Philosophy For Kids: Cause and Effect

One of the important topics for Philosophy is cause and effect. For instance, if we heat water to 100 degrees Celsius, this will cause the water to boil. Philosopher Immanuel Kant pointed out the mind plays a trick here. As a middle “something” between the mind and the boiling water, we experience the cause and effect as different kinds of “irreversible.” For example, cause and effect is the (i) least irreversible when a ball hits another ball, (ii) more irreversible when there is a temporary change of form when water boils (the steam going back to liquid when the heat is removed), and (iii) permanently irreversible in cases like cooking an egg, because the egg can’t be uncooked.

So, since we don’t see irreversibility, just this, then this, then this, the mind is doing something to create the experience of cause and effect! It’s not just the mind being creative, since it depends on the object (only the cooked egg in the three example is permanently irreversible), so cause and effect is not purely mind nor purely object, but in the middle.

Note: Cause and effect works differently in humans, because while heat always causes water to boil, a difficult childhood may or may not cause problems when the child grows up. Nietzsche famously said “From the military school of life: That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”