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Does a rice seed cause a rice shoot?

 
 
igm
 
Reply Sun 5 Jun, 2011 11:50 am
If a rice seed causes a rice shoot please explain does the seed appear at the same time as the shoot or not at the same time as the shoot?

If the rice seed is not the cause of the rice shoot what is the cause of the rice shoot?

If the rice seed is the rice shoot explain how it is the same thing?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 3,485 • Replies: 28
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JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 09:19 am
@igm,
The beginning of a story (say a novel) cannot be said to be the cause of the ending of the story. They are both part of a continuum (like the beginning and end of a stick). What does that tell me? That the concept of causality is problematical.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 11:22 am
@JLNobody,
Thanks for your reply.

Can this problem be safely ignored or does ignoring, denying or affirming it based on not understanding causality give rise to more problems?
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Mon 6 Jun, 2011 05:09 pm
@igm,
I think that for most purposes we can ignore the philosophical implications of causal thinking. Indeed, causality and the illusion of the ego are essential for human survival, which is the reason they are virtually universal. But that does not make them "true."
Determinism as a philosophical doctrine, on the other hand, leads us to some pretty bad philososhical conclusions. From it we need "liberation."
igm
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jun, 2011 07:06 am
@JLNobody,
I would be grateful if you could expand a little on your reply by answering a few questions that arise from what you’ve said. Can you give your best example of a “pretty bad philosophical conclusion” that the doctrine of determinism gives rise to? Also why we need liberation from it and what this liberation is?
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Tue 7 Jun, 2011 05:15 pm
@igm,
igm, a very good and fair question. You ask of me more than I'm willing to give right now. But let me give you something of an outline of the responses I will give later when my energy level is up.
First, I believe that causal thinking, while adequate for everyday practical thought, is inadequate for philosophical concerns--and I think it is proving inadequate for contemporary physics, as well. I hope that Fresco might pitch in here.
What I find most disturbing, however, about causal thinking is the tendency for us to take a practical application of causal thinking and expand it to a metaphysical doctrine--determinism--which compels us back to a prime mover or undetermined cause. From that we need liberation not because it's illogical but because it falsifies how the World appears to me and much of the world. I find this World best addressed by a non-dualistic "mysticism". I've talked a lot about this throughout these threads (and over the years). Indeed, I've done so ad naseum. But I'll get back to you.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Jun, 2011 07:02 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody, the outline you’ve given ahead of your future response has shed light on your previous reply and has enabled me to see more clearly how it connects with my original topic/post.

I appear to share your misgivings about as you so clearly put it, “the tendency for us to take a practical application of causal thinking and expand it to a metaphysical doctrine--determinism--which compels us back to a prime mover or undetermined cause.” I look forward to your being able to expand on your outline when you feel you are able.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Jun, 2011 05:54 pm
@igm,
The thread asks: Does a rice seed CAUSE a rice shoot? Obviously, one cannot have a shoot without a seed just as we are unable to have a man without a boy. But we don't SEE causes, we THINK them. We don't think that boys cause men, but we know that they are essential antecedent conditions. I know my sitting here typing this requires countless antecedent necessary (if not sufficient) conditions: e.g., gravity, blood pressure, a solar system in balance, electricity, ad infinitum.
What are the sufficient conditions? We can scrutinize this situation and, at least in principle, list them and after complex examination and heroic patience list all of the conditions for them. If we continue this process the causall picture would fan out until we go BACK in time and OUT in scope to ancient preconditions for this original chosen moment. How far back and out? Is that answerable, or even sensible?
When I a see a man, I'm also thinking "a man"; I'm generating a concept. The man that exists today is an outgrowth of the man yesterday, and he follows the man before yesterday (btw, these calendrical units are artificial of course), all the way back to the baby he was at one time (and before that). But it was a CONTINUUM, not a chain of discreet causes and effects. We make up effects and causes for purposes of "explanation" but they are not very accurate as descriptions of the process of that man's biography.
We seem to not be able to describe acutal processes. The flow of reality is not easilly captured by static concepts, so we falsify that reality into a collection of things, like causes and effects.
And then we tacitly reify these "things" as the building blocks of a deterministic Reality (or Universe). These "things" serve as useful fictions for some purposes but, like so many false but useful notions (self or ego is one of them) we end up deluded when it comes to philosophical reflection. Mystics meditate in order to get glimpses of the world without such fictions; that is to say they adopt a perspective that acesses Reality more as it is.
Good critiques of causality and the self-as-agent-of-actions are provided by David Hume and Fredrik Nietzsche.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 09:57 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

