Thursday, June 23, 2011

On the Nature of Emergent Reality

Have been glancing at "The Re-Emergence of Emergence: The Emergentist Hypothesis from Science to Religion" edited by Philip Clayton and Paul Davies.   A chapter titled On the Nature of Emergent Reality is authored by George F. R. Ellis and closes with: 

Strong reductionist claims, usually characterized by the phrase 'nothing but' and focusing only on physical existence, simply do not take into account the depth of causation in the real world as indicated above, nor the inability of physics on its own to comprehend these interactions and effects.  Reductionist claims represent a typical fundamentalist position, claiming a partial truth (based on some subset of causation) to be the whole truth and ignoring the overall rich causal matrix while usually focusing on purely physical elements of causation.  They do not  and cannot be an adequate basis of explanation or understanding in the real world. 

I believe the evidence he gives in the chapter backs up this conclusion.  At one time it seemed to me that Laplace's statement about all reality being reducible to points and forces on them was, depressingly, true.  I wanted a way of escape from that but couldn't see logically how to get out of it.  I had  no knowledge of the principal of emergence and the possibility of top-down causality.  Now I do have a little knowledge of it and hope to learn more.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

I’m particularly adept at making mistakes — Dyson Vacuum Inventor

I’m particularly adept at making mistakes—it’s a necessity as an engineer. . . . I love mistakes. 

This is a quote from a Newsweek article ( June 6, 2011, page 61) from James Dyson, the inventor and developer of a famous vacuum cleaner.  We have one and we like it very much.  Looking back, I see that in both my domestic and professional lives, fear of making mistakes has prevented me from being as productive and fruitful as I could have been.  Thanks for this fine sermon, James.

Blog Archive