An Analysis of Cause


The following statement seems to summarize very efficiently what is believed in most western religions and philosophies.

“Before the beginning was a Cause and the entire purpose of the Cause was the creation of effect.”

Judaism emphasizes God as the ultimate creator. Christianity makes God a personal being. Islam seems to de-emphasize that identity of a personal being by declaring God to be formless. However, God is still retained as the cause of all existence.

Spinoza starts his philosophical system with the premise of “uncaused Cause.”  Aristotle starts his philosophical system with the premise of “unmoved Mover.” The system of philosophy that follows from either premise is pretty rational. But the underlying premise is at best arbitrary.

Regardless of how rational a system of philosophy might appear, the logical consistency of that system is set by its starting postulate.

Let’s examine the premise of “Cause.” It is taken for granted by the western religions. Cause is supposed to be there before the beginning of a manifestation. The question then arises, “Can Cause be there all by itself before its effect manifests itself?”

If the answer is “yes” then Cause will be a manifestation on its own right. The question then becomes, “What is the cause of the Cause?” This logic inevitably leads to an endless chain of causes, and the beginning keeps getting pushed back earlier and earlier.

If the answer is “no” then the “Cause” must occur simultaneously with effect. “Cause-effect” would then be part of the same manifestation as the beginning. The idea “before the beginning” would then be a projection that is created after the fact of beginning.

Cause is a projection backward that is created after the fact of beginning.

This is consistent with the idea that time itself would start at the beginning, and there would be no such thing as “before the beginning.” Cause would, therefore, be a consideration created at the beginning. As there is no “before the beginning,” Beyond the beginning would be unknowable. See Knowable and Unknowable.

The premise “uncaused cause” seems to be an attempt to fix the unwieldy conclusion of the endless chain of causes when Cause is assumed to exist all by itself.  “Uncaused cause” is just another arbitrary consideration. No wonder it appears to be self-contradictory.

“Uncaused cause” is a consideration that is self-contradictory.

CAUSE is part of the creation, and has no meaning prior to the creation as assumed in the statement at the beginning of this essay. Neither “Cause,” nor “Uncaused cause” is an independent premise. It is part of the system of philosophy it generates.

The system of western religion and philosophy is made up of interdependent considerations. They are not linear but they form more like a circle. We may visualize this system as a sphere of consideration, which is ballooning out from a premise at its center. The premise is forever contained within this sphere; and it cannot lead to anything beyond that sphere.

What is beyond the sphere of considerations may only be speculated. But a speculation being a consideration would remain within that sphere.

The assumption that the consideration of “Cause” can extend beyond the “system of considerations” seems to be the basic inconsistency.

“Cause” may appear to be consistent but only within a system of consideration and not beyond. What is beyond is unknowable and it cannot be symbolized as Cause.



Starting Postulate
No matter how rational a system of philosophy might appear, if the starting postulate is inconsistent, the whole philosophical system would ultimately become unsustainable. The starting postulates, such as, “uncaused cause,” and “unmoved mover” are inconsistent in themselves. Therefore, the philosophical systems based on such postulates have become unsustainable in spite of all the effort to make them appear rational.


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  • Chris Thompson  On November 2, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    Agreed. At the root of it, what do you suppose would be the difference between a postulate from philosophy and an observation from physics? And I am referring to the quantum sense of this. It might be helpful or at least interesting to make a consistency here before moving forward.


    • vinaire  On November 2, 2011 at 9:50 AM

      What we need to discover are existing postulates that are out of view at the moment. I have no clue as to what they are.



      • Chris Thompson  On November 2, 2011 at 10:15 AM

        Just as i allow you to direct my attention to have a discussion, I would appreciate it and it would help our discussion if you would allow me to direct yours.

        I’ve asked whether you see any inconsistency between a postulate and an observation both scientifically and philosophically.

        That and I think you’ve drawn your circles inside out.


      • vinaire  On November 2, 2011 at 2:46 PM

        I plan to study Quantum Mechanics from Wikipedia. I want to understand the fundamental axioms of Quantum Mechanics. Are there such axioms in existence?



  • Chris Thompson  On November 2, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Another look at this might be our compulsion to make a real world out there – make it hold still while we tamper with the core of our drama making machine. Maybe this is what is impossible.

