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An Alternative Way David Hume Might Have Derived the Causal Relation from Experience

This essay aims to criticise most epistemology by criticising the causal analysis of David Hume, showing that we can make objective sense of this relation, and how science and epistemology can progress by pursuing this sense.


An alternative way David Hume might have derived the causal relation from experience







This paper is partly motivated by the apparent difference between a realists scientific world view and the mentally dependent world view of much modern philosophy and epistemology. Focusing on the causal analysis of David Hume as a route to what is causing the difference; this is an attempt to suppose a different basis for the causal relation from that of constant conjunction, but with the relation still based on experience. Firstly I put a case for the theory of evolution through natural selection being inconsistent with most modern epistemology. Then I try and put the reasons why Hume?s position seems so strong, or inevitable. Then consider some very general objections to features of Hume?s position. Then I try to describe how some cause and effect relationships could be seen as a re-arrangement, and so would not involve drawing conclusions beyond ?objects?. And then further illustrate this view, and why it might be thought fundamental, while considering (some) objections to it.

















































An alternative way David Hume might have derived the causal relation from experience


Natural selection and epistemology


On the face of it, if the theory of evolution through natural selection is right then this truth cannot have anything essentially to do with the meaning of any of these words, or any others, including the word ?truth?, and the word ?essential?. This is because by that theory over most of the time natural selection has operated there was no-one to mean any of those words, or any others, and it is an accidental fact if there ever happens to be someone able to form and  mean any words.

      This argument can also be applied to anything human, or conscious. This is because consciousness, and humans, are also accidental products of natural selection, according to that theory. It may be that words, or consciousness, or humans must exist in order for humans to realise that the theory of evolution through natural selection is true, but even so, what is realised (the theory of evolution through natural selection) must be capable of being realised in such a way that its being true, or the truth that this theory embodies, does not depend on any of these things; because they are chance occurrences according to that truth. So it seems that any adequate theory of knowledge that allows the theory of natural selection to be true must show how it is possible to realise something that does not depend on, or require, the existence of  the meaning of any words, or the existence of humans, or the existence of any consciousness. Conversely any theory of knowledge that makes one of these things an essential  part of the nature of what is realised or is supposed to be known through our knowledge reaching procedures, appears inadequate to account for a central aspect of the theory of evolution through natural selection as it is normally understood.

      Again, the natural selection part of this theory seems to point out a world whose contents, in this respect at least, are self sufficient to produce the gradual evolution of life forms up to their present state. Pointing out this respect and showing it to be adequate for this purpose in fact seems to be the whole point of the theory. This is why it is a challenge to the need for the existence of a God; Since the natural world can be seen to be self sufficient in this respect, the supposition of a God to account for this respect becomes redundant. Consequently this theory does not lend itself very easily to being interpreted along pragmatic lines as for instance presenting an aesthetically pleasing or simple way of handling the phenomena. As if that is what it is fundamentally about. That is pretty obviously not what it does, or claims to do. If it were to claim just this then it would not pose a threat to the need for a God to account for these existences. And if you could show that the situation couldn?t self sufficiently produce the existence of life forms this would be taken to show that the theory is false.  But according to David Hume it is impossible to make real objective sense of how things in themselves could be used to produce one another. This claim of Hume?s then, again on the face of it, seems to be in some sort of contradiction with what the theory of evolution through natural selection actually does.

If it is impossible to make real objective sense of the causal relation, then it seems that our objectively understood world, and our understanding of it, must be subjective, however empirically based. This is because, on this view, although we must connect, or view as connected, the various facts that form our experienced world these facts cannot be objectively considered as connected. Once again, this seems to contradict, for instance, the nature of the fossil evidence for evolution, which is supposed to be objectively connected with those mostly extinct ancient species supposed by the theory of evolution through natural selection, if that theory is true. And are we to claim that this theory cannot be true, as it is normally understood, although it is based on easy, clear and ?lively? evidence, and simple arithmetic, because of some, no doubt profound but nevertheless, fairly obscure and controversial philosophical analysis? But if we prefer the theory of evolution it seems there must be something wrong with the philosophy somewhere.    




Why Hume?s position seems so strong


      David Hume's view of the causal relation is one of constant conjunction. He examines experience and thinks that there is nothing to be found in the experience of any instance where we suppose some object produces an effect other than the fact that the first is found to proceed and be contiguous with the second. But he admits that this is not enough to produce our idea of cause since that involves a necessary connection between the cause and the effect which it is supposed to bring about. He supplies this deficiency by noticing that, also in experience, whenever we think one object causes another all similar objects to the cause are found constantly conjoined with a similar objects, or action, to the effect. He further notices that whenever such objects are found constantly conjoined in this way in experience, producing one of them naturally leads the mind to expect the partner. He concludes that it is the fact that the appearance of the one object in this way leads the mind to expect the other that fools the mind into thinking the two are objectively connected. And the necessity with which the mind finds itself led to suppose the one upon the production of the other that fools it into supposing there is an objective necessity between the two.

      It is not just that Hume finds in his examination of experience that there is no immediate objective necessity apparent between cause and effect, and that there is nothing more observable in any instance between cause and effect than a conjunction of the two. He also seems able to demonstrate that there can in fact be nothing more involved, and that there can be no objective necessity. First of all he goes through the various options that might be thought to show a cause is always necessary;[i] the case for a cause always being necessary for the existence of any state is not intuitive since it does not depend on mere comparison of quality or quantity or contrariety or resemblance; a state can be imagined to exist without a cause because since all our experiences are separable in the imagination the idea of any one can never be used to demonstrate the necessity of another. Then he points out, crucially,[ii] that since cause and effect involve quite obviously distinct states, we cannot consider the idea of the causing object and, without going beyond it, hope to reach the idea of the effect, which means that the two must be for ever logically cut off from one another. Next he considers if past experience could give some probability that cases yet to be experienced must behave in a particular way. But he says that if this were to be the case, experience would have to justify the principle that cases of which we do not have experience either must, or will probably, resemble cases of which we have had experience. But since this principle is needed to justify concluding from experience that the nature of yet to be experienced cases either must or will probably be like cases we have experienced, experience cannot be used to justify this principle without evidently pre-supposing the principle and begging the question.

      Beyond these considerations there are basic philosophical considerations that seem to show that Hume?s causal analysis must be along the right lines, even if it may not be right on specific points. Whether or not some of our basic attitudes to experience may be, in some sense, innate or instinctive, the more basic question is ?How do we know, or suppose we know, the existence of any matter of fact??. If we take for granted all experiences that are remembered to have happened or that we are actually experiencing at present, it would seem there must be some way of coming to believe in, or thinking ourselves justified, or of being justified in supposing, the existence of such facts. Whatever ways we may suppose this may be done it would also seem these must eventually resolve themselves into one of two options. Either the justification for our supposing the existence of such un experienced facts is eventually supplied by experience, or else supposing such things is justified in some way independently of experience. But if we suppose this is done in some way independently of experience, as Kant for example tries to suppose, we may put the same question again. ?How do you know that your assertion or explanation, or the supposed necessity of your fact, is right?? and we may continue to ask this question until we are eventually stopped by some experience which we think justifies us in supposing it. (Attempts can also be made to justify the assertion on aesthetic or pragmatic, or moral, grounds.)

