Part 3: Love, Hatred, and how Causation roots in Remembered-Thinking

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Video Outline

00:25 – Introductory quote from Section 3 of “The Pressure of Light: how consciousness creates permanence in an infinite universe”*, from Albert Einstein²



02:28 – First of Hume’s experiments:

Imagine there is an object placed between myself and the other person that has no relation either of impressions or ideas to any of the passions. Suppose this object is an ordinary, flat pebble. It is evident that the pebble will not produce any of the four passions, but imagine each successively anyway, for the experiment. Neither love, hatred, humility or pride arises even in the smallest degree from the ordinary, flat pebble. If I change the pebble to another object, to any object that does not have a relationship with my passions through an idea or an impression, such as a stick or a clump of clay, I’ll find that no object, in the vast variety of nature, will, in any disposition, produce any passion without these relations.

03:28 – Overview of Hume’s “Impressions” and “Ideas”

05:20 – A helpful quote from the Treatise of Human Nature:

“The difference betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and liveliness, with which they strike upon the mind, and make their way into our thought or consciousness. Those perceptions, which enter with most force and violence, we may name impressions: and under this name I comprehend all our sensations, passions and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soul. By ideas I mean the faint images of these in thinking and reasoning…I believe it will not be very necessary to employ many words in explaining this distinction. Every one of himself will readily perceive the difference betwixt feeling and thinking.”*

07:18 – My re-interpretation of the first experiment

The main change I make is to remove present-moment happenings in the description, so the impression of the pebble is now understood as a memory of awareness of the pebble.

08:40 – Second experiment:

What if I bestow on the object one of these relations? What will follow? If I understand that the ordinary, flat pebble belongs either to me or my companion, and by that means acquires a relation of ideas to the object of the passions, it is plain to see, considering the matter a priori, that I can expect to feel no emotion of any kind. A relation of ideas operates secretly and calmly on the mind, and because it operates secretly and calmly, it bestows an equal impulse towards the opposite passions of pride and humility, if the object belongs to me, and love and hatred, if the object belongs to my companion. Whether it belongs to myself or my companion, the opposition of the faintly felt emotions destroy each other, and leave the mind perfectly free from any affection or discomfort. This reasoning a priori is confirmed by experience. No trivial or ordinary object, that causes not a pain or pleasure, independent of the passion, will ever, by its property or other relations, either to ourselves or others, produce the affections of pride or humility, or love or hatred.

09:58 – Summary of experiment.

10:42 – Overview of Hume’s categorization of impressions and ideas into simple and complex.

11:27 – Quote from Hume: “All our simple ideas in their first appearance are derived from simple impressions, which are correspondent to them, and which they exactly represent”*


11:36 – Explaining the difference between simple and complex as the difference between a shoe and an awesome shoe.

14:06 – Re-interpretation of the second experiment: the present-moment concept of the mind passing from one thought to another is re-interpreted as the past-experience of the mind remembering the analysis of the relationship between two-thought-memories.

16:27 – Third Experiment:

It is evident, therefore, that a relation of ideas is not able alone to give rise to these affections. I will now remove this relation, and in its position place a relation of impressions, by presenting an elegant vase, as well as a dirty piece of cloth. One object is agreeable, the other disagreeable, but neither has a relation either to myself or my companion. Now I will observe the consequences. To consider the matter first a priori, as in the preceding experiment, I may conclude that the vase or the cloth will have a small, but uncertain connection with the passions. This relation is not a cold and imperceptible one, it does not have the same inconvenience of a relation with ideas, like the pebble owned by myself or my companion, and therefore does not direct me with equal force to two contrary passions, which by their opposition destroy each other. 

My perception of the vase transitions from sensation to affection, but not by any principle that produces a transition of ideas; on the contrary, that the perception of the vase transfuses into an affection that can so easily be eliminated by replacing the beautiful vase with the ordinary, flat pebble, or transfused into a feeling of discomfort if replaced by the dirty piece of cloth, I can infer that any object connected to my passions solely by a relation of impressions will never be a steady or durable cause of any passion. 

