Re: [xmca] Kevin's paper for discussion: causality

From: Steve Gabosch (
Date: Tue Jul 04 2006 - 12:44:48 PDT

Mike raises a really interesting challenge, which is to relate this
high level discussion of causality to Kevin's paper, which I am
thinking about. Kevin's paper does not specifically discuss theories
of causality, but seems to encounter different views of causality in
its general discussion of cognitivist teaching strategies versus
cognitive apprenticeship, and - this needs to be looked into more
carefully - may also be encountering different views on causality in
the discussion of symmetry - Kevin's argument that the cognitive
apprenticeship approach to learning needs to explore *symmetrical*
explanations of learning by going beyond studies of communities of
practice that are relatively benign and homogeneous. What
conceptions about causality are implied in Kevin's symmetrical
approach, and how are they different from approaches that are
satisfied with asymmetrical explanations?

I am glad Emily brought up Hume, and her discussion of dynamic
systems theory and emergentism are also very useful - as is Ana's
discussion of Prigogine. There is sure a lot packed into this little
word, "causality"!

Hume's theory of causality (the Wikipedia article on Hume has a
useful section on this) has been an important discussion piece in
philosophy for several centuries. Hume denied causality exists in
nature - he claimed it was an illusion created by human minds because
we *expect* certain things to happen based on our
experiences. Consistent with his skepticist philosophy, Hume argued
that we can never really know how things happened or will happen,
just that we think they did or will. Hume flatly denied the
existence of causes and effects being necessary and determined. This
questions of whether causality actually exists in nature at all and
when can causes be conceptualized as necessary and determined seem
like some of many important issues to address in developing a CHAT
approach to causality in exploring the causes of human development
and activity.

Interesting stuff, eh?

- Steve

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