Re: [OPE-L] Hume

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Fri Jan 21 2005 - 11:18:08 EST

It partly depends on the level of abstraction you use.

At the level of everyday experience we think of prior events
as causing future events. At a deeper level though due to the
symmetry of the laws of mechanics it is as valid to think of
future events constraining past ones, or past configurations
constraining future ones.

Another level at which one uses the notion cause is in
the sense of there being an underlying process. Thus
in Koch's hypothesis disease has an underlying process
that involves the existence of parasitic bacteria within
the body, so we would speak of bacteria as causing the 
disease. This relates to explanation, or the presentation
of more detailed models rather than to the notion of cause
as temporal evolution.

In the context that I raised in the post - Sraffa's theory,
this could be criticised as a-causal in the sense of being
a-temporal. There is some justification in saying that it
is an a-temporal theory and may be unreal in that it does
not have dynamical laws. But I don't think that per-se there
is anything wrong with exploring theories that involve
a temporal constraints. Provided that is that one 
recognises that the whole system operates as a whole.
If you relax one constraint you can not assume that the
others hold - for instance if the rate of profit
is not equal then what one can say about other things
may be more limited. 

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of
Sent: 21 January 2005 13:26
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Hume

> I would argue that what science does is not so
> much uncover causes but uncover symmetries and
> constraints.

Paul C,

Hasn't there been disagreement among scientists about this?

Doesn't the sciences of medicine, bacteriology, virology, etc.
often proceed by attempting to identify cause(s)?  Didn't e.g.
Louis Pasteur and  Marie Curie attempt to identify cause(s)?
It is the presence  of unexplained symmetries or asymmetries
or enigmas that often motivates scientific pursuits of  underlying
cause,  no?

While Marx uncovered symmetries and constraints, wasn't it
part of his project within the context of the reconstruction of
capitalism in thought to also identify causes?  One could,
for example, read Chapter One of Volume One of _Capital_
as an attempt to identify causes, no?

In solidarity, Jerry

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