Re: Levels of explanation (was Re: Determinism)

From: Wade T.Smith (
Date: Tue Apr 24 2001 - 14:43:48 BST

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    Subject: Re: Levels of explanation (was Re: Determinism)
    Date: Tue, 24 Apr 2001 09:43:48 -0400
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    On 04/24/01 08:50, Robin Faichney said this-

    >In fact, some people will insist that to suggest that subjectivity is
    >irreducible is mysticism. I say they are wrong.

    That does appear to be the main stumble/hurdle/disagreement between you
    two worthy adversaries, but, I must admit I'm not quite to the point of
    understanding it, so, humor me.

    Here, from the dictionary, 'subjectivity' -

    1.a. Proceeding from or taking place within a person's mind such as to be
    unaffected by the external world. b. Particular to a given person;
    2. Moodily introspective.
    3. Existing only in the mind; illusory.
    4. Psychology. Existing only within the experiencer's mind.

    - there is what looks like an obsolete meaning at #8 -

    8. Relating to the real nature of something; essential.

    - that I think we are all ignoring.

    I think, and hope, that you two are speaking about #3, and its extension
    at #4.

    Robin thus says that the emergent phenomenon we call self (the engine of
    subjectivity) is irreducible, and Joe says, from what I can figure out,
    quite the same thing, in that the activity of 'mind' that has as its
    vantage an 'I' (the engine of subjectivity) is not possible without the
    complex of brain and body and experience that evolution has created for

    From the little I know, we can minimalize this subjectivity (constrain
    the experiences of the person, find animals that have rudimentary forms,
    study the serendipitous accident victims with injured brains and sensory
    systems, study the morphologically altered, etc.), or limit the response
    area (through experiments with sensory deprivation or limited stimuli) to
    discover patterns or models of behavior that we can apply to fully
    activited persons.

    And there are unethical ways to study these things as well.

    If the self is the motion of a mound of grains at the (topologically
    continuing) instant of its deconstructing, then, I for one, agree that,
    at one level, it is not possible to look at anything but the movement of
    this deconstruction, as the structure underneath must remain.

    I'm not sure, though, that studying things such as animals and damaged
    humans, is not a study of the reduction of this structure that could
    yield (and has yielded) data capable of being expanded. This seems to me
    to be the reason behind such studies, as they offer ethical means of
    defining this structure without intentional damage.

    So this engine of subjectivity will not run without all its cylinders,
    but, there are badly performing engines.

    I know that is not 'reducibility', but is it not _not_ irreducibility?

    - Wade

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