Notices
Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: What about Occasionalism?

  1. #1 What about Occasionalism? 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    88
    Hello!

    Some philosophers held that physical object lacks causal power and couldn't not interact with itself or with other things, that's the philosophic theory of Occasionalism .
    So, accordingly, each time water becomes vapour after heated it, each time a ball is shoot, one mustn't conclude there is a causal relation. there is only an illusion of interaction, in fact God influence them each time.

    Their argument is the following:
    (1) If X is an efficient cause, then neccesarly it cannot fail to cause something
    (2)But it's concievable from a priori reasoning that physical objects may fail to cause anything.
    (3)Then physical objects aren't necessarly causally efficient.
    (4)Consequently, God has to intervene regularly and orderly in the Universe so that any physical interaction can exist.


    What do you think of this metaphysics?


    Last edited by termina; October 11th, 2011 at 02:01 PM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  

    Related Discussions:

       

    • #2  
      WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 2007
      Location
      Cardiff, Wales
      Posts
      5,810
      must be a busy god, having to influence everything all the time


      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
      Reply With Quote  
       

    • #3  
      Forum Bachelors Degree
      Join Date
      Aug 2010
      Location
      UK
      Posts
      482
      Quote Originally Posted by termina View Post
      Their argument is the following:
      (1) If X is an efficient cause, then neccesarly it cannot fail to cause something
      Do you mean sufficient? If so the statement is simply a tautology, you could start straight at point 2. If you meant efficient, what exactly do you mean?

      Quote Originally Posted by termina View Post
      (2)But it's concievable from a priori reasoning that physical objects may fail to cause anything.
      I don't see how. Could you demonstrate the a priori reasoning?

      Quote Originally Posted by termina View Post
      (3)Then physical objects aren't necessarly causally efficient.
      (4)Consequently, God has to intervene regularly and orderly in the Universe so that any physical interaction can exist.
      I'll reserve judgement until point 2 has been clarified.


      Quote Originally Posted by termina View Post
      What do you think of this metaphysics?
      In general a universe in which absolutely every cause is influenced by god(s) would be indistinguishable from a universe in which causality is sufficient to cause effects. Being indistinguishable there is no point investing any time looking for or thinking about such a god(s). If we have a god(s) who intervenes only on occasion the situation becomes even more untenable as the predictive powers of science would not have been able to manifest.
      The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

      Fancy a game of chess?
      http://www.itsyourturn.com/
      Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
      Reply With Quote  
       

    • #4  
      Forum Freshman
      Join Date
      Oct 2011
      Posts
      13
      Quote Originally Posted by Prometheus View Post
      In general a universe in which absolutely every cause is influenced by god(s) would be indistinguishable from a universe in which causality is sufficient to cause effects. Being indistinguishable there is no point investing any time looking for or thinking about such a god(s). If we have a god(s) who intervenes only on occasion the situation becomes even more untenable as the predictive powers of science would not have been able to manifest.
      Not influenced, but God defined as the absolute immediate cause of everything that appears to us as the fixed relationships between things and change. In medieval terms: that there are no secondary causes at all. This has essentially been the most prolific philosophy in the Islamic world for nearly one thousand years, since Al-Ghazali, but is also implied throughout the Koran and other Islamic sources. The concept of secondary causes is generally considered a heresy in Islam. To a Muslim, therefore, science literally is the study of the will of God, as would be self-reflection.

      You are correct when you say that such a universe would be indistinguishable from a universe in which the rules governing the relationship between all existing things, perhaps including existence itself, were fixed by eternally true brute facts, and not the will of a living God. It is really a matter of how you define the power of causality, which in itself signifies only existence and change, but nothing else. It is a mystery beyond the scope of the human intellect, hence it is a metaphysical issue - "causality" or "necessity" are somewhat meaningless terms, or rather, terms that denote mystery. However, if the universe is created, it is no obstacle to science if God occasionally intervenes. That would constitute a miracle, which by its rareness, would not generally affect the work of science, since most of the universe would continue operating as normal.
      Reply With Quote  
       

    • #5  
      Forum Bachelors Degree
      Join Date
      Aug 2010
      Location
      UK
      Posts
      482
      It's interesting to get an Islamic perspective on what is a predominantly Christian versus atheist sub-forum. Just to clarify the first paragraph; you mean to say that there was only one cause (God) from which all else flows? No secondary causes - it would be interesting to learn then of the role of free-will in Islam, but perhaps that should be kept for another discussion.

      I would agree that a god(s) intervening only occasionally might be acceptable, though what would constitute occasional might be tricky (though would this not be a secondary cause?). However, if there were such miracles, violations of the natural laws initially set out, we would be able to observe them. I do not wish to get into a discussion about whether miracles exist and their definition: neither camp will budge in such fruitless dialogues. Suffice it to say a world in which miracles occur would be noticeably different to a world without.

