Are we all victims of cause and effect?

Antwan asked:

Are we all victims of cause and effect?

Answer by Shaun Williamson

In ‘Philosophical Investigations’ Wittgenstein poses the question ‘What is the difference between raising my arm in the air and my arm going up in the air?’ He also suggests as an answer to this question: ‘The absence of surprise’.

If my arm goes up in the air just by itself then I would be surprised and if this happened repeatedly I would also be disturbed and would probably consult a doctor and a neurologist to find out why this was happening. I would certainly regard myself as a victim of cause and effect.

However if my arm only goes up in the air when I raise my arm in the air then I am not disturbed and I do not regard myself as being a slave to causality.

Humans use this ordinary way of classifying their actions as either voluntary or involuntary or coerced (if someone is holding a gun to our head) and they find this way of classifying actions useful and essential to human life.

Humans are physical material beings composed of atoms etc. So they are subject to the same laws of causality as any other physical thing but this doesn’t make them a slave to causality.

In the same way we expect certain actions such as breathing to be automatic and involuntary. If we we had to make a conscious effort to breathe then again we would soon be consulting the doctor and the neurologist.

It is only in Philosophy that we are tempted to think that because all human actions are subject to the laws of cause and effect that this means we must all be slaves to cause and effect.

7 thoughts on “Are we all victims of cause and effect?

  1. There is no cause until AFTER the effect is manifest, making the cause categorically dependent upon the effect; and there is no effect then which can exist except utterly INDEPENDENT of the cause (otherwise the effect is a direct and absolute function of the cause, eliminating the distinction and thereby eliminating, by definition, cause and effect altogether). In other words, each one must exist ALREADY as a prerequisite for “cause and effect” to, in fact BE, cause and effect.

    But this is obviously a contradiction.

    The to which is to consider cause and effect merely a concept human beings use to describe the relative interaction of objects in the environment. Objects which then are neither caused or effected in the non-abstract sense. The presence of relativity in object interaction precludes actual (materially efficacious) cause and effect, and yet enables an almost necessary conceptual cause and effect from the self-aware observer.

  2. To be frank , I feel confused , I can see multiple thoughts in your words , I guess this is me falling under the dominant rule of subjective perception .
    But anyways , regarding the matter of will , I see that your main line of thought is randomeness ..
    Which is contrary to my previous comments and the main article here , as I myself favour determinism .
    I can’t say I can agree with that , neither can I agree to the idea of absolute atheism .
    While , both atheism and randomeness of will are both consistent in your words , they lead to ” insanity ” , a world in which there is nothing called “order ” , it’s only another form of randomeness that only in our own perception we call / attribute ” order ” to it .
    And so is ” will ” another form of randomeness of thoughts , and it’s only us , our conscioussness decorate it with the thing we call ” will ” .
    If , my understanding was correct , then I can see now what you meant by saying there’s only you , and life is created by us .. Which opens a door for a theme of nihilism in your words .
    And while I do believe that this world is mainly perceptual .. a bit of nihilism as you see .. Yet randomeness is the opposite of everything I believe in..
    Even if I went to the extremity of nihilism and doubt and thought that everything in this life has no “true ” existance, yet our conversation itself is a proof we have existance of some form .. even if we were nothing but abstract thoughts .. At least there must be such a place , a mind where these thoughts are processed .. A higher being , .
    So , as you can see , randomenss and subjective perception of world may lead to destroying all attributes we ever knew about life and existance , yet while there can be no us , Always there is He :).

  3. You didn’t answer the question .
    But i can see your good intentions .. Keep a reasonable world is the best thing any thinker can give to his followers .
    But , you already know the truth .. Philosophy or not , we all are nothing but slaves to causality .
    Our very and every decision is made by the inevitable complex mathematics of circumstances and initial atoms makeup we were born with .
    Every single decision creates a new fact , that in-trun , goes right throug the mathematics of the human psyche .
    Ironically , even the basic rules of these ” mathematics ” are also ” deposited ” piece by piece into the deep human sub.consciousness , we call some of it Logic , we call others emotions and trends and fears .. . Etc .
    The human conscious of his own choices is nothing but an illusion , sweetened by the feeling of originality of the idea and the ” apparent ” absence of compulsion .
    While in fact , you can never have an idea that had not been prepared in your mind by certain life condition or circumstanced . . And whenever it pops up in the mind , it’s nothing original more than the inevitable consequence of events , the sum of complex mathematics has been taking place since the day you were born .
    The only one who has a free will is a one who is omnipotent , that can break the chain of causality whenever he pleases , a one who is omniscient , that know every single path the equations lead to , and with his omnipotency HE elevates himself above the compulsion of numbers and change paths or even violates the equations and creates his own mathematical rules . . The only One who has A Free will Is god , ALLAH .
    Yes , I’m no atheist , at least from my pov.

