Percept and Concept. The Structure of a World Picture
SUMMARY: We have seen in the first chapter that 'cause' is a most important concept in man's everyday language and that it is used with a wide variety of different meanings. As long as these different senses of the word are not contradictory this does not bother us in most of our ordinary affairs, where in fact some ambiguity enhances the aesthetics if not the clarity of discourse. However, in a philosophical study greater precision is necessary. We have made a first step by establishing a classification of cause according to: 'partial', 'total', 'originating', and 'final'. We introduced the scientific term 'determinism' as equivalent to 'total cause', and dropped 'finalism' as being simply a special type of 'prior cause'. In the sequel, then, we will be working only with 'partial cause', 'determinism', and 'originating cause'. There is little disagreement about the existence of partial causes of events. The real question revolves about whether events in the world are determined or not. Much more work needs to be done before we will be ready to talk about this.
Now whatever else 'cause' and 'determinism' may be they are words, and to understand them we must understand the function of words and language; how words combine with one another to make meaningful statements, and how these statements correspond to events in the world around us. It is beyond the scope of this book to carry out a thorough- going analysis of this. In particular, we will make no attempt to study the details of language or mathematical grammar. However there are three things we must do. In order they are: First, by recreating the method by which our concept of reality is built up, to examine the nature of our present-day common-sense--scientific--philosophical world picture; second, to study the construction and operation of symbolic systems in general (of which language is one example); third, to understand the functional relation between the two--our experiences of the world and our symbolic representation of it.
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Like the doubting Descartes with his 'Cognito ergo sum' ('I think