Kant tries to finesse his way past this problem by first pointing out that just because our knowledge arises with experience, this does not mean it must be based on experience, and by claiming there are some things that are necessary and pre-suppositions of any possible experience. But the question can still be asked ?How do you know THAT?? For instance, supposing it is thought a condition of our sensibility that space and time have particular properties, it can still be asked ?how do you know that they will continue to have these properties, or that this must continue to be a condition of your sensibility, or of others sensibility?? Or supposing it is demonstrated from the nature of some experience that the form of this must be supplied by our own minds, how can this be supposed demonstrated when things which seem quite impossible e.g. consciousness, and which would be easy to demonstrate are impossible, if they didn?t  occur, nevertheless occur?

 Apart from this there is a continual tendency in philosophy towards obscurities, and the feeling that what is being said is not justified, however necessary it is asserted to be. So apart from the above it always seems a good plan to return to the concrete clarity provided by experience.

      Both Hume and Kant would broadly agree that the way of thinking some un experienced fact either does, has, or will exist is via the relation of cause and effect. But the question is what that principle or relation is based upon? Hume?s position attempts to base it upon experience. Kant thought that there are elements of our experience that are pre-supposed in order for us to have experience. Time and space are two such elements. We could not have spatial experience without space being pre-supposed; we could not have experience without it being placed in the order of things that happen given by time. The nexus of cause and effect, according to Kant, is also something that is presupposed and so underlies our experience. It might be objected ?how does Kant know that these things, time, space and cause and effect are not basic parts of existence? This is the normal way of looking upon them, outside philosophy, at least. If we are part of existence, we are subsequent to and built from this existence, so in that sense our experience will pre-suppose these things. But our knowledge of them still need not be pre-supposed in our experience of them nor be based upon what is required by our own experience. What is required by the nature of our experience is the nature of existence, according to this view, and that need not be known prior to or through an analysis of the nature of experience ?as such?, even though it is necessary for our experience.?[iii]

      Kant has at least two main arguments[iv] against this type of objection. The first appeals to the necessity and dignity of such notions.[v] But Hume has already argued that these things are not necessary, either intuitively, or demonstratively. And dignity is an aesthetic notion that can?t be objectively found by, and is out of place in, considering the nature of matters of fact, as Hume also argues. (It may be allowed that Hume?s view does not ?do justice? to some aspect of our idea of cause and effect, but this is a very vague and unsatisfactory way of pointing at such an aspect, if it exists.) The second line of argument is derived from the contradictions or antimonies we find ourselves inextricably involved with if we try supposing these things are self subsistent and existences ?in themselves?, in their own right. But the difficulties we get into are the result of supposing we have a-priori knowledge of them as existences in themselves, and that we can therefore deduce or know what their final and true nature must be from the knowledge we already have of them, or have been given a-priori of them. This is not something thought to be true by an empiricist or by someone trying to understand what, she presumes, is their reality, on an empirical basis. So, to some extent, from an empirical point of view, it is not surprising if we find our notions about basic things such as time and space, don?t entirely make sense?we don?t have the a-priori knowledge of them which would guarantee they must make sense. Apart from that at least one of Kant?s antimonies is only apparent. It is perfectly possible to suppose an edge to space, for example, in spite of Kant?s arguments that supposing space to be limited or unlimited are, both of them, necessary and impossible.[vi]

      So, over all it seems best to stick with experience as providing the basis for asserting some un-experienced matter of fact. Both because if we suppose experience doesn?t supply the basis we should have to face the question ?how do you know?? that your other basis is correct, and this is liable to lead us back to experience again in order to justify ourselves. Because experience can often show that things which can be proved theoretically impossible can nevertheless occur, and that things which theoretically must happen nevertheless don?t. Because, in spite of the apparent lack of possibility for fundamental surprises that may be thought to result if we base everything on the nature of our experience, close examination of experience and attempts to explain it have thrown up results that are surprising and were never thought of from an abstract philosophical consideration.  And because experience, at least in the way we experience it ourselves as adults, is less obscure, and in that sense more secure, than the alternatives that might be supposed. But once experience is supposed as supplying the basis for supposing the existence of some un experienced fact, we seem to be back with Hume?s analysis of cause and effect on the basis of our experience of this relation. And Hume thinks to have shown there can be no immediately objective connection between two objects related as cause and effect. There is just a conjunction of objects, which we may find in experience is constantly repeated. And, once again, if we are to hypothetically suppose there is more to the relation how can we hope to justify such knowledge, which goes beyond experience, except by its objective necessity; but Hume has shown we can know of none, or by experience; which will leave us with Hume?s analysis again?

      However I think there IS another alternative to the ?constant experience or a-priori?. But it may not seem to make sense at the moment. It is, in spite of Hume?s analysis, to base our search upon the reality of how a cause might produce an effect. This reality could not make what we thought about it necessary. But if we thought we had discovered something about the relation that is necessary this would not be because it was necessary a-priori, but because, through experience, we thought we had worked out how the existence produces what occurs. As with the view of the world the female empiricist above is attempting to engage with, it would be unfair to say that such assertions (which would not be known to be necessarily true) depend upon some a-priori knowledge, or grasp we have of the matter, because this would assume that we had not, (and could not) actually have grasped how it was possible for that subject matter to itself produce what occurs. It would be pre-supposing that our grasp of how what happens does so must have an essentially mental element. Which pre-supposition seems ruled out by the natural interpretation of the truth involved with the theory of evolution through natural selection.

      But this ?possibility? brings us strait back to Hume?s analysis again, because he has apparently shown we cannot possibly make sense of such an objective causal reality.



      Hume's paradigm of a cause and effect relation is perhaps that involving the collision of two billiard balls. Although he does examine other examples there are logical reasons why an obvious interpretation of this example would lead him to transfer that interpretation to these other examples (apart from the terms ?cause and effect? themselves, which suggest we are dealing with distinct existences). The obvious interpretation of the billiard ball example is that we are dealing here with two distinct objects, and that we are also dealing with two distinct motions i.e. the motion in one distinct billiard ball, as it approaches the other, and then a motion that is distinct from the first of the second billiard ball. The logical reasons for interpreting other examples on this basis, and as essentially the same as this example has been noticed to be are 1) the idea of any experience can always be separated from any other and considered separately, and so is logically distinct from any other such idea. Consequently no matter what experiences we may wish to consider they are all LOGICALLY DISTINCT from one another. This re-enforces the natural interpretation that our two billiard balls and their motions are distinct EXISTENCES (which is not quite the same thing), and seems to mean that that interpretation must equally be applied to all our experiences which can be separated in the imagination and considered separately. But this has three further consequences 2) there cannot be any LOGICAL necessity between any two such ideas or experiences 3) our INTERPRETATION of their relationship is not logically necessary. 4) From a logical point of view, there appears to be no relationship between such ideas that might be characterised as intrinsic, so it becomes a matter of our pragmatic choice, or of subjective psychological necessity as to how we would connect them.



