Causality: Just the Quotes

“In all disciplines in which there is systematic knowledge of things with principles, causes, or elements, it arises from a grasp of those: we think we have knowledge of a thing when we have found its primary causes and principles, and followed it back to its elements.” (Aristotle, “Physics”, cca. 350 BC)

“All effects follow not with like certainty from their supposed causes.” (David Hume, “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”, 1748)

“[…] chance, that is, an infinite number of events, with respect to which our ignorance will not permit us to perceive their causes, and the chain that connects them together. Now, this chance has a greater share in our education than is imagined. It is this that places certain objects before us and, in consequence of this, occasions more happy ideas, and sometimes leads us to the greatest discoveries […]” (Claude Adrien Helvetius, “On Mind”, 1751)

“The word ‘chance’ then expresses only our ignorance of the causes of the phenomena that we observe to occur and to succeed one another in no apparent order. Probability is relative in part to this ignorance, and in part to our knowledge.” (Pierre-Simon Laplace, “Mémoire sur les Approximations des Formules qui sont Fonctions de Très Grands Nombres”, 1783)

“Man’s mind cannot grasp the causes of events in their completeness, but the desire to find those causes is implanted in man’s soul. And without considering the multiplicity and complexity of the conditions any one of which taken separately may seem to be the cause, he snatches at the first approximation to a cause that seems to him intelligible and says: ‘This is the cause!’” (Leo Tolstoy, “War and Peace”, 1867)

“There is a maxim which is often quoted, that ‘The same causes will always produce the same effects.’ To make this maxim intelligible we must define what we mean by the same causes and the same effects, since it is manifest that no event ever happens more that once, so that the causes and effects cannot be the same in all respects.” (James C Maxwell, “Matter and Motion”, 1876)

“To apply the category of cause and effect means to find out which parts of nature stand in this relation. Similarly, to apply the gestalt category means to find out which parts of nature belong as parts to functional wholes, to discover their position in these wholes, their degree of relative independence, and the articulation of larger wholes into sub-wholes.” (Kurt Koffka, 1931)

“[…] the conception of chance enters in the very first steps of scientific activity in virtue of the fact that no observation is absolutely correct. I think chance is a more fundamental conception that causality; for whether in a concrete case, a cause-effect relation holds or not can only be judged by applying the laws of chance to the observation.” (Max Born, 1949)

“Nature is pleased with simplicity, and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.” (Morris Kline, “Mathematics and the Physical World”, 1959)

“We use mathematics and statistics to describe the diverse realms of randomness. From these descriptions, we attempt to glean insights into the workings of chance and to search for hidden causes. With such tools in hand, we seek patterns and relationships and propose predictions that help us make sense of the world.” (Ivars Peterson, “The Jungles of Randomness: A Mathematical Safari”, 1998)

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IT professional/blogger with more than 19 years experience in IT - Software Engineering, BI & Analytics, Data, Project, Quality, Database & Knowledge Management

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