Causation

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Eugene Atwell

As discussed in your latest posting cause and effect is an area that needs further digging and understanding of past and present philosophy studies. As a Mechanical Engineer cause and effect is closely related to equipment reliability as thus makes us ponder how this too could relate to humanity. Are humans a cause? Or are humans the effect? Many points can be argued. Just how reliable is mankind?

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Mr Atwell,

Thank you for your questions.

First I would advise you look at Hume – check out An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding especially Section III Division 18; Section VIII Division 75; Section VII Division 60; and Section IX Division 105. These should be available on line and will demonstrate Hume’s Opinion. If you are particularly interested, you may want to look at Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason where he responds to Hume who “awakened him from his slumber,” and the result was his “Copernican revolution.”

Also Hume does not argue against mechanistic versions of reality critical to the engineer, rather he says we must act as if cause and effect are real; but there is no metaphysical certainty to it.

The answer to the question of whether humans are a cause or an effect is of course both. We will be taking up determinism versus free will in more detail in the coming blogs. But one possibility for an understanding of the absence of free will is that man’s actions are completely undetermined which would be catastrophic if true.

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