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Causal closure

dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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5/19/2014 11:40:04 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
To those unused to questioning the determinism-indeterminism dichotomy, the idea of another form of causality does not seem to be coherent. States are either determined by other states or they are not, and if they are not, it is hard to see how randomness can be avoided. At first glance, this would seem to imply a meaningless difference between the two. But a little reflection should reveal that explaining the course of events within the bounds of determinism no less implies acauslity than does acauslity itself. A chain of ever-prior causes not only lacks a cause of its own, it also lacks a cause for any causal agent relating cause and effect, thus making everything fundamentally random. This is hardly surprising, for anything happening within an uncaused system can hardly be considered "caused" in any true sense.

You may be tempted to say "so what?". The very fact you are able to ask this implies that our universe is stable enough to support cognition. If the universe were random in origin, nothing would have the ontological force necessary to prevent our world from degenerating into an infinite fit of chaos; any walls put up by the universe would be built upon a puddle of quicksand. Claiming that randomness doesn't have to occur implies that randomness - the utter lack of cause - somehow operates with restraint. But a total absence, by definition, cannot operate with anything.

If there is nothing to prevent anything from happening at any time, if physical laws are nothing but an illusion whose existence is kept in place by nothing whatsoever, why does our universe exhibit so much order? One possible (wrong) explanation is the anthropic principle which dictates that observations must be consistent with the conditions necessary to observe. In other words, we perceive an orderly universe because there is no alternative. This hypothesis fails to account for our universe for at least four reasons.

1. It necessitates the existence of a stable domain in which suitable universes could be passively distinguished. Such a domain would be random as well, and could thus exist only as a sea of ontological white noise in which no single universe could be sustained as distinct from the rest.

2. If such a domain were real, it would already be part of reality. This would lead to inconsistencies. For instance, it could not reconcile competing sets of universal laws which would all have to exist at the same time due to the fact that there would be no overarching order.

3. It could not explain why our universe's laws continue to exist exactly as they do. For instance, our observations would not be inconsistent with a universe in which the speed of light is a fraction different than it is.

4. It could not explain how our minds are consistently mapped to reality.

In case all of this still leaves you cold, one need merely remember the bottom line. Reality, by definition, is all and only that which is real. Since reality must exclude that which it is not, it must have structure. Since structure is identical to explanation, and since a "cause" is an explanation for the existence of something, reality must have a cause, for if it didn't, reality's structure, i.e. reality, would not be real. Since the cause of reality must itself be real, reality causes itself to exist (and everything within it) through self-determination.
sdavio
Posts: 1,798
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5/19/2014 1:09:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." - Schopenhauer

'Randomness' and 'self-determination' both name the same thing; not being able to create a logical connection between something and anything external to it. A dice-roll is 'random' because the events leading up to the number it lands on are too complex for us to create a logical connection there. However, the more broad concept, of the dice landing at all, is not random, because we can link it to the broad preceding event of the dice being thrown. The ideas of causation and randomness relate to knowing and unknowing; to apply to them metaphysical states is nonsense, we've known this since Hume. Also, 'determinism' does not in this understanding lead to positing an infinite chain, it only refers to understanding a logical connection between multiple states.

When we try to create a logical connection between 'the universe' or 'reality' in the metaphysical sense (as in, not opposed to 'the imaginary', but to 'emptiness') and anything external to it, we cannot, because it is simply the most vague possible concept which refers to any particular thing you could name (and is made to be as such). 'Reality' as a metaphysical concept really does not name anything; it is an empty term, and as such it's 'self-determined' (impossible to create rational connections with) because it's in itself empty.

Reality, by definition, is all and only that which is real. Since reality must exclude that which it is not, it must have structure.

We should realize the distinction in 'that which is not real' between 'imaginary' and 'contradictory / empty'. (A unicorn is imaginary, while '2+2=5' is contradictory.) The actual events of 'people imagining things' and 'contradictory sentences' actually do occur, and the term 'not real' is a loose way of referring to those events occurring, so it is only within the human mind that such a distinction as real / not real, or contradictory / not contradictory needs to be made.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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5/19/2014 1:17:29 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/19/2014 1:09:04 PM, sdavio wrote:
"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." - Schopenhauer

'Randomness' and 'self-determination' both name the same thing; not being able to create a logical connection between something and anything external to it.

This treats an overlap between two things as an identity relation. Randomness = no cause. Self-determinaition = cause. They are different.

Also, 'determinism' does not in this understanding lead to positing an infinite chain, it only refers to understanding a logical connection between multiple states.

The point is that a deterministic chain cannot exist non-randomly.
tbhidc
Posts: 84
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5/20/2014 10:38:26 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/19/2014 1:09:04 PM, sdavio wrote:
"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." - Schopenhauer


I don't. I think that the earth is bigger than my field of vision.