The thread asks: Does a rice seed CAUSE a rice shoot? Obviously, one cannot have a shoot without a seed just as we are unable to have a man without a boy. But we don't SEE causes, we THINK them. We don't think that boys cause men, but we know that they are essential antecedent conditions. I know my sitting here typing this requires countless antecedent necessary (if not sufficient) conditions: e.g., gravity, blood pressure, a solar system in balance, electricity, ad infinitum.
What are the sufficient conditions? We can scrutinize this situation and, at least in principle, list them and after complex examination and heroic patience list all of the conditions for them. If we continue this process the causall picture would fan out until we go BACK in time and OUT in scope to ancient preconditions for this original chosen moment. How far back and out? Is that answerable, or even sensible?
When I a see a man, I'm also thinking "a man"; I'm generating a concept. The man that exists today is an outgrowth of the man yesterday, and he follows the man before yesterday (btw, these calendrical units are artificial of course), all the way back to the baby he was at one time (and before that). But it was a CONTINUUM, not a chain of discreet causes and effects. We make up effects and causes for purposes of "explanation" but they are not very accurate as descriptions of the process of that man's biography.
We seem to not be able to describe acutal processes. The flow of reality is not easilly captured by static concepts, so we falsify that reality into a collection of things, like causes and effects.
And then we tacitly reify these "things" as the building blocks of a deterministic Reality (or Universe). These "things" serve as useful fictions for some purposes but, like so many false but useful notions (self or ego is one of them) we end up deluded when it comes to philosophical reflection. Mystics meditate in order to get glimpses of the world without such fictions; that is to say they adopt a perspective that acesses Reality more as it is.
Good critiques of causality and the self-as-agent-of-actions are provided by David Hume and Fredrik Nietzsche.


JLNobody; thanks for your comprehensive reply. I’ll ponder what you’ve said and post when I’ve feel I have a suitable reply.
igm
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 11:36 am
@igm,
igm wrote:

JLNobody wrote:

The thread asks: Does a rice seed CAUSE a rice shoot? Obviously, one cannot have a shoot without a seed just as we are unable to have a man without a boy. But we don't SEE causes, we THINK them. We don't think that boys cause men, but we know that they are essential antecedent conditions. I know my sitting here typing this requires countless antecedent necessary (if not sufficient) conditions: e.g., gravity, blood pressure, a solar system in balance, electricity, ad infinitum.
What are the sufficient conditions? We can scrutinize this situation and, at least in principle, list them and after complex examination and heroic patience list all of the conditions for them. If we continue this process the causall picture would fan out until we go BACK in time and OUT in scope to ancient preconditions for this original chosen moment. How far back and out? Is that answerable, or even sensible?
When I a see a man, I'm also thinking "a man"; I'm generating a concept. The man that exists today is an outgrowth of the man yesterday, and he follows the man before yesterday (btw, these calendrical units are artificial of course), all the way back to the baby he was at one time (and before that). But it was a CONTINUUM, not a chain of discreet causes and effects. We make up effects and causes for purposes of "explanation" but they are not very accurate as descriptions of the process of that man's biography.
We seem to not be able to describe acutal processes. The flow of reality is not easilly captured by static concepts, so we falsify that reality into a collection of things, like causes and effects.
And then we tacitly reify these "things" as the building blocks of a deterministic Reality (or Universe). These "things" serve as useful fictions for some purposes but, like so many false but useful notions (self or ego is one of them) we end up deluded when it comes to philosophical reflection. Mystics meditate in order to get glimpses of the world without such fictions; that is to say they adopt a perspective that acesses Reality more as it is.
Good critiques of causality and the self-as-agent-of-actions are provided by David Hume and Fredrik Nietzsche.


