Friday, October 3, 2008

Final Cause

It's been years since I thought about Final Cause. A good friend of mine, in fact one of the closest friends I ever had, with whom I discussed the issue of Final Cause extensively and with whom I formed, in part, a business around the concept of Final Cause, has passed away. He has slipped into the eternal unknown. I can still fell his cold body pumped rigid with toxic preservatives even though it was almost 2 years ago.  Still, in my mind it was only yesterday that he took his final chopped and disturbing breath. Like a an industrial machine forcing out filaments of coarse air. I wasn't there when his life came to an abrupt end. But his wife tells me how it went down, and I can feel it vividly like a belch exhausted at close proximity.

Final cause, so easily perturbed by the unexpected. But of course, no one is privy to the true end but the future events themselves. However, as Aristotle so aptly observed, there is indeed Final Cause: a desired end state towards which the living strive. A nut that struggles to expand into a majestic tree. It's really quite unfortunate that we have rejected the validity of final cause because of strict interpretations of deterministic models. Determinism places cause square in only one place: Original Cause, that one penultimate point where the single universal machine was set into motion. Since Newton's eclipse, we have worked our way into the shady world of probabilities, of collapsing wave functions. And yet we have resisted embracing the Forth Cause, Final Cause, as a legitimate member of our understanding of causation.

It's odd, to say the least. Final Cause is there at our daily level all the time. Why did we apply for a specific job? Because we desired towards a certain glorified end state, a state of being some specific entity in our human struggle for meaning? Or because we were determined to desire the unattainable by an almighty actor, an actor mysterious in its meandering ways? No, it makes no intuitive sense. Final Cause is as real as immediate cause.  Final Cause evolves, then affects the past in very real ways. Well, the future to be precise.