Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nature and Four-Fold Causality



Speculation in response to Leon, of After Nature, who took my discussion towards Aristotle's four-fold causality.  Again, thinking out loud.

The "formal cause" is time.  Insomuch as time is asymmetric change, then can we think (analogously or literally?) that the formal cause, i.e., the structure of what is, is ordered change?  But what irreducible element is ordered change?  Time.

The emergent actuality is the material cause.  Its thereby determinate powers are the efficient cause.  The final cause is the "sum" of the potentials.

I do not mean to return to Aristotle, but I am thinking the thought of process causality against the fourfold causality of the Metaphysics.  What I note is that if material and efficient causes are what I sketched, then they are reducible, are not primitive, because they would then be temporal-historical designations.  The emergent actuality is just a realized potentia.  Its powers are just those of the affiliated nexus that gives rise to that actuality.  The actual is the material cause, and its determinate powers are the efficient cause, but then there's nothing special about these two forms of causality, because they only appear as such in fully actualized complexes.  The language would only be worth keeping for translation into tradition metaphysics to aid in discussion.

This should sound more like Buchler than Aristotle.

Following Peirce, if possibilities do not strictly inhere in the actual, and activity is a distinct modality of being, contra Aristotle, then it is significant to note that the powers (kinesis) have achieved their realization (entelechy).  At that level we have efficient and material causation … but not before.  How very un-Aristotelian.

This seems to reduce the four-fold to final and formal causality, i.e., potencies and structure.  Potency implies 1) possibility, 2) activity/existence, and 3) law/determinate existence.  Structure implies time and chance.  I take "time" to mean ordered/structured "chance," e.g., time is historically asymmetric, whereas chance is mere variation.  Chance is more primitive.

This should be reminiscent of my previous claim that Nietzsche is lurking, i.e., will to power.  If what is, is atoms of will that assert their power, and greater power comes from the dominance of lesser wills, then structure is the enslavement of existence.  Good thing I'm not an idealist--this makes is sound very depressing.  Why be a Schopenhauerian?

The purpose of thinking out loud, btw, is to examine the structure and consequences of a thought.  Also, to allow for the weaknesses to be shown.  I am not embracing these thoughts, although the line of argumentation should show my commitments.

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