      One of the troubles I have with Hume's view is that in some cases of factual understanding there is a sense that our understanding is more objectively satisfactory than in others. For instance magicians tricks, magnetism, Newtonian gravity at a distance[vii], the mind body problem, all seem to have something inherently puzzling about them, whereas the workings of a gear or cam have something on their surface that seems quite understandable, even if it is surprisingly hard to point out. (Or rather perhaps it is that there are philosophical reasons compelling us to ignore it or suppose this aspect is impossible. This is a position not unknown in philosophy; there is a suspicion that we naturally think, or find one thing, but philosophical arguments seem to show that we can't think that. For example Berkeley claims that we can't mean any more than that we would have certain experiences when suitably disposed, when we say something is a real object. But Hume admits that we DO mean more. Another example is Hobbs claim that altruism is just disguised self interest. ) But Hume does not allow that there can be anything really and objectively, intrinsically satisfactory in the explanative relationship between matters of fact. So that all connexions of matters of fact must be on the same level and be equally objectively impossible to explain or connect.

      Humeans have an answer to this objection, it is true. They think that cases where our understanding doesn't seem satisfactory either come about because these cases represent an exception to our general experience, or because we haven't managed to fit such cases into a conceptual scheme that applies equally to these previously exceptional cases. If we had done we would no longer see them as exceptional, and would feel we understood these cases just as well as the rest of our experience. Or it is claimed that such a feeling is just a cultural or theoretical prejudice I happen to have, or happen to be subject to. But I just don't believe these answers. They seem just something that is forced upon us because Hume has proved that I must be mistaken, there can't be any such thing as I suppose there to be. But, on the other hand, if we suppose that this feeling of mine isn't a total illusion this would mean that there must be something wrong with Hume's proof.

      In my mind, at least, connected with the unhappiness I mention in the previous but one paragraph is the following point; Generally, when Philosophers have tried to criticise Hume, they have been concerned to show that the causal principle is one we can feel confident will apply to the world as we experience it. But this is not my concern, as I shall try to explain.

      The view of modern science seems more convincing to me than the obscurities philosophers seem condemned to deal with. It was after all the success of early modern science that Locke's empiricism was largely an attempt to explain and deal with, and which, to this extent, this philosophy is subservient to and follows. Philosophy has ambitions to tell science what to do, but often it has to follow science and re-think itself in the light of scientific progress. The present view of modern science is one where our earth is an insignificant speck amongst billions of stars, and where mental phenomena are an accidental product of millions of years of natural selection. This easily suggests that the universe can go on quite happily without us and is not at all concerned with us and our mental grasp of things. (This also seems VERY inconsistent with Hume?s view that ?reality? as we know or suppose it, is a fiction produced by the various mental propensities we seem to have, working on the materials provided through experience.) Epistemological necessity, in such a world seems out of place; Why should, and how could, such a world guarantee to us that what we think happens in it truly does happen in it, even if we have got it right? Consequently, making the minds grasp of the necessity (certainty) of some view the standard by which to judge the truth of that view, although it might make sense where the world is created and dominated by a supreme intelligence, does not seem to make so much sense where intelligence is a very minor part and accidental product of a universe which is mostly empty of it. So I will not be concerned with the certainty of the causal relation, but with any apparent objective adequacy it may exhibit, perhaps, sometimes; and with discussing what this could consist in, and how we might make sense of 'objectively adequate' without being able to know with certainty that our judgement in this respect is true.

      There is another way that the above point seems to me to bear directly on similar but properly separate issue of causal necessity. (Although in my opinion it is miss-leading to talk of ?A causing B?). If A causes B then it would seem that A must be sufficient to bring about the existence, and necessitate the existence of B. So, for instance it would be a completely different case if A were to cause, bring about and necessitate the existence of B AND ALSO bring about and necessitate the existence of any other state, no-matter how similar or related, e.g. B'. But in that case no matter how closely related my grasp of how A necessitates B is to the way A does necessitate B, A cannot necessitate my grasping this necessity. This point does not make any sense if you are trying to look upon causal necessity as being produced on a broadly logical model. Because on a logical model we cannot grasp the necessity of the logical consequent unless we are inside the idea of the antecedent. But given in this way that we have grasped the antecedent it is supposed we are necessitated, under pain of contradiction, to draw the conclusion; So in a parallel way it was (both prior to Hume but also lingering on in the minds of people trying to hypothetically suppose such a necessity, or prove that there can be none[viii]) supposed that in order to find causal necessity we must get inside the idea of the cause, and once inside we must see how the effect is necessary under pain of violating the very purpose of the causing idea. But Hume has shown that this view of the causal relation has no place because all our experiences, and all matters of fact, concern states which are LOGICALLY DISTINCT; so that they may be separated in the imagination, and considered separately and from the idea of one such experience, idea or fact, or any number of them, nothing logically follows about the character or existence of any other experience, idea or fact. However if it makes no sense, in a universe where intelligence and mental grasps are all but peripheral, to put this mental grasp at the centre of things, the necessity involved between the states of this universe (if there is any such) should not be on that model (i.e. the logical analytical/deductive model). It should be on a model where the way we grasp the way A necessitates B is done externally to A necessitating B, and where A is not concerned in producing a necessity that we grasp this fact. In short then, we should be able to appreciate  how A necessitates B without A necessitating our view that A necessitates B. Perhaps this seems impossible and gobbledygook at the moment, but I hope it will become clearer once I have discussed some examples.


Attempting an alternative paradigm of the causal relation.


      What I would like to do now is to take a different example as my paradigm of the causal relation. One with an intentionally (or self consciously) slightly Archimedean flavour[ix]. One which, in my opinion, has just that something intrinsically understandable about it, and on the face of it, that I mentioned above. I would like to try and get you to look at this example in the particular way I am inclined to look at it. There will be arguments trying to show that it is impossible to look at it as I suppose I am, that it is a daft way to look at the situation, although possible, or that from a philosophical point of view, this way of looking at it is irrelevant. But I think, when we are not being philosophical, this is the way we DO look at it. And am inclined to argue that actually there is a lot to be philosophically gained by looking at it in this way. I think that if Hume had taken as his perfect example of a cause effect relationship one where we feel most satisfied that we understand the relationship, and contrasted it with cases where we think a causal relation is involved, but don?t feel we understand it, he could have noticed in his experience of it something other than merely succession and contiguity. But I don't claim that my view of the example is necessarily correct.

      Suppose a ball and a bucket of water. The ball is pushed into the bucket of water and as this happens, volume of water plus ball is greater than volume of water alone, so the water level rises.

      The way I look upon this example is that it involves a re-arrangement. The effect is brought about because the various objects and properties found with them continue. As the ball, with the various properties associated with it, including its volume, is pushed into the water, the water and the various properties associated with IT, including its volume also continues. Since both volumes continue, when the volume of the ball is pushed into the water, the waters volume has to go somewhere else, otherwise it couldn't continue, and as the water has the fluid and heavy properties associated with it, which continue, the water stays in the bottom of the bucket as much as possible, and the level of the water rises consistently with this and the increase in total volume. The thing that changes, the change involved, is not any of the properties, or objects involved, but the way they are combined in the situation. Thus the effect is not a thoroughly new existence or separate object from the cause, as Hume continually supposes, but a re-arrangement of the same objects, or factors, and apparently we have not had to draw a conclusion beyond any of these 'objects' in reaching it.


      A further point to notice is that, although at first glance, or blush, the movement of the ball is a completely distinct state from the movement of the water, just like, apparently is the case of the movement of Hume's two billiard balls, nevertheless it seems to be the end result of a re-arrangement, and not really any thoroughly new, or separate in that sense, existence at all.

