THE 'INFINITESIMAL* AND 'CAUSE AND EFFECT'
But we are not likely to find science returning to the crude form of causality believed in by Fijians and philosophers, of which the type is "lightning causes thunder." (457) bertrand russell
The notion of causality has been greatly modified by the substitution of space-time for space and time. . . . Thus geometry and causation becomes inextricably intertwined. (457) bertrand russell
In classical mechanics, and no less in the special theory of relativity, there is an inherent epistemological defect which was, perhaps for the first time, clearly pointed out by Ernst Mach. . . . No answer can be admitted as epistemojogically satisfactory, unless the reason given is an observable fact of experience. The law of causality has not the significance of a statement as to the world of experience, except when observable facts ultimately appear as causes and effects. (155) A. einstein
The chain of cause and effect could be quantitatively verified only if the whole universe were considered as a single system - but then physics has vanished, and only a mathematical scheme remains. The partition of the world into observing and observed system prevents a sharp formulation of the law of cause and effect. (215) w. heisenberg
Of late, another perplexing semantic problem concerning 'causality1 or 'non-causality' has arisen in connection with the newer quantum mechanics. It is possible to examine this question by different methods. The simpler one is connected with vague feelings of 'infinity' and its supposed opposite, the 'infinitesimal'; the more fundamental method is based on the orders of abstractions leading toward the oo-valued semantics of probability.
Because of man's natural tendency to speak in terms of 'infinity', and his further marked tendency of having opposites, such as 'yes', 'no', 'right', 'left', 'positive', 'negative', 'love', hate', 'honesty', 'dishonesty'., quite naturally the notion of 'infinity' carried with it the tendency to invent the 'infinitesimal'. Even mathematicians have had great semantic difficulties in breaking away from this habit. Analysis persistently reveals that structurally no matter how far we go in dividing something, let us say an inch, whatever is left may be extremely small, but yet it is a perfectly good finite quantity. Thus, structural difficulties were encountered with the postulated 'infinitesimal'. The name implies that they are not finite, yet analysis shows only finites. Mathematicians supposed that an 'infinitesimal' was necessary for mathematics, and so they were reluctant to abandon it.
The 'infinitesimal', like so many other baffling suppositions, was invented by the Greeks, who regarded a circle as differing 'infinitesimally'