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Is Causation Nothing but the Regular Succession of Causes and Effects?

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Causation is primarily about understanding the relationship between a cause and its effect; experience shows us what follows what but experience does not show us that the effect must follow its supposed cause. Somewhere we have formed the idea of necessary connection and sometime before that an impression that allows us to have this idea, though there is nothing to actually suggest that necessary connection exists between causes and effects and even though there are often constant conjunctions in the world; this is not enough evidence to further assume a relationship between cause and effect.

To begin with we need to look at our experience of the events themselves and though we experience say, a billiard ball knocking into another and the other moving away we experience no impression of the 'necessary connection' deriving from our sense experience of the two objects. The cause of the ball moving away could be something completely external to the first ball knocking into it, through the use of magnets beneath the table or a man sneezing in the next room, there are numerous other events that happened just before the ball moved and all of which could, in some way, have been the cause. If there was an immediate impression of necessary connection then even one instance of seeing an event cause its effect we would have an immediate sense that the second event had to follow even though no previous experience is necessary. If causation was anything 'in the object' then our knowledge of effects following causes would be a priori and allowing us, to an extent, predict an effect from its cause without any requirement of seeing effects and causes previously occur. Hume's argument in relation to this is that we cannot gain any knowledge of what causes what effect on the basis of single objects or single instances and that we cannot even form the idea of causation from these examples as causation is about more than the idea of one object being followed by another. So remains the question as where we have formed the idea of 'causation' if we have never experience it. Perhaps there is an experience of necessary connection from constant conjunction, could we gain an impression of necessary connection through repeated experience of effects following causes? This surely cannot be right either as if everything we could experience was present in the objects, belonging there as plainly as its shape, colour and density then even on just one occasion we could derive the impression of causation just by experiencing the objects themselves. Repeating a succession of events does not change the objects themselves, so constant conjunction makes no impact on the conclusion that necessary connection cannot be within the objects themselves and therefore cannot be experienced.

But is Hume right to say that we must always have a repeated experience in order to associate a cause with an effect? Hume gives the example of a child feeling pained when putting their hand in the flame of a candle and thus learning, from experience, not to do it again. But how any times does a child do this before becoming cautious? If Hume was right then surely after being burnt just once by the flame the child has no reason to be cautious as without repeat experience there is no way to tell that it was the candle that caused the pain and in order to be certain that this particular cause and effect were connected the experiment would have to be repeated until certain. Needless to say this is not the case and that the human mind can identify that it was the flame that was the cause of the pain due to the flame being very hot in close contact with sensitive flesh and even after just one incident we will know this and no repeated experience is needed. In opposition to this however we could say that even though this was the child's first experience on feeling pain from the flame there are others who have been burnt by fire and repeated, regular experience as a society rather than individuals is enough evidence to deduce a cause from its effect.

Regularity is a huge factor when looking deeply into the nature of causation and what it actually is. The regular succession of causes and effects seems to prove the existence of causation as from experiencing one thing always following another, no matter how many times it has been tried



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