- Cause as ideal construction
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126 ] Cause as ideal construction Eliot was absent for the meeting of Royce’s seminar on 17 Mar 1914. His paper, “Cause as ideal construction,” was read to the group by a fellow student, Narendra Nath Sen Gupta. The ensuing discussion by Royce and other participants is briefly summarized in Costello’s notebook (JRS 135, 137-38). Cause and because Cause and chance Cause and function Cause and volition __________________________ Causality is one of those puzzles which can be explained away but not explained: and to explain away is to dispose of only from a particular limited point of view. I agree thoroughly with Mr. Russell when he speaks of cause as a superstition:1 I only question whether we could live without superstitions. I am apt to stoop to pick up a pin, and Mr. Russell may say that I do so because I am superstitious. I should connect causality with what M. Lévy-Bruhl calls the law of participation .2 Participation accounts for a number of pre-logical mental processes ,thegeneralnatureofwhichisthefeelingofanindefinablecommunity of nature between objects and beings of the most diverse sorts. Thus animism , totemism, mystical phenomena, various myths of origin, etc. Any attribution of force or volition is due to participation. M. Lévy-Bruhl says that we have not yet–and perhaps never will–supercede participation. Now in the case of causality I suggest that there may be a double participation: between the cause and the effect, and between the objects and ourselves. There is thus a close relation between the experience of cause and the experience of volition. Volition is not strictly speaking a real object of attention, but only an intended object. In any act of will we feel a relation between ourselves and the consequence which is not describable, because in order to describe, we must put ourselves outside, and putting ourselves outside, volition disappears. What we mean when we talk about will is some thing meant to be internal, described from a point of view external, but really existing only from a point of view internal-external: that is, by participation. What I mean is that we have direct knowledge neither of our [ 127 Cause as ideal construction own nor of others’ will; a simple man could no more have will than could a machine. We have will by an interpretation of our own behavior and of others. Will is not something which merely happens, but is an ideal construction. Now in will, we feel our volition causing a consequence. Causation is thus implied in will, but on the other hand, I believe, will is implied in causation . There is a participation between cause and effect, and this participation is not observed, but felt. The cause is active, and activity is internal to it. No object qua object possesses activity, but only as it is felt to possess a reality beyond its objectivity: an activity [in] which it participates with us, and there is then a double participation, between cause and effect, and between self and object. I suppose (as an hypothesis) that in the development of objectivity the aspects of volition and cause become more and more clearly distinguished. Accordingly it will be more and more clearly observed that the cause cannot be an object but an event. Thus we say loosely that one billiard ball knocks another into a pocket; more exactly, that the cause was the motion communicated by the other. Objects become more and more sharply separated from each other, and cease to participate, and the cause is an event into which the object enters. Volition and causality being now distinct, the idealityofbothisperhapsmoreclearlyapparent.“Causeisinvariableevent.”3 Fact and ideality separate: in the primitive mind, I have urged before, there isnothingstrictlyfactandnothingstrictlyideal.4 Wenowanalyseasequence of phenomena and an ideal interpretation; the phenomena then appear to be the reality and the causation mere illusion. But quality–“content,” “material,” “aspect”–cannot change without the objects changing. The phenomena which are strictly phenomena and only described are not the same as those which were causally connected. Objectification annihilates causality . Causation in specific cases is connected, because of a participation between those facts and that universal connection. That universal connection is good for those facts, and those facts are those facts only in participation with that universal. But they are really something more than those facts, and as they pass over into another aspect, the causal relation (if cause observe the name relation) disappears. As we substitute for entities in whose being we participate...