      Again, comparing the way this effect is supposed to be produced with the way logic would like to suppose effects are produced from causes; the effect is not produced by a logical deduction achieved by grasping the essence of the causing idea and showing how this logically necessitates that the effect must come about. It is produced by the continued existence of the various 'objects', shapes and properties found with them, when (or as) these come to be placed in a different arrangement. So that these states, which continue in order that that effect is produced, if that is what actually happens, are not of a sort to inform us that we are judging them correctly either at the start, or at any logically distinguishable position throughout the situation. And even if they were in such a position to confirm this it  still would, and could not, be by a logical deduction that the effect is produced from the idea of these causes, because they are logically distinct, but by their continued existence bringing about a new arrangement.

      Similarly to this; a gear or cam, as it moves around does not produce its effect by that effect being deduced out of the idea of this gear or cam at its previous position. Or by a deduction from the idea of all these objects together, in that previous position. The gear or cam seems to continue, along with its properties and the other objects it is in contact with. Because the gear moves, if they are to continue, the other objects must also move.-- Because the ball moves (into the water) if the water is to continue it must move.

      In this way there is above succession and contiguity also an air of a particular type of ?consistency? or ?similarity? running through the cause and effect relationship, when we feel we understand the relationship. And this is absent when we think there is a causal relationship involved, but also feel we can?t properly understand how what happens can do so. This should be due to there appearing to be no essential difference or new existence involved in the situation to bring about the result, so that the situation appears objectively self sufficient to bring about that result. 


      Perhaps it will be objected to my interpretation of this example that it is all very well to suppose, IF these objects and properties continue, that we can understand the effect as the result of their continuation. But the question is how do I know that they will continue? [IS1] Why, for example (and taking only a more common sense possibility), couldn't the ball behave like a sponge and make no apparent difference to the volume of the water, while remaining apparently the same volume itself?--However, as I have already pointed out, this is not my question. --But also I DO know what happens in this example, because it is a completed example.--  My question is how to (objectively) understand this situation that has happened, as it has happened, not 'how do I know what will happen in a situation which is yet to happen?'. Even if we suppose it may be necessary to try several experiments with this ball and water in order to notice all the different properties they (hopefully) continue to exhibit, we are still going back to these apparently similar examples to try and see how what happens does so; Not, directly, so as to try and raise a belief, or make a prediction as to what will happen. Since I am supposing we are studying cases which HAVE happened, to try and understand how they do so, we CAN know that these objects and properties DO apparently continue.( But, once we think we have seen how the contents of the situation can themselves produce the result, this produces a reason, or basis, for supposing what will (must) happen in a fresh but apparently similar situation; we have worked out how the objective reality does it, this is a new case of apparently the same objective reality, so it will do the same thing.)

      This objection actually makes a very considerable concession, perhaps one people will not want to make. Because in admitting that IF these objects and properties continue it is possible to understand what happens in terms of their continuation we seem to be admitting that we don't HAVE to go outside the nature of the contents of that situation in order to understand what happens in it. But Hume is supposed to have shown that we can't directly use the nature of what is experienced in a situation in order to understand what happens in the situation. This is why he has to introduce habit and the influence of the CONSTANT conjunction of objects and properties, or causes and effects in order to understand how we can suppose we understand any cause and effect relationship. In other words he has to go outside the immediate cause and effect relationship in order to understand how it is possible we can suppose ourselves to understand the relationship. And this aspect is followed by people who, although they don't quite like Hume's habit hypothesis, nevertheless accept his basic analysis of the situation. They go outside the situation and fall back on cultural influences, general background theories, personal prejudices, or pragmatic virtues such as simplicity (or even, synthetic a-priori knowledge), to account for why and how people can suppose that such and such a way of looking at a causal situation can actually explain what happens in it; when Hume has shown that there can be no 'using what can be found in the situation itself' to understand what happens in it. But with my attempted explanation of a completed example we only, apparently, need to notice how the various factors in the situation CONTINUE through it and thus produce the effect. We don't have to notice that they are CONSTANTLY found like that outside the situation in order to understand IT.

      [x]Similarly with Hume?s objection that Adam (i.e. someone completely devoid of experience) could not tell what would happen in a situation before he actually experienced what happened in it. Our first object is not to try and suppose what will happen in a situation completely independently and prior to experience. But to understand how what is (has been) experienced to happen in a situation could do so in terms of the characteristics experienced in the situation.

      As an illustration of the reasonableness of his view Hume also points out that it will be readily admitted in out of the way cases that surprising effects must be experienced before we could suppose they would happen.  This is a weak point really because the surprising and novel consequences of a theory that are subsequently confirmed by experience are often thought to be a proof of that theories empirical content. But Hume is trying to illustrate how effects we normally expect and think necessary might seem surprising if we had never experienced them. But then this just shows it is possible to describe cases of causal ?necessity? as being derived from statistical experience. It does not show this is the true route of that necessity.          



      Instead of the above it may perhaps be said that this is irrelevant, and that for two reasons. Firstly how is this interpretation of mine based upon experience? Or is it instead a-priori? It must be one or the other. If it is based upon experience since there is no necessity between the relationships found in experience, it must either be generated by a constant experience, or else it is an arbitrary interpretation placed upon experience. If it is the first then we are back to the characteristics that are constant in our experience, as the root of this causal notion, which is essentially Hume's view, although with this interpretation we mask that essential truth without altering its truth. If it is an arbitrary interpretation placed upon this example, what can be its justification? The question of justification will either bring us back to constant experience, to pragmatism etc. or to the assertion that it is known, or justified, a-priori. But the first two are back to Hume again, and the last does not seem a reasonable assertion to make in the face of the complete alteration in our theoretical points of view which the history of the physical sciences present us with.

      But my reply to these objections is, firstly that the way this interpretation is based upon experience is that it takes what can be experienced in this situation, and tries to see how that can be used to produce the result of the situation. The way it can be used, apparently, is if those aspects experienced in the situation apparently continue through it, so that the result can be seen as a re-arrangement of them. In this way the form of explanation used is attempting not to go beyond what is found in experience to produce the explanation of what is experienced to occur. Hume does not allow that what is experienced COULD be used itself to produce a satisfactory explanation of what occurs. My view does not attempt to be based on experience in the statistical sense. The form of explanation is also not a-priori, unless you suppose whatever can appear to be the case must do so by being a-priori. We are only trying to see how what is experienced could apparently produce what occurs. If this appears to be the case it is not known to be true, and it is not known to be false, it appears to be the case. The alternative "statistical experience,(or some sort of pragmatism or aesthetic requirements) or a-priori" does not seem to me to exhaust what is possible as the basis of our epistemology. The justification for this form of explanation is, firstly, that it makes the explanation apparently objective (and so it appears to have nothing to do with us). At the same time it appears internally satisfactory. It falls in with our naive realism. It also explains a distinction between explaining in terms of some idea it is possible to apply to some subject either imaginatively, by analogy, or by metaphor, and giving an objective explanation. It does this because we are trying to avoid drawing conclusions beyond these factors we see in the situation to see how they themselves can produce this result. A good way to do this is to measure them, and in that way make our judgement whether they continue or alter as obvious as possible. But when an explanation consists in an imaginative analogy or metaphor being applied to a subject, we are going from one state to another in order to make the analogy or in order to see the subject in terms of some metaphor or description, and then measurement cannot be applied with the same purpose.?I do not mean to imply here that analogies cannot be very useful in science e.g. Darwin?s analogy between variation and alteration of species under domestication and in natural selection, and Archimedes?s three balances are also analogical,  but that although such an analogy may be used its use is to point out what actually happens in the situation being analogised to, which must be seen to occur independently of the analogy. Thus such an analogy is not essential to the explanation, but just draws attention to what is essential.  (The sort of examples of explanation by metaphorical interpretation that I have in mind are; the sort of things Marxists and Politicians in general are adept at, Freudian interpretations of many phenomena etc. Hume?s habit hypothesis is also a theory it is possible to interpret or describe examples in terms of[xi]. But with my interpretation of our ball and bucket of water example, it seems we can try to avoid placing a description on the example at all. )  

