The false cause fallacy is a fallacy in which a cause is incorrectly identified. As an example of this, consider the statement:
“Money makes a man happy. “
Money may make some men happy, but it may make others miserable. This is an example of a false cause fallacy.
The ātmā is not a cause of the mind’s desires
The ātmā can also be falsely considered a cause of phenomena. Consider the following type of statement:
A. All embodied beings have a relentless desire for happiness.
B. The ātmā is the cause of a property that is common to all beings.
C. The cause must contain the effect.
–> Therefore, the ātmā must have an inherent, relentless desire for happiness.
Here, the ātmā is falsely considered a cause of the desire for happiness in an embodied person.
Examples of the false cause fallacy
Below, I show a table that lists some examples of the false cause fallacy. The properties in the first column are perceivable in a person by an external observer. The right column lists their real cause. All of the properties in the left column are claimed by many to be inherent in the ātmā. For example, I have seen the fallacious argument that just as a glove fits the hand, the body fits the ātmā (i.e. the ātmā has a form). But none of the properties in the left column are actually inherent in the ātmā.
|Properties whose existence in the mind/body is incorrectly assumed to be due to their being inherent in the ātmā||Real cause|
|Desires||Sensory input which triggers emotion|
|Knowledge||Recall of information or sensory input into the mind|
|Desire to serve others||Mental impressions or programs present in the citta|
|Bliss||Sensory inputs or recall of past memories|
|Bhakti or prema||Mental programs or saṁskāras|
|Love||Mental programs or saṁskāras|
|Emotions, Feelings||Triggering of saṁskāras|
|Form||Collection of parts with form|
|Desire for happiness||Thoughts seeking pleasurable experiences (real or imagined)|