Constant Dysjunction

Hume had it backwards. It’s not constant conjunction that allows us to believe in causation. It’s habitual (and necessary) disjunction.

We separate ball A from everything else. We separate ball B from everything else. If we don’t, we cannot discern “one ball hitting another”. Our bodies have evolved to do this, of course. We could not survive otherwise.

Constant disjunction dispatches with infinite regress of causation much more elegantly than does constant conjunction. For we are not “adding” Event A to Event B. We are subtracting everything we witness from those events. We are not amalgamating or combining - we are isolating. That’s just what a controlled experiment is.

It’s not a decision or an act of will. So there is no logical path to a God with any intention. It’s just what we do. We are determined by biology, but that doesn’t make the Universe itself determined. It’s not Physics - it’s just our physics.


Interesting, I’ve just recently started writing out some thoughts on the idea of dysjunction (in your words), because just thinking about it was getting too confusing.

I like this idea, but… We separate out chunks of the world on pragmatic grounds - that bit is all stuck together and moves as one piece, that bit I can swim in or drown in, that bit can eat me. Babies and small kids spend a lot of time working it all out. But how do they do this without the causal structure? It’s precisely causality (and induction) that shapes our dysjunctive habits, no?

Physics is a normative science? :slight_smile:

you see the events. in order to subtract, it has to first occur and be labeled or quantified…

physics is another human categorization…


What if the subtractions occurred at a subconscious level, before presentation to the conscious (and language-using) mind…?

subtraction is a (mathematical) conscious event


Nah - when it comes to events, it’s called ignoral - if that’s a word, or perhaps simply a narrowing of focus.

like an epoche?

a string of infinitesimal, non logically related events?


No, simply an organic way of dealing with infinite sources of information usefully by finite means.

Hey there, Faust.

First what I know I agree with:

An important point (and nicely said)!
Though the “illusion” of “free-will”
(an experience one could describe as “oh no A is not good choice, better I choose B”)
isn’t a stupid/impractical/dangerous/etc. experience to have (nor avoidable, in my opinion, though the mind may then interpret it as I am now),
I can’t think of a good reason to think of it as anything more than (what i guess you can call) a “virtual artifact”, or a “shadow” (no Jung intended) resulting from (among a variety of causes going all the way back to… whatever) a bunch of neurons of a kind of (varying) form and “potential” that, arranged and “firing” a certain way has led to Homo Sapiens moving around in such a way that they were able to live long enough to procreate enough to not go extinct.

Not only do I not know of a decent argument for free-will, but I can’t even think of a good argument for the mind having any affect on the body at all.

But okay, now to the rest of your post… which I am not sure of (not sure of what i think you are saying).

First, I have not read any of Hume’s works; I just have a basic idea (of the “gist”) of (in terms of a history of philosophy) “his” key thoughts.

I am not confident I understand what you mean by conjunction and disjunction here.

Possible definitions at my disposal (meaning, I can only make sense of your quote in light of one or some combination of these):

conjunction - conjoin, overlapping, together, combination, passing/meeting (within some common single “thing”), concurrence, “and” (as in A and B)

disjunction - separation, disunion, “or” (A or B)

Was Hume’s use of “conjunction”
(that is “constant”/necessary to believe causation)
at odds with (/excluding) disjunctions, as you explained it above?

I would think he is just saying that a sense of causation involves/requires (at least) some A and B…

Doesn’t his statement about what is required to “see”/experience/believe/etc. causation
–which is that some A occurs (and can only “occur”) because of some not A, and requires at least two distinct things–
include disjunctions (as I interpret your use of the word),
by the very definition of causation?

Again, I’m only going by what you wrote in the OP (about what he wrote), but I am interpreting “constant conjunction” only in light of an experience of “understood” causation–that “seeing” that A causes B requires an A and B (which are two distinct things, but both necessary for the “insight” of causation).

What am I missing?

Humean -

From the outset, note that what I have given is a perspectivist rendering. I don’t know if that helps, but it might, down the line, if there is a “down the line”. For now, I may need to say that my claim is a partial, or nonexclusive one. It is, in part at least, not contradictory of Imp’s (I scanned) - in fact, Imp’s claims are similar to claims I usually, and still can, make.

They don’t. What they are doing is the causal structure.

It’s biology. Our senses, our central nervous system, processes the world in your “chunks”. And in three + one dimensions.

Firstly, time is neither an object nor an event - it’s a measurement of measurements - it’s a measurement of the “first” three dimensions.

Secondly - objects are events. (Ball A is an event, even just sitting there). It’s only when we treat it as an object that we can see what we call causation. “Objects” - the discernment of objects, which we have little choice about, “freeze” time - it’s the conceptual transformation of an event into an object - but all objects are events. Nothing lasts forever.

Who is to say where one event stops and the other begins? At bottom, it’s all really just one big event.

Who is to say where one object ends and the other begins? We think of objects being separated by space - a three-dimensional matrix.

But as events, they are separated by time.

Neither is real. The four dimensions are not “real”. They measure that which is (assumed to be, yes) real.

Put another way - it’s a matter of focus. Just like a microscope. Event/object. Take your pick. Calling any phenomenon A an object conceptually “extracts” the event A from time. It ignores time. Which we do at our peril. But which also has its uses.