       Perhaps, instead, it will be objected that I am concentrating on a wrong aspect of the causal situation with my example. Where distinct states (I use this word because they may not warrant the word 'existences') ARE involved, and obviously so, is between the shapes, for example of the ball and the sorts of relationships they are found with--the properties they are continually conjoined with in the situation. It is to this aspect of the situation that Hume's analysis is designed to be applied. --But why not on the contrary try, in experience and by investigating the situation through experimentation, to apply my type of analysis to those constituent relationships? Hume takes his type of analysis of his paradigmatic type of causal relationship as fundamental, and so sees all other examples in terms of that analysis. But I think, in normal life, my type of understanding of a causal relation is what we are looking for, and we feel satisfied we understand the situation when (if) we can see that it only involves a re-arrangement. We are looking for this because we are naturally naive realists, as Hume admits, and consequently we want to see the situation as real in these senses; we want it to appear independent and self sufficient (independent because self sufficient), as to what happens in it.[xii] But this also gives an apparently objectively satisfactory explanation.  So a re-arrangement is what we are looking for, (even when we can't find it) and that is why this way of looking at the situation, or this aspect of a situation, has claims to being fundamental to our causal view.

      But, it may be objected, it makes no sense to suppose a property continues, as I have done. The mistake that I am making is that I am taking for granted just that 'existence of objects' which is in need of philosophical analysis. And which we need to analyse and justify, if there is a justification, in terms of experience. If we suppose objects exist, that they have properties, then as the objects continue the properties (which are on this pre-Humean view, caused by the inner workings, or essence, of the object) will continue to be produced. But whether we have any right to suppose this, and how it is possible to suppose this are just the questions that from a philosophical view need answering. But, first, it IS possible to trace an unaltered property relation through a situation. This must be true on Hume's own constant conjunction theory. On Hume's theory it must be possible to notice a certain type of occurrence, and notice that it is continually found conjoined to another type of occurrence. IF then we do successfully trace such a conjunction, or series of conjunctions, through a situation, we can notice how the effect is a re-arrangement of these continuing conjunctions, and we can notice how if these conjunctions continue, or are to continue, through the situation, that effect must occur. In this way, if we are fortunate, we can base our understanding of the situation objectively on the nature of what can be noticed in the situation irrespective of whether this property ?exists? in some more absolute way . And we don't have to have a habit in order to look at the situation in this way. But, if we turn our attention to the circumstance of the production of one of the effects, or properties that is a constituent of the previous situation and investigate that, we may find other constituents of THAT situation which are re-arranged in order to produce THAT effect.

      The above objection actually pre-supposes that the view I am putting forward needs to be justified in terms of a Humean type analysis of what can be found between the constituent components of the situation. But this ignores the type of justification I am pointing at with my view. The (main) justification is that when we are successful in seeing a causal situation as a re-arrangement we can base our understanding objectively on the nature of the contents of the situation. But this will also make it appear, and seems consistent with it being the case, that the contents of the situation themselves produce what occurs?those ?factors?, continuing appear literally sufficient to produce the effect.

      But secondly, if we want to give a philosophical analysis of our notions of objects from what is directly experienced, without pre-supposing such things, this can be done in terms of trying to see how more basic, or (hopefully, if such a thing makes sense, which it probably doesn?t) interpretation less experiences can continue (e.g. the solid property, or the colour or the shape of the ball in the above example), so that the changes we experience can be seen as a re-arrangement of the states we experience.

      As another example; An objection of Berkeley to our knowing any independent object is that our experience of such a supposed object will differ if the object is a different distance from us, if we have the ague, if one hand is hotter than the other; and in short, if our perceptual situation alters regarding the object our perception of the object will differ, so none of those perceptions is the independent object. But according to the present view the way an object will appear to be independent is if we can avoid drawing any conclusion beyond it through the different situations (we hope)it appears in. So we will be trying to see how the variation we see as the (hoped for) object passes through different situations is accounted for, or produced, by the variations in the situation of that object. If we can suppose this, then we can suppose that all the experiences we have of this (hoped for) object are produced by the same state; which we thus don?t have to draw a conclusion beyond in accounting for all these experiences. As this is the way such an object can appear independent it is a mistake to suppose that knowing the independent existence of such an object must consist in grasping its absolute size, or colour, or heat, and that if we can show that any particular such perception is not the absolute one we can?t know of such an independent existence (or object), as Berkeley supposes. (But there are also different senses of ?existence? of an object involved here. Berkeley might think that the existence of his object ought to be an absolute state of being grasped in its own right, and which would be the same if the whole of the rest of existence ceased. But the point is that in a causal situation the objectively same state will often seem to vary due to other factors in the situation varying, or the situation varying relative to that object and a perceiver. If the object only seems to vary due to such influences that are external to it this is consistent with it being the absolute same state throughout in spite of our not being able to grasp its being absolutely and independently of such variable factors.)

Next, it may perhaps be objected that it is logically impossible to suppose two logically distinct states are connected. Since logical impossibility is the acme of what it is for something to be impossible, by all the rules of reason what I am trying to suppose must be incoherent. This objection sounds good, but firstly logically saying that two states are logically distinct is a different thing from saying they are distinct existences. This objection tries to derive the second from the first, although this does not logically follow. But also it seems to me that this objection overlooks the fact that the way logical impossibility and possibility is supposed to be possible is because its justified claims do not pretend to go beyond what can be found within the relations of ideas it is dealing with to make claims about the true state of some matter of fact or real existence. This is why experience or some broadly cause and effect type inference is needed to make such a claim; logic is inappropriate to make it. But whether or not two logically distinguishable (and thus logically distinct) states, may after all be the same existence or only involve a re-arrangement of continuing existences, is a matter of fact or real existence. To suppose that this possibility can be ruled out directly through mere logical analysis is going against not only a main tenet of empiricism, but also of Kantian philosophy. It may be that the justification for what remains within the sphere of logical inference is itself incoherent to maintain the self sufficient certainty deductive logic pretends to, but I can?t see that it can prove my possibility incoherent.

