Friday, July 07, 2023

Causation Squared - causality & its effects (d)

To gain a better understanding of what is happening around us, we need to make better distinctions about what underlies - causes - those events, in order to foresee where they are likely to be leading us. Doing so enables us to better understand, predict, and conform, to the reality of the world around and within us. Aristotle developed his Four Causes after long years of pointedly observing the world around him, seeking after and discovering the causes behind what would become our sciences, ethics, politics, literature, he found that by seeking to make more detailed distinctions regarding whatever it was he was considering, took him beyond the surface distractions of only material 'cause and effect', to penetrate deeper into what it was that he was observing, what brought it about, and so become able to see more clearly where that was leading to. He broke those distinctions down into these steps, the Four Causes:
Causality & its effects parts a-g
pt a: A well rounded knowledge...
pt b: Causation of egg on our faces...
pt c: Cause and Causelessness...
pt d: Causation Squared...
pt e: Distracting you with...
pt f: Facts are only as stubborn as you...
pt g: Logical consequences of....
  1. the Material Cause: “that out of which”, e.g., bronze is what a statue is made out of.
  2. the Formal Cause: “the form”, “the account of what-it-is-to-be”, e.g., the shape of a statue.
  3. the Efficient Cause: “the primary source of the change or rest”, e.g., the artisan, the art of bronze-casting the statue, the man who gives advice, the father of the child.
  4. the Final Cause: “the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done”, or that health is the end that's being aimed at by walking, losing weight, medicine, and surgical tools; e.g., or that to enhance a park setting is why a bronze statue is commissioned for a place in it;
While I'll understand if you don't care much for what causes a bronze statue to be produced, by developing the habit of looking deeper into the nature of causation than only the shallowest of surface appearances, you'll be more aware of where you are in the world, more informed about what it is you are observing, and less mystified about what's going on around you - in short, an attention to causation, causes you to have a more thorough understanding of what truly does matter to you.

Taking a little closer look at the Four Causes:
  • 1st Material Cause begins with 'that out of which' the issue in question comes to be - be mindful of what it is that you are considering, and how does the identity of that impact the overall cause and resulting effects being considered? This first level of causation is what moderns often minimize and ignore, at least partly because separating your thoughts from Identity, 'frees' a person from the responsibility of considering the inevitable consequences of that knowledge. Conversely, paying closer attention to it, can reveal everything from the nature of Bronze, to the ramifications of an entire philosophy

  • 2nd Formal Cause, 'the form' of what's being considered - what is giving shape to the cause being considered, and how deeply should you consider that form, in relation to its function? A statue's form might be a human form, but the difference between what results in a Five & Dime store mannequin, or Michaelangelo's David, is how deeply the subject's form has been considered

  • 3rd the Efficient Cause, where “the primary source of the change or rest” - in the case of a statue, that is likely the sculptor, but what if you're looking for the efficient cause of something less obvious, such as of America for instance, where in the materialist view answering either '1776' or '1619' might get you a passing score on an utterly worthless test, both such answers would utterly fail to even point towards an understanding of the cause in question. Coming at the cause in question by employing Aristotle's view, would encourage and lead towards a much deeper understanding of what it is that you're trying to understand the cause of. To understand the cause of something, it's important to not allow a quick 'answer' to put a premature end to considering 'what brought this about'.

  • 4th the Final Cause, 'the end being sought', the Telos, the Goal - is not limited to the immediate end or physical effect of something, but is enlarged by what you seek to conceptually understand of what is being brought about by it - not just What, but Why. While a final cause might begin with the 'What' of 'a statue was needed for decoration', looking for the 'Why' of a cause, encourages us to look further than the shallow surface answer, and enables us to make greater distinctions about what is being brought about by the object under consideration. For instance, the final cause behind putting a statue of George Washington in a park, might be to provide the park setting with a decoration that will bring into the minds of those visiting there, a consideration of the ideals and virtues embodied by the 'Indispensable Man' of the American revolution, and the principles he fought to have our nation founded upon.

  • Properly considering the 'Four Causes' of something that is happening, or that you want to happen, is a fruitful means of not only gaining a better understanding of what has happened, or is happening, but the habit is excellent practice for how to 'reverse engineer' what you observe, better equipping you to plan for what you want to cause to occur, as the better you understand a single step, the better you'll understand the preceding and succeeding steps. Where the modernist approach would be a disintegrated 'the ends justify the means' approach, Aristotle's Four Causes leads you into a deeper understanding of what is being accomplished, and why, and how each step does, and should, relate to and follow from all of the others.

    It's well worth noting that Thomas Aquinas added an additional level of depth to the four causes that Aristotle had identified, with a fifth cause:
    5. the Exemplary Cause: a step beyond the Final Cause of action and Will, the Exemplary Cause is what guides the intellect - the idea that caused someone to decide that a statue was needed in the park, and so hired the sculptor,
  • 5th the Exemplary Cause then, “what guides the intellect ”, is taking note of not only what you are observing, or planning, but giving due attention to a higher level purpose beyond the features that are immediately visible, and in the case of what caused a statue of George Washington to be put up in a park, the exemplary cause might be the care and commitment of a person or group, to the health and prosperity of their community, and nation.

