Resolving The Mind-Body Issue, Few Additional Notes and Links

After a short series in which I explain my views on the mind-body issue, let me as a kind of overview provide links to few other posts which are related to separate steps in the view:

LINKS FOR PART ONE: Returning the content which was pushed under the “rug of mental” back into the world.

Some of the related posts:

Other things which I usually relate to those issues are Ryle’s discussions in The Concept of Mind, and Austin’s discussions of “seems”/”appears” etc… in Sense and Sensibilia, other works like Merleau Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, in more recent times disjunctivist theory of perception, and so on (you get the picture).

LINKS FOR PART TWO: Moving away from atomism/constructivism towards seeing the world in terms of what is actually going on, and aspects of what is actually going on. Seeing physical and what is returned into the world as aspects.

Some of the related posts:

In the discussion of seeing things of which we are aware as aspects, I’m usually relating to Hegel’s Logic. For some overview of this, you can check: Hegel and Concepts – The Diamond-Net, The Differences of the Diamond-Net, Little more on Hegel vs. Kant – The Antinomies, etc..

LINKS FOR PART THREE: Physical laws as metaphysically necessary relations between physical aspects, as explanation of the neat mathematical relations we find in the physical aspect

Some of the related posts

In this, I think there are connections again to the work of Hegel, especially in relation to his work on numbers (I have a short note here), his views on change being inline with Relativity, and his views on properties as not self-subsistent possibly being inline with Quantum Mechanics. Also I think this possibly can be nicely related to such things as instrumentalism and positivism.

Resolving The Mind-Body Issue, Part 4

This is the last part of the series of posts about how I think we can make sense of the mind-body issue. The idea is to provide alternative to different kinds of physicalism and dualism.

The story so far:
So far, we took those steps:
1.Returning the content which was previously pushed under the “rug of the mental” back into the world. What is left to the mind are the abilities to perceive, imagine, plan, etc…
2.Moving away from atomism/constructivism towards seeing the world in terms of what is actually going on, and aspects of what is actually going on, and taking both which appears in the physical picture and what we returned into the world as aspects of the world.

And in the third part, I didn’t advance the idea further, but pointed to a problem in the idea… For something to be an aspect of X, it means that the facts about X are based on
a)what is actually going on, and
b)the nature of the aspect.
For example, the facts about the contour of the face seen from certain side (as an aspect), will depend on a)the three-dimensional shape of the face and b)the angle from which we are seeing the face.

But what we are seeing in physical nature are that there are physical laws, which can be nicely put in determinate mathematical equations. If we take those to be facts about the physical, it surely doesn’t seem that they are aspect of anything else – they seem self-contained and independent. Sure, there is the quantum indeterminacy, but that one is nicely isolated. When we have aspects, we expect that the facts about the aspect to be in more “organic” dependency on the whole.

What we do next:
So, we get here to what I think is third part of the solution of the mind-body issue. In short it is this… The physical laws are metaphysically necessary relations between different aspects which we see as being physical. The form of those laws is the conditional: whenever p is true about something, also q will be true about the same thing.

Let me explain this through an analogy with a case that can be understood more easily. Imagine that we ignore lot of things of whatever is going on, and put attention just on the geometrical and arithmetical aspects of whatever is going on. It so happens, that even everything is changing, in certain cases we can safely ignore the changes and analyze the non-changing aspect of the situations as if there is no changes occurring.

We can say about those cases that we are safe to apply a geometrical or arithmetical notion to the situation. With that, we get to the antecedent (p is true about X) of the conditional. For example it might be ‘the base of the house is square, with sides 5meters and 4meters’. From there it is possible to apply the mathematical truth ‘whenever something is square with sides a and b, it will have area a*b‘ , so we also have the consequent (q is true about X) – The area of the house is 20 square meters.

The point is that if for pragmatic reasons we can safely ignore everything but geometrical and arithmetical aspect of whatever is going on, it is normal that whatever mathematically necessary relations hold, will hold for this aspect. We can see how also, because what we took is merely an aspect, it might happen at any time that the antecedent of the mathematical necessity becomes invalid for reasons which are not captured by that aspect. So, we get to a situation where the mathematical aspect has 1)mathematically necessary relations which hold, but 2)the mathematical notions in some situations will not be applicable, for the reason that the situation goes beyond this aspect.

I think it is now clear, what is the proposed explanation of the seemingly self-subsistent regularities of the physical aspect. I said before that the facts about aspect will be dependent on two things: a)what is actually going on and b)the nature of the aspect. The solution is then, to connect those regularities known as physical laws to the later – to the nature of the aspect itself, and NOT to whatever is going on.

There is lot more to be said on this, and I’ve discussed this issue several times, but let me just add few brief note to this… The nature of the physical aspect is defined by the nature of the measurement of movement through measurements of space and time, and further to the way other physical properties like force, inertial mass, energy and so on, are related to those. Further, I think that it is in the nature of those measurements (or in their concept) to have different symmetries, and it is that which I think is a base for the metaphysical necessity of those laws. However, that this is just an aspect is shown in the cases of quantum mechanical collapses, to which the physical laws can’t apply for the basic reason that whatever is going on goes beyond one of its aspects – in this case physical aspect. In those cases, we can’t apply the notion in the question to the situation, similarly to how we sometimes can’t apply mathematical notions to the situation and can’t analyze the situation in terms of mathematical necessities.

So, this would be the last part of the solution for the mind-body issue. As I said at the start of the post, it does go far from the prevalent paradigm of the times, but given that the mind-body issue surely seems as an impossible problem to solve in the paradigm of our times, it should be clear that there is something wrong with that paradigm.

Resolving The Mind-Body Issue, Part 3

The first two steps took were:
1.Returning the content which was previously pushed under the “rug of the mental” back into the world. What is left to the mind are the abilities to perceive, imagine, plan, etc…
2.Moving away from atomism/constructivism towards seeing the world in terms of what is actually going on, and aspects of what is actually going on, and taking both which appears in the physical picture and what we returned into the world as aspects of the world.

While in the last post I wrote about how seeing those things as aspects helps us make sense of the mind-body issue, in this post I will analyze if the proposal of seeing the physical as an aspect has merits on its own (so independently of how it makes sense as part of solving the issue).

When we talk about some X being an aspect, that means that X doesn’t exist on itself, but that it ‘lends’ its existence from the actual thing whose aspect it is. So, we say that X isn’t self-subsistent. Also, it means that if we are seeing some facts about X, these facts are ‘backed up’ by a)what is actually going on and b)the kind of aspect X is. An analogy of seeing same person from different sides might be helpful here. There are facts about the person seen from a certain side, but those facts are not facts about something self-subsistent. They are fully reducible to facts about the person, and the facts about how the person is rotated in relation to us for example.

