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I’ve said before that one of the most important things in science is doubt. Actually, there is something even more fundamental: the notion of causality. All science is based on the idea that every effect has a cause.
That is a big part of our (Judeo-Christian, Western) culture. Even the Bible starts with cause (God) and effect (heaven and earth). But, at least according to what Jung said in his preface to the Yi King, this is not the case in traditional Chinese thinking. (I don’t know enough about that to comment, though.)
It is very hard for us to imagine effect without cause (actually, the only case I can think of right now is God, and it’s not like it’s universally accepted). Just take the beginning of the Universe. I remember talking to a friend of mine (who, by the way, used to go to church until he picked up a physics book), many years ago, about the Big Bang. He was wondering what came before; that, to me, seemed faulty: he assumed that time existed before the Universe, but why should it? Why should there necessarily be a before, other than to comfort our need for a cause for this effect. But then again, who says the Big Bang was an effect?
This reminds me of this piece of philosophizing:
The universe began with a word. But which came first: the word or the thought behind the word? You can’t create language without thought, and you can’t conceive a thought without language, so which created the other, and thus created the universe?
Same faulty logic: why should there be a before and an after?We are, in this culture, so caught up in the idea of causality that it is nigh impossible to question it. That wouldn’t fit with our idea of reason. For example, I recently made the following comment, over at Thinking Girl’s, about déjà-vu:
I heard an hypothesis somewhere that time was like a river and not a line. Like a river, it goes one way, but parts of it goes faster than others (which is consistent with relativity). Events are like pebbles thrown in this river: the ripples goes both ways. Déjà-vu (and precognition) would be when we pick up these ripples.
Causality is still there, only the flow of time changes.
From time to time, I like to ask people what, for them, is the difference between art and science. Could this be it, that art is a search for knowledge/meaning without causality?