Re: Reductionism (was: future of human evolution)

From: Stephen Tattum (
Date: Mon Oct 04 2004 - 10:11:40 MDT

>>That's it. That's the whole fuss silly philosophers
make over reductionism
and holism.

>>Philosophers get all weirded out about how water
appears to have this
magical additional property of wetness. This error is
yet another case of
Jaynes's "Mind Projection Fallacy". Philosophers think
as if explanations
were somehow real things, instead of explanations
being cheap imperfect
approximations of physics.

I would like to publicly take offence at the wild generalization about
Philosophers. As an amatuer Philosopher, much like yourselves, I think
it absurd that 'Philosophers' as a group - as if they were some sort of
entity - are being singled out and labelled as silly and all of the same
opinion. What you're talking about is the distinction between measuring
reality with instruments that are standardised (empiricism) and using
the un-standardised tool we all have in our heads. I like to think that
anyone can understand that as long as we assume the unchanging nature of
reality, which we have to, then empirical measurements are a more
reliable way of finding out information that we can use in future.

>>Physicists think as if 'physics' was somehow a real
thing which could exist independently of a mind to
comprehend it....

>What is the distinction between 'explanations' and
'physics'? I must confess I do not see it.

Physics is testable. Anyone anywhere in the world could follow
instructions for an experiment in physics and find out exactly the same
results as anyone else, understanding an explanation relies upon
understanding language which is vague at the best of times - and most
concepts, like the concept of wetness depend upon previous experience of
the concept itself. Hopefully the idea that to understand wetness one
has to have experienced it, helps you understand the force of something
empirical as oppose to just an explanation. The reason that even
concrete experience of 'wetness' for example is still inadequately
reliable is that everyone has a different instrument to measure it with
- their body (including their brain and therefor their mind). Physics is
only superior to simple explanations because of instruments used in
experiments, and maths is another fine example of a standardised

Steve, A Philosopher.....

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