    1. I love your comment… actually it’s not yours… it just popped in your head and written itself on this page.

      Let’s say you’re omnipotent… you decide to do what? Break causality? And why would you do that?
      Isn’t that just another action reaction?
      Where does even your idea to break causality comes from??
      Is that you?
      And why have you not thought of something else?
      Who are you anyway?

      I mean, there’s no difference between you and omnipotent (God).
      It’s only another illusion of having power.

      We are all just a result of a THOUGHT.

      How can you be responsible for anything if you don’t know what your next thought is going to be?

      Let’s say I decide that my next thought will be a good one and so it will… but WHY would I even want to do that…?

      Logical conclusion is that we have no responsibility and that we truly are a result of big bang… the starting point of all the beginning… like when you have biliard and you shoot up all the balls in the middle and each ball is going its direction it was given by a starting force.

      Therefore it also makes perfect sense that all was given and is inevitable.

      I mean, why do people say you are responsible, you have a choice, and don’t let others decide for you… youtube is full of these videos and is greatly appreciated by many people… perhaps as a result of collective mind wanting individuals to feel more “happiness”, saying “yes, you can have beautiful body if you go to gym…. yes, you can have more money if you work more”

      Am I slave of not controlling my life… or are you slave of controlling your life?

      But the truth is… we don’t create life, as much as some people keep denying it or saying it is “MATRIX” controlling you… the truth is, life is created for us and within us… and it’s just a POV, whether I perceive myself as me (spectator) or myself as all (creator).

      I mean, if one makes self believe “I am responsible”, “I am creator”… how does it differ from one beliving “I am just a spectator”… ??
      No difference.

      I KNOW it is so, but parts of me in my mind are frightened and are refusingly yelling at me: “That’s not true… I have a choice… OMG, what am I going to do… I will be lost in nothingness… my life is over!!!”
      Leading me to forget I’ve ever bothered to answer life, back to “random” thought process.

      So, here you have it… endless loop of trying to answer the life.

      1. Very Interesting to read your reply Martin .
        However , I have to say , of course there is a big difference being omnipotent and omniscient .
        You see , our argument was mainly to deny the free will of a human being , but somehow I feel you’r trying to deny the concept of will itself ., or that’s how it looked to me at least .
        But anyway , the will as the ability of detrimination and making choices – either being a free will or caused one – is a compeletely different thing from how it is made .
        You see , our probleme as humans with our will , is its being a caused one , and it is so because we ourselves are caused , created , precisely by an omniscient God .. Which makes every single subsequent action we make his will , through our hands .
        However , it’s compeletely different for entity that is not caused , omniscient and omnipotent .. He is not caused , thus his first choice – if such description ever exists- would not be caused .. And even if He is caused himself , His omnipotency makes the idea of compulsion made by the causality of his existence , with no meaning whatsoever .
        And even if I agreed to your idea that every single decision of him is the consequence of previous ones , putting his omniscience in the picture tells us that He was already aware of such sequence – whether compulsive or not – when he made the ” first ” choice , a thing that makes any chain of casuality in his choices , no matter how long such chain goes , his own free will .. His own free choice from the ” begining ” .
        Now if you combine both , realizing he is omnipotent and omniscient all the time , . So whenever he makes a choice it’s his own planning , as he creates the reasons and causes and can change them whenever he likes to .
        It worth mentioning that part if not all of the compulsive nature of our will is due to our unawareness of all possible choices .
        So , all in all , there is a difference between free will and will itself ..
        And because our will only works through causality or by the mechanism we think we know about human psyche , it doesn’t mean that same rules of psychology applies to God .. We have no clue about how his act of determination and choosing -i.e his will – is processed .. Even after all philosophical efforts to discuss it’s possibility as a free one .
        I mean , if our desires and decisions are the direct consequence of all previous life events , till the big bang .. It’s only because this is the nature of human psyche as composed of subconscious that is made or at least directed by all its previous knowledge , all current sensations , and all physical factors inside and outside .. And that’s how it takes a path that it calls a decision .. We have no single idea how the Place where God’s decisions are made looks like .. Or how it works .
        As for the matter of responsibility , all I can say for now is that the relation between responsibility and free will is a man made .. Illusion or misunderstanding .
        Responsibility follows will and / or actions , not the free will .
        To explain that , it entails a remarkable re-understanding of life as a whole .
        My piece of advice , as you said , there’s no difference being a creator or spectator , as long as it feels creator , you are creator . . We humans have nothing but our subjective perception , hence the probleme and the relief .

        1. I focused on the concept of being one. I see that my words didn’t express a deeper feeling, which is most likely since they are just an information, not something I have fully experienced.

          Whether “will” comes from here or there, or whether it’s limited to our awareness… I don’t want to bother with that as it’s too complex… I realize one can choose to feel anything he desires and that’s what manifest = creates life… so it’s easier just to manifest good feelings, than bother what it is and where it came from.

          You are the one.
          And there’s no higher entity.
          If you believe you are not God, then it will be so.
          You are god, there’s no he.

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