Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Following From

[I wish that I had the interest/dedication to actually pursue these thoughts more rigorously by studying existent philosophical work on the topic, but alas.]

Consider a state governed by absolutely no physical or metaphysical laws. Does this mean anything can happen? Or for "something to happen", does that require that there be something to guide or direct "happenings"?

Natural laws, of course, probably don't "guide" action by any means. They're simply descriptions of how phenomena behave. But... how do phenomena "know" how to behave? What makes them behave in a particular way versus some other way?

I suppose I'm inquiring about how causation works in general--what exactly goes on when some observed or postulated event (which we call the antecedent) is supposed to cause, or in some way be responsible for, another event (the consequent). (As a side note, "event" is too loose of a term. Really, I suppose I mean "states of affairs" or "sets of circumstances" that obtain at a certain point in time. But event is a bit quicker to write, and most of the discussion examples that I can think of are events in the more standard sense too.)

If nothing else, we can at least say that human minds (and thus what we call rational thought) work best thinking under the following paradigm: to understand how/why a circumstance came to be, the circumstance must have followed from, or been enabled by, a pre-existing framework. {{And it is this necessity of thought unchecked that Kant rebukes in his Critique. The search for the unconditioned condition--a final explanation--the prime mover--God--is an attempt to step outside of the infinite regress that otherwise results, and thus to give us a circumstance which needs no further explanation. Kant (perhaps rightfully) claims that reason oversteps its justifiable boundaries when it tries to make this move.}} This paradigm seems to have served us fairly faithfully so far, but we cannot nonetheless discount the possibility that this fundamental "strategy" of thought might be flawed. {{As you will notice, the current topic is regrettably plagued by difficulty (impossibility?) of discussion. Like many other areas of philosophy, we are trying to grapple with notions that extend into the core of our most basic assumptions, and even trying to think about them will be difficult, much less to question their "accuracy".}}

What, however, does any of this mean? The ideas I suggest now may be completely nonsensical, possibly incoherent as well. And surely there is nothing to be gained by indulging nonsense.

I believe the question ties into (is enrooted in?) regress and the problem of finding first causes. Which in its own way mirrors the confusing interrelationship between objectivity and subjectivity.

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