What I conclude from this analogy, after balancing the arguments, is that an object, which produces pleasure or uneasiness, but has no manner of connection either with myself or others, is that it may give my disposition such a turn that it may naturally fall into pride or love, or humility or hatred, but then search for some other object that has a double relation through ownership of beauty, or some other mix of impression and idea, on which my disposition can found its affections; and I conclude that an object, which has only one of these relations, even the most advantageous one, can never give rise to any constant and established passion.

My conclusions are conformable to experience and the phenomenon of the passions. Suppose I were traveling with a companion through a country to which we are both utter strangers. It is evident that if the prospects are beautiful, the roads agreeable, and the inns commodious, the country may put me into good humour both with myself and fellow-traveler. But since this country has no relation either to myself or my friend, it can never be the immediate cause of pride or love. If my feeling does not fall onto some other aspect of the country that bears a close relation to either myself or my friend, my emotions will remain nothing but the overflowings of an elevated or humane disposition, rather than an established passion.

19:20 – Summary of the experiment

20:24 – Discussing the purpose of the experiment: showing that the cause of the passions inevitably comes from the internal conscious space, not the external universe.

21:20 – Overview of Hume’s three fundamental connections between thoughts: contiguity, resemblance, and causal, and introducing how my perspective of thought connections relate 

24:53 – Fourth Experiment

Having found, that neither an object without any relation of ideas or impressions, nor an object, that has only one relation, can ever cause pride or humility, or love or hatred, reason alone may convince me, without any further experiment, that whatever has a double relation must necessarily excite these passions, since a double relationship must result from some cause. But to leave as little room for doubt as possible, I will continue my experiments. 

Consider a letter of promotion before me, an object that represents virtue, and consider that it causes a separate sensation of satisfaction. On this object I bestow a relation to self, the promotion is mine, and find, that from this disposition of affairs, there immediately arises a passion. But what passion? That very one of pride, to which this letter bears a double relation. Its idea is related to that of self, the object of the passion. The sensation it causes is the sensation of the passion. That I may be sure I am not mistaken in this experiment, I remove first one relation, the pleasant feeling associated with promotion, then another, the idea that the promotion is mine, and find that each removal destroys the passion, and leaves the object perfectly indifferent. 

But I am not content with this, and make still a further trial: instead of removing the relation, I only change it for one of a different kind. I suppose the promotion to belong to my companion, not to myself, and observe what follows from this alteration. I immediately perceive the affections to wheel about, and leaving pride, where there is only one relation, the pleasantness associated with promotion, my affections fall to the side of love, where there is the double relation of impressions and ideas, the idea of the promotion’s relationship with my companion. By repeating the same experiment, changing anew the relation of ideas so that the promotion is once again mine, I bring the affections back to pride; and by a new repetition and change of ideas I again place them at love or kindness. 

Now fully convinced of the influence of this relation, I try exchanging virtue for vice, changing the letter of promotion for a letter of termination, converting the pleasant impression, which arises from the former, into the disagreeable one, which proceeds from the latter. The effect is still the same. The vice represented by the letter of termination, when the recipient is my companion, excites, by means of its double relations, the passion of hatred instead of love. To continue the experiment, I change anew the relation of ideas, and suppose the letter of termination to belong to myself. What follows? A subsequent change of the passion from hatred to humility. This humility I could convert into pride by a new change of the impression, by changing the letter of termination back to a letter of promotion. In this way I have brought back the passion to that very situation in which I first found it: pride.

But to make the matter still more certain, I alter the object; and instead of vice and virtue, make the trial upon beauty and deformity, or riches and poverty, or power and servitude. Each of these objects runs the circle of the passions in the same manner, by a change of their relations; and in whatever order we proceed, whether through pride, love, hatred, and humility, or through humility, hatred, love, and pride, the experiment is not in the least diversified. Esteem and contempt, indeed, arise on some occasions instead of love and hatred; but these are at the bottom the same passions, only diversified by some causes, which I will explain later.

28:24 – Summary of the experiment

29:05 – My reinterpretation of the experiment: the passing of the mind’s attention is reinterpreted as an analysis of either causal relationships or contextual relationships between thoughts. The present-moment passing is reinterpreted as a backwards movement from the point of view of remembering. 

30:43 – Discussing how my description of relationships between thoughts does not replace Hume’s relationships between impressions and ideas, because while Hume refers to the relationships between the content of thought, I’m refer to the relationships between thoughts themselves. 

