Constant Dysjunction

Okay, but was the OP still an attempt to point out what you think is an error in something Hume meant? Or just throwing out an argument (that don’t really even think applies to what Hume meant) for the sake of seeing how people respond?

Well sure, of course I understand that–after all my post emphasized that I didn’t see what you wrote as an argument against what he meant because I thought you started with a meaning of conjunction contrary to what he meant when he used it.

No definitions I wrote were “mine”… they were attempts to make sense of the words as they applied to perspectives of this discussion.

But what is that point? That words have ambiguous meanings and you can utilize that understanding to playfully refute a claim that the person didn’t actually make?

I mean… responding to what I said with “subtraction is just addition reversed” seems no different then:

Person A: To count from 4 to 5 involves and requires thinking about 4 and 5 at once.
Person B: “And” huh? Look, if you have 4 and you have 5 at once then you have 9. Instead you have to subtract to count from 4 to 5, because 5 minus 4 = 1. You see? 4 + 1 = 5.
Person A: Well, when I said counting from 4 to 5 involved and required thinking of 4 and 5 at once I wasn’t equating 4 and 5… of course they are distinct and that is involved in the process; that’s clear by the fact that counting from 4 to 5 requires that distinction (1) in the first place.
Person B: Yeah but addition is the reverse of subtraction, and 5 - 4 = 1, and counting from 4 to 5 requires 1. You cannot deny this, so your claim that counting from 4 to 5 requires thinking about 4 AND 5 at once is backwards.

Not much of a difference, really. Maybe you just made a clever joke-OP for laughs and I just didn’t get that?

Ah okey dokey, just for fun then.

I wouldn’t really call what you did “perspectivism” though, as much as something that an understanding of perspectivism enables.

Of course, your claim that “it’s perspectivism” could have just been another perspective(ism).

On a basis of intuition i would have to agree with you Faust.

The quickest way to many solutions is to subtract the impossible and everything which does not compute, and by doing so narrow down and zero in on the proper perception or solution.

Would i be correct to say that our learning process is bottom up?

Top down processing tends to come in later when we have already labeled everything, and can obviously be hazardous to critical thought.

not at all… an event is an event in all its description and background…

the question becomes what you cut away, how you “bracket”, how you find the thing-in-itself…

using the scalpel of “science” or dogma with the hope of discovering the metaphysical “underlying truth” of the event…

that is the perspective…



No, not just for fun. But there is more than one nomenclature that can work, is all.

I don’t see a difference. Doing science is doing something that an understanding of science enables.

It’s a perspective on the problem Hume tackled.

My point is as I stated. That Hume’s analysis isn’t complete.

Hume was debunking First Cause. I’m cool with that. I just have something to say about causation that he didn’t.

Neither Hume nor I think that the evidence supports causation as necessary. But we think this for different reasons.

It’s a good place for me to start reading and thinking further, anyway - thanks.

Just as we notice, filter, rely on our (postprocessed) perception of patterns in space, we rely on patterns in time too; “causality” is a regular patterning of sequential “events”. If one perceives a certain pattern in the event, one expects a certain follow-up to the pattern following it through time. And one is very usually right.

Not to argue for the independent causality Hume argues against, as a ‘thing’, as that is a result of ‘freezing’ things into timeless objects, agreed. But without the regularity of the conjunction, we have no pragmatic grounds to carve up reality at all. If try to pick up the cup on my desk and it takes the desktop with it one time, another time leaving the bottom half sitting there while the top half comes with my hand, I have no reason to think of it as a cup, as a unit.

I’m going to take that second paragraph of yours away with me and chew on it for a while. I think I like it.

This is what got me thinking in the first place. What I think of as me is perpetually taking in things that I think of as not-me, assimilating and expelling… sort of Heraclitus’ river.

We still talk of clouds, streams, and so on - they split, merge, reform, shapeshift. I suspect universals are so useful in cutting down the processing that we’re stuck with them - more sensory input would only make it worse, what we need is more processing power.

Imp -

I am claiming that labeling is an analog of, made possible by, and made necessary by the way in which our senses and central nervous system operates. Not something inherent to the world at large. It becomes habitual because we have no choice - not because “that’s the way the world is” but because that’s the way we are.

