Sec. 3-6: Why Cause is Necessary, Components of Reasonings, Impressions, Inference

SEC. 3: WHY A CAUSE IS ALWAYS NECESSARY

  • It is a general maxim in philosophy, that whatever begins to exist, must have a cause of existence.
    • This is commonly taken for granted in all reasonings, without any proof given or demanded.
    • It is supposed to be founded on intuition.
      • Intuition is a species of conviction
    • It is one of those maxims which may be denied with the lips.
      • But it is impossible for men to really doubt in their hearts.
  • But if we examine this maxim by the idea of knowledge explained previously, we shall discover:
    • no intuitive certainty in it
    • that it is of a nature quite foreign to intuition.
  • All certainty arises from the:
    • comparison of ideas
    • discovery of such unalterable relations, so long as the ideas continue the same.
  • These relations are:
    • Resemblance
    • Proportions in quantity or number
    • Degrees of any quality
    • Contrariety.
  • None of these are implied in the proposition: Whatever has a beginning has also a cause of existence.
    • Therefore, this proposition is not intuitively certain.
    • Anyone who asserts it to be intuitively certain, must:
      • deny these to be the only infallible relations, and
      • find some other relation of that kind to be implied in it, which then must be examined.
  • We can never demonstrate the necessity of a cause to every new existence, or new modification of existence, without showing that it is impossible for anything to begin to exist without some productive principle.
    • Where the productive principle cannot be proven, we cannot prove its existence.
    • This proves that the foregoing maxim is not intuitively nor demonstrably certain.
  • It will be easy for us to conceive any object to be non-existent this moment and existent the next moment, without conjoining to it the distinct idea of a cause, since:
    • the cause is utterly incapable of a demonstrative proof,
    • all distinct ideas are separable from each other, and
    • the ideas of cause and effect are distinct.
  • Therefore, the separation of the idea of a cause from the idea of a beginning of existence is possible for the imagination.
    • Consequently, the actual separation of these objects is so far possible, that it implies no contradiction nor absurdity.
      • Therefore it cannot be refuted by any reasoning from mere ideas.
      • Without the reasoning, it is impossible to demonstrate the need of a cause.
  • Every demonstration produced for the need of a cause is fallacious and sophistical.
  • Some philosophers, such as Mr. Hobbes, say that all the points of time and place in which we can suppose any object to begin to exist, are equal in themselves .
    • The object must remain in eternal suspense and can never begin to exist unless there is some cause:
      • peculiar to one time and to one place, and
      • which determines and fixes the existence.
    • This is for lack of something to fix its beginning.
  • But is it more difficult to suppose that its time and place are fixed without a cause, than to suppose its existence is determined in that way?
    • The first question on this subject is always whether the object shall exist or not.
    • The next question is when and where it shall begin to exist.
  • If the removal of a cause is intuitively absurd in the one case, it must be so in the other.
    • If that absurdity is not clear without a proof in the one case, it will equally require one proof in the other.
  • The absurdity, then, of the one supposition can never be a proof of the absurdity of the other, since they both:
    • are on the same footing, and
    • must stand or fall by the same reasoning.
  • The second argument of Dr. Clarke and others related to this, has equal difficulty.
    • It says that everything must have a cause.
      • For if anything lacked a cause, it would produce itself.
      • It would exist before it existed, which is impossible.
  • But this reasoning is plainly inconclusive.
    • Because it supposes that in our denial of a cause, we still grant what we expressly deny: that there must be a cause.
    • The cause is taken to be the object itself.
    • This is a contradiction.
  • If anything is produced or exists without a cause, it does not affirm that it is itself its own cause.
    • On the contrary, it excludes the created thing itself, a fortiori.
  • An object that exists absolutely without any cause, certainly is not its own cause.
    • When you assert that the one follows from the other, you:
      • suppose the very point in question, and
      • take it for granted that it is impossible for anything to ever begin to exist without a cause.
  • On the exclusion of one productive principle, we must still have recourse to another.
  • It is exactly the same case with Mr. Locke’s third argument to demonstrate the necessity of a cause.
    • Whatever is produced without any cause, is produced by nothing.
    • In other words, it has nothing for its cause.
    • But nothing can never be a cause, no more than nothing can be something or equal to two right angles.
    • By this same intuition, we perceive that nothing can never be a cause.
      • Consequently, we must perceive that every object has a real cause of its existence.
  • All of those arguments are:
    • founded on the same fallacy, and
    • derived from the same turn of thought.
  • When we exclude all causes, we really do exclude them.
    • We do not suppose anything nor the object itself to be the causes of the existence.
    • We consequently can draw no argument from the absurdity of these suppositions to prove the absurdity of that exclusion.
  • If everything must have a cause, it follows that on the exclusion of other causes, we must accept the object itself or of nothing as causes.
    • But it is the very point in question, whether everything must have a cause or not.
    • This point should never be taken for granted.
  • Those who say that every effect must have a cause because it is implied in the very idea of effect, are still more frivolous.
    • Every effect necessarily pre-supposes a cause.
      • Effect is a relative term, of which cause is the correlative.
      • But this does not prove, that every being must be preceded by a cause, no more than it follows.
        • Because every husband must have a wife, that therefore every man must be married.
  • The true question is whether every object which begins to exist, must owe its existence to a cause.
    • This is not intuitively nor demonstratively certain.
  • We derive the need for a cause not from knowledge or any scientific reasoning.
    • This need must necessarily arise from observation and experience.
    • How does experience give rise to such a principle?
    • Why do we conclude that such particular causes must have such effects?
    • Why do we form an inference from one to another?
  • We shall answer these in our future inquiry.
    • The same answer will serve these questions.

