Re: The Tipping Point

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Thu Apr 19 2001 - 11:53:18 BST

  • Next message: daniella: "hidden Women, back to hiding"

    Received: by id MAA13688 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Thu, 19 Apr 2001 12:23:31 +0100
    Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2001 11:53:18 +0100
    Subject: Re: The Tipping Point
    Message-ID: <>
    References: <3ADC5862.25994.30C1CB@localhost>; <> <3ADDAD89.28068.549B02@localhost>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
    Content-Disposition: inline
    User-Agent: Mutt/1.3.15i
    In-Reply-To: <3ADDAD89.28068.549B02@localhost>; from on Wed, Apr 18, 2001 at 03:06:49PM -0500
    From: Robin Faichney <>
    Precedence: bulk

    On Wed, Apr 18, 2001 at 03:06:49PM -0500, wrote:
    > On 18 Apr 2001, at 11:05, Robin Faichney wrote:
    > > On Tue, Apr 17, 2001 at 02:51:14PM -0500, wrote:
    > > > On 17 Apr 2001, at 15:13, Robin Faichney wrote: > > > > That
    > > TV/camera dynamic can also be made to feedback, (and change the > > >
    > > picture sent to it), by pointing the camera at the monitor. > > >
    > > Controlling the 'tipping points' of luminosity and color can result >
    > > > > in some rather beautifully kinetic images. > > > > True. I've
    > > done that myself. But does that makes it a better analogy > > in this
    > > case? > > > Of course it does, though still not perfect, as the camera
    > > and the > TV cannot decide where on the screen to focus; this requires
    > > the > freely willed choice of one of us human causal nexi.
    > >
    > > In other words, it misses the central issue.
    > >
    > Well, a grain of sand, or a pile of it, doesn't have free choice, either,
    > but the pile DOES possess a structure which is greater than the
    > sum of its parts ( all the interrelationships between them must be
    > considered).

    "Greater than the sum of its parts" is extremely vague. If you look at
    it that way, every molecule, every cell, every entity that's not at the
    very lowest level of description (whatever that is) is greater than the
    sum of its parts. As you're so fond of saying yourself, a statement
    that applies to everything is not a useful statement.

    And "must be considered" begs the question: for which purposes?

    > In fact, the genesis of the tipping point idea came
    > about with catastrophe theory (CATASTROPHE THEORY by V. I.
    > Arnold, pub.1986 by Springer-Verlag is a good source), and
    > informed the SDIC (Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions) so-
    > called 'Butterfly Effect" found in chaos and complexity theory.

    The "genesis of the tipping point idea" is too vague to be useful.
    I believe that, historically, sensitivity to initial conditions was
    first noticed in computer simulations of either weather or a simple
    pendulum-type arrangement. This is in one of the Complexity titles, but
    both of mine are currently out on loan. In any case, it's not relevant
    here -- the tipping point is certainly an example of it, but top-down
    causation plays no part in it.

    > > > Surely the support given by the rest of the grains in an
    > > > interrelated pile of them is significant; along with the
    > > > gravitational coefficient that both knits them together as a gestalt
    > > > and establishes the slope of the tipping point, indeed, the MOST
    > > > significant.
    > >
    > > Tell us just what it is, in the behaviour of any one grain, that
    > > cannot be fully explained by its own properties and the interactions
    > > with its immediate neighbours and gravity.
    > >
    > Why those immediate naighbors are in the positions that they are
    > in to influence the target grain the way they do. That has to do
    > with the grains surrounding THEM, and so on, to involve the whole
    > pile. Lines of gravity-induced potential energy suffuse the whole
    > structure.

    You would be perfectly correct if the question had been "what are the
    factors that contribute to the emergence of the tipping point phenomenon?"
    But it wasn't. Of course, to explain the tipping point, all that must
    be considered, but your claim is that the tipping point has a causal
    influence on individual grains, and you've yet to demonstrate that.

    In fact, to do so is impossible, because the tipping point emerges out
    of the behaviour of the individual grains, and you can't say that two
    things both cause each other. Or you can, but not without stretching
    the meaning of "cause" beyond breaking point. Of course, you've already
    demonstrated that's something you're very happy to do. I'm a little
    more conservative in that regard: I prefer my concepts to be useful.
    "Causation" implies a temporal sequence, so, until someone invents a
    time machine, it's a one-way relationship. Actually, in this case,
    it's not operating either way, because what's happening is emergence.
    My point is that, even if you do confuse causation with emergence,
    there is still no need in the case of the tipping point to invoke the
    top-down variety.

    > > > Can't have that; that'd be unsuperdeterministic. Everything is
    > > > always ordered in a superdeterministic universe; the shackles of
    > > > causality imprison forever <snicker>.
    > >
    > > The prison's in your mind, Joe, not mine.
    > >
    > I'm no superdeterminist; I was lampooning it. You must be willfully
    > obtuse not to pick up that fact, or pettily malevolent to recognize
    > yet ignore it.

    If you say there's a prison in my mind, then that prison is necessarily
    in your's, whether or not you're right and there's also one in mine.
    In this case, you're wrong, and there's none in mine (or none of that
    sort, anyway). I'm as free as you are. Freer, in fact, because I'm not
    bound by my ego to philosophical positions that I've gotten all mixed
    up with my self-image. Or not to the same extent, anyway! :-)

    > > > Then you repudiate the Buddhist doctrine of co-dependent
    > > > origination, which asserts precisely what you just denied. If one
    > > > tosses a whole ball, all of the ball's parts tend to tag along, even
    > > > if you weren't touching them during your toss.
    > >
    > > That's because they're tied together, Joe. No magic required! :-)
    > >
    > Aren't all those dynamically recursive pattern configurations tied to
    > the substrate from which they emerge? Why, yepperz! And just
    > like the whole ball travels when you just touch a part in your toss,
    > the emergent configurational part can decide to move attention and
    > the neural pathways in the material substrate will register same.

    Emergence is not separation, and only separate entities can affect
    each other. An emergent phenomenon is a pattern in the activity of
    lower level phenomena. If we make the common mistake of confusing
    emergence with causation, then we say this is bottom-up causation.
    But there is no temporal sequence, so it's not causation of any

    If only you'd acknowledge the significance of subjectivity, you'd see
    there's no need for all these contortions, that willpower and even your
    self are perfectly safe without them. But you won't. Ho hum...

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

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Apr 19 2001 - 12:37:08 BST