Does it make sense to talk about physical events to be this kind of not-self-subsistent aspect of what is actually going on?

I think it does.
Firstly, we don’t see today the ‘elementary particles’ as something indestructible. They appear and disappear (from and to photons), get into interactions in which other types of particles appear and so on. And on lower level it is hard to make sense of quarks as self-subsistent when they are not even supposed to be able to exist isolated by themselves.
Secondly, within quantum statistics in some systems of which we are thinking as ‘constructed’ from multiple elementary particles of same type, permutations of these particles are not counted, pointing that our ‘classical’ atomistic/constructionist thinking can not be applied.
Thridly, it is i think recognized that in the context of Special Relativity, space and time are not seen as self-subsistent, but only as aspects of one space-time thing. Also given this theory, seems to me it makes lot of sense to think of mass and energy as two highly correlated aspects, and finally in General Relativity, similar relation appears between space/time and mass/energy.
Fourthly, in quantum mechanics we have pairs of conjugate variables, which can’t be seen as self-subsistent, but appear to only behave as aspects of one and the same thing. Also, phenomena like quantum entanglement, where what we think of as two particles, seem to be ‘entangled’ also seem to point to the failure of the atomistic metaphysics, and that in those cases what we can talk about are just aspects of whatever is going on.

In order to be clear in what I say next, let me first define here (vaguely) what I mean by ‘physical entities and properties’. Those would be the entities belonging to the types and properties of those entities that also belonging to certain types, that appear in the physical laws through which physics explains the phenomena in this world.

So given those few things I pointed to, it seems to me that there are pretty good reasons to prefer seeing physical entities and properties as aspects of what is actually going on, instead of taking them as self-subsistent entities (and properties) from which everything else is built.

So, so much about plausibility of the proposal that physical is an aspect of whatever is going on. This really doesn’t seem very problematic. But the proposal is not out of the woods yet. The laws of physics seem to hold in absolute way. That is surely not what we would expect about an aspect! In the nature of the aspect is to lack something, so when we analyze an aspect we should have clear sense that we are missing something. But, it doesn’t seem that we are missing something. So, yes, you may agree, those four reasons might be a hints to consider that specific entities and properties within the physical world as aspects, but those are no reason to think that what is actually going on is not of physical nature. We can just talk about what is going on in the context of space/time/matter/energy complex, and in the context of complex quantum mechanical equations, without taking particles or their properties as self-subsistent. And it is reasonable to say those still belong to what we call “physical”, and hence we could say that what is actually going on is just what physics says, and nothing more (so physical is not an aspect)!

There is one thing that the laws of physics doesn’t seem to determine in absolute way though – the collapse which is related to quantum mechanical measurements. Namely, though quantum mechanics includes a deterministic equation which tell us about the behavior of the quantum system, it only tell us that we can discuss only a probability of a different values our measurements of this or that property might give us (and physicists mostly agree, from what I know, that this is not epistemic, but ontological limit). Now, we can accept that there is no reason for collapse happening and this and not in that way, but it also makes sense to say that this is that part where the aspect is showing itself as an aspect, what we are seeing is that it is lacking something.

This doesn’t seem very promising though. If physical is merely an aspect, we would expected for it to be correlated to the rest of the what is going on in more “organic” way. What we have instead are bunch of deterministic laws, and just one place where whatever is actually going on might go beyond the physical aspect. A biggest part of truths in the physical seem independent from anything else. So, even if we allow that there might be some “otherness”, the whole thing seems more as a construction of physical + that otherness, than an aspect. So, how can we get out of this weirdness?

To be continued…

Resolving The Mind-Body Issue, Part 1

In past posts I said that both epiphenomenalism and physicalism are weird. I also consider substance dualism equally weird. We are seeing too much correspondence between what goes in our conscious lives and what goes on in the brain for there to be place for assuming that there is two different substances. But one doesn’t even need to go too deep into science, I think. One should just check how alcohol affects our consciousness. It doesn’t affect just what I perceive, it changes ME in the most intimate way. Of course, this objection doesn’t render substance dualism impossible, but just weird. (In same way I wasn’t arguing against logical impossibility of the epiphenomenalism and physicalism in previous posts. I was just saying that given their commitments, they are weird). Now, there is also categorical phenomenalism, which says that what we are seeing in the world are the dispositions of the matter to act this or that way, but that “behind” those dispositions there is some ground, something which explains them. And categorical phenomenalism would say that consciousness is connected to this ground. However, as i posted in previous comments, this view doesn’t go far into solving the issues epiphenomenalism has. So, it is as weird to me for same reason as epiphenomenalism is.

So, throwing all those things as insensible proposals, I guess it is only fair that I express an alternative… You will probably see the alternative as weird, but I think this one is weird in different way, not because of its implausibility, but because it requires that we change significantly our suppositions about the things in the world. But, I think, lot of people do recognize the need for a significant change of the paradigm, in order for any plausible explanation of consciousness, so, in the light of that, I think that people are open to new approaches to the problem.

Let me start with little history of the problem, as I see it…

What has been done from the time of Descartes, and what continues to be done those days, and for sure will continue to be done in future is this… People through science are approaching measurable aspects of reality – those which can be quantified independently by other people, and then give different explanations of those aspects in terms of assumed entities. In doing this however, while painting the clean picture of the world, it became custom to push different things we are aware of as in the world, and which don’t easily fit into that picture, under the rug of “mental”. This is very clearly seen in terms of the Lockean distinction of primary and secondary qualities. The primary qualities, or those aspects of the world that which are also susceptible to the measurement are “allowed” in the picture of the world. Those would be some of the things we see like size, solidity, volume, shape, speed, and so on. But, what to do with the secondary qualities like color, taste, texture, sound and so on? We took the easy solution, we assumed this magical place called mind and pushed those into the mind – “We will deal with those later.”. So we got to a clear picture of the world, but on what price? The price is that we have robbed the world from all those “interesting properties”, and put them into the “ourselves”, into the mental.

But, now when we come to the time when we want to include the mind in the world, we are astonished by this metaphysical gap between the clear picture of world, and all this “leftovers” in our mind. A gap which was of our own making! And not just that, but removing those things from the world, and putting them in the mind, necessarily produces some distinction of how we see things and how they really are, and further introduces such entities as “phenomenal experience”. The result is both metaphysical and epistemic gap.