    We’re working the puzzle, it’s a really good puzzle, we’re working it and working it and instinctively know there will be a loss when we’ve finished it but we can’t finish it without finishing it but we don’t want to finish it because it will then be finished.

    I eat chips and hot sauce this way. Each bite burns my mouth but then the burn dies down a bit and I can’t wait to cram another one in my mouth. Then the bowl is emptied and there is an instant of relief before I ask for a refill.


  • vinaire  On November 2, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    Or, like the compulsion for sex, maybe… reach and withdraw.



    • Chris Thompson  On November 2, 2011 at 3:31 PM

      I don’t know Vin. I cannot read and understand the mathematics, and there are not agreed upon axioms that I am aware – though this is an extant goal in the community of math professionals. I have limited my study to books which discuss the philosophical repercussions by going over and over the infamous two-slit experiments and box-pairs. I read the “Quantum Enigma” and then “The Grand Design.” Now I’m snoozing to the “Age of Entanglement.” I’ve limited myself to trying to understand a few interpretations such as the Copenhagens, many worlds, consistent histories, etc.,. In plain English, these interpretations are so counter-intuitive that I spend quite a while just reading and re-reading and trying to demo things which sort of defy demonstration. On the positive side, none of the interpretations are allowed to deviate from the mathematics of QM and so there is for me a bit of a confidence factor there which bolsters my trust. There are hundreds of papers written by PhD candidates all yearning for a breakthrough and you would be in a better position to utilize these than I.

      Truthfully, if there is a disheartening aspect it is that the human experience is so very narrow that I wonder if almost ALL of existence escapes my perceptions, never mind anything unknowable. So many smart people have made it their business to try to solve these puzzles that I wonder, and my wife concurs, what the hell I am spending my time on it for. I mean it’s not like I am going to make a contribution that matters. It can be a little disheartening.

      On the other hand, I have never been accused of being clever enough to become disheartened when all evidence would show me that I should. So at least there is that!


  • vinaire  On November 2, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    I wouldn’t get hung up on mathematics. Mathematics is there simply to check the consistency of how the theory has been put together. We can assume that the theory is pretty consistent.

    But even a consistent theory is only as good at the starting postulates that the theory is based on. So, any examination should consist of ferreting out those starting postulates, and then examining them thoroughly.

    The tool to use here is Occam’s Razor to cut through the complexity of Quantum Mechanics. Occam’s razor is a principle that generally recommends selecting from among competing hypotheses the one that makes the fewest new assumptions. So, the thing to do is to look at the assumptions that Quantum Mechanics makes, count to see how many assumptions there are, and if those assumptions are consistent in a way so they can be combined and simplified.

    I have started reading the Wikipedia article here:

    Here are the points that I have noticed so far:

    (1) Qunatum Mechanics makes observations at the atomic scale.

    (2) Normal laws of optics do not apply because the wave length of light itself is in the ball park of those atomic dimensions.

    (3) Light behaves in some respects like particles and in other respects like waves.

    (4) Thus, light displays properties that are sometimes discrete and at other times continuous.

    (5) Light seems to influence the phenomenon it is trying to observe, making the observation imprecise.

    Light (electromagnetic waves) is the primary means of observation. It suffices at macro levels, and even at micro levels. But when it comes to atomic scale where dimensions approximate the wave-lengths of light, we stop getting consistent feedback through the use of light.

    More later…



  • vinaire  On November 3, 2011 at 6:47 PM

    The first understanding I get from Quantum Mechanics is that OBSERVING itself is an energy phenomenon. It interacts with the phenomenon being observed.

    This becomes significant at the scale of atomic dimensions.



    • Chris Thompson  On November 3, 2011 at 10:06 PM

      That’s good Vinay, but allow me to suggest we “go layer more.” I think it is a consistent assumption that there is a previous interaction by the observer with “your background” meaning the wave-function for the observation to appear. If we find “previous” to become inconsistent, one alternative to this previous interaction might be a simultaneous interaction or infinitely fast interaction as in a quantum jump of states of matter.

      IN THIS is the slip to and fro in space-time. For not only is the “background” omnipresent but it is also omni-tempus — existing throughout time.

      . . . and we’ve only just seen that there might even be a rabbit hole. We haven’t yet tried the latch or gone inside.


  • Chris Thompson  On November 3, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    This might be a good place to write about sanity v. insanity.


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