'Randomness' and 'self-determination' both name the same thing; not being able to create a logical connection between something and anything external to it. A dice-roll is 'random' because the events leading up to the number it lands on are too complex for us to create a logical connection there. However, the more broad concept, of the dice landing at all, is not random, because we can link it to the broad preceding event of the dice being thrown. The ideas of causation and randomness relate to knowing and unknowing; to apply to them metaphysical states is nonsense, we've known this since Hume. Also, 'determinism' does not in this understanding lead to positing an infinite chain, it only refers to understanding a logical connection between multiple states.

When we try to create a logical connection between 'the universe' or 'reality' in the metaphysical sense (as in, not opposed to 'the imaginary', but to 'emptiness') and anything external to it, we cannot, because it is simply the most vague possible concept which refers to any particular thing you could name (and is made to be as such). 'Reality' as a metaphysical concept really does not name anything; it is an empty term, and as such it's 'self-determined' (impossible to create rational connections with) because it's in itself empty.

Reality, by definition, is all and only that which is real. Since reality must exclude that which it is not, it must have structure.

We should realize the distinction in 'that which is not real' between 'imaginary' and 'contradictory / empty'. (A unicorn is imaginary, while '2+2=5' is contradictory.) The actual events of 'people imagining things' and 'contradictory sentences' actually do occur, and the term 'not real' is a loose way of referring to those events occurring, so it is only within the human mind that such a distinction as real / not real, or contradictory / not contradictory needs to be made.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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5/20/2014 11:59:57 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Another reason why it fails to account for our universe: perceptions of an orderly universe are unnecessary to maintain consciousness (since they are not integral to the brain). A random universe could not explain why we perceive perfect order when we don't have to. Indeed, the improbability of this universe approaches the limit of infinity.
tBoonePickens
Posts: 3,266
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5/20/2014 5:32:06 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/19/2014 1:09:04 PM, sdavio wrote:
"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." - Schopenhauer

'Randomness' and 'self-determination' both name the same thing; not being able to create a logical connection between something and anything external to it. A dice-roll is 'random' because the events leading up to the number it lands on are too complex for us to create a logical connection there. However, the more broad concept, of the dice landing at all, is not random, because we can link it to the broad preceding event of the dice being thrown. The ideas of causation and randomness relate to knowing and unknowing; to apply to them metaphysical states is nonsense, we've known this since Hume. Also, 'determinism' does not in this understanding lead to positing an infinite chain, it only refers to understanding a logical connection between multiple states.

When we try to create a logical connection between 'the universe' or 'reality' in the metaphysical sense (as in, not opposed to 'the imaginary', but to 'emptiness') and anything external to it, we cannot, because it is simply the most vague possible concept which refers to any particular thing you could name (and is made to be as such). 'Reality' as a metaphysical concept really does not name anything; it is an empty term, and as such it's 'self-determined' (impossible to create rational connections with) because it's in itself empty.

Reality, by definition, is all and only that which is real. Since reality must exclude that which it is not, it must have structure.

We should realize the distinction in 'that which is not real' between 'imaginary' and 'contradictory / empty'. (A unicorn is imaginary, while '2+2=5' is contradictory.) The actual events of 'people imagining things' and 'contradictory sentences' actually do occur, and the term 'not real' is a loose way of referring to those events occurring, so it is only within the human mind that such a distinction as real / not real, or contradictory / not contradictory needs to be made.
Brilliant response!
WOS
: At 10/3/2012 4:28:52 AM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
: Without nothing existing, you couldn't have something.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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5/20/2014 8:12:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/19/2014 1:09:04 PM, sdavio wrote:

The ideas of causation and randomness relate to knowing and unknowing; to apply to them metaphysical states is nonsense, we've known this since Hume.

A cause is essentially a description of reality, so in a sense this is true. A direct connection between two events is basically arbitrary...a non-superficial cause is identical to reality as a whole. However, this doesn't mean reality has no cause.


'Reality' as a metaphysical concept really does not name anything; it is an empty term, and as such it's 'self-determined' (impossible to create rational connections with) because it's in itself empty.

Reality is the domain of all things real, and the predicate "real" means inclusion in that domain. If the term reality were meaningless, then true (which means inclusion in the domain of reality) would be indistinguishable from false (exclusion from the domain of reality). But then logic would have nothing to negate, in which case true (as opposed to false) would be an utterly meaningless concept, in which case valid and invalid arguments would be equally true.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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5/20/2014 8:19:39 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
"If the universe were random in origin, nothing would have the ontological force necessary to prevent our world from degenerating into an infinite fit of chaos; any walls put up by the universe would be built upon a puddle of quicksand."

