Unreal Nature

March 7, 2015

For the Fulfilment of Inner Processes

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:46 am

… The environment does not act on a person, but rather through a person.

Continuing through Causality and Modern Science: Third Revised Edition by Mario Bunge (1959; 1979):

… The slogan of causal determinism in connection with the problem of change is the Peripatetic dictum, “Omne quod movetur ab alio movetur” — “Whatever moves is moved by something else.” To causalism nothing can move by itself, nothing can change on its own account, but every change evidences the presence of an efficient cause, of an agent acting extrinsically upon the patient. A contemporary Thomist schoolman has put it clearly enough: “The subject of change is never changing, it is being changed. The thing which is undergoing change is a patient, a ‘possible,’ and it needs an agent distinct from itself to effect the change.”

… The inner processes of the changing object do not count and may not even exist for the doctrine of efficient causality; every change is conceived by this theory as the inevitable result of a cause external to the changing thing. Nothing but God can be self-caused or causa sui; everything else is the effect of a causa transiens, never the result of a causa immanens or of the joint action of external and internal determiners.

… Though seldom explicitly recognized by postromantic philosophers — with the exception of dialectical materialists, Whitehead and Collingwood — self-movement is by now a solid philosophical acquisition of the sciences. … [M]aterial objects at all levels of organization are more and more being regarded as entities having an activity of their own, conditioned but not entirely determined by their surroundings. The ancient dialectical thesis is being increasingly — though unwittingly — recognized, that nothing changes exclusively under the pressure of external coaction, but every concrete object participates with its own inner flux in the ceaseless changing of the material universe; or, to put it otherwise, the sole static objects are ideal ones.

Our central concern is not, however, the theory of the inner sources of change; here we have to deal with the limitations that this theory imposes on causal determinism. The main consequence that the theory of self-movement has for causality is that extrinsic causes are efficient solely to the extent to which they take a grip on the proper nature and inner processes of things.

… particular circumstances and individuals are essentially vehicles or occasions for the fulfilment of inner processes. The environment does not act on a person, but rather through a person.

… Freedom, in the general sense in which it is here understood, need not be conscious; and it is not an undetermined remainder, an arbitrary, lawless, residue, but consists in the lawful self-determination of existents on whatever level of reality.

… Now, if extrinsic efficient causes are regarded as efficient solely to the extent to which they inhere in inner processes, room is made for the may at the expense of the must; novelty is seen to be possible, not only as a result of the external chance encounter of initially independent lines of development, but also as emerging from the nonadditive grafting of one process on another process. But the problem of newness deserves a new chapter.

I don’t see why separating inner from outer causes changes things. Even “lawful self-determination” is itself caused. We shall see where he goes in further chapters. To be continued.

My most recent previous post from Bunge’s book is here.




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