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  • Maxwell Casazza

Cause and Effect: Our conventional framework of how the world works.

We usually conceptualize an event as a point in time that has a beginning and an end. An event, by its very definition, is a process. Are we able to pinpoint the beginning and the end of an event? What would we consider to be the beginning of a birthday: the anticipatory week leading up to the day? The entire day itself? Or just the remaining time, following our time of birth.


It can be difficult to identify when an event starts and ends, and it can be just as difficult to determine when one event ends, and another begins. The phases of an event are closely linked to our traditional method of conceptualizing an event: cause and effect. But how are we to determine the cause and effect of an event?


Much like trying to find the beginning and end of an event, it is challenging to identify the cause(s) of an event. Events are not monocausal, so it is typical to be torn between several different factors that influence the fruition of the event. Causes often have a varying order of magnitude, further convoluting our investigation. Just because one cause has more of a material basis than another cause, does it really mean it played a greater role in affecting the outcome of an event?


For example: What cause do we most attribute to our birth? Is it our parents falling in love? Is it the moment of our conception? Our materialist tendencies will make our choice lean towards the moment of conception. Does this brief moment in time deserve the weight that it gets in explaining how we became who we are?


Our material understanding of something such as birth does not accurately explain how the emergence of life happens. Due to our reliance on the relationship of cause and effect, we are unable to imagine that something can indeed emerge from nothing at all. One reason for our reliance on cause and effect is that it can be damaging to our identity to know that we weren't necessarily the impetus for an event. Since our lives are so personality-centric, it is near impossible for most of us to conceptualize a universe where things happen unto themselves.


If we examine historical events, we can quickly find instances of these happenings. Take the Big Bang Theory, for example. This is a pinnacle example of an event happening without a known cause; material existence emerging from a vacuum of nothing, expanding infinitely. What lead to the Big Bang? Which stage of nothingness is more important in the lead-up to the first event of the Universe? As you may be able to tell, the answer is a red herring.


If the birth of our universe functions in this mysterious way with no known causes, why do we place so much emphasis on the causes of events taking place in our own lives? We do this to create a narrative which gives us certainty, and a story to tell about ourselves. But beyond serving that purpose, creating a rigid narrative of causes seems to diminish the cosmic and supernatural nature of being.

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