JLNobody; thanks for your comprehensive reply. I’ll ponder what you’ve said and post when I’ve feel I have a suitable reply.



You appear to use the word ‘CONTINUUM’ as an alternative concept to cause and effect but is the word used by others to get over the ‘gap of ignorance’ between any conceptual transition e.g. seed to shoot, boy to man etc. i.e. does the word explain anything or is it used to avoid dealing with the unexplainable? Although, having asked this question, it could be your post, taken as a whole, could well be interpreted in that way i.e. that you don’t hold the view that the word continuum is any less a fiction than the concept of cause and effect.

Although we can’t affirm cause and effect or alternatively ‘continuum’ can we deny it, if as you say there is no shoot without an antecedent seed (no pun intended)? Again, I ask the question, but you may imply that, in what you’ve said i.e. I’m saying that we cannot affirm or deny cause and effect, thus leaving it unelaborated and by using the term ‘continuum’ we thus avoid a type of nihilism. As you know Nietzsche referred to this type of nihilism, in the context of nothing having meaning as, “the danger of dangers”. And to deny cause and effect could lead to this state of mind if not balanced by the observation that appears in retrospect to show an undeniable connection i.e. without a rice seed there can be not rice shoot.

I think we can safely say the self or ego is false but I don’t think we can apply that, to shall we say, ‘the continuum of causes and effects’. I don’t believe this notion can be affirmed or denied. But in a sense you seem to lump both notions together as ‘false but useful’. Is this your belief i.e. that cause and effect is a false notion as apposed to remaining in a state that cannot be elaborated in any way whatsoever? I would say that my position is that when cause and effect is examined we cannot find that it truly exists but nevertheless in retrospect we cannot deny it either.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Jun, 2011 11:44 pm
Good post, Igm,
I agree that the word, continuum, is not an alternative "explanatory" tool. It only "describes" our experience, and therein lies its value. We seem to observe continua but we have to segment them into causes and effects to achieve explanatory satisfaction. For example, we see a phenomenal situation and ask how it came about. We model the situation deterministically calling the phenomenal situation an "effect" and search for its antecedent determinant or cause. Ironically, while the model logically locates the "cause" BEFORE the "effect", historically we look for it AFTER encountering the effect.
The term, continuum is also a fiction, as are--if you'll excuse my extremism--all the words or notions we use to construct our reality in human cognitive terms. Most of these fictions have proven to be necessary to our survival. Of course, they may be replaced by functional alternatives as we "evolve" culturallly.
Our very conversation here serves to mitigate nihilism. We are seeking meaning, even if we acknowledge like nihilists (such as myself: a positive nihilist) do that there are no objective or absolute meanings apart from those constructed by humans. I believe Nietzsche, in his proclamation of the Death of God, was saying just that. He declared the danger of dangers to be both the belief in absolute meanings and the dispair ( loss of nerve"?) suffered by those negative nihilists who realize the contingent nature of meaning. Nietzsche argued, if I understand him, that not all falsities are negative in their consequences for human survival.


igm
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 06:49 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody; I appear to agree with much of what you have said.
JLNobody wrote:

I agree that the word, continuum, is not an alternative "explanatory" tool. It only "describes" our experience, and therein lies its value. We seem to observe continua but we have to segment them into causes and effects to achieve explanatory satisfaction. For example, we see a phenomenal situation and ask how it came about. We model the situation deterministically calling the phenomenal situation an "effect" and search for its antecedent determinant or cause. Ironically, while the model logically locates the "cause" BEFORE the "effect", historically we look for it AFTER encountering the effect.