I guess the contours of the proposed change of paradigm that I’m talking about are becoming clear given what I said so far. The proposal is of returning the interesting properties into the world. Returning the colors, sounds and tastes, the acts of seeing, hearing and tasting, the beauty and the ugliness, the good and evil, the language and meaning, and all this other things back to the world.

Given that we removed all those things from the “magical place” called mind, what we get there, again in the world, are subjects which have abilities, abilities to see, hear, smell or in general become aware of all those things, but also which have abilities to consider, wish, plan, and act within that same world. And it is nice to be able to point that the words like “consciousness”, “mind” and “experience” are in non-philosophical speech used in non-Cartesian manner (so which shows that what people usually mean by those words is not inline with those other views on the mind/body issue). I discussed at larger length those issues in previous posts.

In the next post, I will discuss the issues related with returning all these things in the world, and how can they coexist with the clean picture given to us by physics. It is where this paradigm change goes further away from commonly accepted assumptions.

Stay tuned!

The Heavy Metaphysical Commitments of Physicalism

Common to physicalism and epiphenomenalism is that they would agree that…

Q.Every observable and identifiable phenomenon about the bodies of conscious people is fully reducible to patterns of behavior of some “physical stuff” (you may include also the “stuff” from the surrounding) behaving according to some physical laws (or governed by physical laws maybe).

Physicalism further claims that from the facts about this physical stuff, we can a priori deduce the fact if there is conscious experience, and exactly what kind of conscious experience there is. Because there are no other facts than the physical ones, the physicalist claims.

In the past post, I took one of the commonly accepted ideas which go with the word “physical stuff”. That of of elementary particles whose behavior is governed by physical laws. And there the physicalist problem is that you can’t start from the idea of certain configuration/dynamics of particles, and deduce anything except yet different patterns of behavior of those particles. I want to reiterate that this is supposed to be a priori deduction, so you can’t in any step of the deduction bring in empirical data, or speculate identity of some of the pattern to some experience. And given what kind of idea that we related to “physical stuff” – that of elementary particles being governed by physical laws, all that we can deduce from it, is nothing but facts about that behavior, like statistical facts, or deduce the presence of some patterns of behavior. No matter the complexity of those patterns, what we have in our analysis of the facts are still just patterns. The idea of conscious experience, of redness, of smell, etc… doesn’t appear in the deduction. Appealing to complexity in this case, would be like saying that given two dimensional movement and sufficient complexity of the movement, we can deduce that it is three dimensional.

So, physicalism is weird, in the sense that it thinks it is possible to go through with such a deduction.

There seem to me three things physicalist can say there.

a)Rethinking the “physical stuff” idea
Though when we people say “physical stuff” usually they have idea of elementary particles governed by physical laws, it is not the idea that physicalist have when talking about “physical stuff”. First, physicalist can say that the idea is gross oversimplification of what actually the physical stuff is, as whatever it is, we already know from physics that this “physical stuff” includes phenomena as wave/particle duality and other quantum weirdness. Notice however two things:

First, Whatever physicalist ‘brings in’ as a complexity which might change the possibility of deduction, means giving up the claim that previous simplified idea of what “physical stuff” is, can provide explanation for consciousness. For example, physicalist will need to accept that quantum weirdness has something to do with consciousness if he appeals to the quantum weirdness to point that “elementary particles governed by physical laws” is oversimplified idea.

And second, without any reasonably clear and reasonably distinct idea of what this “physical stuff” IS (and instead e.g. giving very generalized descriptions like – everything that is causally efficient, or everything that exist in space and time), there won’t be a reasonably clear distinction between it, and some other views like dualism.

b)The way of Venus
The other approach is for the physicalist to avoid a priori and to go ‘a posteriori necessity’ way, which we may call “the way of Venus”… Basically, discussing the meaning of words, Kripke pointed that it may so happen that we use two words to refer to the same thing. For example… it so happened that people used both ‘Hesperus’ and ‘Phosphorus’ to refer to Venus, even they didn’t know they do. And if two words X and Y happen to refer to the same thing, the sentence ‘X is not identical with Y’ is clearly false and even can’t be true.

So physicalists will argue that this is the case with the terms “specific conscious experience” and “specific configuration/dynamics of elementary particles governed by physical laws”. It so happens that we use two words for the same thing, but same as people who unknowingly gave two names to Venus there is really just one thing, and through further empirical research we will find that it is just one thing.

Does this feel like cheating? Yes, and that is because it is cheating. Here is why…

We HAVE a clear idea of what it means for Hesperus to be identical with Phosphorus, because we can a priori deduce from the idea of Venus as a second planet from the Sun that is much closer than our planet to the Sun, and from the knowledge of the movement of planets, that to an observer on Earth , in the mornings Venus will appear as a star on the eastern sky; and also that in the evenings it will appear as a star on the western sky.
So, choose any of this kind of identities, where what we thought are two distinct objects or phenomena turned out to be the same object or phenomenon, and you will see that the identity only makes sense, only if you can from the better knowledge of that thing, a priori come to the phenomena in question. In another example like water=H2O (if you accept it at all), we can also given knowledge of H2O, deduce all the properties of what we are calling water. And so on…

So, the Kripkean a posteriori, isn’t an easy way out for a physicalist. That two words happen to refer to the same thing is incidental, and IF they do, that doesn’t mean that the requirement for a priori deduction is removed. In fact, such identites make sense only if some such a priori deduction is possible.

c)Being as Consciousness
Some time ago I was playing with the possible physicalist answer that consciousness is nothing but being of such and such system. That is, physicalist can say, that there are no other facts besides physical facts, but we should distinguish a description of those facts, and an existing thing for which those facts obtain. The physicalist will then say, that of course you can’t deduce the consciousness from some description of movement, but that consciousness is nothing but *an existence of a thing that satisfies that description*. It is to me very interesting response, and not just because in the relation to physicalism, but has very interesting possibilities to explore. I wrote few posts exploring this idea (here, here, here and here). Alas, while it might seem promising, this view seem to me exhibits the problems of epiphenomenalism of which I spoke in recent posts. Because it says that if we give a full description of the world, we will see how in it there will appear phenomenon of philosophers and epiphenomenalists discussing consciousness, but again it will not be because they are conscious! As, per this solution, the system of that description won’t exist, hence there won’t be consciousness.

Anyway, as I hope those people that romantically love science can see, physicalism IS NOT about empirical research through which we figure out what configuration/dynamics is related to consciousness. Physicalism isn’t about the simple claim that there are such correlations (which actually most of the views will accept happily), nor that certain configurations of physical stuff happen to be conscious. And physicalism isn’t to be equated with physics, nor with science in general, nor seen closer to it than other metaphysical views. It is a fairly and squarely a metaphysical view. And, as I hope I succeeded to communicate in this post, a weird one at that.

