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Discussion 5 to Meditation 1
On Cause and Effect

by JT

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If, as Iain Murchland suggests, it is possible that cause and effect can be concurrent, then I wonder how it is possible to determine that one of the events is specifically cause and the other specifically effect. There is an element of concurrency in a series of causes bringing about a series of events such as the engine in my car causing the wheels to turn. Yes, the engine is running and the wheels turning concurrently, but the engine still had to start before it could drive the wheels. But, if by concurrent, Iain meant simultaneous, then I doubt cause and effect can be established.

Maarten van den Driest states "If I remember correctly, the idea that every single event in the universe has sufficient cause is seen as an axiom."

I think this idea that everything has a cause was originated by Aristotle, and Aquinas uses it in his cosmological argument. But, modern physics has found some things are not caused - for example, quantum fluctuations.[1]

In line with Maarten's closing invitation, perhaps someone more expert would like to expound (or at least expand) on the issue.


  1. A quantum fluctuation is the appearance of equal but opposite particles out of vacuum. A particle of matter and another of antimatter can appear for a moment then quickly meet and annihilate each other.