Causality and pre-existence (II)

If causality is the pre-existence of a thing, it is evident that the existent is really divided from a caused  cause, and so that there is no logical necessity that what exists be caused.

We look for causes because the paradigm case of explaining what/why a thing exists involves tracing it back in time behind that threshold when it began to exist. In crossing over this threshold, the causes emerge, diverse and converging on the existent.

Causality does not mean the same thing in what does not come to be, i.e. mathematical or spiritual things (Newton placed mechanics prior to geometry, as the producer of the geometrical forms. But this is either metaphor or nonsense.) These things only pre-exist in mind and not in anything outside of it.

Becoming, or nature, is pre-existence outside of mind. Nature has a double reduction to its pre-existence outside mind, and in this line it is somehow infinite; and to the mind in virtue of which nature can be “outside”.


  1. socraticum said,

    February 19, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Which sense of prior are you referring to in “pre-existence”?

  2. February 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I don’t know that it is all that precise: the paradigm case would involve going backwards in time, e.g. imagining the time in the past when, say, that bathroom tile was formed and fired in some kiln in a Chinese factory; or thinking back to when that apple on the table was a blossom on a tree. This wouldn’t catch everything we meant by “cause”, of course, but I would want to understand the later cases in terms of that one. I think “pre-existent” should be understood on its own and not reduced to some other term. We can rush in and say it is the “prior” of causality, and this would be true enough, but then we are just swapping one word for another.

    • socraticum said,

      February 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      My concern is that if by cause you mean the “temporally” prior pre-existence of a thing, you lose causality: the efficient cause, for example, is not an efficient cause (simply speaking) unless it is actually causing its effect.

  3. Leo White said,

    February 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Great stuff! So…. are you writing a book?

  4. humblesmith said,

    February 20, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Don’t you mean the pre-existent is divided from the cause? Not “caused”?

  5. humblesmith said,

    February 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    I meant “existent is divided from the cause”?

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