Subjective causation

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Subjective causation
« on: March 23, 2021, 12:45:49 PM »
"Western" culture, the one that started with the ancient Greeks in Europe and spread out from there, taking influences from various places, getting parsed through medieval Christendom, being turned into the Renaissance, chugging along as the industrial Revolution, becoming Science, Twitter and Facebook, always had notions of causation. Aristotle got it going as answers to Why questions. But the modern version, the one we associate with science, didn't start until, well, science did, the seventeenth century. That's when "causation" came to mean objective cause, or the modern version of "efficient" cause, different from Aristotle's efficient cause in that now everything had a cause, and any cause you find yourself considering motivates nothing or is in no way special as an entity because it is merely the current end point of a perhaps infinitely long series of causes and caused events.

That kind of objective causation - a notion of causation that entails determinism - is (modern) "western" in the sense that "western" people have it built into their normal understanding of the world and non-"western" people don't. Chinese, for instance, allow for subjective cause. In the physical world, sure, let's all be determinists. But in the social world, and anything infected by social understanding, what is causal in one context need not be causal in another. Having a personal belief that causes you to act one way in one context need not cause you to act in the same way in another context. This is not the same as a notion of discretion, of having a sense of other people's tolerances and being able to bide your time in your self expression. If you believe that murder is wrong but the group of people you are with are beating someone to death, being discrete about your personal beliefs isn't going to get you out of prison time. But if the social context were to be considered a cause of your temporary belief that murder, when you're with these people at this time in that place, is ok....

Murder is an extreme example and it won't happen like that in real life. But the notion that social context causes you to be a different person, at least temporarily, is probably something that needs exploration because it seems to explain a lot.