Cause and effect not actual?

There is something that I remember reading where Richard explains that infinitude cannot be grasped intellectually as none of the cause and effect relationships which we require for the operation of intelligence apply there. And so infinitude can only be experienced apperceptively, which leads to a never ending wonder “how could this universe be” ?

This just popped into my head now and it has me wondering… is cause and effect merely a concept? I have certainly taken it to be a fact all of my life.
I can see that the very idea of a cause and effect relationship inevitably brings up a chain of events which inevitably brings up - a beginning. It also brings the problematic idea of determinism which seems inevitably woven into the very concept of cause and effect. Yet in an infinite and eternal universe there has never been a beginning, there was never the first link in the chain. So how could I ever factually point to the initial cause that gave birth to the chain of events. How could I say - this is the one that started it all, when there are only things happening, not coming from anywhere and not going anywhere.

The other question that has me wondering :

  • Is cause and effect required for normal day to day operations? eg I know if I walk in front of a speeding train I will die, the train hitting me will cause my body to no longer function. Yet on the other hand do I actually require the concept of cause and effect to have this understanding? It seems even without cause and effect it is possible to intelligently observe and understand the world, to observe things happening and in what patterns they seem to be happening?


I don’t see that cause and effect requires a beginning.

It’s wildly oversimplified to have it as a binary chain though. One then the other and so on.

The “cause and effect” are simultaneously happening in such an interwoven way that they defy even the most advanced experiments we have.

Richard was pressing this point with me. The “wondering” but what IS electricity?

Rattling of the electrons do this and that misses the point.

It’s not cause and effect which stops us wondering, it’s thinking that there is a first cause, as in “well, an electron which is a wave function when not observed, and a quantum unit when observed, passes on it’s charge via the outer shell of suitability conductive elements…blah blah”

In that example, we have an electron as a first cause. But what is it actually?

To support your assertion that things can be suitably understood without cause and effect, then one is saying that the universe is some sort of pure information.

I like that theory myself.

I wonder though if it appeals to me because it’s somehow more human to use the word “information”.

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Well if each event which happens in this universe requires a prior cause (which has the subsequent effect) this means Z was caused by Y which itself was caused by X which if I take it far enough will bring me to A, and what caused A if that is where the alphabet ends? What metaphysical cause set A in motion? If cause and effect is actual this means that every effect must have a cause, but how about the uncaused one, in this example A?

The other thing is that cause and effect implies a direction from A towards B, either in space or time (whilst in actuality neither move), how can there be a direction when we are not going anywhere?

I like it.

You and Richard would have a great time exploring that point!

Oh also another good question! What measuring stick can I use to decide what is the cause and what is the effect? What is the arbiter when there is no fixed frame of reference? aka a beginning.

You are thinking in a binary way though. A>B etc etc.

How about a infinitude, instantly existing without fault or flaw?

Something so beyond any mathematics or experiment, or even our precious understanding.

A perpetual motion machine with zero point energy?


Every effect is it’s own cause?

Are you trying to get us in trouble with CERN??

What if it exists, uncaused, uneffected?

Yes but isn’t cause and effect exactly that? It is binary as in there is the cause and there is the effect that is the mechanism apparently. Even if there are many causes and effects interacting in super complex ways, the mechanism is still binary - A towards B, cause leading to an effect.


I don’t see it’s flaw being that a beginning is necessary.

I am not enamored with it either.

Happy to wonder too.

It seems to me in actuality things are simply happening. Where time has no duration there cannot be a cause proceeding an effect, this implies a movement of time.

I will very happily accept being 100% wrong with this :laughing: but as you said it is more about the wondering and where that takes me experientially.

I like where you are going with this.

If time isn’t moving, and the universe isn’t going anywhere, what “stores” the transfer from cause to effect?

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That, I can see being a flaw in the “cause and effect” (no matter how complicated and complex) chain.

If this moment, the perpetual now, is instantly, without even a nano second delay always here, in space, then how does one thing cause anything at all?

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I lifted my ginger beer* and whiskey to my mouth, but time isn’t moving, so how did it happen at all?

*beer, not bear. That’s another drink entirely.

Cheers Kuba. Very cool contemplating to do here.

Something related to this is what put me back towards the wide and wondrous path after my 5 year lay off.

I took some LSD with my girlfriend at the time and was having a brilliant time, I started looking out the window at one point and noticed that there was breathing happening, entirely of its own accord.

In the real world it was always ‘me’ who was the cause, ‘having’ to ensure all these effects. ‘I’ was the driver of things happening apparently.

In that split second of breathing doing itself (like you say without a nano second delay) I saw that this entire universe is simply happening of its own accord with nothing driving it.

I experienced a freedom like I have never tasted before, for that 1 second of breathing doing itself.

It seems within this cause and effect actually lies a metaphysical being of sorts, the one that has the ‘power’ to make things happen. When in actuality they are all happening of their own accord.

Hmmmm, yes. Regardless of whatever is actually going on, belief in “cause and effect” does contain a metaphysical agency.

There is a space between them. What is in that “space”?