Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Reaction: What’s so Unobservable about Causation?

Richard Brown over at Philosophy Sucks! recently posted about Causation. His argument is against Hume, in that he feels he can see the relation in A cause B. He gives examples of billiard balls, gravity, pain and many more. He alsogoes on to say how he feels he can see the relation between two events.

I found this post very interesting, and enjoyed how it challenged my beliefs, but I do disagree. I feel that Brown is missing Hume's point. Hume's view as I understand it is that we cannot see causation like I see a bird flying in the air. We can not point to something and say "look, there it is, you are looking at causation." Take Hume's example of the sun rising. The sun has rose everyday since I can remember. Not one day in my life did the sun not rise. Does this mean it is going to rise tomorrow? No, it doesn't. It is very likely and very probable that the sun will rise tomorrow, but I can not point to something and say, "There it is, there is the cause for the sun rising." Similarly, if every time I throw a basketball at the ground, it bounces back up, is it necessarily so that the next time I throw it at the ground it will bounce up? No, it is not necessary, it is only likely.

I feel that brown needs to observe Hume's thoughts on probability and his views on causation and he will have a better understanding on what is so unobservable in causation.

The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins. ~ Soren Kierkegaard


fgcueagle22 said...

This was a very interesting post. As a Psychology student we are always looking for the causation of mental illness. Eventhough we do not know what is the actuall cause for the sun rising cant we use science to prove how it does? In Psychology if a person suffers from a traumatic event I can say that the cause of his psychosis was the traumatic event also the cause of his illness. Am I on the right track with what you are writing about?

NietzscheAsPhilosopher said...

Yes i think you are on hte right track fgcueagle22, but in my perspective, if I am to be consistant, you have a person, this person comes to you and he seems "normal" then a month later, he comes to you after having suffered from a very traumatic event and has psychosis. You are now saying that this traumatic event was the cause of his psychosis. My argument is, that statement is only probably and hypothetical. You can not point to something and say, there is the cause. You have the traumatic event and you have the person now suffering from psychosis and you call the linking of the two, cause, but cant show me this cause. am i clear or is it a circlular argument?

bl0g0blin24 said...

The sun rises due to the earth's rotation around the sun and its own axis. A basketball bounces due to gravity and Newton's laws of motion. As a science major, I look at these things in their scientific simplicity (or complexity). But as a curious human, I want to know why the earth revolves perfectly around the sun? Why do the poles in the earth line up and the atmosphere support life and the axis spin accordingly to allow gravity to hold us firmly on the ground? There is no doubt that science explains why most thing act and react the way they do. But humanity has its own causality. Why do some people who recieve kindness react with kindness, while others react with disdain. Humans are perhaps the most complicated subject of causation.

Broken Tusk said...

I don' quite understand the whole of the blog do to my back ground but from what I got you are trying to say that the sun is always there and it give us the elushon that it is rising but in actuality we are moving and seeing the sun as it is coming over the recurrently moving horrizen giving us the image of a sun rise or did I totally blow this and missed the point of the whole conversation.

NietzscheAsPhilosopher said...

I seem to have been unclear in my post. I am not trying to argue how or why the sun rises or a basketball bounces, my argument is much larger than that. The point I am trying to get across is that most people, like Brown, believe causation comes from certainty. I however (And if I am not mistaken, I am on agreeing with David Hume) am trying to argue that there is no certainty, only probability. Im not sure if this helps, but hopefully it is a bit more insightful.