File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1998/bhaskar.9802, message 8

Date: Sat, 7 Feb 1998 12:24:28 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: BHA: causal criteria of meaning

Tobin --

I'll pull down your post and give it some thought.  But this passage 
goes to the original point Colin made that I agree with -- in reading 
RB I had implicitly assumed all causes were efficient causes and if 
they weren't, they weren't causes.  Colin said no, and I think on that 
point he's right.  Here's your passage:
 > But this is to say that meanings are basically *passive*.  If that were
 > true, they couldn't cause agents to act, and reasons could not be causes.
 > Obviously they are not causal in the same way that people are, but nothing
 > in CR stipulates that all causal forces act like humans do--I think that
 > would be something like animism. 
 > ---

I take it there are two issues here:  (1) to establish the reality of 
something we use causal criteria (2) some causes are efficient causes.

That is, in order to use causal criteria to establish the reality of 
something we ask whether the world is different than it would have been 
had the feature in question not been present.  If the presence of the 
entity in question does in fact make the material world different than it 
would otherwise have been, then we can say the entity is real.  But 
that does not at all mean that the cause is an efficient cause, and yes, 
indeed, some causes are passive, including, especially meaning.  If a 
door is slammed because I interpreted another's statements in a 
particular way, it is not the meaning of the statements that does the 
slamming.  Those meanings are passive and it takes me acting on them.

Marble is a cause of a statute, but it is passive.

As for reasons, I will give that more thought.  Of course reasons are 
meaningful.  Are they, or is the meaning of them, the efficient cause 
of our actions?  Hm.  There is a question of materialism here.

Notice that to implicitly assume that society must be  causally efficient 
goes a long way to explaining your disagreement with Colin and I in the 
structure agency discussion last spring.


"What is there just now you lack"  Hakuin

Howard Engelskirchen

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