Following on from this point; It may be objected that two logically distinct states of an ?object? can?t actually be the same existence, because the object must have undergone a change in time for the two states to be logically distinguishable. But, although it seems natural to suppose that ?time? is something that underlies and is presupposed in order for any change to occur. And is therefore something that can be applied to any object, and its existence. A) This is not a view that can be supposed from an empirical point of view. From an empirical point of view ?our idea of time?, at least, must be subsequent to experienced changes, because there is no (impression or) idea of time, or duration, as it were on its own, like an impression of red. So when we forget ourselves, or have a dreamless sleep, we experience no time. B) It might be the case that objective time is constructed from the alterations objects undergo relative to one another in the universe and so it is not actually any dimension existing in itself that underlies such alterations.[xiii]

(Although I have already dealt with this objection to some extent.) Next it may perhaps be objected that the real crux of the matter, and of Hume?s analysis, is the question when faced with a property, ?How do we know that there is actually anything there?? If we undergo some experience, of touch, taste, sight, smell, or hearing then we know we have got that experience, which does exist, to that extent at least. But typically with a property it is noticed, or supposed, by what happens between, for instance, visible somewhats. We cannot actually directly notice anything that IS the existence of such a property; its ?being in itself?, if there is any such thing. (Hume, correctly, argues against the sense of touch providing us with such knowledge). So how do I know that there IS any such thing? But my answer to this is that I don?t know. This objection can be connected with a point Hume makes in the Enquiry. That ?no philosopher, who is rational and modest, has ever pretended to assign the ultimate cause of any natural operation, or to show distinctly the action of that power, which produces any single effect in the universe.? (page 30) I am not being so immodest. I am only trying to see how what happens in a situation could appear as resulting directly from those aspects (if you prefer to call them that) that are apparent in the situation. If it is to appear there is more reality to such a property this will have to be the result of our analysis of the situation of that property and understanding of how that occurrence could be causally produced, hopefully (again) from the contents of its situation. Obviously an infinite regress (or rather, an infinite process) beckons here, but such infinite regresses depend on us being found in exactly the same theoretical situation at each new stage. As with the infinite regress involved in imagining an edge to space discussed above, such an infinite regress can easily appear certain, even though it is not. Also there do at least seem to have been changes in the way physicists look at how objects react with one another, so that they have not simply been involved with an infinite number of gears within gears in their explorations and explanations of the workings of matter. Also it may be noted that although both biological generation and natural selection seem consistent with a world whose contents are only re-arranged, it is not clear that a re-arrangement is essential to natural selection appearing objectively self sufficient (a point I am ignoring for simplicity), so there may be more than one possibility for objective, self sufficient explanation, after all. This would again throw doubt on the claim that we must be involved in the above infinite regress, because there can be no other option than a (mechanical) re-arrangement at a lower level.

Next; It may be objected that it can?t be the case that what we see in a situation could itself produce what we see results as the situation develops. This is because film shows, where everyone must admit what follows is not produced by what is seen to proceed it in the film, are indistinguishable from what can be seen in real life. How can real life suppose something is really produced when there is nothing else observable in real life than what is observable in a film show? And when all the relations between objects in the film accurately reproduce the relations between indistinguishable objects in real life? This objection may profitably be connected with a second; On the supposition that we see things in themselves, as they are, we will be led to the conclusion that we are not actually seeing things in themselves. Therefore it is false that we are actually seeing things in themselves as they themselves produce one another. Therefore what I am supposing must be false. But my reply to this is that what makes the physical situation that I am supposing a coherent possibility in spite of the contradiction apparent in this second objection is the fact that the same effect may be produced in various ways, as is illustrated by the first objection. If we take as our example the picture produced on the viewing screen of a camcorder of an object or scene, as it is recording the scene; Through being linked in a particular way by a causal chain to the object being filmed the properties of that object are reproduced on the screen of the camcorder. So we can take what is produced upon the camcorder screen as those objects themselves. This ability of the camcorder screen to reproduce the relationships in its environment extends, to some extent at least, to being able to reproduce how the causal chain from an object being filmed is able to produce a picture of the filmed object, which is accurate to show its independently observable causal relations. But then this shows how it is possible such ?film? of an object can accurately be taken, instead, as the object being filmed, and show how such a filming of the object is a coherent possibility of that object seen independently of that filming of it. So, the extent to which the causal theory of perception  seems a coherent possibility, and how it does so, seems illustrated by our understanding of every camcorder, television and radio. The pictures on a camcorder or in a film may be objectively understood on my basis, but the wider experience of the situation will force us to understand how those pictures are produced in a way that is not dependent upon the constituents of the situation internal to the situation being depicted. Such trains of event as this, and the fact that one such state may be taken instead of the other although externally its train of events have to be understood as produced outside the contents of that train of events, may seem to make the situation complicated (But that shouldn?t over frighten philosophers), but does not seem to show it is incoherent.

To the consequential objection that the above position seems to make it possible that we are, or I am, being fooled on some, or every occasion, I agree that this does seem possible. But because it is possible we are being fooled, it does not follow that we are being fooled, or that it is impossible to correctly judge the true state of things by trying to understand your experience, and  what you can discover happens through this understanding of your experience. And this seems the most reasonable thing to do in attempting to judge my, or our, situation.

Perhaps it will be objected that whether or not my view of the causal relation should be seen as more fundamental than Hume?s to our normal attitudes towards reality, such an overall view of reality is ultimately proved impossible by Quantum mechanics. I do not know much about quantum mechanics but I must allow that it may show my view is ultimately physically unsustainable (which, to repeat, I don?t claim to know that it isn?t). But in that case a) this seems to be shown by scientific, rather than purely philosophical arguments; and b) it is supposed that you cannot have really understood quantum mechanics unless you find it shocking. I imagine that a similar sort of shock might be got from a good magicians trick; a feeling that ?this is impossible and just cannot happen?. While a philosophers supposition that there can be nothing intrinsically and truly objectively more or less understandable about some factual relationships above others may be good at promoting broadmindedness (although a narrow type of broadmindedness which is inclined to disregard some options merely because they might be a prejudice) since it can?t find any such relationship really puzzling or shocking, I doubt that it can accurately discover or point out what is and is not shocking in such cases.    


      It may be objected to Hume's constant conjunction theory that it is inconsistent with basic paradigm shifts which occur in the history of science. According to a constant conjunction view Aristotelian science, which supposed that the natural state of objects was at rest (and which in this respect mirrors the plain man?s opinion) should rest on the constant conjunction of objects in experience coming to rest upon the absence or removal of a force keeping them moving. But then it aught ALSO to be true that in post Galilean science (which is the acme of empiricism in opposition to Aristotle) there is a constant conjunction between the continued motion of objects and the absence of any force acting on them.[xiv] But these two supposed constant conjunctions directly contradict each other. How can our experience either be constant in both respects? Or else change so completely from one scientific paradigm to the other?

      The usual reply to this is that conjunctions will only appear constant from a particular point of view (which, arguably, still does not answer the second question). Thus the point of view is shown to be more fundamental than experienced conjunctions. And these points of view, or paradigms, can't be produced from constant conjunctions. It is generally supposed that there is no way of deriving these different general points of view from experience or objective facts (if there are any such) objectively considered.[xv] But they come about as the result of problems or tensions which gradually arise in our old point of view (Khun). Or else they consist in a series of guesses, which gradually (successively) have more empirical content, and which scientists use to test against experience (Popper). There may be several ways of attempting to solve this difficulty. But supposing that we can make sense of what happens in terms of the characteristics we can notice in a situation, we may find different characteristics, differently ordered when we look closely at a situation, to those apparent more casually,[xvi] and this may force us to revise our understanding of the situation. This would seem one way of attempting to avoid the difficulty, and is what I have been attempting to suppose may be possible, in spite of Hume.


