C-29. “Cause”: a peculiar thingk

Primitive pointed questions such as “Who/what … did/could do/might do this?” are still with us, yielding thingks as answers, thingks which bear much more heavily on responsibility than on capability – to the distress of their dynamic balance (XI) and to the embarrassment of our realization of consequentiality, from understanding through developed capability to needed outcomes.

“Cause” may be about the worst in this regard. Although it does appear to affirm consequentiality as fact. And it does serve in popular discourse to highlight needed explanation. (Witness the prevalence of myths and stories.) , but it fails on the counts of fully understanding consequentiality and developing capability to be consequential.

That cause and effect stand in an identity relationship, the view via logical necessity that a cause is that which is necessary and sufficient for an effect, has had to be modified, by adding propinquity and sequence, to make it more applicable for accounting consequential events – such as solutions to problems. What this tells us is that the concept of cause points AT, but is inadequate as a point ABOUT consequentiality. When we should be delving fully into consequentiality, we are settling for what is often little more than hope that some responsible agent or agency is, or might be, found for producing desired outcomes. (A sword left untempered and used only to direct attention? Too often the principal use of thingks?)

Consider this alternative to Voltaire’s “For every effect there is a cause”: For every effect there is a history.

(Note the “a,” in the tradition of the many ways to skin a cat. What von Bertalanffy calls equifinality.)

This alternative historical view* emphasizes capability rather than responsibility. It gives attention to steps as well as bodies as having consequentiality — and structure (III). It pays attention to the possibility of an effect being a compositional change as well as a circumstantial change (II) – and thus very much in need of an understanding of the structure of process, of the relatings and relations as well as the relationships (VII). It tells us that we need a cognitive before-after capability (X) commensurate with all that historical reductionism reveals as conditions of consequence precedent to an effect, whether found or sought –and communicative tools and procedures to express all of that before-after capability. And thus it tells us that “cause” as a concept is a weak minding tool – its users running in the same herd as the conceptual evolutionists (C-20) pondering particular behavioral differences and changes.

We also see that when it pretends to theory’s explanatory function that “cause” is too much the product of the search for the order of things (rather than the Nature of Things), this sought-after oneness being a procedural tool (App. VIII) dear to the heart of those who would possess authority by way of having discerned it – and who assume that the posited order of things is explanation enough.

“Cause” is a prime example of how conceptual terms afford pretty much an acquaintance kind of knowledge (C-28). We need to move forward toward a more explanatory – i.e., theoretical –knowledge of consequentiality. If “cause” gets left behind it will not be the only conceptual casualty.

*History, if its fabric is fully appreciated, stands to be the best accounting of Everything and everything. And it will end only when consequentiality is no more. (Ahistorical principles have a place in that history – but only a place. Other principles apply.)

(c) 2011 R. F. Carter