So, we have no choice, but that’s not due to a determined universe, but to a particular biology - one that is not unique to us in every way, but that we’re stuck with. We could evolve into a different being, with different biology. That could trash a lot of science. Because science is not about what “is”, but about what we do.

I am drawing out some of the ramifications of Hume - making a case against determinism, by moving the seat of determinism.

Once we get behind the billiard balls, we get to the agent - the pool shooter. Hume was a lot more worried about him than about the balls. What causes him to strike the ball with the cue stick?

I once said I would draw a line from Hume to Nietzsche to Russell to Ayer. Ayer is a minor player, here, but do you see the connection between Hume, Nietzsche and Russell’s analysis of language here? Bring in Russell’s idea of object-language. Or use Frege instead.

I understand the line from hume to nietzsche

but I don’t see how you get to russell from hume… and nietzsche put less value in language than russell did… nietzsche knew that language was a human construction and that it had metaphysical worthlessness…

“we still believe in god because we believe in language” -nietzsche

russell was along the line of the early wittgenstein

russell thought his new logic and language could find the “true nature” of the world…


Hello Faust.
You responded to Humean with this, and I wanted to say a few things about this response:

— Secondly - objects are events.
O- Phenomenal events, yes.

— (Ball A is an event, even just sitting there).
O- It is an event and whatever it is doing is an event, phenomenal events, events that can be sensed and converted into chemical reactions in the brain.

— It’s only when we treat it as an object that we can see what we call causation.
O- We sense “individual” or “dysjointed” events (by the way I agree with what you were saying, though through a different philosophy I am sure. Sensation or the way in which we as finite beings sense induces a rejoining of events through causality. A solid rock pebble is a unit to us, a single “event” or object. Technically we could divide it into pieces, but we do not under normal apprehension. So we do not induct a causal chain for this pebble. If reality came to us as such unity, then we would not have causality. However, the disjointed character of finite experience creates separate events that can and are combined.

— Who is to say where one event stops and the other begins? At bottom, it’s all really just one big event.
O- “Who”? Any given “who”. We are all bound to sense something, which is to discern an event, an object. Whether the object has a different beginning or ending than what we preceive is irrelevant because it takes a “who” anyway to decide, to measure, to refine what is in essensse another objectification.

— 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.
O- I disagree in this sense: Times enters only after we find things/objects. We do not lift or extract objects from time, but place it in time, inject it in time. Time is a measurement of change, or rate of change, but if there is no object that could change that could be sensed to changed, measured to change then we would not have time. The duration of time itself is immesurable. And it is not “calling” a phenomenon “A” that does the trick and begins the chronometer; rather the perception of self, the ultimate “object A”, creates the sense of time. Our senses then pick up external ojects, for the most part, but we also have a consciousness that senses time. It is then that sensing itself becomes a verb, something “happening” to “me”. The process of sensing divides reality itself into finite phenomenal events or “objects”, but the idea of self, of time, creates the necessity to reunite these distinctive events. With the loss of self comes also the loss of time, of unity and causality.

Noam took this much further.

But, touche.

Try making solipsism a habit. Try not making causality a habit.

Within a limited range.

All I’m doing is putting the idea of “human” in motion. Something sticks to us as w slide along the spectrum of evolution. We are like the Sphinx bug in Poe’s story. From one focus, we look like we’re free to roam. From another, we are confined to a single strand of our web. That web is the matrix we need to function.

It’s our game.

I’ll have to respond to this later, because it goes to the heart of my thesis, which is that Nietzsche drew out the ramifications of Hume, and how he did that. Which directly addresses your point.

Also this. You get to Russell through Nietzsche, of all ways. Russell would be pissed if he knew. Probably not until tonight can I respond to this (I’m at work).

But the nut of it is - Hume destroyed epistemology. Nietzsche showed us what that meant for metaphysics, ontology, language. Russell failed to discover the true nature of the world, but went a long way in explicating the nature of language (with help from Frege and even Wittgy.) Russell didn;t know it, but language was all that Philosophy had left, after Hume and Nietzsche were done with it.

I can’t find anything worthwhile to disagree with you about, Faust - sorry.

However, I am intrigued to see you trace the route from Nietzsche to Russell, because I feel like I’ve been waiting for you to get round to something like that since I stumbled into this corner of cyberspace.

Thanks for trying, though. Maybe next time.