 


Sec 4: The Components Of Our Reasonings On Cause and Effect

  • In its reasonings from causes or effects, the mind carries its view beyond those objects which it sees or remembers.
    • However, it must never lose sight of them entirely, nor reason merely on its own ideas, without:
      • some mixture of impressions, or
      • ideas of the memory equivalent to impressions.
  • When we infer effects from causes, we must establish the existence of these causes.
    • We have only two ways to do this.
      1. By an immediate perception of our memory or senses, or
      2. By an inference from other causes, which causes again we must ascertain in the same way by:
        • a present impression, or
        • an inference from their causes, and so on
          • until we arrive at some object which we see or remember.
  • It is impossible for us to carry on our inferences to infinity.
    • Only an impression of the memory or senses can stop them.
    • Beyond this, there is no room for doubt or enquiry.
  • For example, we may choose any point of history and consider why we believe or reject it.
    • We believe that Caesar was killed in the senate-house on the ides of March because this fact is established on the unanimous testimony of historians.
      • They agree to assign this precise time and place to that event.
  • Here are certain characters and letters present to our memory or senses.
    • We also remember these characters to have been used as the signs of certain ideas.
    • These ideas were in the minds immediately present at that action.
      • Those minds received the ideas directly from their existence or they were derived from the testimony of others.
        • That testimony was again derived from another testimony by a visible gradation.
          • Until we arrive at those who were eyewitnesses and spectators of the event.
  • All this connection of causes and effects is founded at first on those characters or letters which are seen or remembered.
    • Without the authority of the memory or senses, our whole reasoning would be chimerical and baseless.
      • Every link of the chain would in this case hang on another.
      • But there would be nothing fixed to one end of it that can sustain the whole.
  • Consequently, there would be no belief nor evidence.
    • This is actually the case with all hypothetical arguments.
      • There is neither any present impression nor belief of a real existence in them.
  • It is not a just objection to the present doctrine, that we can reason on our past conclusions or principles, without having recourse to those impressions they first arose from.
    • Even if these impressions were entirely erased from the memory, the conviction they produced may still remain.
  • All reasonings on causes and effects are originally derived from some impression, in the same way as the assurance of a demonstration always proceeds from a comparison of ideas.
    • Though it may continue after the comparison is forgotten.