In the next post, I want to write about the other options, given that we accept that a)physicalism is weird, and b)epiphenomenalism is weird, in the context of the zombie argument against physicalism.

Einstein, friend or foe of Rationalism?

By ‘Rationalism’ here it is meant the view that we can figure out truths about things in the world through application of reason alone, without learning those truths from experience.

Rationalism is obviously connected to the possibility of what is usually called ‘a priori knowledge’, but it seems to me is better put simply in terms of understanding. I mean, it seems much better to say that we understand that whenever there are two things there is one and one more thing (and vice versa), instead of saying ‘we know a priori that whenever there are two things there is one and one more thing (and vice versa)’. Though, ‘understanding’ has the problem that we mean other things by it, like understanding a sentence, etc… But, seems to me instead of trying to figure out another word because of possible ambiguity, it will be much better to figure out why is ‘understanding’ used in both situations? Does it mean the same thing in both situations, or is it family resemblance thing… something else maybe? OK, I went on a tangent here.

Cut to 18th century, and Kant’s phenomena… Kant started Critique of Pure Reason from the point of rationalism, by asking – ‘How are a priori synthetic truths possible?’, and he included claims of math, geometry and physics in those truths. Now, Kant’s view is somewhat specific because those claims which we can know a priori are not supposed to be about the world ‘in itself’ (or “noumena”), but should only be true about the things as they appear in our experience of the world (employing what I called bad sense of ‘experience’, the sense that is still used today in philosophy), or the so called ‘phenomena’. But nevertheless, things like math, geometry and physics ARE the things over which rationalists and empiricists would tend to disagree, so I think it is non-problematic to say that Kant’s view is rationalist on those subjects.

Of course one can be rationalist about math, but empiricist about physics. And most of the discussions of possibility of a priori knowledge seem to be over the possibility of intuiting (yet another word used because of the ambiguity of ‘understand’) truths in math or logic. The idea (present in Kant) that one can intuit physical laws is probably seen as one of those ‘solved questions in philosophy’ that Richard of Et. Cetera was talking about some time ago. So, if Rationalism is to be taken as a more general stance that will include not just math and logic, but also physical laws, it is apparently dead.

As one thing which shows that our intuitions are not proper guides to how the world is, often it is pointed to the two most known physical theories of the 20th century, those of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics (QM), each of which, it is said, tell us truths about the world which are ‘unintuitive’.

Note: ‘Unintuitive’ is used often to mean that things are not as we expected. But, ‘going against expectations’ won’t really do as a claim against Rationalism. Given ‘naive thinking’, even in math one could be surprised by the fact that a square with sides twice longer will have area four times bigger (or one can be surprised that when you have multiple numbers to add, the sequence in which you add them doesn’t matter). But, for sure, this doesn’t show anything against rationalism about math. Rationalism wouldn’t claim that any idea, or any expectation (however shallow is the thinking it is based on) will be true about the world. On contrary, it will claim that only one is the real understanding, but that there is very big (even infinite) number of mistakes to which one can come through thinking or applying analogy, association etc (as sometimes it is said that something is unintuitive also if it goes against what we expected based on some analogy we applied based on experience). So when pointing to Relativity and QM, and against Rationalism, ‘unintuitive’ has stronger meaning, that not just that nobody expected it, but that nobody could expect it base on reasoning alone. (On first look there seems to be even stronger meaning of “unintuitive”, where it is to mean that the truths of Relativity and QM are simply incomprehensible, and that most we can do in forming an idea of those truths is in some positivist/ pragmatic/ instrumentalist way. But, I will try to explain later, why I don’t think this goes against Rationalism.)

… … …

So…, back to the general topic. Kant gave few claims about the space and time, said that these were synthetic a priori truths. Einstein came and provided the theories of Relativity, which made also testable claims (more on this later), but which went against the Kant’s claims. And because the measurements were more inline with Einsteinian theory than with Newtonian/Kantian one, it is pretty safe to say that Kant was wrong. Those supposedly synthetic a priori truths, which were supposed to transcend all possible experience, don’t really do so. So, if all rationalists were to agree with Kant’s claims – if all rationalists said that they did in fact intuit the same truths that Kant ‘intuited’, this would really spell death do Rationalism. But all is not that bleak.

We can turn the whole thing upside/down and make Einstein a friend, instead of a perceived foe of Rationalism.

First let us relate to the thing that was already mentioned in the note up there – the idea that the theories of Relativity (and QM) can only be understood in instrumentalist /positivist/pragmatic way. This assumes that besides this one, there is yet another way in which we can understand notions or relations of notions present in those theories, but that this way (whatever way it is) doesn’t work here. The neat thing a rationalist can do here is this – she can deny that there is something else which is meant when we talk about space, time, movement and quantities of those, and which is unrelated from the measurements of those we can make.

And given that we made this step, she can then point to a)the development of theories of Relativity and b)development of empirical predictions of those theories. As for (a), she can say that the theories were developed in an a priori manner based on couple of premises (invariance of physical laws from the movement of observer and constant speed of light). Being a rationalist, of course she will claim that any logic and math which are included in the reasoning are also a priori. And the rationalist can say the same for (b). That is, the predictions of the theory are good, only if they are to follow from the theory, and for them to be able to “follow” we need a priori relation. Thinking of it, (b) and (a) are instances of the same process. Starting from something which is taken to be true, new truths are deduced about the world (though they don’t include just mere logical and mathematical deduction, but also conceptual cleaning up, in relating the notions like space, time, movement and acceleration to our measurements). And for sure there will be some empiricists, which will not have problem of this. Mostly those who don’t have problem with math and logic being a priori. They will say – Well, yes, trough thinking we can get to new truths about the world, like Einsteinian relativity, but we shouldn’t forget that we have those starting premises (invariance of physical laws on movement of the observer, and the constant speed of light), to which we came through empirical research. So, that (a) and (b) were a priori, though impressive, isn’t enough for the claim of Rationalism. Let’s call this Objection One. There is also another objection, which we will call Objection Two, and that will go like this: We know that General Relativity (GR) is contradictory with Quantum Mechanics, and QM has been more empirically confirmed than GR. And while QM might not be the whole truth, GR can’t be the ‘whole truth’ also. So, GR as it is now is wrong. Hence Rationalism, even if one does away with Objection One, is wrong. And of course, there is the another kind of empiricists, that don’t believe in any a priori understanding, be it math, logic or wherever. I’m not attempting to show that empiricists view is irrational however, so I won’t give objections to that view. The goal here is much more smaller (and sounds funny) – pointing that Rationalism is rational (given the GR and QM).