I take Hume as being essentially correct, of course. But his thinking has been seen as the dead end that it is, but much less often the beginning that it also is. After this post, I will twist one up and spill my guts.

I actually do it all the time. I have self-consciously done it several times. I’ll get to it in a minute.

Omar -

When you can say what I’m saying, but more concisely, i have a real problem. But you just did.


Y’okay. I can buy that. I’m really just interpreting Hume in light of Einstein, and talking about objects the same way. The salient point being that time really is the fourth dimension, and by this time (no pun intended) we can speak of objects as occurring in four dimensions. Not just that they do - but we can truly speak that way. If we want to.

matty - epistemology is the study of knowledge and how we may acquire it. Now, I’m going to use a fairly narrow definition of “knowledge”, because it’s this usage that epistemology has traditionally addressed. It’s what we usually call propositional knowledge.

“The objective of the analysis of knowledge is to state the conditions that are individually necessary and jointly sufficient for propositional knowledge: knowledge that such-and-such is the case. Propositional knowledge must be distinguished from two other kinds of knowledge that fall outside the scope of the analysis: knowing a place or a person, and knowing how to do something.”

That’s from the SEP:

My claim is that Hume made this definition useless, thereby making epistemology just as useless to all but the metaphysician. The relation “necessary and sufficient” can connote causality, but it doesn’t always. If we remove the possibility of causation, we are left with what logicians call material implication. There is no way to include causation in material implication in every case - we can use implication, and we do, regularly. But we cannot include the idea of causation in it. The idea that necessary and sufficient conditions cannot be arrived at with certainty in all cases where implication can be shown had its modern start with Hume.

I can’t find a really good online, concise reference for this, but maybe this, also from the SEP, will do:

From the first paragraph: “Cockneys, according to the traditional definition, are all and only those born within the sound of the Bow Bells. Hence birth within the specified area is both a necessary and a sufficient condition for being a Cockney.”

We don’t say that this condition causes anyone to be a Cockney, however.

I skipped Nietzsche. His tack was a little different - what he concentrated on was psychological truth. In Hume’s wake, that’s all we had left. Causation was a psychological truth (that is, a result of human biology - a biology that we can’t escape). Which removed truth from the Universe-at-large, and surely from metaphysics - from Cartesianism. It was now an aspect of the physical (brain) parameters that define us, but not of physical laws that control the Universe.

The ramifications of this discovery were first explicated by Frege and Russell. Despite Russell’s search for truth, he still began, like Wittgy did, with objects of experience - he also reached back, not to Plato or Descartes, but to Hume and Locke. This led him to his first analysis of language. Which was at every turn part of his logic.

Nietzsche examined not what “is” - not the ontological (and therefore epistemological) content of our thinking, but what we say. Truth and lie was examined in the extramoral sense, not the epistemic sense. Epistemology wasn’t considered. Our propositions themselves were. But Russell did this very same thing. He, with Frege, examined our propositions. They (Russell/Frege) reduced logic to mathematics. There was no search for epistemic truth - no connection between mathematics and metaphysics, no thought given to physical laws. Logic was no longer in pursuit of truth about the world.

This was, of course, taken to an extreme by Ayer et al. But the connection between Ayer and Russell and between Ayer and Hume is well known and not controversial.

In all, these thinkers played the major role in the subtraction from philosophy epistemology, ontology and metaphysics. That is the connection they share. There would be a Nietzsche without Hume, but I don’t think there would be a frege or a Russell, and so certainly not an Ayer. While Nietzsche is a bit of an odd man out, his contribution was seminal to students such as myself, if not to Russell. Nietzsche took up Hume’s thinking before Russell did, and filled in some blanks in doing so. N was the first thinker to explore the ramifications of Hume’s work in any exhaustive way. Russell (cum Frege) was the second - Russell inherited different gifts from Hume than did Nietzsche, but they were both in the will.


I’ve spent the last day or so thinking about this thing, and I only have one loose end that I want to try to wrap up.

What about elementary particles? I understand that scientists once thought that an atom could not be broken down and that was proven wrong when it was shown that an atom contains a nucleus and can be broken down into particles. Even with that being the case, to the best of the knowledge, experience and study available to us an elementary particle cannot be broken down. They are irreducible and indivisble, as far as we know.

