The Why Of Things


121313_mishmash_bookBy Peter Rabbins
Cloth 2013, 304 pages

What caused this book review to be written?

Is it because the book was written? Or, perhaps, because the reviewer was born. The printing press, the personal computer, Aristotle and myriad other factors can all be taken into consideration when asking the question, “What caused this book review to be written?”

Understanding the cause of things is an important pursuit in many fields such as biology, physics, history and psychology. Examining the past to decide how it caused the present or examining the present to see what it will beget in the future occupies the professional or personal life of every person.

“The Way of Things” leads the reader through a multidisciplinary ride, examining how to best determine causality in each area. It further explores the approaches of scholars and scientists since Moses and Aristotle who struggled with how to define causality. In addition to there being more than one way to determine causality, in many cases there can be more than one precipitating factor, thereby clouding the determination.

The author proposes a three-face model to understand causality, including models of causes (e.g., linear/non-linear), methods of cause analysis (e.g., predisposing, precipitating) and logics (e.g., empiric, ecclesiastic).

The scientific method and scientific advances over the past several centuries are all predicated on the assumption that we can discern the causes of events. The success of these methods would seem to show clearly that there is validity to the determinations of cause. But, is it truly possible to determine the cause?

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