Re: Evil ?

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 14:11:53 -0800

John Mikes wrote:
> Brent, you don't REALLY put strange (implied?) words in my mouth, but
> that gives the impression to the innocent byreader that I said anything
> like that.
> BM:
> "Did I claim that we had reached a complete inventory??"
> JM:
> No, you only said:
> "> It is only your opinion that the inventory is *necessarily* incomplete."
> Presumably not YOUR opinion, implying completeness of our (cognitive)
> inventory.
> I apologize for a typo: what I wrote 1006 was meant indeed 2006(AD), if
> this number has some connotations in our minds. Now if (as you seem to
> agree) we increase our cogniotive inventory even to date, it is
> "necessarily" incomplete. QED

Of course I agree that it is incomplete. But you seem to assume that it can never be complete - that even if reductionist physics bottoms out with a single unified field, our "inventory" will be incomplete because it will not include all the complex relations of those elementary inventory items. I think this is begging the question against reductionism.

> *
> BM:
> " Does the fact that we don't now know everything prove that there are
> things we will never know?"
> JM:
> You cannot paste this nonsense onto my neck. However we have limited
> means in our mental arsenal - what you may call "material" tools eg. the
> 'brain' - which does not imply our capability to collect an
> unrestricted, limitless (I almost wrote: infinite)
> knowledge-base (=cognitive inventory).

Is this what you meant to write?: ~[limited means -> ability to collect unlimited knowledge-base)] It certainly seems true - but trivial.

> Such consideration, however, does
> have nothing to do with *proving* what you asked upon the condition you
> used.
> *
> BM:
> "Does the fact that a reductionist analysis is incomplete imply that a
> wholistic theory is correct?"
> JM:
> Are you asking me, or are you just ironic? So far I did not experience
> in your writings logical flaws, I valued your opinion for that. I read
> in your sentence an affirmative to the incompleteness of a reductionist
> analysis, so we agree. I pointed to this as a flaw that may be deducted
> from not thinking wholistically enough.

I think reductionist/wholistic it is a false dichotomy. Reductionist theories are only successful when they explain the more wholistic theory (which looked at from the other end is called "emergent"); as statistical mechanics explained thermodynamics and biochemistry is aiming to explain life. Physicist are motivated by wholism, as in the current effort to find a unifying theory of quantum gravity. But a theory that does not reduce the phenomena will be as much a mystery as the phenomena itself.

Brent Meeker

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Received on Tue Dec 26 2006 - 17:12:23 PST

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