Re: The Tipping Point

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Sat Apr 14 2001 - 09:46:09 BST

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    Date: Sat, 14 Apr 2001 09:46:09 +0100
    Subject: Re: The Tipping Point
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    In-Reply-To: <3AD61967.20283.B0C4E9@localhost>; from on Thu, Apr 12, 2001 at 09:08:55PM -0500
    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Thu, Apr 12, 2001 at 09:08:55PM -0500, wrote:
    > On 12 Apr 2001, at 10:53, Robin Faichney wrote:
    > > I'm starting a new thread here because I suspect Joe Dees hopes to
    > > quietly drop his claim that the tipping point phenomenon demonstrates
    > > "top-down causation", and I don't think he should be allowed to do so.
    > > C'mon Joe, are you going to provide a full explanation of how that
    > > works, or admit that it doesn't?? :-)
    > >
    > Au Contraire; although it is the simplest of analogies for a process
    > so complex as to be recursive (the emergent self), which a pile of
    > sand is not, the idea that the entire gestalt configuration of the pile
    > of sand is not reduceable to its components taken in isolation, but
    > must include their interrelations, and not just those immediately
    > contiguous to each grain, but globally, across the entire pile, is
    > essential to the explanation of what happens when the next grain
    > falls. None of the grains in isolation could explain that, nor could
    > all of them, minus their interactions, nor could all of them, if only
    > contiguous interactions are considered in isolation from the
    > dcomplex concatenation of relations and interrelations comprising
    > the gestalt integrity of the pile system.

    The tipping point phenomenon occurs at the level of the pile, obviously.
    Individual grains don't have tipping points, and nobody claims they do.
    But you claim that, through "top-down causation", the tipping point
    exerts an influence on the individual grain, while I say, at that level,
    what is happening is simply interaction between individual grains (and
    gravity etc.). Nothing in that paragraph (or in anything else you've
    written that I've seen) supports your claim.

    > Next, you're gonna be
    > telling me that you can take the components of a TV apart and still
    > watch BBC. What happens to those signals depends upon a
    > global interrelation between those electronic components, and
    > changing even one of them can alter the system beyond the point
    > of signal receptivity.

    You're confusing scepticism regarding vertical causation with
    reductionism. I've said several times that I regard the tipping
    point phenomenon as being just as real as are the individual grains.
    I'm not a reductionist. I also think a TV show is as real as a resistor.
    But what you're saying is that the individual components of the TV are
    affected by the type of program that's on.

    Robin Faichney
    Get your Meta-Information from
    (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)

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