eXTReMe Tracker WARNING: The opinions expressed and linked to in this blog are not necessarily mine (anymore).

My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Wednesday, January 5

Brain Busting and Causation

I love finding out I'm wrong. It's not that I like being wrong. It can be very painful and difficult sometimes to find out that I've unintentionally caused pain or harm to people (including myself) through my lack of knowledge. It's just that finding out I'm wrong is the first step toward having a better understanding of what's right and good. I think, in some ways, I most like finding out that my whole system of thought is based on some wrong ideas. I think a fundamental and yet wrong idea can be a huge source of ignorance (see Conjectures and Refutations).

I was thinking that shaking up a fundamental idea can be a brain busting experience. It can be a relief to start from scratch and try to come up with a better system of thought. In practice, though, it can be difficult to do. Your brain doesn't just dump all your old ideas because a new one came along. It keeps coming up with old yucky ones that you thought you'd long forgotten. Then again, someday, you'll find a new brain buster such that those old ideas become useful again. Maybe it's better to get rid of them anyways, though, because it can be great fun to learn them again.

A recent potential brain buster for me was thinking about causation. A cause is that which produces or effects a result; that from which anything proceeds, and without which it would not exist. I had assumed that the axioms put forth by Objectivism were true. I didn't think that they were absolutes that weren't open to criticism, but I thought they were likely true and it was hard to conceive of how they wouldn't be true. The axioms are: (1)Existence Exists (2) Existence is Identity (existents have attributes) (3)Consciousness (that you have the ability to perceive reality). Supposedly axiom 2 implies that the Law of Causality is true: "thing's actions are determined not by chance, but by its nature, i.e., by what it is".

I had assumed it was "true" and necessary for things to make sense that some things necessarily "cause" others or that there is some chain of events that started with some event. It was pointed out to me, though, that there are criticisms of these ideas and that there might be better ways of thinking about reality than using "causality" as part of one's conceptual framework. I haven't analyzed the criticisms and alternatives well enough to decide what I think about it, but I'm sure that whatever I end up thinking, it will be a better understanding of reality than I had before.

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