Le 17-mars-06, à 06:47, Stathis Papaioannou a écrit :

> Bruno Marchal writes:
>> Le 11-mars-06, à 10:59, Georges Quénot wrote (to John):
>> <snip>
>>> Yes also and indeed, the way of thinking I presented
>>> fits within a reductionist framework. Nobody is required
>>> to adhere to such a framework (and therefore to the way
>>> of thinking I presented). If one rejects the reductionist
>>> approach, all I can say isn't even worth reading it for
>>> him. And, again, all of this is pure speculation.
>> Personally I disagree with any reductionist approach. But, given that 
>> I
>> agree with many of your statement, perhaps we have a "vocabulary"
>> problem.
>> I do even believe that a thoroughly "scientific attitude" is
>> automatically anti-reductionnist, whatever theories are used. Science,
>> being modest, just cannot be reductionist(*).
>> Even the numbers are nowadays no more completely reductible to any
>> "unifying theory".
>> Only pseudo-scientist (or some scientist during the week-end) can be
>> reductionist.
> I'm afraid I don't understand the version of reductionism to which you 
> so
> strongly object.

I guess I react strongly because the comp theory is sometimes confused 
with reductionist interpretation of it.

>  Are you perhaps referring to the mistake of trying to
> explain too much with too little?

Not necessarily. Perhaps. It is more the error of explaining *away*, at 
the level of the interpretation of some theory.

> Or are you referring to what Daniel
> Dennett has called "greedy reductionism": where something is not so 
> much
> explained in terms of what it reduces to as dismissed or explained 
> away,
> like saying there is no such thing as mental states because it's all 
> just
> neurophysiology?

Ah, you say it!  That is certainly a form of reductionism.

> Well, it is "all just neurophysiology", in that the
> neurophysiology is necessary and sufficient for the mental states.

Honestly, I find the expression "neurophysiology is necessary and 
sufficient for the mental states" rather ambiguous. It can be 
reductionist (example are given in the writing of Patricia Churchland).
John Searle would say the same sentence in a much less reductionist 
spirit, except that he has some reductionist notion of matter in the 

> The
> mental states in this sense can be said to reduce to the underlying 
> brain
> states.

OK, but saying is not explaining. According to the explanation given, 
we could decide if we are lead to a reductionist conception of the 
mind/brain relation.

> But this is not the same as saying that the mental states therefore
> do not exist, or are not important.

Saying that mental state does not exist is not just a reductionist 
position, I think it is just wrong. Saying that mental states exist and 
are "just" brain states is a form of reductionism.
It is hard to define "reductionism", but I would say it consists in 
explaining away problems by imposing some univocal interpretation of a 
theory. In "consciousness explained" Dennett explains *away* not only 
consciousness but mainly matter. But his general view on consciousness 
is not necessarily reductionist per se. Its notion of matter is very 
reductionist, and from this follows a sort of reductionism in his 
approach of the whole the mind-body question.



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