Objection One: While the process of going from the premises to the theory and predictions is a priori, the premises (invariance of the laws from the movement of observer and the constant speed of light) are themselves result of the empirical research.

Now, I think that for the first premise isn’t implausible that someone could argue for it on a priori base. I won’t try to do it here, but it seems to me that invariances/symmetries present rather easy target for Rationalism. I hope that empiricist would agree at least that the invariance claim is not obviously empirical. The other premise, that of constant speed of light, is the problematic one for the Rationalism. However I think it can be dealt with, given that we make the mentioned move, to deny that we can properly think of space and time as entities, but only through the idea of measurements of those (which is, I would claim a Hegelian move – seeing time and space as abstraction from richer notions like that of change, and further of thing. I wrote about this in other posts, and I think it is important to show that this rationalist ‘response’ isn’t ad hoc, but has roots in the direct philosophical responses to Kant’s ideas. Not to mention that it may be related to Aristotelian responses to Zeno, that also go into direction of seeing positions in space and time as abstractions (or potential measurements)). The rough idea would be then this:

When an observer X moves from A to B, the observer will be at A before being at B. Observer to be at A before being at B, means that there will be possibility of quantification of time between X being at A, and X being at B. The time, measured from X, can never be 0, (even for ‘jump’, it can’t be 0 if we are to distinguish jump from A to B, from the jump from B to A, or alternatively we need to accept that X can be both at A and B at same time). Anyway, T as measured by the observer, can’t be 0, but given bigger and bigger speed, T can become smaller as much as we want. Given the distance AB, and traveler’s measurement of time, and calculate traveler’s speed St as AB/T, we will come to see a priori, that the speed St is not limited, but that it can’t get to infinity.

How will this look from third person measurements? We empirically know that what I described as impossibility for X to travel with infinite speed from A to B, from third person perspective is seen as an impossibility for X to travel with speed equal with the speed of light. However, given the first premise – invariance of the laws, and relations between the measurements of time and space among observers traveling with different speed, it is not implausible that one can translate that a priori impossibility to the one we know on empirical basis, and from there come to the conclusion that this limit is constant even for different observers. Now, I don’t know how this exactly would be done, but just so to support plausibility of the proposal, I can point to few places on internet, that seem to go in the direction of a priori deduction of Special Relativity written by people that seem to know much more on the topic than me (here or here).

Let’s turn now attention to Objection Two. The objection was that General Relativity is incompatible with QM, and QM tells us many truths about the world (empirically confirmed to great amount), so even if we expect that some new theory will take place of QM and GR, it means that GR doesn’t tell us *the exact* truth about the world.

The Rationalist response to this one is pretty easy. The claim, that the rationalist will say we come to through reason alone, is in the following form – If f is true about some X, then g is also true about that X. So, it is ‘universal claim’, and g will be true about X just so much as f is true about it. So, in terms of Relativity, because it deals with simplifying abstractions (among other things – dimensionless points of mass, if I remember right), the resulting laws of the theory will be true just so far as we can ignore other properties of things, and take them as dimensionless points of mass. One can make an analogy with math claims. For example… we can treat the shadow that a big building throws on the ground, the building itself, and the “line” which connects the top of the building and the most distant point of the shadow as forming a right triangle. And more so, we can treat that triangle as similar (having same angles) with any such “shadow triangle” formed by some smaller thing in the same time, in the same place (e.g. a stick sticked vertically in the ground) . And on base of the mathematical laws of similarity, and measuring only the shadow of the big building, the shadow of the stick and the height of the stick, we can figure out the height of the building. (Wasn’t it some Greek philosopher/mathematician who figured out the height of the Pyramids in Egypt like this?). Anyway, this is of course not *the whole truth* about the height of the real object, but it is only true in the terms of the a priori truth – For two similar triangles a1/b1=a2/b2; and us being able to treat for pragmatic purposes two systems as similar triangles. So, in same way, theories of Relativity can be a priori, and still not be “the whole truth”. (I guess the mathematical idea of limits also is important here)

I concentrated here on the theories of Relativity, in the context of more general question of Rationalism, and it’s possible “revival”. This of course is not enough. The other main ‘theory’ of the modern physics, that of Quantum Mechanics, also should be included. But, in the light of Rationalism going into “instrumentalist/pragmatic/positivist” direction, and the QM dependence on such things as invariances and symmetries, Rationalists, I think, have a right to expect that QM might show also ‘signs of apriority’.

UPDATE (Mar.31): corrected some mistakes, and rephrased few things.

Pains At The Brains

Seeing:Rabbit = X:Pain
X=?

As I’ve said in previous posts, I think that X=feeling, and that pain isn’t any more “private” than rabbits are. But, I will return to those issues once again, motivated by the post Is pain an intentional state? over at Brains.

We have a way to access pain, which we call feeling, same as we have a way to access rabbits which we call seeing. Same as the rabbit can be there and we can’t see it, the pain can be there, and us not to feel it. Sometimes, for example in cases of prolonged pain, we get distracted and “forget about it” for specific time, and then we think – Is the pain still there? By focusing, similarly to other cases of perception, we then figure out if the pain is still there or not. The most striking similarity is with the presence of some sound with bugs us – I think that both cases are very similar. And the similarity also covers that issue that both the pain and the sound affect us negatively – they bug us. But as in cases of pain asymbolia we know that this ‘hurting us’ part is not essential part of that thing that we feel – namely of the pain. However this is little hard to talk about, as usually “pain” is related to both the thing that is felt and how it affects us, so if we are gonna distinguish the felt pain from how it affect us, that we might need different terms.

Anyway, I said also in the comments, as rabbits are not mental states but something that we see, also pains is not mental states but something that we feel. Also, seeing rabbits is not a mental state (‘John sees a rabbit’ is literally true only if there is a rabbit that John sees), but even which includes the rabbit, John, the photons bouncing off the rabbit, and whatnot. So, I’m inclined to think that feeling pain is not mental state also.

Feeling pain is an intentional ACT. Of course ‘intentional’ here doesn’t mean that it is intended, but in Brentano’ speech, that it is act which relates the subject from the one side, and the object (the pain), from the other. In the other sense of ‘intentional’ (that is, everyday sense), feeling pain is mostly unintentional, that is, we don’t really want to focus on the pain, the pain attracts our attention. But, this is not different from outer perceptual modalities, where for example a clown jumping suddenly in front of you will attract your attention, as much you don’t want to put focus on him.