The term, continuum is also a fiction, as are--if you'll excuse my extremism--all the words or notions we use to construct our reality in human cognitive terms. Most of these fictions have proven to be necessary to our survival. Of course, they may be replaced by functional alternatives as we "evolve" culturallly.

Our very conversation here serves to mitigate nihilism. We are seeking meaning, even if we acknowledge like nihilists (such as myself: a positive nihilist) do that there are no objective or absolute meanings apart from those constructed by humans. I believe Nietzsche, in his proclamation of the Death of God, was saying just that. He declared the danger of dangers to be both the belief in absolute meanings and the dispair ( loss of nerve"?) suffered by those negative nihilists who realize the contingent nature of meaning. Nietzsche argued, if I understand him, that not all falsities are negative in their consequences for human survival.


You said, “The term, continuum is also a fiction, as are--if you'll excuse my extremism--all the words or notions we use to construct our reality in human cognitive terms.” I don’t disagree with this statement and that would also then seem to include what you’ve said before this statement.

You also said, “Most of these fictions have proven to be necessary to our survival.” But at what cost when used by others who either don’t realize they are fictions or choose to ignore them as such?

Could it be the root cause of suffering is: not understanding that true nature of reality is unelaborated? A simple truth but with apparent profound consequences for all who either understand this (I mean fully understand this) or alternatively misunderstand or fail to understand this at all?
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 09:38 am
@igm,
As I understand you--or is my interpretation completely "projective"?--you are making a very buddhist statement: that the fundamental cause of dukkha (the discomfort resulting from unenlightenment) cannot be understood analytically (cannot be "elaborated"?). The intuitive realization (to "fully understand" that reality) is integrative, the result of synthesis rather than analytical disintegration.
Or are you paraphrasing the rationalist Socrates' principle that "The unexamined [the "unelaborated" experience of] life is not worth living"?

igm
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 10:14 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

As I understand you--or is my interpretation completely "projective"?--you are making a very buddhist statement: that the fundamental cause of dukkha (the discomfort resulting from unenlightenment) cannot be understood analytically (cannot be "elaborated"?). The intuitive realization (to "fully understand" that reality) is integrative, the result of synthesis rather than analytical disintegration.
Or are you paraphrasing the rationalist Socrates' principle that "The unexamined [the "unelaborated" experience of] life is not worth living"?


I’m not paraphrasing Socrates’ principle. I am saying that the root cause of suffering appears to be the ignoring of the true nature of reality which has no characteristics and is therefore unelaborated. If this were true, paradoxically in order to help others realize this; one would have to explain this using elaboration whilst maintaining a deconstructive approach to the subject. Is this Buddhist? Only a realized Buddhist teacher could say for sure that it was; if not Buddhist both the Buddhist teacher and those less qualified would be able to argue that it wasn’t.

What does a ‘positive nihilist’ such as yourself do with the understanding that, and I paraphrase: all the words or notions we use to construct our reality in human cognitive terms are fictions?
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 08:04 pm
@igm,
Igm, let me respond to your last question: I consider the negative nihilist to be one who is disarmed and depressed by the realization that there is no absolute world, that his world (as understood in naive realism) is an unfortunate fiction. And I consider the positive nihilist to be one who is armed and enthused by the freedom (given "the death of God") to create his own reality. He embraces his creation even if it is HIS reality, not one produced by an objective God.
Both forms of nihilism see our reality as the inter-subjective creation of human culture, but one responds with gloom, the other with JOY.
Razz



igm
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 07:13 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Igm, let me respond to your last question: I consider the negative nihilist to be one who is disarmed and depressed by the realization that there is no absolute world, that his world (as understood in naive realism) is an unfortunate fiction. And I consider the positive nihilist to be one who is armed and enthused by the freedom (given "the death of God") to create his own reality. He embraces his creation even if it is HIS reality, not one produced by an objective God.
Both forms of nihilism see our reality as the inter-subjective creation of human culture, but one responds with gloom, the other with JOY.

