What did Wittgenstein mean by saying that

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This topic contains 74 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Reg the Fronkey Farmer 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #30184

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    what do we know about causality which makes it a fact and not just a belief?

    How do we distinguish causality from chance or coincidence?  How do we know that something has been caused by something else?

    Everything is caused by multiple factors, we know this much.  So, anything has to have multiple causes.

    I think ultimately, a scientific description of reality leads us to say that X is a cause of Y.  We know that action X has consequence Y, as a type, so when X and Y happen together, we assume with a good level of confidence that X is a cause of Y.

    #30202

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    I cheated with Google: https://www.quora.com/In-the-Tractatus-5-1361-Wittgenstein-said-that-belief-in-the-causal-nexus-was-superstition-Was-he-right

    Makes sense to me but I don’t know if that covers what you wanted to cover. Before looking that up, my first, pedestrian thought was that facts and causality become accepted as “known” when their circumstances can be reproduced and tested such that the outcome is consistent. And such knowledge is significant knowledge only when it can be communicated precisely enough from one person to another.

    #30224

    Unseen
    Participant

    I think ultimately, a scientific description of reality leads us to say that X is a cause of Y.  We know that action X has consequence Y, as a type, so when X and Y happen together, we assume with a good level of confidence that X is a cause of Y.

    You are describing a belief. A fact has long been defined as “that which is the case,” not “that which we believe to be the case.”

    #30225

    Unseen
    Participant

    Makes sense to me but I don’t know if that covers what you wanted to cover. Before looking that up, my first, pedestrian thought was that facts and causality become accepted as “known” when their circumstances can be reproduced and tested such that the outcome is consistent. And such knowledge is significant knowledge only when it can be communicated precisely enough from one person to another.

    Science tends to revere repeatable results and is used to determine “that which is the case.” But if you stop to think about it, it’s a kind of rule of thumb in a sense. What the actual “fact” is, is beyond our grasp.

    #30237

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    So why didn’t Wittgenstein just say that in the first place?  Why invoke causality as a special case?

    #30238

    Unseen
    Participant

    So why didn’t Wittgenstein just say that in the first place? Why invoke causality as a special case?

    Because it IS a special case. Science treats causality as a special kind of knowledge. That’s my guess, anyway.

    #30253

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Looking at @popebeanie‘s posted explanation from Quora, I think Wittgenstein was talking crap in this case, because he doesn’t acknowledge that everything has multiple causes, which Buddha knew millennia before.

    #30272

    Unseen
    Participant

    Looking at @popebeanie‘s posted explanation from Quora, I think Wittgenstein was talking crap in this case, because he doesn’t acknowledge that everything has multiple causes, which Buddha knew millennia before.

    Looked at that way, the notion of causality seems rather useless due to being unwieldy.

    #30273

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    It may seem unwieldy, but it’s accurate, and therefore useful.  For example, if we want to make things better for ourselves, we have to put multiple measures in place.

    #30274

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Is it not even more useless to say that causality is a fiction, when it isn’t?

    #30275

    @ Unseen:

    If I drop a bowling ball, I expect it to drop. Is causality more than an expectation based on past experience?

    So, causal statements aren’t facts. Maybe that is what Wittgenstein meant.

    I think that is exactly what he meant. But what if you had never seen a bowling ball drop before? Knowledge only comes from experience and you have no “a  priori knowlege” of falling bowling balls (as Wittgenstein would have argued).

    When the bowling ball lands on the floor how do we decide on the “causality” of the event.  Is it because the hand let it fall or is is because of the effect of gravity? We can use deductive reasoning  inductive reasoning but that does not give us “certainty” that it will happen if we repeat the event in the future. We cannot “know” that the bowling ball will fall tomorrow, we can only infer that it will. It would be illogical to say we have knowledge that it will (based on past events). There exists no “causal necessity”. Yes, we can argue that is it justified that the ball will fall tomorrow but only with a psychological justification and that argument falls outside of logic justification.

     

    #30276

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    Yes, but causality, and our knowledge about causality, are two different things.

    #30277

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Nein, nein, Wittgenstein, the sun will rise right on time.

    #30279

    Yes, always right on time but at a different time, every minute, 24 hours a day, depending on where you are on the globe. That is, mein gott, until one day it is not.

    #30280

    Davis
    Participant

    Reg gave an extremely good explanation about considering predictions of “obvious” cause and effect as fact. I’m just nitpicking here but “psychological justification” is probably not the term you’re looking for. It confuses the matter a little. “Justification through human nature extending the extremely likely into certainty”. I know it’s wordy but sometimes words matter. As I said before…just nitpicking. Very good explanation.

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