Reductionism
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24-09-2015, 11:52 AM
Reductionism
I don't even know if I am putting this question in the right section. I guess it could be a philosophy question. I am reading The Blind Watchmaker by Dawkins. I am completely lost on this concept of reductionism. I googled it, but the wiki is even more confusing. Can someone help?

Here is what I think it could be, but I could be 100% wrong. If we are using the smaller parts to explain something much larger and complicated. Is that the same as we know the big bang happened but all we have are these leftover smaller parts to look at. So therefore we draw conclusions based off the smaller parts?
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21-10-2015, 03:07 PM
RE: Reductionism
For example: reductionists might believe that to understand how the mind works (brain) we have to understand how the "small parts" work and their roles.
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21-10-2015, 05:45 PM
RE: Reductionism
Let's take an analogue clock. We can look at the big picture and say that some energy is put into it and the hands are each made to turn at their own rate. But that isn't a great explanation. Is there a magical clock fairy inside making it move?

A reductionist approach to understanding the clock would be to understand each cog and spring in the clock. Once we understand the parts and we understand how they fit together and how they work together then we perhaps say we really understand how the whole clock works.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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21-10-2015, 06:28 PM
RE: Reductionism
I am a reductionist, not sure if in Dawkins way (I am not aware of his views), and I think that's the only reasonable way possible to understand in clarity any phenomena whatsoever. Although I do not stand with the usual "reductionist" positions you might find on the literature. I call the ordinary reductionist position as "linear reductionism". This position argues that the whole is the "sum" of its parts. That's not correct, because the whole is not only the sum of its parts, but also all the products, exponentiations, radicands, fractions, feedbacks and reinforcements of its parts. I call that "non-linear reductionism".

Linear reductionism is:
Z = AX + BY, where A and B are not functions of X and Y.

Non-linear reductionism is:
Z = A(X,Y)X + B(X,Y)Y + C(X,Y)X^2 + D(X,Y)Y^2 + E(X,Y)X*Y + O(3)
where A, B, C, D, E are functions of X and Y and O(3) are the terms of third and superior orders (which usually are smaller and smaller).

Reductionism is a position that any extract of reality is reduced to the lower extracts, to the lowest. Politics and Economics are reduced to Sociology, which in turn is reduced to Psychology, which is reduced to Biology, which is reduced to Biochemistry, which is reduced to Geology, which is reduced to Chemistry, which, finally, is reduced to Physics, and there is nothing more basic than Physics ("basic" here stands for fundamental). This means that, at the end, every phenomena is physical. What does not make it, necessarily, appropriate to explain any phenomenon the most fundamental way.

All explanation about any extract of reality can be reduced to explanations of inferior extracts. Reality has many layers. The most fundamental one is the physical, which contains all constitutive elements of the Universe, that is, the elementary particles of matter, the fields of interaction and the radiation. Over this model is established the chemical reality of the clusters of matter, atoms, molecules, crystals, and their mixtures, as well as all the physical phenomena (movements and interactions) with the systems, that is, mechanics, thermology, chemistry, electromagnetism and hydrodynamics of continuum means. All explanations of this level can be obtained from the behavior of the elementary particles and their interactions. However, above is the phenomenon of life with all its complexity but which, at the end, nothing more is than cellular biochemistry. Above it is life to psychic reality, or the mind and all its occurrences, as perception, memory, reasoning, emotion, consciousness, which in turn, comes from the anatomy and physiology of the nervous system of living organisms that have it, that is, the psyche is reduced to complex organic phenomena. Further up is the social reality, which is composed from the interaction of minds. Above the social reality are the political, economic and cultural realities.

Reductionism states that, deep down, they also reduce to interactions between elementary particles. What this means is that there can be no economic, political or cultural fact without protons, electrons, neutrons, photons, neutrinos, electric, magnetic and gravitational fields interacting with each other to produce that fact. According to reductionism, there is nothing exclusively from a stratum that does not come from occurrences in the lower strata (except for the lowest strata). But this does not mean that "the whole is the sum of the parts". There are other contributions, in addition to the additive of the parts to the whole. There are, as I said before, enhanced contributions, potentiations, exponentiations, crusades, feedbacks. Such contributions are able to explain what is called "holism" which would be an action of the whole of the parts or the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, that is, contributions estabilish an emergence between a layer and another. Holism opposes the "linear reductionism" but not to a "non-linear reductionism", that in fact there is no way to escape, because there is not a whole if there are no parts.
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21-10-2015, 07:15 PM
RE: Reductionism
As opposed to preductionism?'

Don't let those gnomes and their illusions get you down. They're just gnomes and illusions.

--Jake the Dog, Adventure Time

Alouette, je te plumerai.
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21-10-2015, 07:21 PM
RE: Reductionism
(21-10-2015 07:15 PM)Old Man Marsh Wrote:  As opposed to preductionism?'

I got no idea what that means but I'm running with it. Thumbsup

#sigh
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21-10-2015, 11:07 PM
RE: Reductionism
(21-10-2015 05:45 PM)Hafnof Wrote:  ...
Once we understand the parts and we understand how they fit together and how they work together then we perhaps say we really understand how the whole clock works.

... but this does not explain the feeling we get when we realise we are late for work.

I was gonna go down the Holism path but I can't imrprove on MCarsten's reply.

Here's Douglas Adams on the subject:
Quote:If you try and take a cat apart to see how it works, the first thing you have on your hands is a nonworking cat.

Life is a level of complexity that almost lies outside our vision; it is so far beyond anything we have any means of understanding that we just think of it as a different class of object, a different class of matter; 'life', something that had a mysterious essence about it, was God given, and that's the only explanation we had.

The bombshell comes in 1859 when Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. It takes a long time before we really get to grips with this and begin to understand it, because not only does it seem incredible and thoroughly demeaning to us, but it's yet another shock to our system to discover that not only are we not the centre of the Universe and we're not made by anything, but we started out as some kind of slime and got to where we are via being a monkey.

It just doesn't read well.

Douglas Adams. The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time.

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