Notes on nature as a mechanism

-Semi-automatic guns are interesting cases of essentially subordinated causality. The loading that the gun does by itself is essentially subordinated to the loading that the person does by pulling back the slide, and yet the gun really does load itself. If we want to catch the difference, we might speak about the difference between “loading” (which is something persons do) and “reloading” (which is something the gun does by itself). This analogizes to nature, which, as we learn from Newton’s Third Law, sees an absolute identity between action and reaction.

-The scientific view of nature in a word sentence: action and reaction are the same. Newton does not say this exactly, but this is what it comes to. A formally mathematical account of nature can’t avoid this.

-Machines can only have directions of process – can only have inputs as opposed to outputs – in relation to either life or value. Machines redirect (that prefix again) vital action into value.

-Determinism is necessary so far as nature is considered as a machine apart from its inputs or outputs. Any supposed input is just a result of a causal process.  The action upon the finger is entirely determined by the firmness of the button that pushed upon it. The finger’s action was entirely determined by the causal process that terminates in its being pressed upon.

-Considered mechanically, loading and reloading are the same. The slide moves back in response to a force. In fact, we might just as well consider the slide as pushing the hand as the hand pushing the slide. It’s all one big machine, if machines are all you’re trying to explain.

-Scientism in three steps: a.) give an account of, say, loading that applies to both loading and reloading – say, a mathematical law. (b.)  call the account a description of “the mechanism” (c.) proceed to be baffled and snicker at any appeal to “vital forces” or “free will”. The mechanism suffices to explain anything! Who needs to put some ghost inside of it!

-Note that the gun really does load itself (one can’t define semi-auto except by reference to the gun loading itself) and yet is loaded by the living. Subordinated activity does not negate self-activity.


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