      Metaphysics is redundant now we have the scientific method. Whether some being set out the fundamental laws of the universe, or some other process was involved, is irrelevant to the discovery of those laws.
      The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas - Tao Te Ching

      Fancy a game of chess?
      http://www.itsyourturn.com/
      Challenge me, Delphi, and join the Pythian games.
      Reply With Quote  
       

    • #6  
      Forum Freshman
      Join Date
      Oct 2011
      Posts
      13
      Yes, Islamic teaching says there is only one cause (God) from which all else flows, and absolutely no secondary causes. But for clarity, it is best not to look at it temporally, like a sort of deism, as if God just set a determined course in motion. Rather, every thing in existence, including even thought itself, exists and acts in relationships to other things because of the direct arbitrary will of God, immediately and constantly from our perspective. Thus, Islam discourages talk of miracles because every thing is considered a perpetual miracle (without exaggeration), and no unusual phenomena are considered to be essentially any different than ordinary phenomena. However, Islam also discourages talk of Reason for the same reason. That is, all thoughts are also directly willed by God, so Reason is not regarded as a separate power or light shining on a separate world, but all experience and knowledge (and non-experience and error too) is the direct manifestation of God's will. Thus, also, Islam rejects the concept of free will. There need not be any further discussion on the matter because it is not a contentious issue in Islam, and I am just pointing it out for the discussion on occasionalism, which, though it is a European and generally Protestant school of thought, may have been originally introduced to Europe by Islam, in reaction against the Catholic dogmas of free will and secondary causation.

      Islam means submission to the idea that only God constantly sustains and controls absolutely everything; and yes, submission to or rejection of that idea is also, therefore, the direct will of God. For this reason, Islam is compatible with any strict determinism, but goes one step further. It does not look at causation as set rules governing pre-existing matter that moves in succession from a temporal first cause of motion. That would imply that matter exists by its own power, like the deistic understanding. Rather, in Islam, every moment and all existing things and all their changes are conceived of as perpetually new creations instantaneously willed by God, connected only by his active power. You could look at like this: every thing and all their changes are frames in a film strip, being drawn one at a time. Weak analogy, but I am sure you get the idea. Thus, it is not that God was the only cause, but that he is the only cause.

      While quickly looking over the argument for occasionalism written above for our consideration, my first reaction was that premise 2 is weak and the premises do not lead to the conclusions anyway. It may be imaginatively conceivable that physical objects may fail to cause anything, but that does not thereby lead us to conclude that physical objects are not necessarily causally efficient. The second conclusion is, quite frankly, uncalled for.

      "(1) If X is an efficient cause, then neccesarly it cannot fail to cause something
      (2)But it's concievable from a priori reasoning that physical objects may fail to cause anything.
      (3)Then physical objects aren't necessarly causally efficient.
      (4)Consequently, God has to intervene regularly and orderly in the Universe so that any physical interaction can exist."

      In my opinion, genuine occasionalism is the negative evident fact that fundamental causation is the missing link in the human intellect. We only think in terms of observable and conceivable causes and effects, but we cannot conceive of the link between any given event (the given order). Thus, we can imagine that to be the invisible will of God. Or perhaps I should say, God wills us to exist and to imagine that his invisible will wills us to exist and to imagine his invisible will wills us to...
      Reply With Quote  
       

    • #7  
      墨子 DaBOB's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jun 2006
      Posts
      1,674
      Quote Originally Posted by termina View Post
      What about Occasionalism?
      I thought occasionalism had something to do with occasionally passing by the science forum.

      I think the reason we conclude there are relations is because we observe consistent relations/interactions. We can even recreate these relations. Of course, marnixR is right, it could just be a very busy god. Still, one action would then be causing god to intervene in order to make the apparent relation, or cause and effect. The trouble is that this cause and effect phenomenon is non-stop, maybe best encapsulated by some word like Karma. Even if a god is actually creating this karma there is still in effect and it is predictable, so I'm not sure it really matters in the end. Ultimately it seems like, in the case of occasionalism god is just another word for nature, or dao.
      Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only realize the truth. There is no spoon. Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself. -Spoon Boy
      Reply With Quote  
       

    • #8  
      Forum Freshman
      Join Date
      Nov 2008
      Posts
      88
      Thanks everyone for your answers.
      Prometheus! occasionnalist philosophers base their point on thought exeriment: they imagine 2 material bodies next to each other but see no reason why they must interact.

      So, according to them, when you burn some cotton, there is no proof heat (event1) causes cotton desintergration (event2),
      all you proved is those two events are simultaneous.
      Last edited by termina; October 25th, 2011 at 06:25 AM.
      Reply With Quote  
       

    Bookmarks
    Bookmarks
    Posting Permissions
    • You may not post new threads
    • You may not post replies
    • You may not post attachments
    • You may not edit your posts
    •