If we assume we are correct about elementary particles, given their irreducibility, would it not be those that cause the Universe and everything therewithin? Or, would the argument essentially go that something cannot cause a thing that it itself is a part of?

I’ve tried to come up with an example of something causing a thing that it iself is a part of, and I have one. The problem is, if we are looking at the Universe as all one event, then nothing is caused. Therefore, my example would be completely without merit for that reason.

and the monads keep marching


Thanks for that Faust, some thought-provoking stuff in there. I don’t doubt you’ve probably said it all before, I just probably wasn’t paying attention at the time.

Couple of clarification questions.

First, would I be on the right track to suggest that “necessary” and “sufficient” are merely “conditions of possibility” (and we certainly don’t want to follow that little cul-de-sac!) - weak “causes” - and that the proper objects of philosophical study should be “events”, or are you thoroughly unconcerned with proper objects of study?

Second, would you agree that the difference between Nietzsche and Russell is that the former’s philosophy was more concerned with real lives (I’m a bit concerned about that formulation, but sod it), which would explain the strange disconnection between the latter’s logic and his politics (or do you disagree that there was one)?

Also, is there anything of Russell’s I could read - bearing in mind my poor understanding of analytical philosophy - that would help here?

I apologise for that.

Well, you said it, not me. Atoms were indivisible, and now particles are. There are upper and lower limits to the scale of our senses, and I think it would be fair to guess that there are similar limits to science. Elementary particles may be one of those limits, but they may not. The speed of light was once thought to be a limit. Now, those people who study such things aren’t so sure.

Either way, we can’t see an elementary particle nor travel at the speed of light. Even if we could…

How do we get to a cause here? I’m not following.

It would not be the causation that Hume was addressing - that’s for sure. And we must keep in mind that Hume was only addressing causation in a vaguely Newtonian sense. Which means, among other things and depending on the context, on a human scale. Theoretical physics doesn’t truly utilise this conception of causation.

I think we can view events in several ways. Only some of those ways allow for causation.

I am always very concerned with the proper objects of study. It’s one way of stating the mission of philosophy.

Weak causes don’t (um, sorry - “didn’t”) scare Hume. He was after God. Nietzsche was after God. Russell (God knows) was after God.

The proper “objects” of philosophy are claims. Claims about events. That’s the result of Hume → Nietzsche → Russell.

And it’s really what Ayer’s and the other LP’s contribution was. These latter did take it to an extreme. But Hume, Nietzsche and Russell all had moral ideas that differed radically from their contemporaries. In Russell’s case, they were just plain wacky, but the point holds.

Hume jettisoned God and Nietzsche tossed out morality. The Great Question, the true starting point for every philosopher, was settled as a matter of logic . What was left for logic? Russell addressed this. It turned out to be language.

I’ll let you off with a warning this time.

That’s a good point. What Perspectivism doesn’t cover in this case, Logical Positivism does.

Because they would come together to form atoms, and those atoms come together to form (I think) molecules if I am remembering right. Anyway, they themselves would be uncaused (at least as far as we know) yet they would come together to give direct or indirect cause to everything else.

That’s true, but Hume didn’t even have the concept of an elemental particle to work with, either. Would things be different if he had? Basically, we have a concept of Theoretical Physics, and then we have a concept of some actual Physics that Hume may not have had, either. What do you think Hume would have made of Elemental Particles?

That’s true, but within the context of your OP we are assuming no causation, so whatever point I may have had would be invalid anyway. I suppose I could take my idea and start a thread with it, but I’m only loosely a participant in this thread and really shouldn’t make my own thread about it because I don’t understand enough about Physics, Theoretical Physics, or Science at this point to do so.

Thank you. Can I go to ILO and bitch about you, then?

Well, considerations of causation would focus not on that they come together but why they do. Which reminds me that I have to start a thread on “how v. why”. Or maybe I’ll do it here for life support of this thread. But the idea of an uncaused cause itself is perfectly plausible - except to those who would use science to prove God.

That’s another can of worms, but yes, they would. Hume was reacting to Newton and the Mechanists.

Theoretical physics supports his conclusion, but would have changed the case he made for it.

Aww, go ahead. Make it up as you go along. That’s what I do.

In fact, just plunk it down here. This is not going to be a very popular thread. Most of the posters who have interest in such things have weighed in.