Causality, Hume, And Quantum Mechanics Essay

1611 words - 6 pages

Causality, Hume, and Quantum Mechanics

It is my intention, in the course of this essay, to take the work of David Hume and reapply it to causality using quantum mechanical theory.

When I refer to causality, I am referring to the belief that events have a relationship of action "A" causing action "B" where "A" is considered to be the final cause of "B." I also refer to the belief that we can know and understand these causal relationships and thusly know how the system works.

This is a concept that I do not agree with. This "mechanistic causality," I feel, is a category of the mind.

I wish to make it clear, before I begin, that I am not questioning the idea that cause/effect interactions do occur in reality. I am, however, questioning that the human mind is capable of perceiving these relationships as they really are.

David Hume used the example of a man making an omelet to illustrate his view of causality. I plan to use this example and expound upon it such that the physics of quantum mechanics can be applied.

While a man is making an omelet, he loses his grip on an egg. The egg drops to the floor and breaks. The relationship between the man dropping the egg and its breaking is said to be a causal one. The effect of breaking is said to have been caused by the act of dropping. Using this example, and many others like it, most people believe that all events have causal relationships.

I would venture to say that even this basic example of causality does not prove its existence. I explain the breaking of the egg as an event limited enough that the human mind could place a false order on it. The mind does this so that the event may be related to oneself and to others more efficiently. The classification of the event is simply the minds way of simplifying thought processes and communication.

Imagine how difficult thought and communication would be if, in order to relate an event to oneself or others, one had to think or speak of the event as an occurrence which is connected to all previous events which have had undeterminable effects on the current one. Instead of saying, "I dropped the egg, it broke because of that action," one would say or think, "The event of the egg breaking is an event preceded by an acceleration downward toward the floor. That event is preceded by a slip of my hand, or some external force. The event of the slip is preceded by a distracting thought and/or a moistening of my hand from contact with a wet surface, or by neither event. The event of the distracting thought being preceded by a memory of meeting an attractive person and/or having too much coffee, or by neither event. The event of the moist hand being preceded by failing to wipe the counter properly and/or inadequate drying of my hands, or by neither event." To be thorough, each of these strings of events would have to be traced back through each branch and go back until one finally reaches the beginning of each string of events, the...

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