Is causation real?

Homepage Forums Science Is causation real?

This topic contains 17 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Unseen 7 months, 2 weeks ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #42266

    Unseen
    Participant

    “Causation explains everything. Nothing explains causation.”

    #42291

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    First off, we’re not omniscient, so we cannot immediately explain every cause or causation. Every explanation is necessarily limited by its context, among contexts we define. E.g. classical and quantum physics explain causation in different contexts, in spite of our inability to merge the two realms of experimentation and explanation into one, theory of everything.

    In science we just assume there is a reality, with causative “regularities” we can postulate, test and define, bounded within a specific context or two, and always contingent on each reproducible or frequently observable context. Even in modern times, it’s still too easy for people to assume that minds or other manipulative agents can alter reality in some, radically inexplicable fashion… which conveniently for believers in woo, are not yet proven or easily explained by science, or the known, applicable science is just ignored… just for the sake of maintaining personal and/or traditional beliefs, or for the sake of believing that “science is always flawed”.

    Scientific method doesn’t even try to disprove unprovable causes, such as God causing the universe, even if such a cause is real. So science can keep progressing and honing sculptures of scientific models of reality, correcting itself or improving its precision, as a result of assuming that reality is increasingly knowable and definable, even if never fully knowable and definable in every possible context.

    The imperfections and unknowables in knowledge are still not yet good excuses to assume there are eternally unknowable or undefinable powers or causes at work. Belief in supernatural causes is not yet a good reason to declare that science will never explain a mysterious cause or supposed “mysterious ways” of divine agency.

    I still don’t get the potential salience of one comment almost 20 minutes into the video: “On one side, causation is primitive, basic, fundamental. On the other side, causation is derivative, a construct, a byproduct. […]  the nature of reality may hang on which side wins”. Sorry, but “so what”? We just keep our scientific methods going anyway, right?

    #42292

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Pope, i have no qualms with your thoughts on this topic.

    On the other hand if i understand what Hume intended there is something fundamental about causation that eludes us. It has to be more than pattern recognition. If it is only understanding that a particular causative agent will or always has produced a particular result then we have not penetrated causation.

    #42296

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    we have not penetrated causation

    So why does that really matter? We’re assuming we’ll never be able to predict quantum behaviors in other than probabilistic terms, but we’ll still keep working at understanding the ramifications of quantum dynamics.

    #42297

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Pope i am not certain i know the answer but my hunch is that without knowing what causation is we can never understand the cosmos. Nothing fundamental will be understood only shadows of the flickering fire on the walls of the cave.

    #42298

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Pope i am not certain i know the answer but my hunch is that without knowing what causation is we can never understand the cosmos. Nothing fundamental will be understood only shadows of the flickering fire on the walls of the cave.

    I can agree with that. Maybe we’ll have to stick with (e.g.) “quantum mechanics works in mysterious ways”, but I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to prove that we’ll never understand it better… so we just keep going, and trying. Ditto for trying to formulate origin of the universe models.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: my apologies for lagging edits... especially when anyone is responding while i'm updating my post
    #42299

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Pope, the quest to understand and an insatiable curiosity is one of the beautiful aspects of being human.

    Btw just read that the standard model of particle physics may soon be challenged based on a measurement recently made in Chicago. Obviously the experimental results have to be duplicated before the model is outmoded.

    #42302

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Jake I remember a story like that… didn’t look into it but am looking forward to further talk about it.

    Related to causation of everything, JWST will probably provide a treasure trove of insight. For example, finding galaxies and other objects that serve as gravitational lenses that magnify and make visible objects even farther away than the lensing galaxy.

    #42303

    The reason that “nobody understands quantum mechanics” * is that it is not intuitable by the human mind. Maybe a better way of saying it is that QM is “unintuitable”. As Heisenberg said, “particles are not real. They just form possibilities rather than facts”. However, from our observations of QM theory it makes accurate predictions about the nature of reality.

    @jakelafortBtw just read that the standard model of particle physics may soon be challenged based on a measurement recently made in Chicago.

    Yes, and with a Sigma 5 rating on the accuracy of the findings which is not far of that of the Higgs Boson discovery. I hope you read that in yesterdays’ Sunday School 😊

     

    * Quote attributed to Feynman.

    #42304

    jakelafort
    Participant

    From Reg: Yes, and with a Sigma 5 rating on the accuracy of the findings which is not far of that of the Higgs Boson discovery. I hope you read that in yesterdays’ Sunday School 😊

    Can’t rule that out. Read a few, skimmed a few, when that had ended i wasn’t through…

    #42305

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Yes, there are so many ‘spooky’ aspects to particle physics. Just because we use the word ‘spooky’….it shows we have do have that huge bias. The arrow of time is so strong to our experience but any discovery that sidesteps the ‘god-as-a-necessary-creator’ business would be so damn cool.

    #42311

    Unseen
    Participant

    Ludwig Wittgenstein has several famous (in philo circles) quotes, one of which relates to causality:

    “Belief in the causal nexus is superstition.” This is from his Tractatus Logico-Philosphicus’

    It’s still being debated how to parse this. Anyone got an idea what he meant by this? As far as I know, he never elaborated on it.

    It sounds like he thinks causality isn’t real.

    #42312

    Unseen
    Participant

    So why does that really matter?

    Because gaps in knowledge always matter, do they not? Maybe when the gap is filled, it’s trivial, but maybe it changes everything.

    A recent discovery filled in a gap in knowledge, the weight of the W boson. When the gap was filled in (and assuming the result is correct) there is a big problem with the so-called Standard Model. If true, it implies, quite possibly, yet more unknown particles and maybe a form of matter to add to the likes of dark matter.

    #42334

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    Because gaps in knowledge always matter, do they not? Maybe when the gap is filled, it’s trivial, but maybe it changes everything.

    Sure, all the gaps matter, to different degrees, and the W-boson mass discrepancy seems to indicate further research could uncover something pretty significant.

    I could be relatively out of touch with particle physics, and/or naively skeptical (if that makes enough sense) of  a phrase like “changes everything” (implied in a different post) because I always assume that theories and research are almost always works in progress… or my own research is more of a work in in progress than y’alls. However, when it comes to something like JWST, I’ll bet it will change a lot of what we understand at fundamental levels, perhaps for years into its operation.

    Obviously I could be wrong on all counts. And on this one: I’m still stuck at particle entanglement. I often feel strongly that physicists are settling on “many world” scenarios just for the sake of tentatively settling there as the least uncomfortable dead end, or there is something else that hasn’t been discovered yet that will “change everything”. Entanglement and other quantum weirdness that, on the surface, violates classic understandings of causation, while they all might just be missing other, hidden variables and causations. (I know, Bell’s Inequality, and so on. But I don’t understand it. But come on, woo at a distance? I’m with Einstein’s ancient wisdom on this, even as unresolved as it is.)

    I’m not worthy.

    #42353

    Unseen
    Participant

    I was thinking about the standard model and two problems with it. 1) A huge portion of the universe is invisible and only knowable indirectly. And yet, while we have advanced our knowledge, paradoxically, by learning how little we know, if we were to discover what dark energy and matter are, 2) this knowledge is unlikely go give us anything practical, like a more delicious apple pie.

    BTW, there is a video that summarizes the standard model about as well as it can be done in language a person of average intelligence can understand:

    Toward the end he complains that the standard model works too well, and what is needed is an experiment the standard model can’t explain, which of course just happened.

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by  Unseen.
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.