Immanence & Effect / Causeless Miracles

Can a system be influenced by something outside of itself?

By definition, if it can be influenced, isn’t that which influences it within that system?

If it weren’t, by definition, how could that system be influenced by that thing from the outside?  


Think of gods.  Gods influence our physical system, but they are not physical.  But if they have a physical influence, that which influences a system must itself have a physical manifestation.  

Religious people make an ontological category error here.  They believe a non-physical entity can produce a physical result.  My push back is simple: for a physical effect to occur, a physical cause must take place.

In the context of christianity, one can easily point to jesus as that bodily manifestation of a non-physical entity.  But to my point, then actually jesus just simply is the physical part of a larger entity.  


Causeless effects do not exist.  A savvy mystic might state that this itself is the definition of a miracle: a causeless effect.  

Sure, I guess.  But what we then mean by cause and effect, frankly, is virtually meaningless.  “Effects require causes … except….”.    I don’t find it compelling.  Again, a category error is being made, and a flip flop on definitions is required to believe such a proposition.  

Philosophy, in many ways, is the art of spelling things out in excruciating detail.  I don’t find causeless effects to pass my “that makes sense” filter.  


A poke from outside of a system to within that system requires a finger.  And that finger itself, as it turns out, is immanent to that system by virtue of its ability to influence that system.  As such, that finger that pokes never existed outside of that system to begin with. 

This leads me to think that if gods were real, they would be available to us in a non-trivial, non-miraculous way.  Many religious people believe this to be the case (until pressed, I suppose, whereupon this whole discussion ends up becoming a little frustrating). 

But if so, show me.  Show me and I’ll believe, but actually I won’t, I’ll see, touch, experience, measure.  Belief not required.  (I do not think belief is involved in phenomenology, even if beliefs are themselves a flavor of qualia).


Our system is complete.  That which has influence on our system is itself within our system.   

There is no such thing as ‘transcendent causes’.  Being a cause itself, to be a cause, requires an immanent relationship with that which is effected.   

This is a realization about the properties of causes and effects, I suppose, however straightforward it appears a first glace.  And for whatever reason, a property of things many do not take seriously on Sunday.


The rules from which our system is built (I’m agnostic about the ontological status of these rules) transcend this story.  That algorithm from which our system exists governs the instantiation of the system itself without being a part of that system.  Do the rules of physics break this example?

I don’t think so, because I’m not convinced the rules of physics exist outside of what is here for us now.  Rather they are deduced from within the system itself.


This is why a computer could never calculate every QM wave curve of possibility:  that computer itself would be within the system its computing, creating an infinite recursive loop of calculation.  One can never ‘know’ the universe in this way.  We can only infer rules from within and extrapolate outward.  


(idea sprawl, unedited, oct 8, 22)



This dynamic, the recursive loop of self-calculation that is itself impossible, applies to ourselves as well.  

The self knowing the self is the self within the self knowing the self, from which it cannot peer outward to see the self in totality.  It is a recursive loop of guessing without knowing, for this knowledge is itself forbidden.

If we were to transcend ourselves to know ourselves, we would not be ourselves.  

This relationship first struck me while reading Satre’s Transcendence of the Ego, which you can find here:

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