  • The materialistic views which animate the modern views of scientism, focus almost exclusively on only surface aspects of the middle two of Aristotle's Four Causes, gathering primarily disintegrated facts, and (easily manipulated) observations of immediate stimulus/response, cause & effect, which not surprisingly tends to exclude metaphysics in general, and causality in particular, from popular consideration.

    Consider how the two approaches might be applied to something as simple as what causes a duck to swim for breadcrumbs tossed onto a pond:

  • A likely materialistic cause & effect, and response to Why the duck swims for breadcrumbs:
    1. Cause: Breadcrumbs stimulate a duck's eating reflex
    2. Effect: The duck moves to eat the breadcrumbs
    No further response follows, but presumably, if you'd like to see the duck swim more... toss more crumbs.

  • Looking for the Four Causes behind that same scenario, might be seen as:
    1. the Material Cause: a Duck, that which swims to the bread
    2. the Formal Cause: The features of the duck's body, such as it's webbed feet which enable the duck to swim.
    3. the Efficient Cause: Tossing breadcrumbs into the water, is where the duck is swimming to
    4. the Final Cause: Eating the Breadcrumbs - eating the breadcrumbs is the ducks goal, and yours, which is what the preceding causes lead up to
    5. the Exemplary Cause: The delight which you, or your child, takes in feeding the duck and the leisurely enjoyment & relaxation of the moment
    Where the modernist materialistic approach has little interest in, or ability to, expand upon what's involved in feeding a duck, the four causes approach leads to a more thorough consideration of even simple events, and each of those causes could easily be expanded upon and pursued into further depths of biology, nutrition, ethics, and even a consideration of human nature and leisure.

    It's not difficult to imagine how differently those two approaches might play out upon a more significant scenario, such as that of the woman who was recently beaten on her doorstep when a riot recently 'broke out' in Chicago. The modernist approach is all too familiar and frequently repeated in the news media:

  • A likely materialistic cause & effect, and response, to a woman having been beaten by rioting youths:
    1. Cause: White Privilege
    2. Effect: Youths express their dissatisfaction to systemic racism
    , and as to the all too familiar response that might be expected to follow from such an understanding of causality:
    1. Response: Additional DEI policies, teaching training, and outreach programs for disaffected youth
  • OTOH, what might be expected from an Aristotelian Four Causes approach to looking for relevant causes reflecting the reality behind a woman being beaten by rioting youths, is that before even beginning, it'd be obvious that the 'Youths', or 'poor Youths', or 'black youths', is an entirely inadequate starting point, as many, most youths, regardless of color, don't riot upon women in doorways, and looking for causation would require beginning with what sets apart - identifies - other youths, from these youths who rioted?

    1. the Material Cause: Youths who have little or no respect for strangers as fellow human beings
    2. the Formal Cause: Man's natural savagery had not been mitigated by being taught right from wrong, self respect, civility, or manners,
    3. the Efficient Cause: Schools and school boards promoting policies of restorative justice, rather than teaching what needs to be understood in order for youths to be intelligent and moral people who're capable of living a life worth living in peaceful society with others,
    4. the Final Cause: 'Education' which does not educate, but instead promotes anti-American & anti-Western ideology
    5. the Exemplary Cause: Colleges committed to teaching an ignorance of objective truth and the dangers of contradictory and disintegrated thinking, largely inspired by appealing to ideological ideals that "...Call into question the very foundations of the liberal order..." so as to bring about an end to America and the Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian West."
    What causes the modernist approach, begins with considering what it is that they believe is being referred to by causation - (material cause) modernists fundamentally assume and presume that there are no real causes to anything beyond the material actions they can measure, and believing that there is no real meaning to anything, human life is believed at best as being about making the best of 'one damn thing after another', they (formal cause) have no expectation of developing a deeper understanding of what is meaningful in life - that's not their intent, or goal, or even a consideration for them. Instead, they (efficient cause) seek only whatever shallow surface level 'explanation', seems to provide a useful rationalization - a narrative - for doing what they'd wanted to do all along. It's no coincidence that the modernist approach to causation is (final cause) an invaluable aid to keeping pre-modern ideas 'out of mind' for most of us in modernity, which (exemplary cause) aids in subverting the higher ends of the pre-modern world and serves the lower purposes that are more common today - all of which provides a glimpse into what causes the thugs of blm & antifa, who exemplify the modernist mindset, to riot and tear down statues of the likes of George Washington.

    It's also worth pointing out that the modernist's 'Exemplary Cause', is what has been taught to generations of 'educators', and it thoroughly pervades the curriculum and administration of what is taught in our schools - public and private - to America's youth. Truly, causes - including an ignorance of them - do have effects, and ideas, especially bad ones, most definitely have consequences.

    If you want to know how we've come to such a meaningless world, a central cause of that is our popular lack of understanding of what causes anything at all. Just how easily we're distracted by what isn't there, we'll see in the next part.

    No comments: