Re: Determinism

Date: Sat Apr 14 2001 - 23:42:55 BST

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    Subject: Re: Determinism
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    References: <3AD734DB.3165.45F38D@localhost>; from on Fri, Apr 13, 2001 at 05:18:19PM -0500
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    On 14 Apr 2001, at 13:44, Robin Faichney wrote:

    > On Fri, Apr 13, 2001 at 05:18:19PM -0500, wrote:
    > > > > > Causational happenings do not require the > > > passage of
    > time or changes in space, for causation is > > > instantaneous; > > >
    > > No, there is no reason to believe that. Perhaps you're thinking of
    > > > the classic (and classically misleading) billiard ball
    > illustration, > > where the period of contact is, in human terms,
    > extremely brief, but > > even there it's far from infinitesimal, and
    > I'd guess that it's quite > > easily measured, using modern
    > techniques. > > > You might be confusing a string of causations in the
    > same > direction for a single one. Every tiny slide of a textonic
    > plate > generates its own pressure; together they are enough to cause
    > an > earthquake, but each, while related to the others in a >
    > concatenatory chain, is its own entity. One may logically > subdivide
    > pressing of billiard balls, deformation, rebound and > springing into
    > a series of related but distinct cause-effect relations.
    > One may logically subdivide any event into smaller and smaller
    > timeslices. If doing so with causation results ultimately in a
    > durationless event, then the same will apply to every other event, and
    > if this is the "correct" approach, then all events are "really"
    > durationless. Is that a useful or in any sense desirable stance to
    > take? Because it looks to me like a contortion designed specifically
    > to evade the fact that, given the usual concept of causation, it does
    > not extent vertically up *or* down the hierarchy of levels of
    > explanation.
    History would be what happens between events; the spatiotemporal
    passages that carry us from one to the other. I also hasten to add
    that your entire concept of level with unbreachable barriers between
    them is simply a personal maya you are imposing upon, not
    drawing from, the data. THERE IS NO 'bright line' to distinguish so-
    called levels from each other, or to bar interactions between the
    more and the less complex; rather, there is a more or less smooth
    gradation of increasing complexity where, as you advance, certain
    descriptions and explanations become more useful while other
    ones become less so.
    > > > Seems to me, even if the duration of causation were always
    > > > absolutely instantaneous (though I'm convinced it's not -- is
    > > > anything?), that the concept of causation requires the causal
    > > > entity to precede that instant, and the caused one to survive it.
    > > > I'd say it's part of the definition of causation, as that word is
    > > > normally used, that cause precedes effect. Now, I can't deny that
    > > > there might be some specialised usage, of which I'm not aware, in
    > > > which that's not the case. But I'd seriously question the utility
    > > > of any such usage.
    > > >
    > > In fact, all the relevant interacting entities usually both pre-date
    > > and post-date such a moment existentially, and what occurs between
    > > them is mutual alteration, where one cannot be labeled the cause and
    > > the other the effect.
    > The entire pre-causation situation can be considered the cause, and
    > the post-causation situation, the effect. If time is taken into
    > account, the confusion evaporates. It's generated by your own
    > contortions.
    In other words, in your world, the entire universe at every instant is
    both caused by the entire universe in the preceding instant, and the
    cause of the entire universe in the succeeding instant, regardless
    of contiguity or noticeable influence. Such a definition in effect
    renders causation meaningless, for you cannot distinguish it from
    anything else, since it becomes omnipresent, even in empty
    space. You cannot define it, for you can not then point to anything
    it is not (p-e pairs, brownian motion and human freedom
    notwithstanding; the desired condition is simply assumed ad
    ignorantium). Causality thus defined is everywhere generally, but
    equally nowhere in particular (as opposed to somewhere else).
    Such a non-defining pseudodefinition is about a brilliant as a blown
    christmas bulb, and about as useful.
    > > let us look at P-E pairs, however. When
    > > they come together, what entity survives their mutual annihilation?
    > You're fixating on "entity". The effect is clearly the absense of the
    > pair.
    Your own cut-and-pasted words:
    that the concept of causation requires the causal