 


Sec 5: The Impressions of the Senses and Memory

  • In this kind of reasoning from causation, we employ mixed and heterogeneous materials.
    • These materials are essentially different from each other no matter how connected they are.
  • All our arguments on causes and effects consist of:
    • an impression of the memory or senses, and
    • the idea of that existence which:
      • produces the object of the impression, or
      • is produced by that object.
  • We have three things to explain:
    1. The original impression
    2. The transition to the idea of the connected cause or effect
    3. The nature and qualities of that idea
  • I think the ultimate cause of those impressions from the senses are inexplicable by human reason.
    • It will always be impossible to decide with certainty, whether they:
      • arise immediately from the object,
      • are produced by the mind’s creative power, or
      • are derived from the author of our being.
    • Such a question is not material to our present purpose.
  • We may draw inferences from the coherence of our perceptions, whether they are:
    • are true or false,
    • represent nature justly, or
    • mere illusions of the senses.
  • When we search for the characteristic which distinguishes the memory from the imagination, we must immediately perceive that it cannot lie in the simple ideas it presents to us.
    • Since both these faculties:
      • borrow their simple ideas from the impressions, and
      • can never go beyond these original perceptions.
  • These faculties are as little distinguished from each other by the arrangement of their complex ideas.
    • The memory preserves the original order and position of its ideas.
    • The imagination transposes and changes them as it pleases.
    • Yet this difference is not enough to:
      • distinguish them in their operation, or
      • make us know the one from the other.
  • It is impossible to recall the past impressions, in order to:
    • compare them with our present ideas, and
    • see whether their arrangement is exactly similar.
  • The difference between memory and the imagination lies in its superior force and vivacity, since the memory is known neither by:
    • the order of its complex ideas, nor
    • the nature of its simple ones.
  • A man may indulge his fancy in feigning any past adventures.
    • It would be impossible to distinguish it from a remembrance of real adventures, if the ideas of the imagination were not fainter and more obscure than those of the memory.
  • When two men have been engaged in any action, one frequently remembers it much better than the other.
    • He will have the most difficulty to make his companion recollect it.
    • He runs over several circumstances in vain.
    • He mentions the time, place, company, what was said and done on all sides.
    • Until at last, he hits on some lucky circumstance that:
      • revives the whole, and
      • gives his friend a perfect memory of everything.
  • Here the person that forgets receives at first all the ideas from the other’s talk, in the same time and place.
    • But he considers them as mere fictions of the imagination.
    • But as soon as the circumstance that touches the memory is mentioned, the very same ideas now appear in a new light.
      • They have a different feeling from before.
      • Without any other alteration, besides that of the feeling, they:
        • immediately become ideas of the memory, and
        • are assented to.
  • It may be proper to consider what is the nature of that feeling since:
    • the imagination can represent all the same objects that the memory can offer to us, and
    • those faculties are only distinguished by the different feeling of the ideas they present.
  • The ideas of the memory are more strong and lively than those of the fancy.
  • A painter, who intended to represent an emotion, would try to see someone actuated by a like emotion, in order to:
    • enliven his ideas,
    • give them a force and vivacity superior to what is found in those which are mere fictions of the imagination.
  • The more recent this memory is, the clearer is the idea.
    • If he returns to contemplate his object after a long interval, he would always finds its idea much decayed, if not wholly obliterated.
  • We frequently doubt the ideas of the memory, as they become very weak and feeble.
    • We are at a loss to determine whether any image proceeds from the fancy or the memory, when it is not drawn in such lively colours to distinguish the memory.
  • One says, I think I remember such an event, but am not sure.
    • A long tract of time has almost worn it out of my memory.
      • It am uncertain whether it is purely from my fancy.
  • By losing its force and vivacity, an idea of the memory may degenerate as to be taken for an idea of the imagination.
  • On the other hand, an idea of the imagination may acquire such a force and vivacity, as to:
    • pass for an idea of the memory, and
    • counterfeit its effects on the belief and judgment.
  • This is noted in the case of liars.
    • By the frequent repetition of their lies, they come to believe and remember them as realities.
    • In this case, custom and habit has the same influence on the mind as nature in fixing the idea with equal force and vigour.
  • Thus, the belief or assent which always attends the memory and senses, is nothing but the vivacity of those perceptions they present.
    • This alone distinguishes them from the imagination.
  • In this case, to believe is to feel an immediate impression of the senses, or a repetition of that impression in the memory.
    • It is merely the force and liveliness of the perception which:
      • constitutes the first act of the judgment, and
      • lays the foundation of that reasoning, which we build on it, when we trace the relation of cause and effect.

