Re: An idea to resolve the 1st Person/3rd person division mystery - Coarse graining is the answer!?

From: Stathis Papaioannou <>
Date: Mon, 7 May 2007 19:50:21 +1000

On 05/05/07, Russell Standish <> 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.

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.

Stathis Papaioannou
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Received on Mon May 07 2007 - 05:50:35 PDT

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