Essay on Causality, Hume, and Quantum Mechanics

Essay on Causality, Hume, and Quantum Mechanics

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Causality, Hume, and Quantum Mechanics


It is my intention, in the course of this essay, to take the work of David Hume and reapply it to causality using quantum mechanical theory.

When I refer to causality, I am referring to the belief that events have a relationship of action "A" causing action "B" where "A" is considered to be the final cause of "B." I also refer to the belief that we can know and understand these causal relationships and thusly know how the system works.

This is a concept that I do not agree with. This "mechanistic causality," I feel, is a category of the mind.

I wish to make it clear, before I begin, that I am not questioning the idea that cause/effect interactions do occur in reality. I am, however, questioning that the human mind is capable of perceiving these relationships as they really are.

David Hume used the example of a man making an omelet to illustrate his view of causality. I plan to use this example and expound upon it such that the physics of quantum mechanics can be applied.

While a man is making an omelet, he loses his grip on an egg. The egg drops to the floor and breaks. The relationship between the man dropping the egg and its breaking is said to be a causal one. The effect of breaking is said to have been caused by the act of dropping. Using this example, and many others like it, most people believe that all events have causal relationships.

I would venture to say that even this basic example of causality does not prove its existence. I explain the breaking of the egg as an event limited enough that the human mind could place a false order on it. The mind does this so that the event may be related to oneself and to others more efficiently. The classification of ...


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...atoms going one way and 500 going the other. There is only one atom in the entire beam, and it splits. In the words of the article, "Suddenly you find yourself scrambling to visualize what happened - and failing miserably" It seems that, since the atom is unobserved, it acts as a wave and is able to take both routes simultaneously.

Here is a further example of this quantum weirdness: the device that is used to split the beam is a diffraction grating, a series of microscopic parallel slits in a substance. When the beam of atoms hits the grating each atom doesn't go through only one slit; it goes through all at once.

It seems, then, that the HUP is an accurate depiction of matter at the atomic and subatomic level. The consequences for causality are devastating as a result. It seems that we can never know the true nature of a system or the universe at large.
 

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