But what about the pain itself? What kind of object is it if it is not a mental state? I actually think that the pain is potential aspect of the parts of our body which we can access by that intentional act of feeling. And that it as an aspect it usually correlates with the aspect of tissue damage. What is the relation of those aspects, I’m not sure (maybe they are both aspects of the one and the same thing? Or maybe the presence of the one aspect causes the presence of the other through some contingent relation?). In any case this works for me as I don’t think that the body is reducible to the physical, instead think that the physical is merely one aspect of our bodies, so I can think that there are further aspects (like pains) which can be present in our bodies in reality, without the need to push those under the rug called ‘mental’ (that is what people usually do, if we are aware of something in the reality which doesn’t seem to be able to be nicely defined/explained/reduced through physics, they push it under the rug called ‘mental’). To say that pain is aspect of our bodies, of course doesn’t mean that there are such things as pains which may exist unrelated to anything else. Same as there are not forms, without there being things which have those forms, and same as there are no distances without objects, at least imaginary, between which there are those distances.

Related posts:
Cyborgs Sharing The Pain,  Again
Does Pain Have To Hurt?
Couple More Thoughts on Pain
Can There Be An Illusion of Pain?

Little Explanation

To shed some light on the previous posts about (against) concepts, I think I need to explain maybe little the context of my beliefs.

I don’t believe in reductionism. And not just about the mind, but in general.

What I mean by reductionism?

We become aware of things. Reductionism would be when we want to reduce some of those things of which we are aware to some others of which we are aware (I use aware to refer not just to things that we perceive, but for anything that appears as object of our intentional acts) – to say that the former are nothing but some specific configuration or combination of later. In this sense there can be lot of kinds of reductionism, depending on what is taken to be reducible, and what are the things to which the things are reduced.

So, we are aware for example of information, and we can be reductionist in the sense that everything can be reduced to information. Pythagoreans were aware of numbers, and thought that phenomena in the world can be in some way reduced to number (I guess this is oversimplification, I can’t believe that they really thought that?).  Or one can believe that all the different kind of phenomena that we are aware can be reduced to configurations and movement of physical components. Or maybe combination of physical and some assumed mental thingies…

So, when i say that I don’t believe in reductionism in general, I think that there are lot of phenomena in the world of which we are aware, that can’t be reduced to some other things that we assume or are aware of.

Lot of times, people are happy with reductionism about non-mental phenomena, and give special status just to those mental phenomena. In this move whatever we are aware in the world but doesn’t seem compatible with physics, is ‘taken back’ into the mind – aspects of the things that we perceive are called qualia and as they seem incompatible with this “clear” physical picture are assumed to be something that is produced by the mind. Social phenomena like language, books, governments, etc… are also not cleanly reducible to the physical aspect, so in the similar move they are “moved to our heads” as concepts.

When we “return” those phenomena that we become aware of into the world, what special “power” is left to the mental-phenomena are the abilities we have – abilities to perceive, to imagine, to assume, to remember, etc… Of course those aren’t also seen as something outside of the world, but as abilities which belong to us as subjects in this same (and rich) world. And, also those aren’t seen reducible to the other things that we become aware of.

Let me just in short also say what would be the relation between this rich world and the physical. It isn’t relation of two things, because it is one and the same world. Just that the physical is one aspect of the world that we are aware of. And here is where my story goes radical – I think that the physical aspect is determined in big part by the way that aspect is isolated – that is, by the measurements that we perform. I think because the measurements have specific nature, as a consequence there are metaphysically necessary relations between those things we measure. In such way, that aspects seems to us as closed (and self-subsistent), but that is just because what we measure is in that aspect.

Mistaken Steps?

Descartes, no doubt, had put matter too far from us when he made it one with geometrical extensity. But, in order to bring it nearer to us, there was no need to go to the point of making it one with our own mind. Because he did go as far as this, Berkeley was unable to account for the success of physics, and, whereas Descartes had set up the mathematical relations between phenomena as their very essence, he was obliged to regard the mathematical order of the universe as a mere accident. So the Kantian criticism became necessary, to show the reason of this mathematical order and to give back to our physics a solid foundation-a task in which, however, it succeeded only by limiting the range and value of our senses and of our understanding. The criticism of Kant, on this point at least, would have been unnecessary; the human mind, in this direction at least, would not have been led to limit its own range; metaphysics would not have been sacrificed to physics, if philosophy had been content to leave matter half way between the place to which Descartes had driven it and that to which Berkeley drew it back-to leave it, in fact, where it is seen by common sense.

Henry Bergson, Matter and Memory

What Would It Mean for Math To Be Empirical?

Over at Obscure and Confused Ideas, Greg discusses possibilities for arithmetic to be empirical.

But what would it mean for arithmetic (or geometry) to be empirical?

I proposed this distinction:

a)Mathematical description can be applied to a given system. But we empirically find out that the mathematical truths which follow from the description are not true in that system. The example would be that we can describe something as ‘two’ (i.e. the system IS system of two things), but through empirical research we find out that there are no “one and one more thing” (of course while still there are two things).

b)Mathematical description can’t be applied to a given system. For example we can’t use simple arithmetics to track truths about number of rabbits in some room, if we just add one to a sum for a rabbit that enters the room, and subtract one if a rabbit goes out of it. That because rabbits can be born and die within the room too. However this doesn’t mean that arithmetic is wrong, or that it is not true that 1+1=2.

I think only in cases like (a) we can speak of arithmetic or geometry to be empirical.

But as a commenter Drake there pointed (btw, check out his cool MySpace page. But wait, first finish reading this post!):

The criterion for a state of affairs S’ falling under a mathematical description D is that D “holds” in all respects relevant to S. If it doesn’t, some other description D* is required. Conversely, to see that
D is not the right description for S, we have to see that D in some relevant respect doesn’t hold.

So, it is not clear that cases like (a) are intelligible at all. And I agree. To relate to the example – what would it mean that there are two things, if there are no one and one more thing?

BTW, I don’t use 1+1=2, as I think the formalism might hide the basic analytic truth that whenever we have two, we have one and one more thing, or the other way around. This is not saying that “two” means nothing but “one and one more thing”; but that when we have two things we can both think of them as a pair (“two”), or think of them as separate (“one and one more”). But as this is true just in virtue of the meanings of the terms, it is analytical truth.

Also, further interesting note would be, if we e.g. find something like (a) (yes, I’m saying it is unintelligible, but just for sake of argument let’s say it is) , e.g. a system where we have two things, but we have one and one more and still one more thing, would that mean that we should now change our math books, and put in there that 2=1+1+1?  What we will do with systems where we have two things we have one and one more thing? Will this show that arithmetic is inconsistent or something? I think, again, what we would have is a case of (b).