32:24 – Why observing our own thoughts may be the source of causal relationships, not the external universe.

34:00 – Discussing Hume’s assertion about causal relationships, that they can’t be observed in the external universe, only inferred through internal processing, and only after seeing the causal-object and effected-object repetitively in contiguity in time and space.

36:48 – A relevant quote from Hume:

“’Tis therefore by experience only, that we can infer the existence of one object from that of another. The nature of experience is this. We remember to have had frequent instances of the existence of one species of objects; and also remember, that the individuals of another species of objects have always attended them, and have existed in a regular order of contiguity and succession with regard to them. Thus we remember to have seen that species of object we call flame, and to have felt that species of sensation we call heat. We likewise call to mind their constant conjunction in all past instances. Without any farther ceremony, we call the one cause and the other effect, and infer the existence of the one from that of the other.”*


37:33 – Summarizing Hume’s conception of causal relationships

38:17 – How Hume’s conception of causal relationships are important to my assertions about thoughts: because I’ve identified the ease in which the mind can perceive infinite repetitions of remembered thoughts, this makes those remembered thoughts strong contenders for the source of causal relationships, if Hume is right about the necessity of repetition of objects of cause-and-effect in memory. 

40:02 – Concluding Statement:

Perfectly repeatable and connectable remembered-thoughts establish the means for perceiving causal relationships, more so than any remembered-external-event, and therefore causation most likely roots in remembered-thinking. 

Call for Contributing-and-Lead-Authors (submissions and nominations):

So that my core assertions may be taken from non-academic realms to the realms of academia, I’ve created this call for a lead-author and contributing-authors for a scientific paper that is described by the following hypothetical abstract (please consider submitting yourself as an author, or nominating someone else, by commenting or letting me know in any available way):

Title: How Causation Roots in Remembered-Thinking (an abstract created as an example for a call for contributing-authors: submissions and nominations)

The following hypothesis was made in the 2022 presentation, “Thinking, Remembering-Thinking, Thinking about a Memory of Thinking, and how that Messes with Time”,  to Ajeenkya D Y Patil University:

Perfectly repeatable and connectable remembered-thoughts establish the means for perceiving causal relationships, more so than any remembered-external-event, and therefore causation most likely roots in remembered-thinking. 

The hypothesis breaks down as follows: perfect repeatability and connectability is established through a comparison of remembered-thinking-events and remembered-external-events with the following outcomes: memories of external events have fuzzy boundaries, imperfect repetitions, and are connected through inferred relationships that are vulnerable to disproof by other event-participants and future evidence; remembered-thinking-events have perfect boundaries, perfect repeatability, and are invulnerable to disproof. Because unresolvable-uncertainty about remembered thoughts is what allows for perfect boundaries and repeatability, and because uncertainty increases for two-thoughts-ago, three-thoughts-ago, and so on, infinite repetitions are easy to conceive, and neurological evolution is likely to respond to this mental capability. Furthermore, since the roots of causation are in a mentally created past, this point gives strength to the hypothesis that causation does not exist in the external universe at all.

The presentation was made by Andrew Malcolm, who was presenting the core assertions made in his 2022 non-academic, epistemological essay, “The Pressure of Light: how consciousness creates permanence in a universe of infinite-heterogeneity”. Unlike in the essay, the presentation put the hypothesis in the context of David Hume’s system for understanding consciousness, and his own assertions about causal relationships. The outcome was a strengthening of Malcolm’s hypothesis about remembered-thinking. 

The outcome breaks downs as follows: David Hume deduces that causal relationships are not observable in the external universe, and only inferrable in the conscious space. He also asserts that causal relationships are only inferrable after objects-of-cause and objects-of-effect are witnessed in contiguity in space and time, and remembered, over multiple iterations. If remembered thinking allows for far greater ease in observing perfect iterations than the external universe, and if Hume is correct, then it’s likely causation roots in remembered-thinking. 

For this paper, a number of academics from the fields of neurology, physics, psychology and philosophy were invited to consider Malcolm’s hypothesis in the context of a theoretical framework they were familiar with, and which concerned either causation or consciousness, or both, much as Malcolm did with Hume. The results present a tally of which considerations strengthened the hypothesis and which weakened it. The discussion considers the value of the hypothesis, and the possibilities for verification and falsification through experimentation.

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