On Mon, May 07, 2007 at 07:50:21PM +1000, Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
> On 05/05/07, Russell Standish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> Reductionism eliminates emergence. Reductionism is the philosophy that
> > all relevant properties of something can be explained in terms of the
> > properties of its components.
> >
> > A weaker property is supervenience. Something A supervenes on the
> > physics of its component parts U if two different states of A must
> > have correspondingly different states of U.
> >
> > This may seem like the same thing, and many people confuse the two,
> > however the example of irreversible systems supervening on molecules
> > with reversible dynamics clearly illustrates the difference.
> Maybe I'm arguing over a point of language, but it still seems to me that if
> A supervenes on U, then it is entirely explained by U.  If A surprises
> despite full knowledge of U, then that just means your knowledge of U was
> incomplete: that is, you have to add to your list of properties of the
> components of U that lots of them interacting in a particular way result in
> thermodynamic irreversibility, or intelligence, or whatever. It's just that
> sometimes the result of the interaction is obvious, and other times not.

You still seem to be missing the point. You can have Laplace's daemon's
knowledge of all the particles in the universe, yet still have no idea
of what it is like to be in love. OK, I'm being extreme here, but for
a reason. In fact Laplace's daemon's knowledge does not tell you about
a lot of things eg the wetness of water, as these latter things are
simply not in "the terms of reference" of knowing about molecules.

So I completely disagree. Supervenience of a system on a lower level does not
entail that the lower level explains everything about the system.

And in terms of the surprise thing - you haven't played much with
computer programming, have you?

> Incidently, you quote me as saying "reductionism has gone too
> > far". Whilst this is the sort comment I might make (depending on
> > context), I don't appear to make it anywhere in my book.
> My apologies, you are right... weird when you have a *really clear* memory
> of something and it turns out to be wrong.

That's alright - I've done the same thing myself. I wasn't taking
offence, I was just trying to find the context to see what I actually
did say.

> -- 
> Stathis Papaioannou
> > 


A/Prof Russell Standish                  Phone 0425 253119 (mobile)
UNSW SYDNEY 2052                         [EMAIL PROTECTED]
Australia                                http://www.hpcoders.com.au

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