Sec. 6: The Inference from the Impression to the Idea

  • The inference we draw from cause to effect is not derived merely from:
    • a survey of these particular objects,
    • such a penetration into their essences as may discover the dependence of the one on the other.
  • No object implies the existence of any other object if we:
    • consider these objects in themselves, and
    • never look beyond the ideas which we form of them.
  • Such an inference would:
    • amount to knowledge, and
    • imply the absolute contradiction and impossibility of conceiving anything different.
  • But as all distinct ideas are separable, there can be no impossibility of that kind.
    • When we pass from a present impression to the idea of any object, we might:
      • separate the idea from the impression, and
      • substitute any other idea in its room.
  • Therefore, it is by experience only, that we can infer the existence of one object from that of another object.
    • The nature of experience is this:
      • We remember:
        • to have had frequent instances of the existence of one species of objects.
        • that the other species of objects have:
          • always attended them, and
          • existed in a regular order of contiguity and succession with regard to them.
  • Thus we remember, to have seen that species of object we call a flame.
    • We have felt that species of sensation we call heat.
    • We likewise call to mind their constant conjunction in all past instances.
  • Without any further ceremony, we:
    • call the one cause and the other effect, and
    • infer the existence of the one from that of the other.
  • In all those instances where we learn the conjunction of particular causes and effects, both the causes and effects:
    • have been perceived by the senses, and
    • are remembered.
  • But in all cases, when we reason on causes and effects, only one is perceived or remembered.
    • The other is supplied in conformity to our past experience.
  • Thus in advancing, we have insensibly discovered a new relation between cause and effect, when we:
    • least expected it, and
    • were entirely employed on another subject.
  • This relation is their constant conjunction.
    • Contiguity and succession are insufficient to make us pronounce any two objects to be cause and effect, unless we perceive that these two relations are preserved in several instances.
  • We may now see the advantage of quitting the direct survey of this relation, to discover the nature of that necessary connection which makes so essential a part of it.
    • There are hopes, that by this means we may at last arrive at our proposed end.
    • Though to tell the truth, this newly discovered relation of a constant conjunction seems to advance us but very little in our way.
  • For it implies no more than this, that like objects have always been placed in like relations of contiguity and succession.
    • It seems evident, at least at first sight, that by this means we can:
      • never discover any new idea
      • only multiply, but not enlarge the objects of our mind.
  • What we do not learn from one object, we can never learn from 100 of the same kind, and are perfectly resembling in every circumstance.
  • Our senses show us in one instance two bodies, motions, or qualities in certain relations of success and contiguity.
    • Our memory presents us only with a multitude of instances.
      • We always find like bodies, motions, or qualities in like relations in these instances.
  • From the mere repetition of any past impression, even to infinity, there never will arise any new original idea, such as that of a necessary connection.
    • The number of impressions has in this case no more effect than if we confined ourselves to one only.
  • But though this reasoning seems just and obvious; yet as it would be folly to despair too soon, we shall continue the thread of our discourse.
    • Having found, that after the discovery of the constant conjunction of any objects, we always draw an inference from one object to another, we shall now examine:
      • the nature of that inference
      • the transition from the impression to the idea.
  • Perhaps it will appear in the end, that the necessary connection depends on the inference instead of the inference’s depending on the necessary connection.
  • Since the transition from an impression present to the memory or senses to the idea of an object, which we call cause or effect, is founded on past experience, and on our remembrance of their constant conjunction, the next question is,
    • Whether experience produces the idea by means of the understanding or imagination;
    • whether we are determined:
      • by reason to make the transition, or
      • by a certain association and relation of perceptions.
  • If reason determined us, it would proceed on that principle, that:
    • instances, of which we have had no experience, must resemble those, of which we have had experience, and
