Causality (A Convenient Construct)

We humans like to think in terms of causality ... but causality seems not to be an intrinsic aspect of the universe.

Rather, causality is something we impose on the universe so as to model it for various practical purposes. We do this both consciously and unconsciously.

Causality is Not Scientific

No currently accepted scientific theory makes use of the notion of causality. Scientists may interpret some math equations involved in a scientific theory to denote causality -- but unlike, say, "force" or "attraction", causality is not really part of the formal language of modern science.

Roughly, causality consists of "predictive implication, plus assumption of a causal mechanism."

Predictive implications are part of science: science can tell us "If X happens, then expect Y to happen with a certain probability." But science cannot tell us whether X is the "cause" of Y, versus them both habitually being part of some overall coordinated process.

Causality and Will

Our psychological use of causality is closely related to the feeling we have of "free will." Understanding causality as a construct leads quickly to understanding "free will" as a construct. The two constructs reinforce and help define each other.

On a psychological level, "X causes Y" often means something like "If I imagined myself in the position of X, then I could choose to have Y happen or not to have Y happen." So our intuition for causation often depends on our intuition for will.

On the other hand, the feeling of willing X to happen, is tied in with the feeling that there is some mental action (the "willing") which causes X to happen.

Will and causation are part of the same psychological complex. Which is a productive and helpful complex in many cases -- but is also founded on a generally unjustified assumption of the "willing or causing system" being cut off from the universe.

Our Minds are Enmeshed in the Cosmos

Cosmism accepts that individual minds are embedded in the cosmos, enmeshed in complex systems of influence they cannot fully understand. This means a mind cannot really tell if a given event is causal or not, even if that event occurs within that mind.

So assumptions of causation or willing may be useful tools in some context for some purposes -- but should be understood as pragmatic assumptions rather than objective, factual observations.

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