Two further cases that might be interesting:

A. Theory of Relativity

Can we say that the theory of relativity is case of (a)? I think not. What it shows, I think, is just that Euclidean geometry is not applicable to things in movement/which apply forces (gravity) to each other. However, what is put in place of Euclidean geometry is not a geometry that we have “constructed” from empirical research. It is as a priori (and non empirical) as Euclidean geometry is. What was empirical was the figuring out which of those mathematical descriptions fit the universe.

B. Unavailable permutations of particles in QM

Both ‘classical’ and ‘quantal’ objects of the same kind (e.g. electrons) can be regarded as indistinguishable in the sense of possessing the same intrinsic properties, such as rest mass, charge,
spin etc…That a permutation of the particles is counted as giving a different arrangement in classical statistical mechanics implies that, although they are indistinguishable, such particles can be regarded as
individuals…If such permutations are not counted in quantum statistics, it follows that quantal particles cannot be regarded as individuals … In other words, quantal objects are very different from most everyday objects in that they are ‘non-individuals’ in some sense. (SEP)

Is this the case of (a), do we have here a case where we have two particles, but not one and one more? This might be closest something can come to (a), but one can ask having in mind Drake’s comment, why do we think that there are two things after all? If we don’t think that there is one and one more thing, shouldn’t the conclusion be that there are not two particles either? I’m inclined to this second conclusion.

Anyway, any further idea of what would it mean for mathematic to be empirical?

On Explanations, Reasons and Causality

In general, I think, explanation of occurrence of some event (or state of affairs, or value of property, etc…) consist in specifying the reasons why it is such as it is. In this post I want to analyze few types of reasons, their interrelations and relations to few other issues, like physicalism, metaphysical vs nomological necessity and free will.

Humean Causation


One of the possible reasons is causation in the Humean sense.

In the Humean sense, causation is a relation between two types of events, such that an event of type E1 is always followed by event of type E2. As far we are concerned with an explanation, knowing about this kind of causal relation, we can explain the occurrence of event of type E2 by appeal to the earlier occurrence of type of event E1 and appealing to the causal relation.

Physical Laws As Reasons


Physics, as far as I know, almost never appeals to Humean causation. Instead it provides us with equation which for given type of system, specifies the relations among different measurables of the system (usually given by equation of some kind). One of those measurables is time.

So, in this kind of explanation, when someone asks why is the state of the system such as it is (at time t2), one can appeal to the type of the system, appeal to the equation which specifies the behavior of such system, and appeal to values of the measurables at earlier time (or which is same, appeal to the set of values of measurables, which include value of t1, where t1 < t2)

Note 2.1: In physics, I think (someone correct me if this is confused way to look at it), those two things which are appealed to as reasons in the physical explanation, namely the type of the system, and the values of measurables, are not seen as fully divided, and sometimes one type of the system can change into another. For example pair of matter and anti-matter particles can be annihilated and change to photons.
Note 2.2: As far the empiricist wants to claim that the explanation might hold (even if we can’t ever be certain that it holds), she needs to say that the reasons she is specifying might be the actual reasons why the things are as they are. In this case, the empiricist needs to buy a form of idealism – namely the identity of reasons as thought and the actual reasons.
Note 2.3: The physicist reason can be appealed to as a reason for the cases of Humean causation. What we need is the way to abstract two (more or less vaguely isolated in time) occurrences in the system which would fall under the given Humean event types. And then show how for the system of the type from which those types of events can be abstracted, it is necessary that one is followed by another. Another thing that should be pointed here, is that as far somebody is searching for explanation, it is searching for some reason that is not known. However that doesn’t mean that none of the reasons are not known. So, to ask about cause is then to ask something like… what is this reason that I don’t know of, and by knowing which I would understand why the state of affairs is such and such.
Note 2.4: It is sometimes said that physics (or science in general) answers just how questions, and not why questions. But, I can’t see it. Science gives perfectly good explanations of why some things happens or not, or happens in such and such way or not. Of course science does leave some why questions around, like.. why is there physical laws in the world, why are they such as they are, and so on, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t answer any why questions.


A Priori Reasons


Another type of reasons are a priori reasons. Those kind of reasons may, but don’t have to include appeal to time.

If someone asks “Why are just two of the Smiths at the party tonight?”, given that both the person who asks the question, and the person who is explaining it know that there are three persons in Smith family, an explanation can be “Joe Smith is sick”. The explanation implicitly appeals to the a priori knowable fact that if you have three things, and if only one thing doesn’t satisfy some criteria, then two things will satisfy the criteria. (this relates also to second part of (2.3))

Note 3.1: In fact, given that the explanation through physical equations involves math, we can say that appeal to physical reasons will probably include appeal to a priori reasons also. In order to explain how the given physical law and previous values of previous measurements necessitates the state of affairs now (again given through other measurables), usually some math knowledge will be required also.
Note 3.2: Sometimes the equations which model the behavior are relatively simple, but the systems show complex behavior which show signs of some order. I’m thinking here of chaotic systems. The appeal just to the laws (or equations) in this case also isn’t enough, but also a mathematical explanation of chaotic behavior is needed.
Note 3.3: The a priori reasons also are related to physical reasons in another way. We can distinguish two types of reasons when talking about physical reasons. We can talk about reasons why we think that given physical law holds – consequently determining reasons, and the reasons why the physical law actually holds (if it does, or alternatively to the amount that it does) – the antecedently determining reasons. The consequently determining reasons are reasons which are related to the need to explain some experiments, and depending on your preferred view on science, will be related to induction, falsification, abduction or something else. But on other side, take for example the reasoning behind the Special Theory of Relativity. There from the set of some assumptions (the invariance of physical laws in relation to translations/rotations in space/time and the constant speed of light), such laws as the laws of dilatation of space, and contraction of time are deduced a priori. And as far a physical reasons include a priori parts, we can say that those a priori parts are antecedently determining reasons, i.e. as reasons those are actual reasons why the physical law holds, and are added to the assumptions.
Note 3.4: Connected to last note, it is of open question, if the assumptions for which we have consequently determining reasons have further antecedently determining reasons. For example in the case of Special Theory of Relativity it is open question if there is a reason why the speed of light is constant, or why physical laws are invariant in relation to space and time. This possibility is related to the question if the nomological and metaphysical modalities coincide. If the physical laws have antecedent determining reasons, which are a priori, the physical laws will be metaphysically necessary (there wouldn’t be possible world with different set of physical laws).


Teleological Reasons


Also there are teleological reasons. That is, people often do something in order to accomplish some goal. So, if someone asks “Why is the light turned on?”, what is probably required is the teleological reason. Someone turned the light in order to accomplish something. So the Humean causation answer “Because somebody turned on the switch.”, or the physics’ answer which would give complete description of the system and appeal to the state at earlier time, even if possible, won’t be satisfactory.