In conclusion

      I suggest that the difference apparent between a scientific realists view of the world, and the apparently mentally (or linguistically, or homo centric) dependent world view of much philosophy results from the former trying to see how the contents of experience could form an independent world that is self sufficient to explain what happens in it, and how what we experience to occur could do so; While the later concentrates on how ?the mind? and its capacities could produce such a thing, or any of our views. But if the former appears self sufficient it can?t appear to need the later as its philosophical underpinning. So our understanding of such situations will not appear to be the product of the nature of ?our understanding?, but of our attempts to see how the contents of the situation could produce what occurs. Concentrating on the nature of ?our understanding? therefore pre-supposes something our attempts at understanding things are not concerned with, and if successful will not appear to depend upon, namely our own mental workings and apparatus. Consistently with this, how we suppose an objective world is by trying to avoid drawing conclusions beyond factors we find or suppose in it?-which naturally means such factors must exist in the gaps when we are not experiencing them--, not by trying to imagine objects as existing when we are not imagining them. So I suggest that ?the way the mind does it? is, ironically, by not being concerned with the way the mind does it, but with objective understanding conducted in the less obscure and more lively realm of experience as that can be pointed out and made obvious to any normally constituted adult.[xvii]

From Treastise, book 1 part 3 section 3

[ii]Treasise, book 1 part3 section 6

[iii] Kant thought that he would look at types of non analytical knowledge other than cause and effect to see if they were certain; if he found their certainty must arise in some other way than Hume supposed causal certainty to arise he might be able to apply this possibility back to the case of  causal certainty (necessity) (this seems to suggested to me by what he says in the Prolegomena). He also thought that since metaphysical judgements cannot be analytic judgements (a clue given to him by Hume?s analysis of cause and effect), if such judgements were to be possible at all they must depend on  the way, or what made possible, these (justified) non analytic judgements. But for them to be justified they must be i) synthetic; that is give knowledge that is greater than can be found by analysing the premises from which it was supposed to follow. ii) be known to be true. iii) this knowledge must be independent of experience, because Hume had shown that experience cannot give it this stamp of certainty (which I think Hume would dispute). This type of knowledge was called by him ?synthetic a-priori?, and he supposed that whether metaphysics is possible or not, and how far it may be possible, depends on the question how far this type of knowledge is possible, since metaphysics must consist in this type of knowledge.

[iv] According to Sebastian Gardener in Routledge?s ?Philosophy Guidbook to Kant and the Critique of Pure Reason? Kant also poses afresh the problem of how our knowledge and objects can conform to one another. But outside philosophy we don?t try to make our knowledge conform to objects, or notice how objects conform to our knowledge. We instead try to understand what is going on in a situation. In this way we don?t start with a separation of our knowledge from objects, and when we come to deal with how we can know objects it is done objectively and empirically (i.e. scientifically), not through subjective empirical or logical or metaphysical analysis.   We cannot be philosophically sure our knowledge is right it is true. But I will have to explain this more fully later on.

[v] But if these notions are at least invariable in humans A) this would argue against their depending upon our own constitution, because we vary in every respect, as is illustrated by natural selection, and such tails as the man who mistook his wife for his hat. So how in this case could we all of a sudden be invariable? Objective reality, on the other hand is found to be invariable. b) Supposing we think they are certain and dependent upon our own constitution, why should that make them certain? This begs the question, ?how do you know human beings are invariable in this respect?? or even ?how do you know that you and your experience are invariable in this respect? Answering this question will make us appeal to our experience and so our answer will be subject to Hume?s criticisms again. This seems similar to linguistic philosophers claiming we can justify logic by claiming we can be sure of the meaning of words through our knowledge of their usage, ?Well, why should that knowledge be particularly certain??. It seems assumed in both cases that if this knowledge depends on us we can be justified in our, supposed, certainty about it. But this overlooks the fact that the same question ?How do you know?? still applies. And we are not especially certain in the case of linguistic usage; if this does not appear so to logicians it would seem a case of the Platonic myth whereby we tend to sublimate the logic of our language. C) There is a suspicion with time that it is logically incoherent to suppose we could jump around the time order and, for instance, experience next week before this week, but if the time order is to be known synthetically a-priori how can it be logically impossible for it to be otherwise? For the order to be synthetic a-priori it must (it seems) i) be logically possible for it to be otherwise ii) be impossible as a matter of fact for it to be otherwise iii)but  be known as impossible for it to be otherwise not because it is found as a matter of fact to be impossible.  

[vi] There are two things that make it seem impossible to imagine an edge to space, and they combine to make it seem doubly impossible; 1) Normally when we see or imagine an edge to something we confirm the edge by looking beyond it. But we can?t do this with an edge to space because if we looked beyond our supposed edge we could only be looking to another space, which would contradict our previous supposition that the place before we looked beyond it was the edge. This part of the problem is solved by realising that, logically, you don?t have to look beyond that place you suppose is the edge; if it IS the edge (of space) then, logically, there is no ?beyond it?. 2) The second thing, or problem, that makes imagining an edge to space seem impossible, and so seems to rule out the previous solution, is that we never really make up our minds whether we think space is something or nothing. Empty space, usually speaking, is the acme of nothingness, consequently we are inclined to think that space is nothing, and then since there is nothing to have an edge too, an edge to space must be impossible. But this objection is really a muddle. Let us suppose that space is really nothing, in that case then ?it? (emphasising the inverted commas, because that word is not referring) doesn?t exist. But in that case you are contradicting yourself if you have any trouble about the existence of space, whether to infinity or not. Thus, if space is nothing it is true that you can?t have an edge to it, but only because ?it?, i.e. space, isn?t. On the other hand, let us admit that space is at least something. An argument for this, which just re-runs the previous point, might be; ?imagine two identical pairs of objects, one pair a foot apart, the other pair two feet apart. If there is nothing by which they differ, they must be exactly the same, but they are not. One pair is a foot apart and the other pair two feet apart.?  So let us suppose that space is at least something, so that it can exist, and that its existence has something to do with the way objects are kept apart. For instance, perhaps space might be or result from the existence of distance between objects. Now let us suppose that you are one of the outermost objects of the universe. Between you and all the other objects of the universe spatial distance will exist, but ?beyond? you there are no objects or distance apparent between you and them. So, so far there does not have to be any space ?beyond you?, or any beyond you. And you may be at the edge of space. To the objection, ?What is to stop me moving away from the rest of the universe?? it may be replied that perhaps you can move away from the rest of the universe, but this does not mean that you must move into a space that already exists outside, or beyond, you. It could mean just that more distance, more space, is created between you and the rest of the universe. This might even be testable, although very hypothetically,  because outermost objects of the universe, moving away from it, might produce an overall reduction in the energy apparent in the universe, beyond what might be expected from other causes. And this might be necessary in order to produce the existence of more space.

                It also should be noticed that this possibility of imagining an edge to space results from supposing it really is something existing in itself, this is exactly the position Kant thinks must lead to impossible contradictions or antimonies.

