Temporal Relation Between Cause and Effect

In summary, the author seems to be restricting causation to mean only an ordering of events into a "before" and "after," what Q_Goest perhaps means by saying that "the reductionist concept of cause and effect [...] may or may not be a concept supported by nature. In fact, it is highly debatable."
  • #1
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Regarding the thread [thread=135174]St. Thomas Aquinas and "uncaused first causes"[/thread], it appears the author is restricting causation to mean only an ordering of events into a "before" and "after," what Q_Goest perhaps means by saying that "the reductionist concept of cause and effect [...] may or may not be a concept supported by nature. In fact, it is highly debatable." By causation http://www.u.arizona.edu/~aversa/aquinas.pdf" [/I]):
Oxford English Dictionary said:
The four causes of Aristotle were the efficient cause, the force, instrument, or agency by which a thing is produced; the formal [HOBBES Decameron ii. 15 Another they call the Formal Cause, or simply the form or essence of the thing caused: as when they say, Four equal Angles and four equal Sides are the Cause of a Square Figure.]; the material, the elements or matter from which it is produced; the final, the purpose or end for which it is produced [final cause: a term introduced into philosophical language by the schoolmen as a transl. of Aristotle's fourth cause, τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα or τέλος, the end or purpose for which a thing is done, viewed as the cause of the act; esp. applied in Natural Theology to the design, purpose, or end of the arrangements of the universe.]. The First Cause, the original cause or Creator of the Universe; secondary causes, those derived from a primary or first cause.
God is the uncaused cause of the universe not just at one moment at the beginning of time (say the Big Bang, if that is when time began, if it indeed did), but God continually gives all created things their being and maintains their existence. This is what is meant by creation. (God is necessary for things' existences. Something cannot be the cause of its own existence because that would involve the contradiction of something causing itself. God is uncaused; God is the only being whose existence and essence are identical.)

Q_Goest also correctly notes that "The concept that there is a beginning to the dimension we know as time is also highly contentious." St. Thomas Aquinas would agree; one cannot know from the physical world whether it is eternal or had a beginning in time. Answering whether it is an article of faith that the world began, St. Thomas says in http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1046.htm#article2" c. (my emphasis):
St. Thomas Aquinas said:
I answer that, By faith alone do we hold, and by no demonstration can it be proved, that the world did not always exist, as was said above of the mystery of the Trinity (32, 1). The reason of this is that the newness of the world cannot be demonstrated on the part of the world itself. For the principle of demonstration is the essence of a thing. Now everything according to its species is abstracted from "here" and "now"; whence it is said that universals are everywhere and always. Hence it cannot be demonstrated that man, or heaven, or a stone were not always. Likewise neither can it be demonstrated on the part of the efficient cause, which acts by will. For the will of God cannot be investigated by reason, except as regards those things which God must will of necessity; and what He wills about creatures is not among these, as was said above (Question 19, Article 3). But the divine will can be manifested by revelation, on which faith rests. Hence that the world began to exist is an object of faith, but not of demonstration or science. And it is useful to consider this, lest anyone, presuming to demonstrate what is of faith, should bring forward reasons that are not cogent, so as to give occasion to unbelievers to laugh, thinking that on such grounds we believe things that are of faith.

William A. Wallace's short article "http://www.u.arizona.edu/~aversa/scholastic/Aquinas%20on%20the%20Temporal%20Relation%20Between%20Cause%20and%20Effect%20(Wallace).pdf" " might help clear things up, too.

A good book on causality and science is William A. Wallace's http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/476952467" ("Nothing is in the intellect that is not first in the senses," the maxim goes.)—is an excellent introduction.

E.g., Heisenberg recognized the importance of both Aristotle's and St. Thomas's philosophies in his http://www.archive.org/details/physicsandphilos010613mbp" , that the probability wave concept in quantum mechanics "was a quantitative version of the concept of 'potentia' in Aristotelian philosophy" (p. 41) and that the "concept of the soul for instance in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas was more natural and less forced than the Cartesian concept of 'res cogitans,' even if we are convinced that the laws of physics and chemistry are strictly valid in living organisms." (p. 80).

Also, in the http://ptonline.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_59/iss_10/8_1.shtml" oldman mentioned in his thread, I am not sure why the author says that St. Thomas Aquinas's argument was an anthropic argument:
Burton Richter said:
For more than 1000 years, the anthropic principle has been discussed, most often in philosophic arguments about the existence of God. Moses Maimonides in the 12th century and Thomas Aquinas in the 13th used anthropic arguments to trace things back to an uncaused first cause, and to them the only possible uncaused first cause was God.
His argument does not depend on the existence of humans but on the existence of the created things of the universe. Presumably the universe existed before humans, too. So his argument is not anthropic but physical.
 
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  • #2
Against that backdrop of who said what, and when, I can add this.
The idea that "cause" has different meanings adds another one to the pot. The sign "cause" can, I suppose, be offered as a hybrid of meanings. In that case, as Aristotle seems to suggest, it is a term that means "what has got to do with something". As Wittgenstein continually reminds us, we need to use language appropriately in the first instance, then we might, or might not, need a bit of philosophy.

Elsewhere, didn't Kant show in his Critique that "cosmological ideas" such as "the world had a beginning in time" were incoherent positions sourced, like so many other errors, in transcendental realism, which is, by the way, the realism of science?
 
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Related to Temporal Relation Between Cause and Effect

What is the definition of temporal relation between cause and effect?

Temporal relation between cause and effect refers to the correlation between an event or action (cause) and its subsequent outcome or consequence (effect) occurring at a specific point in time.

Why is understanding temporal relation between cause and effect important in scientific research?

Understanding temporal relation between cause and effect is crucial in scientific research as it allows scientists to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between variables, which is essential in determining the validity and reliability of their findings.

What methods are commonly used to establish temporal relation between cause and effect?

The most commonly used methods to establish temporal relation between cause and effect include experimental studies, longitudinal studies, and cross-sectional studies. These methods allow researchers to manipulate variables, observe changes over time, and control for potential confounding factors.

Can correlation indicate temporal relation between cause and effect?

While correlation can suggest a potential relationship between variables, it does not necessarily indicate a temporal relation between cause and effect. To establish a causal relationship, other factors such as time ordering and controlling for confounding variables must also be considered.

How does temporal relation between cause and effect differ from spatial relation?

Temporal relation between cause and effect refers to the relationship between variables occurring at different points in time, while spatial relation refers to the relationship between variables occurring in different physical locations. Both types of relationships are important in scientific research and can influence one another.

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