we seek and source the most relevant sociological influences we can and begin to alter those effects from the root causes.
The results of decades of neurotransmitter-depletion studies point to one inescapable conclusion: low levels or serotonin, norepinephrine or dopamine do not cause depression. here is how the authors of the most complete meta-analysis of serotonin-depletion studies summarized the data: "Although previously the monoamine systems were considered to be responsible for the development of major depressive disorder (MDD), the available evidence to date does not support a direct causal relationship with MDD. There is no simple direct correlation of serotonin or norepinephrine levels in the brain and mood.' In other words, after a half-century of research, the chemical-imbalance hypothesis as promulgated by the drug companies that manufacture SSRIs and other antidepressants is not only with clear and consistent support, but has been disproved by experimental evidence.
Among the many symbols used to frighten and manipulate the populace of the democratic states, few have been more important than "terror" and "terrorism." These terms have generally been confined to the use of violence by individuals and marginal groups. Official violence, which is far more extensive in both scale and destructiveness, is placed in a different category altogether. This usage has nothing to do with justice, causal sequence, or numbers abused. Whatever the actual sequence of cause and effect, official violence is described as responsive or provoked ("retaliation, " "protective reaction, " etc.), not as the active and initiating source of abuse. Similarly, the massive long-term violence inherent in the oppressive social structures that U.S. power has supported or imposed is typically disregarded. The numbers tormented and killed by official violence-wholesale as opposed to retail terror-during recent decades have exceeded those of unofficial terrorists by a factor running into the thousands. But this is not "terror, " [... ] "security forces" only retaliate and engage in "police action." These terminological devices serve important functions. They help to justify the far more extensive violence of (friendly) state authorities by interpreting them as "reactive" and they implicitly sanction the suppression of information on the methods and scale of official violence by removing it from the category of "terrorism." [... ] Thus the language is well-designed for apologetics for wholesale terror.
Why anyone's argument for god(s) is fallacious, especially as a causal agent: Imagine Michael and Jessica are at Jimmy's house sitting at the kitchen table. Jessica steps outside to take a phone call. When she returns her drink is spilled. Jessica asks, 'How did my drink get knocked over?' Michael replies, 'It was a SnickerDoodle.' J: 'What's a SnickerDoodle?' M: 'It looks a little like an elephant but it is small, pink, and invisible.' J: 'Is it invisible or pink? It can't be both.' M: 'Well, it is. You can't understand what the SnickerDoodle looks like.' J: 'Zip it. SnickerDoodle's are not real. How did my drink get knocked over?' M: 'Well, it was Jimmy's cat, but it was because he was chasing the SnickerDoodle, so the SnickerDoodle made him do it.' J: 'Stop with the SnickerDoodle, you weirdo.' M: 'Just kidding, it was Jimmy's cat, I don't know why.' We have no reason to believe that SnickerDoodle's are real. Without SnickerDoodles being established as possible causes to drinks being knocked down, then there is no point to discussing them as the cause of Jessica's drink being knocked over. In similar fashion, we have to establish that cats are a possible reason that drinks get knocked down. Okay, we have established that cats are real and capable of doing so. It is now a viable option, but in order for Michael's story have any plausibility, we not only have to establish that a cat did it, we have to establish that it was Jimmy's cat, or that Jimmy even has a cat. Believers cannot get to step one, establishing that any god is even a viable option on the list of possibilities. Then even if gods were proven to be real, you still have to prove that it was your particular god, or that your particular god exists. To argue that your god is real, is like Michael arguing that Jimmy's SnickerDoodle knocked over Jessica's drink. Can grown-adults take that argument seriously? Really?
Michael A. Wood Jr.
Professor Smith has kindly submitted his book to me before publication. After reading it thoroughly and with intense interest I am glad to comply with his request to give him my impression. The work is a broadly conceived attempt to portray man's fear-induced animistic and mythic ideas with all their far-flung transformations and interrelations. It relates the impact of these phantasmagorias on human destiny and the causal relationships by which they have become crystallized into organized religion. This is a biologist speaking, whose scientific training has disciplined him in a grim objectivity rarely found in the pure historian. This objectivity has not, however, hindered him from emphasizing the boundless suffering which, in its end results, this mythic thought has brought upon man. Professor Smith envisages as a redeeming force, training in objective observation of all that is available for immediate perception and in the interpretation of facts without preconceived ideas. In his view, only if every individual strives for truth can humanity attain a happier future; the atavisms in each of us that stand in the way of a friendlier destiny can only thus be rendered ineffective. His historical picture closes with the end of the nineteenth century, and with good reason. By that time it seemed that the influence of these mythic, authoritatively anchored forces which can be denoted as religious, had been reduced to a tolerable level in spite of all the persisting inertia and hypocrisy. Even then, a new branch of mythic thought had already grown strong, one not religious in nature but no less perilous to mankind - exaggerated nationalism. Half a century has shown that this new adversary is so strong that it places in question man's very survival. It is too early for the present-day historian to write about this problem, but it is to be hoped that one will survive who can undertake the task at a later date.
For Aristotle the literary plot was analogous to the plot of the world in that both were eductions from the potency of matter. Sartre denies this for the world, and specifically denies, in the passage just referred to, that without potentiality there is no change. He reverts to the Megaric view of the matter, which Aristotle took such trouble to correct. But this is not our affair. The fact is that even if you believe in a Megaric world there is no such thing as a Megaric novel; not even Paterson. Change without potentiality in a novel is impossible, quite simply; though it is the hopeless aim of the cut-out writers, and the card-shuffle writers. A novel which really implemented this policy would properly be a chaos. No novel can avoid being in some sense what Aristotle calls 'a completed action.' This being so, all novels imitate a world of potentiality, even if this implies a philosophy disclaimed by their authors. They have a fixation on the eidetic imagery of beginning, middle, and end, potency and cause. Novels, then, have beginnings, ends, and potentiality, even if the world has not. In the same way it can be said that whereas there may be, in the world, no such thing as character, since a man is what he does and chooses freely what he does-and in so far as he claims that his acts are determined by psychological or other predisposition he is a fraud, le¢che, or salaud-in the novel there can be no just representation of this, for if the man were entirely free he might simply walk out of the story, and if he had no character we should not recognize him. This is true in spite of the claims of the doctrinaire nouveau roman school to have abolished character. And Sartre himself has a powerful commitment to it, though he could not accept the Aristotelian position that it is through character that plot is actualized. In short, novels have characters, even if the world has not. What about time? It is, effectively, a human creation, according to Sartre, and he likes novels because they concern themselves only with human time, a faring forward irreversibly into a virgin future from ecstasy to ecstasy, in his word, from kairos to kairos in mine. The future is a fluid medium in which I try to actualize my potency, though the end is unattainable; the present is simply the pour-soi., 'human consciousness in its flight out of the past into the future.' The past is bundled into the en-soi, and has no relevance. 'What I was is not the foundation of what I am, any more than what I am is the foundation of what I shall be.' Now this is not novel-time. The faring forward is all right, and fits the old desire to know what happens next; but the denial of all causal relation between disparate kairoi, which is after all basic to Sartre's treatment of time, makes form impossible, and it would never occur to us that a book written to such a recipe, a set of discontinuous epiphanies, should be called a novel. Perhaps we could not even read it thus: the making of a novel is partly the achievement of readers as well as writers, and readers would constantly attempt to supply the very connections that the writer's programme suppresses. In all these ways, then, the novel falsifies the philosophy.