[vii] Hume thinks that causes must be contiguous to their effects both in time and space, which is not true of Newtonian gravitation, or as another example, of magnets. The difference between these cases and his idea of cause might be used by him to explain how these cases are found puzzling. But it has been fairly usual, subsequent to his analysis, to drop this requirement of his and suppose something such as; since cause and effect are not truly objective they are conventional ways of relating, or handling matters of fact. We are, therefore, free to relate matters of fact in any way we find convenient, even if this does not mean the matters of fact related are contiguous in time and space, or even that the cause must proceed the effect. For example A.J.Ayers book on Hume in the Past Masters series.

[viii] Corliss Swain read a paper, of which he was kind enough to send me a copy, to the Hume Society conference of 2003, which, I think, pre supposes this point in its discussion of the impossibility of objective causal necessity (unfortunately I?ve lost the paper at the moment) .

[ix] (Perhaps if this footnote is read after the following part of the main text which refers to Berkeley, trying to avoid drawing conclusions beyond  factors in a situation, and knowing independent objects, it may not seem quite so wild)  This is firstly because Archimedes is recognisably a mathematical physicist in the modern sense, although he pre-dates ?post Galilean culture? by two thousand years. Because at least three of his laws, that of the lever, pulleys and on floating bodies are pretty obviously balances and as such they involve a comparison of work done by two states as they  mutually undergo a change. It may not be pushing things too far to also find this involved in the Archimedean screw. The generalised notion of work also shades into that of energy (these are normally thought of as mathematical inventions or abstractions). And because there is a very attractive alternative interpretation to mine of what he did in these three areas, namely stated a mathematical law expressing the relationships involved in the balances, rather than expressed a mathematical law as a result of noticing the relationship between work done on both sides of the balance, which gives a basis for an objective explanation as to what happens, whereas a mere mathematical law blindly states a relationship that is found to hold as a matter of fact .

                An investigation of these issues would also involve the objective basis (in my opinion, but normally there would be thought an absence of one,) for the analogy involved between 1)apparently identical instances, 2) different instances of the same type e.g. two different weights being lifted by a lever 3) the objective basis, or status, of the analogy between e.g. the lever and the pulley. And so the questions of the nature of the induction and generality that may be involved.

Possible hint. If we take the very nice balance involved in floatation as our starting point;  The weight of an object that floats, must be equal to the weight that it raises of the medium it floats in, (but this is only true if these weights continue) because (objectively) a weight is a downward tendency, so it must be able to raise an object with a downward tendency less than its own (i.e. one that has less weight, or, without any other factors, its downward tendency would be shown not to be greater than at least that object after all ), but not one with more than its own, and will balance one equal to its own. In floatation density has to be taken account of, because a less dense object must have a greater volume for the same weight, a greater volume for a greater weight, a less weight for the same volume and a less weight for a less volume; So if 1 gram moves more than one gram in order for it to submerge because its volume is greater for the same downward tendency, its downward tendency has moved a greater amount of downward tendency. So the first downward tendency would be greater than itself, at least in this medium, and if that downward tendency is what causes the raising of the other downward tendency. But it can?t be greater than itself, if it continues and its continuation is what produces the effect. [the work done on both sides of the balance should be equal, if it?s a re-arrangement, so 1 gram moved three feet is equal to 3 grams moved 1 foot etc. This all sounds a-priori, but that is the philosophical muddle which supposes an attempt at objective explanation must be based on a subjective principle of the understanding. ]     

[x] These objections are from the Enquiry, section 4 part 1

[xi]  Richard Feynman makes fun of the sort of analogies that philosophers are fond of in ?Surely you are joking Mr Feynman?. He says that he thinks he could draw that sort of analogy between anything and anything else, and that they are of no value whatever.

[xii]  To anyone studying Hume I think this should clash directly with what he says in his chapter of the Treatise ?Of scepticism with regard to the senses? since this gives a different reason for supposing the continued and distinct existence of objects to any that he gives. It is a reason that is so pathetically obvious it is hard to credit if philosophers have not thought of it.  

[xiii] Both Berkeley and  Hume deny there is any idea of time in itself; Berkeley ?The principles of Human Knowledge? pars.  97 & 98; Hume in the Treatise book 1 ?SECT. III.  OF THE OTHER QUALITIES OF OUR IDEA OF SPACE AND TIME?. Hume also says in ?OF SCHEPTISISM WITH REGARD TO THE SENSES? "The same continu'd and uninterupted Being may, therefore, be sometimes present to the mind, and sometimes absent from it, without any real or essential change in the Being itself." (S.B.p.207) and that "The suposition of the continued existence of sensible objects or perceptions involves no contradiction." (S.B.p.208)


[xiv] A constant conjunction between objects needing something to keep them moving, in the first case, and not needing anything to keep them moving, in the second case.

[xv] Thus Paul Feyeraband in Against Method says that ?According to Hume, we can?t derive theories from facts.? Page 65

[xvi] For instance; casually, it appears that when objects aren?t pushed they tend to stop. This may be our normal, or constant, experience of objects, which inclines us to suppose this is a property that objects normally have.  Casually again, we will trace this property through our experience in particular situations in order to explain what happens in our experience of them by it. And this form of explanation can be carried on in the abstract without bothering to look particularly closely at any situation thus explained.  But looking at the situation more closely it appears that objects come to a stop more slowly the less force is exerted against their continuing motion by their environment (this is a constant, but not necessarily universal result of the examination of particular results or situations, and the factors within them that can be used to explain what happens), and in such a way that implies, in the ideal case, where there is no such contrary force there will be no reduction in their motion

We can understand a situation where an object comes to a stop in terms of a force that was apparently keeping it moving also having stopped. We can also understand an object coming to a stop by means of a force acting against its movement which thus makes it stop. The first explanation is often the more apparent in experience, but experimenting with the second can show how there is no need for a force to keep an object moving, if there is nothing to alter its motion and make it stop. It appears to me that both these explanations are based upon trying to see how what is experienced in the situation could produce what happens in it (as also is the supposition that constant experience can supply a sufficient explanation for our attitude to objects, which is supposed in the first part of the first explanation), contrary to the universal opinion of philosophers . The idealisation can also be based upon this sort of objective explanation, because if we can use the contents of a situation themselves to explain what occurs in it, we can imaginatively separate out, or select, some of these contents and consider them in isolation as to what they would produce together in such an isolated situation.

                The situation can also be understood in terms of ?doing the same thing?. Thus according to an inertial view unaltered motion in a straight line is doing the same thing, and so needs no explanation. But according to a pre-inertial view changing relative position is as good an observable change as anything could be, and so is what most should need explanation. Circlular motion has also been thought to be ?the same thing?, or perfect or ideal motion. This is, however, explanation on a different basis from the above, which according to me attempts to base itself on what is observable in the situation. These explanations, by contrast, depend on producing, or having a view about what ?the same thing? is and then describing the situation in terms of that view.   


Immanuel Kant critique of pure reason


David hume A treatise of Human nature

An Enquiry concerning human understanding


A brief history of time


Richard Fenman

Surely your joking mr fynman

Lectures in physics book 1






Paul fyeraban against method


Thomas khun

The structure of scientific revolutions

An argument for thought experiments




 [IS1]This next sentence is another objection muddled in here.

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