Page 13 - The Logic of Causation
P. 13


another place, at another time (mutation, alteration or movement). This gives rise to
temporal and natural modalities of causation.
 Another, secondary sense is diversity in individuals or groups. This signifies that an
individual object has different properties in different parts of its being ; or that a kind of
object has some characteristic in some of its instances and lacks that characteristic (and
possibly has another characteristic, instead) in some other of its instances. This gives
rise to spatial and extensional modalities of causation.
 Tertiary senses are epistemic or logical change, which focus respectively on the
underlying acts of consciousness or the status granted them: something is at first noticed
and later ignored, or believed and later doubted, or vice-versa, by someone. This gives
rise to epistemic and logical modalities of causation.
Regarding the terms “present” and “absent” (i.e. not present), they may be understood
variously, with reference to the situations just mentioned. They may signify existence or
appearance or instancing (i.e. occurrence in some indicated cases) or being seen or being
accredited true – or the negations of these.
The term “phenomenon” is here, likewise, intended very broadly, to include physical,
mental or spiritual phenomena (things, appearances, objects), concrete or abstract. Also, a
phenomenon may be static or dynamic: that is, the changing cause and effect need not be a
quality or quantity or state or position, though some such static phenomena are always
ultimately involved; the cause and effect may themselves be changes or events or
movements. For instance, motion is change of place, acceleration is change in the speed or
direction of motion. What matters is the switch from presence to absence, or vice-versa, of
that thing, whatever its nature (be it static or dynamic). The cause and effect need not even
be of similar nature; for example, a change of quality may cause a change of quantity.
Another term to clarify in the above principle is “accompanied”. Here again, our intent is
very large. The cause and effect may be in or of the same object or different objects,
adjacent or apart in space, contemporaneous or in a temporal sequence. The definition of
causation contains no prejudice in these respects, though we may eventually find fit to
postulate relatively non-formal rules, such as that in natural causation the effect cannot
precede the cause in time or that all causation at a distance implies intermediate contiguous
causations .
Indeed, it is in some cases difficult for us, if not impossible, to say which of the two
phenomena is the cause and which is the effect. And this often is not only an
epistemological issue, but more deeply an ontological one. For, though there is sometimes
a direction of causation to specify, there is often in fact no basis for such a specification.
The phenomena named ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ are in a reciprocal relation of causation; the
terms cause and effect are in such cases merely verbal distinctions. All that we can say is

This is the basis for a concept of spatial modality, which I did not treat in Future Logic. At
the time I wrote that book, I did not take time to think about it. However, I can predict that the
properties of this mode should be very similar to those of extensional modality, just as temporal
modality is akin to natural (or circumstantial) modality. Spatial and temporal modality should
behave in similar ways in various respects.
Be it said in passing, these specific rules, mentioned here for purposes of illustration,
though seemingly true for natural causation, are certainly not relevant in the extensional or logical
modes of causation. Indeed, it is no longer sure that a 'contiguity principle' applies universally even
to natural causation: recent discoveries by physicists may suggest the existence of 'instant action
at a distance' between pairs of particles, which seemingly goes against Relativity Theory prediction
since the limit of the speed of light is not maintained. Whatever the theoretical physics outcome of
such discoveries, the current question mark demonstrates that logic theory must remain open in
such issues; i.e. principles like that of contiguity must be regarded as generalizations which might
be abandoned if the need to do so is found overwhelming.

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