Pliant Mind Challenge: Causality

Challenge: Propose an alternative to causality.

Note that you do not need to believe it to be true in order to propose it. Consider the following within your formulation, as needed: The knowledge of a causal explanation of one’s behavior necessarily changes one’s relationship to that behavior and may render the causal explanation obsolete (or at least incomplete).

Share your answer in the comments section below.

About Jared R

Jared, the founder of The Knowledge Roundtable, is passionate about the advancement of knowledge. He has a B.S. in astronomy and physics from UMass and is currently studying for his MBA, also at UMass. He has over 500 hours of tutoring experience in everything from algebra to writing. He taught our SAT prep group courses for two years in NH, and before that developed educational content for math, stats, and finance textbooks for two years. His teaching style is hands-on with a focus on problem-solving and critical thinking. He is responsible for 95% of the content on this site, the code that keeps it running, and the daily operations of the company.

  1. Michael A 12/22/2013, 4:09 pm Reply

    The principle of causality only applies to the world of non-living physical objects, in which the past determines and produces the future. The world of life, including human life, is governed not by causality but rather attractors, in which the predominant influence is in the future, not the past.
    These ideas were first developed by Italian mathematician Luigi Fantappie. See:

    • Jared R 12/22/2013, 7:03 pm Reply

      This is certainly the “answer” I was looking for. After I finish reading Mr Fantappie’s “Retrocausality: experiments and theory (Syntropy),” perhaps I will finally finish the response to this challenge I began drafting many months ago. Thank you Michael!

    • Michael S 01/19/2014, 1:18 pm Reply

      The principle of causality is universal and applies to all phenomena. there is zero division between organic forms of matter and any other existent things and / or phenomena. Causality is simply cause and effect. To assert otherwise is to assert pseudoscience.

      • Jared R 01/20/2014, 3:32 am Reply

        Please exercise civility while posting comments on this site.

        Of course the same laws of physics apply to both living and non-living objects; it is not necessary to propose such a distinction. My agreement with Michael A is not on this point.

  2. Michael S 01/19/2014, 1:33 pm Reply

    The idea of Syntropy or Negentropy has nothing to do with causality. It is simply a theory as to how organisms keep their entropy low. The entire theory depends on causality. It in now way attempts to suggest some sort of replacement for the basic concept of cause and effect. You apparently have no understanding of the theory you are attempting to comment on. Emergent phenomena may not be reducible to their causes, but this in no way implies a lack of cause, which would be needed for a non causal system.

    • Jared R 01/20/2014, 3:34 am Reply

      Retrocausality is the concept under consideration. It proposes that effects can precede causes such that future states determine present ones. The reason I claim this to be a solution to my proposal is that a likely mechanism, I would suggest, is knowledge (information encoding the states of systems), by which the future can be approximated in the present, thereby influencing it.

      There is a connection with negentropy in the sense that knowledge may necessitate an evolution toward minimum entropy and maximum energy. Such a reversal of both causality and the second law of thermodynamics would require significant supporting evidence, both theoretical and observational. I’m not claiming to have done such work; I’m merely asserting plausibility.

  3. Michael S 01/19/2014, 1:41 pm Reply

    As for your proposal the solution is to simply see the “self-knowledge” you speak of as simply an additional cause. An event can have many layers of causes including ones that are reciprocal in their effects. In no way is their any challenge to causality posed by your question. You question is also an abuse of the concept of the Socratic method of inquiry as well. The Socratic method of inquiry is a response to an assertion about the way the world works. It is not a means of proposing something new. I am starting to get the feeling that being a part of this group may be quite negative to my academic reputation.

    • Jared R 01/20/2014, 3:35 am Reply

      Knowledge is a cause; however, knowledge of the future (in the form of predictive models) effects the present. This may produce non-linear causal relationships.

      There have been no claims about any attempt to follow the Socratic method. The purpose of the challenge is for readers to propose counter-paradigmatic frameworks. The purpose is not for readers to question the intellectual integrity of others, justified only by off-target criticisms.

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