Thank you for your definition of those two flavours of nihilism. Could you help me understand further by giving me your responses to these questions, arising from what you’ve said previously: you said, “These "things" serve as useful fictions for some purposes but, like so many false but useful notions (self or ego is one of them)...”. If you believe this, who experiences gloom or joy? Who believes that this world is absolute or not absolute? How do you disprove the notion of the ‘I’ (Latin ‘ego’), (alternative ‘the self’) and who is then gloomy or joyous? Isn’t this whole notion built on a dualistic view which is itself a fiction because reality is not dualistic? Is there an alternative? I’d say yes, but, it's beyond elaboration.
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 01:51 pm
@igm,
Igm, these follow up questions are worth serious consideration. I've got to go out now to put new tires on my jalopy. I'll work on answers when I return. In the meantime would it be possible for you to elaborate for me on what you mean by "elaboration"? Does it denote "causal explanation" (or logical exploration) or more than that?
JL
igm
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 03:43 pm
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Igm, these follow up questions are worth serious consideration. I've got to go out now to put new tires on my jalopy. I'll work on answers when I return. In the meantime would it be possible for you to elaborate for me on what you mean by "elaboration"? Does it denote "causal explanation" (or logical exploration) or more than that?

To say that the true nature of reality is unelaborated is to say that the true nature of reality is not: existent, nonexistent, both or some other alternative. Conversely, it appears no elaboration is possible without the true nature of reality first being one of these four possibilities i.e. existent, nonexistent etc. If it is not any of these four possibilities it remains unelaborated, it has no characteristics. Anything that is not unelaborated is elaborated. I hope this helps. By the way, if this is the case, even the true nature of elaboration is unelaborated. So, this would be the case for ‘causal explanation’ and ‘logical exploration’ and ‘more than that’ i.e. everything would be included.
0 Replies
 
JLNobody
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 11:21 pm
@igm,
Noone experiences gloom or joy; there is simply the experience of gloom or joy. The ego-agent is an addition, a fictitious "elaboration"? Mainly a requirement of our grammar (e.g. a subject for the predicate). When there is rain, we add an "it" (it is raining) which is not part of our experience, only of our way of formulating the experience.

Q:What's the weather like?
A: Raining.

Thinking, ergo there is thought
igm
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Jun, 2011 06:46 am
@JLNobody,
JLNobody wrote:

Noone experiences gloom or joy; there is simply the experience of gloom or joy. The ego-agent is an addition, a fictitious "elaboration"? Mainly a requirement of our grammar (e.g. a subject for the predicate). When there is rain, we add an "it" (it is raining) which is not part of our experience, only of our way of formulating the experience.

Q:What's the weather like?
A: Raining.

Thinking, ergo there is thought


I don’t disagree with what you’ve said in respect of language, it seems to have this effect. Also, as an aside, I felt this was particularly descriptive in your last post: “Both forms of nihilism see our reality as the inter-subjective creation of human culture.”

You said, “No one experiences gloom or joy; there is simply the experience of gloom or joy. The ego-agent is an addition…”. Forgive me but it would seem I disagree with this for the following reasons (and of course I have to use the relative (conventional) truth of language): The notion of a self is the antecedent and necessary precondition for the experience of gloom or joy? There can be no gloom or joy without the notion of a self; it is not an addition (as you’ve said) but a prerequisite within the set of causes and conditions necessary for there to be gloom or joy. On reflection would you disagree?

It seems that joy is limited by its arising due to temporary causes and conditions but if we ceased to ignore the true nature of reality, the experience would be unelaborated and unconditioned i.e. an innate quality of reality free from the notion of a self.
 

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