Re: [OPE-L] Re determinism in Derrida's ghosts

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sat Nov 12 2005 - 23:39:25 EST

>Rakesh wrote
>Yes, and I was  worried that the work of those good observations would
>be effaced if  non western cosmology dismissed as only astrology
>though the development
>of science was built on those observations. I am not altogether
>clear about how
>Newtonian theory should be understood as causal.
>Paul C
>The sense in which Newtonian theory, or indeed all mechanics should
>be considered causal is, I admit, not immediately obvious, because
>in general philosophy operates under a pre-scientific semi-subjectivist
>notion of causality.
>In the everyday philosophical and also ideological notion of causality
>there is the notion of temporal priority. Causes are considered as events
>in the past which are responsible for what happens now or in the future.
>Causality of this sort is not present in mechanics,

Does that mean any  conception of causality not present in mechanics
is semi subjectivist and prescientific? I don't see how you are supporting
this; nor do I see how you have made a case for redefining causality rather
than dispensing with it altogether as a primitive concept having its
origins in,,say, retribution or primitive cosmology.

>which gives
>you instead an isotropic determinism operating accross 4 dimensions.
>In mechanics there are constrained permited trajectories, but the
>constraints are time symetrical. So the state of a closed system at time
>T defined in terms of the positions and momenta of its particles,
>determines the positions and momenta of the particles at both times (T-1)
>and time (T+1). Thus in mechanics there is no unambiguous notion of
>cause preceeding effect, there is instead a consistent and ultimately
>trans-temporal determinism.

Perhaps a bit more caution about universalizing the conception of time and
cause implicit in one kind of science for a delimited domain? Or are we all
now positivists?

>This is not an inadequacy of mechanics from the standpoint of causality,
>but an inadequacy of subjectivist notions of causality from the standpoint
>of how the real world works.

The real world is not exhaustively theorized in mechanics.

>The notion of cause preceeding effect arises from the nature of human
>action. Seen from a subjective viewpoint it appears our actions
>cause subsequent events.

Why can't there be objective causality in human action.

>  Mechanics operates instead on the 'block world'
>model in which there is a 'frozen' four dimensional continuum of
>determination. It is as valid to consider the future determining
>the past as the past determining the future.

Well I'll have to read David Z Albert's book on thermodynamics.

>Paul originally wrote
>>But to
>>constitute a science you need an epistemological break from the prior
>>ideological explanations of the domain.
>>   A separation of the domain from
>>its projected social determinants and its recognition as an autonomous
>>material process.
>To which Rakesh replied
>But why should we allow science that self understanding? What happens
>if it is not so separated and autonomous?
>Paul C elaborates
>For a start it is not up to you, or anyone else to give philosophical
>permission for science to carry out such epistemological breaks,
>the claims of the Inquisition not-withstanding.

Yes this is what paranoid scientists say nowadays about social scrutiny of
their drug tests or their studies of genetic causes for everything.

>You seem to have misunderstood what I was saying about what characterises
>the epistemological break. It is the process in which a new self acting
>material process is discovered in an area that was once explained by
>ideology. The Darwinian revolution reveals an autonomous material
>process - evolution by natural selection - that causes the phenomena
>that had previously been explained in terms of divine will, or the
>great chain of being etc.

But how do we know that those ideological notions are not carried over in
important ways or that new ones (e.g. ideological beliefs
in progress, perfection, divine functionality, determinism) have not been
embedded in theories of this autonomous material process. This requires
a sociological study of science; to be sure, it is often carried out
by scientists themselves.

>The autonomy that I am talking about is
>not an autonomy of the human agents involved in this discovery - they
>are of course influenced the the ideologies that provide their neural
>'software'. No, I am talking about the material process that the
>science explores. Evolution goes on independently of human intentions,
>and indeed independently of the existence of the human species.
>Similarly, planetary and stellar motion goes on independently of
>the existence of humanity and accords no special place in the universe
>to the world on which we live, nor is it the result of the actions
>of gods - an imaginary projection of monarchs into the skies.
>In other words scientific astronomy replaces a notion of the
>skies as a reflection of human social roles with a recognition
>of it as an impersonal process.
>The class struggle and the supercession of modes of production took
>place independently of human knowledge of it.

But it does not take place independently of intentions, beliefs and will.

>  In all these cases
>what is autonomous is the material causal process. I am not
>making claims about scientific practice being autonomous.
>Current obstacles to the practice of theoretical biology in the
>USA are evidence enough for that.



>>Paul Cockshott
>>Dept Computing Science
>>University of Glasgow
>>0141 330 3125

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