Re: The Tipping Point

Date: Sun Apr 29 2001 - 23:58:45 BST

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    Subject: Re: The Tipping Point
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    On 29 Apr 2001, at 11:52, Robin Faichney wrote:

    > On Thu, Apr 26, 2001 at 04:19:19PM -0500, wrote:
    > > 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.
    > Isn't it the case that focusing on the individual parts of a system,
    > one at a time, as well as taking an overview, is *essential* for a
    > complete picture?
    Both are necessary, and neither is sufficient. Both components
    and their interactions are required for systemic understanding.
    > > > > 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.
    > That in no way contradicts anything I said but that jokey last
    > sentence. To rephrase my main point: to see a chain of causation
    > [grain properties+relationships -> tipping point -> grain disposition]
    > violates the principle of Occam's Razor, when the causal chain
    > [grain properties+relationships -> grain disposition]
    > completely explains the phenomenon.
    Actually, the last part of that razor states "which accounts for all
    the observations"; you realize this, and attempt to show how an
    understanding of the tipping point is nevessary for such an
    accounting. However, the tipping point itself is one of the
    phenomena to be accounted for, and it does possess explanatory
    force with regard to individual grain disposition, drawing the
    dispositions of many individual grains under a single principle,
    which considering them atomistically does not do. In other words,
    the understanding of the tipping point more efficiently accounts for
    the behavior of multiple grains as a class, rather than having to
    undergo diophantine contortions over and over for each grain.
    > > > 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.
    > Even philosophical definitions should be of *some* use, however
    > abstract.
    And it is. The concept of reciprocal interactions hews more
    faithfully to the actual referent event than the idea of one
    element being the cause and another element being the effect.
    > > 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.
    > Your confusion is due to viewing (or trying to view) entities as
    > causes and effects. Where one billiard ball is stationary and another
    > rolls towards it and hits it, of course it silly to view one ball as
    > the cause and the other as the effect. In fact, the *situation* in
    > which one ball is sent rolling towards the other is the cause, and the
    > situation in which they are both rolling away from each other
    > (assuming no other interactions) is the effect of the collision. This
    > is perfectly clear and simple, isn't it?
    One could just as well say that one has stopped the rolling of the
    first ball, while the second ball continues to roll, along with the
    table and the rotating earth; your narrative only holds validity once
    one has chosen one referential frame, and dismissed all the others.
    But indeed, your explanation does indeed bear a striking
    isomorphism to my explanation of why a decision to read text
    spatiotemporally separated from its manifestation under a PET-
    scan is emergent mind selecting the differential stimulation of
    particular substrate pathways.
    > > > 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.
    > Actually, the neural event need only be temporally distinct. And the
    > story is not complete unless we note that there's a transition, within
    > that statement, between very different conceptual frameworks.
    Different explanatory systems better represent each.
    > The tipping point is, I now have to admit, a slightly better analogy
    > than I'd previously considered it to be. Individual grains are
    > affected by the collapse that's due to the critical angle having been
    > reached in the same way that subsequent neural events are caused by a
    > conscious decision, i.e. through diagonal causation, where both
    > ordinary causation and conceptual framework translation are involved
    > in the explanation.
    Both top-down and bottom-up causation are invilved in the matter of
    the interrelation between conscious decisions and subsequent
    neural events.
    > > BTW, did you get my reply to the other thread, or did its length
    > > cause it to bounce?
    > It would seem that it must have bounced. Will you resend a shorter
    > version, or do we have to forget that thread?
    I didn't retain it.
    > Perhaps you could just indicate whether you're now prepared to accept
    > diagonal causation.
    No. Im willing to accept that decisions affect subsequent
    decisions horizontally, and that neural events effect subsequent
    neural events horizontally, but add that decisions and neural events
    effect each other vertically, and that this is not an artifact of
    explanatory levels, but an actual physical phenomenon. Let's put it
    this way; your mental decision to type causes your body to do so,
    and the aferent-efferent pathways subtending that action are
    stimulated by that subsequent action, just as your mental decision
    to read a text causes you to read it, and the pathways subtending
    that reading are activated by your active choice of a particular
    mode of perception. It only seems more problematical because we
    can see the fingers typing and the person reading, but require the
    PET-scan to detect the neural activity in each case. Juat because
    we do not possess complete knowledge of the mechanisms
    involved, in both decisions that subsequently affect neural
    pathways and their effects upon actions (remembering that
    perceptions and actions are praxically interpenetrated, and only
    isolable in abstraction), is not a reason to deny what is
    apodictically self-evident; that these things do indeed routinely
    happen, and the spatiotemporally prior exert causal force, to some
    degree, upon the posterior, under the commonly understood
    definition of causality.
    > --
    > Robin Faichney
    > Get your Meta-Information from
    > (CAUTION: contains philosophy, may cause heads to spin)
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