In other words, physical "laws" would not be enforcing any real restraint, they would just be patterns.
tBoonePickens
Posts: 3,266
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5/22/2014 5:20:49 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/20/2014 8:19:39 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"If the universe were random in origin, nothing would have the ontological force necessary to prevent our world from degenerating into an infinite fit of chaos; any walls put up by the universe would be built upon a puddle of quicksand."
Do you even know what random is? No, you don't. There's no such thing as "totally random"; that is a meaningless absurdity.

Random describes the difficulty in predicting. So it's like temperature: something can be hotter or colder (more random or less random), etc. So when we say an aspect of a system "is random" what we mean is that said aspect of a system is difficult to predict. Curiously, randomness inversely affects itself: the more random something is on a small scale, the less random it NECESSARILY is on the large scale; and vice versa.

What this means is that if your absurdity were true on the small scale (ie totally random) then it would mean that the opposite is true on the large scale (ie totally not random), or vice versa.

In other words, physical "laws" would not be enforcing any real restraint, they would just be patterns.
Patterns of what? What the ef are you talking about?
WOS
: At 10/3/2012 4:28:52 AM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
: Without nothing existing, you couldn't have something.
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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5/22/2014 6:53:42 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/22/2014 5:20:49 PM, tBoonePickens wrote:
At 5/20/2014 8:19:39 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
"If the universe were random in origin, nothing would have the ontological force necessary to prevent our world from degenerating into an infinite fit of chaos; any walls put up by the universe would be built upon a puddle of quicksand."
Do you even know what random is? No, you don't. There's no such thing as "totally random"; that is a meaningless absurdity.

Random describes the difficulty in predicting. So it's like temperature: something can be hotter or colder (more random or less random), etc. So when we say an aspect of a system "is random" what we mean is that said aspect of a system is difficult to predict. Curiously, randomness inversely affects itself: the more random something is on a small scale, the less random it NECESSARILY is on the large scale; and vice versa.

What this means is that if your absurdity were true on the small scale (ie totally random) then it would mean that the opposite is true on the large scale (ie totally not random), or vice versa.

There are multiple definitions of "random". I specified what I meant when I defined it as "the utter lack of cause". It should have been clear in any case, given the context in which it was used.

The definition most relevant to my usage would be: "proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern." If something occurs without reason, then it occurs without cause, and is thus "random".


In other words, physical "laws" would not be enforcing any real restraint, they would just be patterns.
Patterns of what? What the ef are you talking about?

Definition of pattern: give a regular or intelligible form to. For instance, physical motion would not be actively enforced by anything, it would just be a discernible pattern in the white noise of randomness.
apb4y
Posts: 480
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10/19/2014 5:48:25 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 5/19/2014 11:40:04 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
[ meaningless waffle ]

[ something about physical laws ]

Laws of Physics are not externally imposed. They are fundamental properties of the things they describe, just as being an even number is a fundamental property of the number 2. There is no external force imposing evenness on 2.

1. [ meaningless waffle ]

2. [ something about competing physical laws ]

Laws of Physics do not compete, nor are they incompatible with each other. It's just our scientific theories that are incompatible.

3. [ meaningless waffle ]

4. [ meaningless waffle ]

[ meaningless waffle ]
dylancatlow
Posts: 12,245
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10/19/2014 6:04:09 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/19/2014 5:48:25 PM, apb4y wrote:
At 5/19/2014 11:40:04 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
[ meaningless waffle ]

[ something about physical laws ]

Laws of Physics are not externally imposed. They are fundamental properties of the things they describe, just as being an even number is a fundamental property of the number 2. There is no external force imposing evenness on 2.

1. [ meaningless waffle ]

2. [ something about competing physical laws ]

Laws of Physics do not compete, nor are they incompatible with each other. It's just our scientific theories that are incompatible.

3. [ meaningless waffle ]

4. [ meaningless waffle ]

[ meaningless waffle ]

You're a moron.
apb4y
Posts: 480
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10/19/2014 8:51:04 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 10/19/2014 6:04:09 PM, dylancatlow wrote:
At 10/19/2014 5:48:25 PM, apb4y wrote:
At 5/19/2014 11:40:04 AM, dylancatlow wrote:
[ meaningless waffle ]

[ something about physical laws ]

Laws of Physics are not externally imposed. They are fundamental properties of the things they describe, just as being an even number is a fundamental property of the number 2. There is no external force imposing evenness on 2.

1. [ meaningless waffle ]

2. [ something about competing physical laws ]

Laws of Physics do not compete, nor are they incompatible with each other. It's just our scientific theories that are incompatible.

3. [ meaningless waffle ]

4. [ meaningless waffle ]

[ meaningless waffle ]

You're a moron.

If you want my comeback, you're gonna have to suck it out of your mother's a$$.

Although, for you, that's just a typical Friday night.