    • the course of nature continues always uniformly the same.
  • To clear up this matter, let us consider all the arguments on which such a proposition may be founded.
    • As these must be derived from knowledge or probability, let us view each of these degrees of evidence and see whether they afford any just conclusion of this nature.
  • Our foregoing method of reasoning will easily convince us that no demonstrative arguments can prove that those instances, of which we have had no experience, resemble those, of which we have had experience.
    • We can at least conceive a change in the course of nature.
      • This proves that such a change is not absolutely impossible.
  • To form a clear idea of anything, is:
    • an undeniable argument for its possibility
    • alone a refutation of any pretended demonstration against it.
  • Probability only discovers the relations of objects, not the relations of ideas.
    • It must be founded:
      • in some respects on the impressions of our memory and senses
      • in some respects on our ideas.
  • If there were no mixture of any impression in our probable reasonings, the conclusion would be entirely chimerical.
    • If there were no mixture of ideas, the mind’s action in observing the relation would be sensation, not reasoning.
  • In all probable reasonings there must therefore be something present to the mind, either seen or remembered.
    • From this, we infer something connected with it which is not seen nor remembered.
  • Only cause and effect is the relation of objects which can lead us beyond the immediate impressions of our memory and senses.
    • Because it is the only connection on which we can found a just inference from one object to another.
  • The idea of cause and effect is derived from experience.
    • It informs us that such objects in all past instances, have been constantly conjoined with each other.
  • An object similar to one of these is supposed to be immediately present in its impression.
    • We thence presume on the existence of one similar to its usual attendant.
  • Probability is founded on the presumption of a resemblance between:
    • those objects we have experienced
    • those objects which we have had no experience.
  • Therefore, it is impossible that this presumption can arise from probability.
    • The same principle cannot be both the cause and effect of another.
    • This is perhaps the only proposition concerning that relation, which is intuitively or demonstratively certain.
  • Anyone who eludes this argument without determining whether our reasoning on cause and effect is derived from demonstration or probability, pretends that all conclusions from causes and effects are built on solid reasoning.
    • This reasoning should be produced for us to examine it.
  • After the experience of the constant conjunction of certain objects, we reason in the following manner:
    • Such an object is always found to produce another object.
    • It could not have this effect if it did not have a power of production.
      • The power necessarily implies the effect.
    • Therefore, there is a just foundation for drawing a conclusion from the existence of one object to that of its usual attendant.
  • The past production implies a power.
    • The power implies a new production.
  • The new production is what we infer from the power and the past production.
  • It would be easy for me to show the weakness of this reasoning if:
    • I were willing to use my observations that:
      • the idea of production is the same with the idea of causation
      • no existence certainly and demonstratively implies a power in any other object.
    • it were proper to anticipate the idea we form of power and efficacy.
  • Since such a method may weaken my system by:
    • resting one part of it on another, or
    • breeding a confusion in my reasoning.
  • Thus, I shall try to maintain my present assertion without any such assistance.
  • For a moment, we allow that:
    • the production of one object by another in any one instance implies a power
    • this power is connected with its effect.
  • It has been already proved that:
    • the power does not lie in the sensible qualities of the cause
    • only the sensible qualities are present to us.
  • Why do you presume in other instances that the same power still exists, merely on the appearance of these qualities?
  • Your appeal to past experience decides nothing in the present case.
  • It can only prove that that very object, which produced any other, was at that very instant endowed with such a power.
    • But it can never prove that the same power must continue in the:
      • same object or
      • collection of sensible qualities.
    • I can much less prove that a like power is always conjoined with like sensible qualities if:
      • the same power continues united with the same object
      • like objects are endowed with like powers.