Note 4.1: Maybe it could be argued that one can find subject’s intentions in the physical description of that subject at some earlier time, so that somehow a translation is done from the state of the physical system into intention, so that this requirement for teleological explanation can be reduced to the physical explanation. I don’t believe this is possible because, I think, the physical description is merely one aspect of the world and it leaves aside (abstracts from) other aspects in such way that only thing that we can do is to find  the correlation between the physical aspect and those other aspects. And it is only something that we can do, because we are aware of both aspects. The examples would be the correlation between the color of the object (color aspect that we can see), and the reflection characteristic of the surface of the object (aspect that we can figure out by certain type of measurements, and which is about function describing how much percentage from the photons of different frequencies are reflected). Also the correlation between the way we feel, and presence of some chemical in the brain, and so on. As I said, this kind of correlations are to be expected, as what we have are two aspects of one and the same thing, and the aspects are not self-subsistent. (Think of how when we raise a temperature of a thing, we also change its reflection characteristic. Both are aspects of the thing, and those two aspects will be correlated not because those two are separate things which are related by some law, but because both are merely aspects. Both are changing because the thing is changing.)
Note 4.2: Related to (3.4),  even if the physical laws are metaphysically necessary, as (if) they are merely an aspect which correlates with other aspects, there is open possibility for the teleological aspect not to be metaphysically necessary. This is certainly an interesting option for exploring in relation to the issue of free will.

Why Sacrifice the Bad Metaphysics, When You can Sacrifice Reason?

Can you recognize the following scheme?

1.Have a bad metaphysics
2.Interpret the scientific results through the prism of this metaphysics
3.Deny that you have metaphysics, but think of the interpretation as the result of the science itself.
4.When the resulting metaphysical picture doesn’t make sense, blame the reason itself!

By bad metaphysics I think here of the metaphysics where what is taken as ground of all phenomena is little self-subsistent particles, with their self-subsistent properties existing in the self-subsisting space-time container, and where some self-subsistent physical laws (which are seen as more or less arbitrary, so that it is just matter of some incident that they are such as they are) control what happens with the former.
The combination of this metaphysics with the empirical results has given us all kind of strange results in Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, which are said to be “unintuitive”.

And instead of being critical of this “invisible” metaphysics, what is done?

It is said that evolution tends to select useful traits. Our faculty of reason is nothing more than such a trait. It is selected for reasons which are connected to our staying alive and reproducing in particular environments, so we are not to expect that it is infallible and if something doesn’t make sense to us (even under our ideal reasoning), doesn’t mean that it is impossible in reality. We are not to wonder why we get weird results “from science”.

So, instead blaming bad thinking, we are to blame the thinking in general!

I’ve quoted Hegel on this once, by I think it is worth repeating:

At present, students of nature who are anxious to avoid metaphysics turn a favorable ear to Atomism. But it is not possible to escape metaphysics and cease to trace nature back to terms of thought, by throwing ourselves into the arms of Atomism. The atom, in fact, is itself a thought; and hence the theory which holds matter to consist of atoms is a metaphysical theory.[…] The real question is not whether we shall apply metaphysics, but whether our metaphysics are of the right kind.

A Rant on Time and Causality

It is often said, when speaking of the world as the physics describes it, that the state of the world at some time t which is fully described through its physical properties, through causal relation determines the state of the universe in the time that follows.

I take it this to be confused speech, for several reasons… First there is no such thing as self-subsistent “state of the universe at time t fully described through its physical properties”, because:
a) there is no absolute time. One measures time within the universe by comparing some repeating change, which is taken as regular, with some other change. Measurement is done by observer at some point, moving with some speed. Because of that, event A might be before event B for some observer, but not for another. So, that “universe at time t” abstraction, where it is imagined that there is absolute time becomes senseless when we correctly understand time and measurement of time.
b) the properties are not self-subsistent anyway. The view that what we have is some little particles, which are characterized by certain properties which have precisely determined values, i.e. the “bundle view” of properties is, I think, metaphysically naive. But let’s not go into the metaphysical analysis if those properties can’t be self-subsistent or they exist only as aspects of the object (and as such show more complex relation than the relation that multitude of fruits have in a bag). Just consider how the pair of conjugate variables like time and energy of the system can’t be measured to a given precision. One can give metaphysical speculation that this is because the energy of the system and the position in time of the system aren’t actual and self-subsistent properties of the object – they are aspects of the object which are not just related to the object itself, but to the notion of measurement – so to comparing to the properties of other things in some way! (I think lot of the weirdness that are related to measurement in the contemporary physics point to the weirdness of the naive reductionist picture which takes atoms and their properties as self-subsistent. Instead of blaming this naive metaphysical picture, people are blaming the nature for being non-intuitive and hosting contradictions! It is “unintuitive” and “unreasonable” if our intuition and reason are limited to the picture of small balls in the void ruled by some “laws”.

Now, to this atomistic metaphysical view, the notion of ‘causal relation’ is added, which serves as a glue between those abstract “state of the universe as certain time”. Even if we ignore the unintelligibility of “physical state of the universe at time t” idea, there are problems with this view about causal relations. The relation between the state and how it evolves is seen as external, as if the laws are contingent rules which take this “state at time t”, and determine the new state to which it will change. As if gravity and inertia are completely separate from mass, time and space, as if electromagnetic forces are separate from electric charge, time and space, and so on. It is ignored that without those ‘forces’ and those changes, there wouldn’t be sense in talking about electric charges, mass, and indeed about space and time.

Also, one can point that the physical equations of the modern physics as a sign that this view of ‘external causal relation’ is wrongly assigned to the world. What we have in physics are differential equations which give us the necessary relation between those different abstractions (time being one of them), and one can talk about ‘state at time t’ only as a product of arbitrary decision to assign some number to the variable of time in the equation. Indeed the system described by those equations present themselves as deterministic – in the sense that the behavior of those abstractions (though not of the system as a whole!) through time is fully dependent by their nature which is described with those equations, but those equations don’t speak of states, they are merely describing the nature of the system, through describing how different (abstract) aspects of it correlate given some observer (as the measurement will require observer always).

The cause we need to talk about is then, not the Humean one (in which two type of events would necessarily be connected one to another), but Aristotelian one (where to specify the cause, is to answer ‘why’ question) – we say that system at measured time t2, will be such and such, because the nature of the system (at least it’s physical aspect) is described by the given differential equation, and that different properties had those specific measured values at the time t1.