    entity to precede that instant, and the caused one to survive it.
    Are you repudiating them now? One can point to the alteration of a
    presence (configuration, location, etc.) as an effect, but an
    absence, as you state? If nothing can be the effect of something,
    then can it also be it's cause? Please shower down upon us your
    received wisdom concerning the phenomenology of nonexistent
    > > > And you're still a long, long way from establishing vertical
    > > > causation.
    > > >
    > > I'm actually establishing that simultaneous cause-effect relations
    > > are the only kind we have, so if we don't have simultaneous
    > > causation, we are in a world of shit, because sequential causation
    > > is an illusion.
    > Only in the sense that every sequential event is illusory, which is
    > about as useful a stance as saying that the physical universe is
    > nothing but maya.
    We (well, some of us) impose causative sequentiality upon
    objects, which merely spatiotemporally change with the passage of
    time. No causal entity can be separated from the interacting
    objexts and pointed to in isolation, because it is a cognitively
    imposed addition, with no mind-independent existence (David
    Hume's point). It is what you would call maya, and what others
    consider a construction.
    > > Also, what's the problem you have with top-down
    > > causation that you don't seem to have with bottom-up causation?
    > You're confusing me with someone else, again. Scott Chase, I think,
    > this time. I talk consistently about vertical causation, and view the
    > bottom-up variety as no more valid than top-down. The only move that
    > can occur between levels is a change in viewpoint, going for more
    > detail or for a broader scope. Switching between a magnifying glass
    > and a scanning electron microscope does not affect the specimen being
    > studied, only which aspect of it is seen. Atoms don't *cause*
    > molecules, because groups of them *are* molecules. Neural activity
    > doesn't *cause* our decisions, because it *is* our decisions. Sure,
    > you can use the word "cause" to cover such emergence, but only at the
    > price of generating confusion. Top-down and bottom-up causation are
    > both artefacts of sloppy thinking.
    The large gaps you seem to be committed to imposing upon the
    data are rendered apparent only if you peruse over a vast gradation;
    there is little difference between one SEM and another one set to a
    bit less magnification. Your stance wouuld, if applied to the
    evolution of life, insist that there was no relation between people
    and tarsiers, because you selected an animal a bit back in the
    evolutionary chain that led to us, rather than noticing the more or
    less smooth gradation of the species between (and of course that
    pesky DNA).
    > By the way, your favourite example of "top-down causation", the
    > correlation between subjects' reports and PET scans, is perfectly
    > covered by what I call "diagonal causation", as fully explained on the
    > web page.
    Ok, now this is TRULY hilarious! There can be, according to you,
    NO vertical causation, only horizontal causation, and (of course?)
    diagonal causation (hello! Diagonals, or slopes, are composed of
    both horizontal AND vertical components, dewde!). Your
    pseudosystem is a walking self-contradiction forged in support of
    an enthralling dogma.
    > > They are BOTH vertical, and the fact that one's decisions affect
    > > which parts of the brain are accessed to effectuate them does not
    > > even transgress an entire level; the dynamically recursive
    > > reflection, born of the material substrate and reflecting back upon
    > > it, is not a completely different level that is absolutely
    > > nonrelated to the ground from which it emerged, although they are
    > > not seamlessly blended into an amorphic unsignifying
    > > nonselfconsciousness, either.
    > This sort of talk obviously satisfies something in you, Joe. I'll
    > even concede that some sorry folks might be impressed by it. But if
    > you're interested in communicating with and convincing others, you'll
    > have to change your style.
    Actually, it is not my style that is in need of alteration so much as
    it is what you shamelessly proffer as substance. I notice that you
    ad hominemed my point rather than attempting anything
    approaching a reasonable refutation concerning it, but perhaps that
    is because the sudden image you received of the mayic nature of
    your intentionally imposed 'bright lines' was disturbing to you, as
    an unwanted spark of cognitively dissonant enlightenment can
    sometimes be.
    > --
    > Robin Faichney
    > Get your Meta-Information from
    > (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)
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