We regularly do this when we cannot discern any change in that object/event, for time is merely the measurement of change in the three spatial dimensions. But we can also stubbornly adhere to “object A” even when there is discernible change. Because we may find it useful to ignore certain changes. Some changes, of course, we simply cannot sense. In fact, if our sense were complete and very much more powerful, we would not talk much about objects at all, I think.

You know those baleen whales that swim through a sea of roiling krill to feed? I wonder if they see food as an object or as more of an event. Both they and the food must move. Surely they don’t count each krill, or even perceive each krill.

So, event A causes event B. The “objects” (the balls) are incidental. Hume was looking for a causal mechanism between these objects. Or behind them. Somewhere.

The causation wasn’t just any where. They were at a when.

Causation is not a thing.

Just as tie is a measurement of other measurements, causation is a calculation of other calculations.

All science is normative.

Imp - I don’t disagree, and I think you know I often take the same tack. But language is made possible by our bodies = by our brain structure, fer instance.

My claim is that we “label” before we name. Not literally, of course, but even a worm “labels” food from non-food. The worm’s labeling" is wholly sensual, but, at bottom, so is ours.

But we see everything else, as well. We have to subtract a lot to pick out “an event”.

Anything we call an event, we must separate from everything else. We never see “an event” in isolation, nor can we ever see the whole of any event.

Tab -

Yeah, they do. if we were conscious of everything we perceive, our heads would probably explode. Anyone here ever drop any acid?



I think I’m following you on this, but I want to make sure.

Let’s say I want to look at a pool shot at a certain bar, we’ll call it Faust’s Tavern, as an event.

First, I have the Universe. (Which I can’t perceive all of)

I’ll knock that down to the Earth, even though the Earth is a small…sub-event in the one (and only) event, the Universe. In any case, I can’t perceive of the entire Earth.

I’ll knock the Earth down to the U.S., that down to Maine, that down to the town in which Faust’s tavern is located and finally to the pool room in Faust’s Tavern.

Now, I can actually perceive most of what is in the pool room. We’ve got walls, people, maybe a jukebox, a few pool tables, some cues and some balls.

I’m watching my opponent hit the cue ball into the seven-ball into the nine-ball of the rack-side right corner pocket, and I am calling this an event. It is not actually an event of itself, though, no more than the pool game is an event. From there, the pool room is an event, our lives’ are events, all the way back up to the Universe.

But, the whole Universe is actually just one, “Big,” event. If I want to I create an event by looking at a couple things and subtracting (which is more like disregarding) everything else except those things I want to be involved in the event and the timeframe (from my perspective) in which the event takes place.

Is that pretty much it?

Matthatter - I’m not really beating up on Hume, here. I’m just trying to get Imp going. He’s pretty much seen it all before when it comes to Hume, so you have to be a little creative to get him involved, these days.

You’re definitions work just fine. Just remember that perspectivism, even sneaky perspectivism like mine sometimes uses a term with slightly differing meaning in slightly different contexts. But I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it.

Well, look. Subtraction is just addition reversed. I’m just trying to get everyone’s attention and make a point.

I don’t know if what i have posted above helps or hurts. Let me know.

Pav -

I’m not sure, either. I’m absofuckinlutely blasted.

It’s very human of you to stop at this point.

You actually perceive very little of what’s in the pool room. I think that, and so do you.


Still some very human prejudices - prejudices that we both share, of course.

Yep. In this light, a pool shot is not a miracle, explainable on by a First Cause, which was Hume’s point.

Yeah. My point is that “Event - water freezing” is a calculation. In effect, a measurement of a measurement of a measurement.

If dysjunction is not some act of will or decision then it’s not a controlled mental process. Yet in his skeptical analysis he specifically questions the phenomena of causation which he concludes is a mental process that comes from habit which is both conditioned and controlled.

Further I grant that we do have a “constant dysjunction” (where we classify our surroundings and empirical experiences) but that does not necessarily rule out the constant conjunction. Once things have been broken up, our minds do not just leave them scattered. We put things together, thus Hume points to our mistake in putting it together which is where his skepticism and theory lies, not in breaking things apart.

Maybe it’s just me, but i never saw a mental process that was all that controlled. One wonders just who or what might be controlling it. I find that creepy, and so did Hume.

I’m not sure he went that far. Controlled by what, again?

Yeah, as I have said. I agree.

I think Hume left a few things out.

At your best, in other words! Which is awesome, because your worst is still pretty damn good.

That’s true, that I think that.


I understand, I think. If everything is all part of one event (The Universe) then there is no first cause because the Universe (including everything therewithin) is not an effect, it just is.

I was wondering about whether it would be, “Subtracting,” or, “Disregarding,” though. My argument for disregarding is that I am not actually taking away (subtracting) everything else in the pool room, nor am I even denying that it is there. I understand that everything to do with the pool room, and by extension, the Universe, is necessary for the shot to even take place at all. I am disregarding all of these other things, though, to focus in on the shot and make the shot easier for me to comprehend.

Or, would you still say it is subtracting? If so, why?

Sure. Either way. I was trying to go with the play on words, on “conjunction”. And I was heading for “calculation.”

It’s perspectivism. Choose an abstraction/metaphor and run with it.