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Thread: Reasons and Causes

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    No, the idea is determinism, that a person can't do something contrary to what the past determines that they do.
    Okay, I get it.

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    tWebber Anomaly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
    What I was asking was whether or not reasons and rationality are subject to the laws of causality, minus indeterminacy. It's related to the free will question. If the reasons that motivate my actions are all the effects of prior physical events, and if they become causes, like extremely complex billiard ball causation, then what sense does free will make? Even if you allow for indeterminacy of various kinds, that still doesn't allow for free will which would have to include purposeful action done for reasons but that are not necessitated by the past.
    I understand the orthodox view of “laws of causality” to be limited to matter, i.e., immaterial entities are believed to have no causal power.

    I’ll throw out an unorthodox view of reasons and their relationship to causality.

    I take value to be the prime mover of existence. Existence on this view is information, i.e., all objects, material and immaterial, that offer content to perception are “real” in some sense because the mind is itself structured to only receive structured information. Everything apprehended (and possibly things that aren't) are thus informational structures or objects.

    Value exists in two kinds, descriptive (factual) and prescriptive (normative/moral). Descriptive value as a dynamic within material information is beyond the context of this thread and can be set aside. Suffice to suppose that an agent [human] exists as a bundle of both descriptive and prescriptive information, commonly referenced as body and soul, and all of that information [in reduction] exists in exactly one value state, true or false.

    It seems to me that descriptive and prescriptive information on every level other than that of agents [intellectual operation] are subject to material causality. Agents have limited power to ‘create within’ or resist this “traditional” causal power.

    But the prescriptive—value different in kind than descriptive—produces properties common to its own kind. Sorry to go on, but I feel this minimum groundwork is necessary to establish main point. Value is in this hypothesis ultimately the only causally efficacious power in existence, but there's lots of shoveling to do to reach explanations.

    The prior presumes the following:
    1. An agent’s prescriptive information—the dynamic often referred to as “principle of animation” or the soul—hypothetically adapts to the body in reductionist fashion, as “iotas” of prescriptive information inherent in “bits” [atoms] of matter.
    2. Each iota of the soul exists in either a true or false value state, while each bit of matter has only a true state. The human soul is therefore fragmentally falsified, personally-inflicted by wrongful choice. (The fall in Genesis is a metaphor illustrating this function.)

    Based on the above, I theorize that agents are affected by two causal forces, descriptive and prescriptive. Even though the prescriptive dynamic exerts incomplete (due to the fragmentally falsified state as a whole) power to agent rationality to make wholly free choices as commonly defined, on the prescriptive side the tension and resistance generated between truth-bearing and falsity-bearing information of the soul’s constituent parts “infects” agent reason to properly produce “right” or “good” reasons.

    This seems to present a dichotomic situation in the generation of reasons and the motives that intuitively precede reasons:
    1. the standard view of free will, the power of making free choices unconstrained by external agencies, and,
    2. the additional feature of making good compared to bad choices where “good” references the highest amount of truth and “bad” corresponds to the greatest amount of falsity.

    On this view, the more the value-bearing information (soul) of the agent is falsified, the more power falsity exerts to form motivations for reasons. When falsified sufficiently to overpower the truth-bearingness of a particular area of “value intentionality”, e.g., a given moral stance, assuming moral positions like the virtues are individual domains of morality toward which the intellect is directed and about which the content of reasons and beliefs are constructed.

    Short version: freedom to form reasons apart from mechanistic determinism is inherent in the prescriptive power of the soul to assent to or reject its causal power. But the soul’s fragmentally falsified state both 1) adds the moral-ethical dimension [choice between good and bad; value evaluations] and (2) hinders the mind even in factual processing—and thus the will dependent on it—in its capacities to resist the ever-present ‘deterministic pressure’ applied to conform to causation. Reasons from the past have to contend with reasons induced by prescriptive value, which of course can be directed to good and evil ends. And it is usually, I suggest, prescriptive force which in subtlety forms the motives that precede reasons.

    I suspect the notion of indeterminacy held by Nietzche said to inform his criticism of Kant, “…'immediate certainty,' as well as 'absolute knowledge' and the 'thing in itself,' involve a CONTRADICTIO IN ADJECTO” can be explained by application of the ‘value mechanics’ illustrated above…a natural byproduct of the falsified mind would be a ‘dumbing down’ effect on the intellect’s path to precise reason in its grasp of both factual and moral realms. I suspect Nietzche's rejection of "absolute knowledge" and "immediate certainty" is a byproduct of the limitations imposed by a fragmentally falsified intellect, though of course not saying he understood it in this context. That we’re defective or fallen is not controversial. An analogy would be the way black and white dots of the old style newsprint create shades of gray…in the same way, an admixture of truth [white] and falsity [black] in the mind creates ‘gray’ areas of uncertainty and unknowing. I suggest that the value mechanism above goes some distance in a number of interesting directions for not only illumination of certain cognitive processes, but has insightful theological implications as well. My two cents anyway.

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