Re: The Tipping Point

Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 22:19:19 BST

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "RE: Current Policy on memetics: Branding the U.S. State Departmen t"

    Received: by id WAA05246 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Thu, 26 Apr 2001 22:17:01 +0100
    From: <>
    Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2001 16:19:19 -0500
    Content-type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
    Content-transfer-encoding: 7BIT
    Subject: Re: The Tipping Point
    Message-ID: <3AE84A87.18403.387AC6@localhost>
    In-reply-to: <>
    References: <3AE35CFD.32370.8DB2FA@localhost>; from on Sun, Apr 22, 2001 at 10:36:45PM -0500
    X-mailer: Pegasus Mail for Win32 (v3.12c)
    Precedence: bulk

    On 26 Apr 2001, at 10:15, Robin Faichney wrote:

    > On Sun, Apr 22, 2001 at 10:36:45PM -0500, wrote:
    > > On 21 Apr 2001, at 17:28, Robin Faichney wrote: > > > Is it really
    > wrong to focus in on just part of a system? > > > No, but it will not
    > result in all the knowledge that can be gleaned > even about that
    > part, without considering its function in the greater > whole of which
    > it is a part.
    > We can't gain "all the knowledge" at once, can we? Surely we have to
    > focus on the individual parts of a system, one at a time, as well as
    > taking an overview, if we really want "all the knowledge".
    It can be useful, but its usefulness will of necessity be limited.
    > > If a
    > > tipping point exists as a function of the whole sand pile, and the
    > > disposition of the parts depends upon the tipping point coefficient,
    > > it does indeed involve both bottom-up and top-down causation.
    > Ah, but the disposition of the grains does not depend upon the tipping
    > point coefficient. It depends upon the properties and relationships
    > of the grains. They, in turn, are what determine the tpc. I said
    > way, way back in the tipping point argument that we must not be
    > mislead by the consistent precision of the critical angle of the
    > slope, but you obviously have been mislead in exactly that way. That
    > angle emerges from the properties and relationships of the grains
    > (with gravity), and to see a chain of causation from grain
    > properties+relationships -> tipping point -> grain disposition is,
    > umm, can't think of the word -- well, just wrong. Grain disposition is
    > directly due to grain properties and relationships, and the tipping
    > point is just the pattern that activity happens to make. There is no
    > homunculus measuring the angle, Joe!
    There doesn't have to be. The establishment of the tipping point by
    the prior grains does affect the disposition of the subsequent ones.
    > > > > As I have stated before, the only temporality involved in
    > > > > causation has to do with the pre- and post-event history; at the
    > > > > instant of interrelation, the involved entities affect each
    > > > > other, and none of them can be considered as either pure cause
    > > > > or pure effect.
    > > >
    > > > That's just semantics. "Purity" is absolutely irrelevant. It's
    > > > perfectly obvious that what is a cause in one context is an effect
    > > > in another. The instantaneous nature of actual causation is also
    > > > irrelevant, because what we need to know about for all even
    > > > remotely practical purposes is what you call "the pre- and
    > > > post-event history", and that makes temporality essential.
    > > > Non-temporal causation is what JR would call a useless hypothesis.
    > > >
    > > If JR would label it so, that is a point in its favor. And
    > > semantics are indeed meanings which possess referents, so the 'mere
    > > semantics' dismissal is an invalid (not to mention irrelevant) tack
    > > to take.
    > To say that an argument is "mere semantics" is to imply that, though
    > it claims to be about matters of substance, in fact it is only about
    > the meanings of words. Discussion of definitions and such is
    > perfectly valid, except when it's confused with discussion about the
    > actual referents. You can say that a cause is only really that for the
    > durationless instant that it is, actually, causing -- but that's only
    > about how we use the word "cause". It's an attempt to get away from
    > the normal usage, whereby that same state of affairs has the word
    > applied to it before the event, and the state of affairs that
    > constitutes the effect is still called "the effect" after the event.
    > You are trying to redefine causation to suit your own purposes, and
    > that's an absolutely hopeless task, due to the usefulness of the
    > normal concept and the uselessness of yours.
    The definition which I put forward is the philosophical definition of
    the term, as opposed to the commonplace one. Since entities
    affect each other in their interrelations, and those effects perdure
    past the instant of interrelation, both must be considered as both
    causes and effects (of each other), or neither can be.
    > > > > > 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 kind.
    > > > > >
    > > > > Emergent phenomena are in interrelation with their substrates,
    > > > > and causation proceeds through interrelation. Do you have any
    > > > > counterexamples of nonrelational entities in causal relations?
    > > >
    > > > You need to consider your demands more carefully, Joe. Anyone
    > > > giving a moment's thought to this would see there's no way my case
    > > > depends on "nonrelational entities in causal relations".
    > > >
    > > Cut and paste time.
    > > only separate entities can affect
    > > > > > each other.
    > I can't believe that by "separate" you really thought I meant
    > "unconnected". Well, actually, I can, assuming that you are reading
    > not to understand, but to disagree. But you imagined that I see
    > unrelated things as having effects on each other!? Sheesh! What I
    > meant was "individual", "distinct". And on that, see below.
    Okay; but many folks don't get the point that interrelational entities,
    as aspects or components of a causal even, can be
    distinguishable, yet must be nevertheless inseparable, if one
    wishes to preserve the event's existential integrity.
    > > > Getting back to the point, emergent phenomena are not distinct
    > > > from their substrates, but aspects of them, and so causation
    > > > cannot proceed in either direction.
    > > >
    > > Atoms are not distinct from protons, electrons and neutrons, so a
    > > well-placed proton cannot disassemble an atom, and neither can the
    > > absorption of an electron change an atom's isotopic value. There's
    > > only one small problem with this; it's called particle physics.
    > Atoms are not distinct from the particular elements that constitute
    > them. Throw in an extra element and of course they change. But here
    > again we have perhaps a degree of confusion between entities and
    > events. The latter aspect is, I think, more important, or at least
    > easier to get clear, and what it means is that any one event cannot be
    > considered to be caused by what is actually a part of it, a
    > "sub-event", nor vice versa. A decision is not caused by any neural
    > event that is simultaneous with it, nor does it cause any simultaneous
    > neural event. The tipping point phenomenon is neither caused by, nor
    > causes, the activity of any one grain of sand, because it *is* many
    > such activities, aggregated.
    Not just as a sum of their parts, but including their interrelations,
    and these involve the system as a whole. And a decision can
    cause a spatiotemporally subsequent neural event.
    BTW, did you get my reply to the other thread, or did its length
    cause it to bounce?
    > --
    > 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 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)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Apr 26 2001 - 22:20:26 BST