SUMMARY: David Hume argued that we know nothing about how one thing causes another.  We just see that water ends thirst but we cannot prove that the water changed our body and ended the crave.  We just see one event following another but a following b does not prove that a is linked to the appearance of b.  Against this, Kant argued that there is a direction in events.  A series of events have a direction so we should assume one thing is causing the others in a chain.  If you go through the process of lighting a coal fire you cannot go back once you light the fire.  You cannot reverse it.  You cannot put all the sand back in the bucket exactly the way it was before you threw it over the floor.

We can admit there is a direction but also admit that b following a does not mean a in any way causes b.  We could be forced into an agnosticism.

Instead of perhaps saying causation shows signs of intelligent design from a creator we have to now say we cannot assume that.


Hume noticed that we have the habit of thinking a causes b.  A habit is a habit and it tells us nothing if that may be true. Kant thought that reason shows it is true. So for one causality is arrived at by you making a connection between the two that may or may not be there. For the other your thinking tells you that the connection is real and this is an a priori truth.

You touch a domino and it falls over. The reason you can’t prove the touch did it was because what if there is an outside force that you don’t know of or cannot detect that makes it fall when you put your finger on it?

The situation with free choice is worse. You know that thoughts and feelings come to you from nowhere as if they know when to appear by themselves. You know that there is more to you and what you do and choose than you would think. You never know if you really cause what leads you to act.  You never know if you really are acting.

Every act is not an act but acts. And also involuntaries. Every act is choices and involuntaries – act is a summary word for something plural. It is not a thing. It's things.

So if you know cause is real you cannot identify what causes what.

It is going too far when you condone all the suffering in the universe by saying a God had to let it happen on the basis that he had to let us do what we wanted with our free will.  Free will does not answer many questions.  Would you say a monarch did the right thing in causing war and famine when he didn't give enough reason to?


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