    • In this case, I ask: why from this experience we form any conclusion beyond those past instances which we experienced.
  • If you answer this question in the same way as the preceding question, your answer creates a new question to infinity.
    • This clearly proves that the foregoing reasoning is baseless.
  • Our reason fails to discover the ultimate connection of causes and effects.
    • Even after experience has informed us of their constant conjunction, it is impossible for us to satisfy ourselves why we should extend that experience beyond those particular instances we have observed.
  • We suppose, but are never able to prove, that there must be a resemblance between those objects:
    • of which we have had experience
    • which lie beyond our discovery.
  • We have already noticed relations which make us pass from one object to another.
    • Even though there is no reason to determine us to that transition.
    • We may establish this for a general rule:
      • That wherever the mind constantly and uniformly makes a transition without any reason, it is influenced by these relations.
      • This is exactly the present case.
  • Reason can never show us the connection of one object with another, though aided by:
    • experience
    • the observation of their constant conjunction in all past instances.
  • When the mind passes from the idea or impression of one object to the idea or belief of another, it is not determined by reason.
    • It is determined by certain principles which:
      • associate the ideas of these objects
      • unite them in the imagination.
  • Had ideas no more union in the fancy than objects seem to have to the understanding, we could never:
    • draw any inference from causes to effects
    • repose belief in any matter of fact.
  • The inference, therefore, depends solely on the union of ideas.
  • The principles of union among ideas, I have reduced to three general ones.
    • I have asserted that the idea or impression of any object naturally introduces the idea of any other object, that is resembling, contiguous to, or connected with it.
  • These principles are not the infallible nor the sole causes of an union among ideas.
    • They are not the infallible causes.
      • For one may fix his attention for some time on any one object without looking farther.
    • They are not the sole causes.
      • For the thought:
        • has a very irregular motion in running along its objects
        • may leap from the heavens to the earth, from one end of the creation to the other, without any method or order.
  • I allow:
    • this weakness in these three relations, and
    • this irregularity in the imagination.
  • Yet I assert that the only general principles which associate ideas are:
    • resemblance,
    • contiguity,
    • causation.
  • There is a principle of union among ideas.
    • At first sight, it may be different from any of these.
    • But it ultimately depends on the same origin.
  • When every individual of any species of objects is found to be constantly united with an individual of another species, the appearance of any new individual of species naturally conveys the thought to its usual attendant.
    • Thus, because such an idea is commonly annexed to such a word, only hearing that word is needed to produce the correspondent idea.
    • It will be impossible for the mind to prevent that transition.
  • In this case, it is not absolutely necessary that on hearing such a sound, we should:
    • reflect on any past experience
    • consider what idea has been usually connected with the sound.
  • The imagination itself supplies the place of this reflection.
    • It is so accustomed to pass from the word to the idea, that it does not interpose a moment’s delay between:
      • the hearing of the one
      • the conception of the other.
  • This is a true principle of association among ideas.
    • But I assert it to be:
      • the very same with the principle between the ideas of cause and effects
      • an essential part in all our reasonings from that relation.
  • We have no other notion of cause and effect, but that of certain objects which have been:
    • always conjoined together
    • found inseparable in all past instances.
  • We cannot penetrate into the reason of the conjunction.
    • We only observe the thing itself.
  • We always find that the objects acquire a union in the imagination, from the constant conjunction.
  • When the impression of one becomes present to us, we immediately form an idea of its usual attendant.
    • Consequently, we may establish this as one part of the definition of an opinion or belief, that it is an idea related to or associated with a present impression.
  • Causation is a philosophical relation implying contiguity, succession, and constant conjunction.
    • Yet we are able to reason on it or draw any inference from it only as it:
      • is a natural relation
      • unites our ideas.

 


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