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The sole purpose of the "English Kinda Thing" is to document my attempts to correct my own mistakes in standard English usage and to share the resources I find. In no way do I attempt to teach nobody English through these blurbs--just as I intend not to teach nobody to be a neurotic and psychotic handicap in Ratology Reloaded or Down with Meds! :-)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Russell, B. (1921). Psychological and physical causal laws

What I gathered, though unsure whether my understanding is correct, is as following:
Considering the plausibility of A causes B
What have to be figured out is that
first, what is the matter called A and what is B
second, what are the particulars constituting A or B

Once we figured out what exact A or B are, are we sure we are sure A as we know is the invariable antecedent to B when the impact of all other factors are taken into consideration?

Russell, B. (1921). Psychological and physical causal laws The Analysis of Mind (pp. 93-107). London: G. Allen & Unwin.

"Everything in nature is apparently in a state of continuous change, so that what we call one "event" turns out to be really a process." (p. 94)
Reminds me of the law of gravity at the subatomic world... though it seems like people are working hard to reconcile the two.
"All that we can know empirically is approximate and liable to exceptions; the exact laws that are assumed in physics are known to be somewhere near the truth, but are not known to be true just as they stand.  The laws that we actually know empirically have the form of the traditional causal laws, except that they are not to be regarded as universal or necessary." (p. 95)
"We cannot observe infinitesimals, whether in time or space; we do not even know whether time and space are infinitely divisible.  Therefore rough empirical generalizations have a definite place in science, in spite of not being exact or universal.  They are the data for more exact laws, and the grounds for believing that they are usually true are stronger than the grounds for believing that the more exact laws are always true." (p. 95-96)
"It is generally assumed that, given any event, there is some one phenomenon which is the cause of the event in question.  This seems to be a mere mistake.  Cause, in the only sense in which it can be practically applied, means "nearly invariable antecedent." We cannot in practice obtain an antecedent which is quite invariable, for this would require us to take account of the whole universe, since something not taken account of may prevent the expected effect." (p. 96)
"A piece of matter, as it is known empirically, is not a single existing thing, but a system of existing things.  When several people simultaneously see the same table, they all see something different; therefore "the" table, which they are supposed all to see, must be either a hypothesis or a construction." (p. 97)
"... the table which is neutral as between different observers (actual and possible) is the set of all those particulars which would naturally be called "aspects" of the table from different points of view. (p. 98)
"The supposed "real" table underlying its appearances is, in any case, not itself perceived, but inferred, and the question whether such-and-such a particular is an "aspect" of this table is only to be settled by the connection of the particular in question with the one or more particulars by which the table is defined." (p. 98)
"When different people see what they call the same table, they see things which are not exactly the same, owing to difference of point of view, but which are sufficiently alike to be described in the same words, so long as no great accuracy or minuteness is sought." (p. 99)
"Like the different appearances of the table to a number of simultaneous observers, the different particulars that belong to one physical object are to be collected together by continuity and inherent laws of correlation, not by their supposed causal connection with an unknown assumed existent called a piece of matter..." (p. 101)

So I took my glasses off after seeing the table in front of me at this cafe, albeit with the same table, what I see with and without my glasses surely weren't the same.
"The laws which physics seeks can, broadly speaking, be stated by treating such systems of particulars as causal units. The laws which psychology seeks cannot be so stated, since the particulars themselves are what interests the psychologist." (p. 106)

"... that system of appearances which the object would present if the laws of perspective alone were operative and the medium exercised no distorting effect.  This limiting set of appearances may be defined, for purpose of physics, as the piece of matter concerned." (p. 107)


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