So I shall restrict Nagarjuna's dependent arising of phenomena to the physical realm*. The source of my understanding is "Part Two, Chapter one - Examination of Conditions" of the book the fundamental wisdom of the middle way - Jay L Garfield which reads more as a metaphysical treatise on initial value problems.
Here's one of my takeaways of this*: "Cause preceding effect is more to with how we humans frame things."
To make this claim I'll assume determinism (for ease of explanation). Imagine an isolated room with some pebbles suspended in the air which are about to fall on a calculator. Now, I know the position and momentum of every molecule in the room. I run a simulation and I see the first pebble drops on 2, the second pebble drops on +, the third pebble drops on 3, the fourth pebble drops on =. Now at the moment the fourth pebble drops on = I suspend my physics calculations and predict that the outcome will be 5. (Note this was done without calculating the time evolution of the circuitry of the calculator).
How did I do this? I took advantage that the physical system performs a computation whose output in this situation is 5. Warmup is over.
Now, imagine I have a system which does the following computation: it "pretends" it has degrees of freedom. It to some extent attempts to second guess the time evolution of the environment around it. Then it makes a computation to act in a way relevant to it's goals and performs accordingly. Let's call this physical system a human being. Let's say the human is in a dark room and turns on the light.
Now, the human would conclude the following: "if I perform the action: flicking the switch the outcome: a well lit room would not have taken place. Hence, cause must precede effect." But from the perspective of physics, this isn't really what's happening (I'd argue). There really aren't any degrees of freedom if you start with a particular initial condition. The physical system would have always done the computation it would have performed. There is no if in "if I perform the action: flicking the switch the outcome: a well lit room would not have taken place." This "if" merely comes out of because we are taking advantage of the physical system doing a particular computation. It's not that causation does not make sense if there is no human being. It's only the human who privileged his actions and concluded "cause preceded effect." If nothing is privileged one would conclude simultaneity of cause and effect.
Suppose that you ask, “Why are the lights on?” I might reply as follows: (1) “Because I flicked the switch.” I have appealed to an efficient condition. Or, (2) “Because the wires are in good working order, the bulbs haven’t burned out, and the electricity is flowing.” These are supporting conditions. Or, (3) “The light is the emission of photons each of which is emitted in response to the bombardment of an atom by an electron, and so forth.” I have appealed to a chain of immediate conditions. Or, (4) “So that we can see.” This is the dominant condition. Any of these would be a perfectly good answer to the “Why?” question. But note that none of them makes reference to any causal powers or necessitation.
What I fail to understand is why isn't this more mainstream (Hence I suspect, there must be a flaw in my argument)? I can see immediate lines of attacks and implications for ethics, physics, etc. Perhaps, there are some counters or critiques I am unaware of?