Re: Encoding and Decoding - Reductionism/Gestalt

Chris Lofting (
Tue, 7 Sep 1999 17:07:54 +1000

From: "Chris Lofting" <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: Encoding and Decoding - Reductionism/Gestalt
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 1999 17:07:54 +1000

-----Original Message-----
From: Aaron Agassi <>
To: <>
Date: Tuesday, 7 September 1999 6:54
Subject: RE: Encoding and Decoding

>Gestalt Anti-Reductionism, however, has a different view of truth. That
>truth that is more than trivial is more and even less than point by point
>correspondence of elements and events to a statement describing them. More
>in that it requires comprehension of the complex interrelationships and
>their ramifications. Less, in that lengthy itemization every detail is not
>the be all and end all, and less important than gaining understanding.
>According to Reductionism, the whole is no more than the sum of it's part.
>According to Gestalt anti-Reductionism, the complex whole is, indeed, more
>than the sum of it's parts.

You are making the distinction here between quantitative truth
(correct/incorrect and you do not go beyond this point) and qualitative
truth where the realisation of a truth includes a flood of feedback data,
linked associations.

The 'whole is equal-to/greater than' concept depends on whether you include
context as part of the whole, thus a fish is a whole, it is the sum of its
parts, but shift focus and a fish is not a whole until you see it swimming
in water aka primary context. In a object-oriented perspective, this latter
'whole' reflects a state that is unbounded, contextually hierarchic in that
the water is not whole until you see it as a river/sea etc and the river/sea
is not whole until you see it in relation to land/this planet etc etc

Qualitative truth comes with dependencies. Quantitative truth is seen as
dependence-free, quantitative truth is that sensation of 'correct' that goes
with syntax analysis.

Using this perspective there are two forms of reductionism rather than your
given reduction/anti-reduction perspective. Quantitative reductionism
reduces things to a point and deems that point correct or incorrect, end of
story. Qualitative reductionism reduces things to a point of clarity and
then follows with dependencies analysis.

Quantitative/qualitative reductionisms cooperate with each other rather than
oppose each other (the oppositional interpretation is in the form of
quantitative/NOT quantitative)

Using this same perspective, so there are two forms of information, data
that is seen as correct/incorrect and data that is seen as
worthless/priceless. The latter has a qualitative bias that includes a
strong subjective element. For example, I hold in my hand a 50 cent coin.
The concept of 'coin' and '50c' is of the correct/incorrect type of
information. The VALUE attributed to the coin is determined by the current
value of the currency as a whole, if the US dollar is 'down' so 50c is
closer to worthless, if the US dollar goes over the top then it takes the
50c with it and the 50c is closer to priceless. This latter emphasis on a
dependency brings out the concept of 'qualitative truth'.

The subjective element of qualitative truth can be shown where I have a
stick given to me by someone famous and so I put value into that stick
through the link to the famous person, there is a dependency present. If you
come along and find that stick and are not aware of the value dependency
then you would be willing to throw the stick away.

The stick is quantitative -- 'stick' and 'one of them'. This is syntactic in
form; object oriented.
The value is qualitative -- worthless in your eyes, priceless in mine. This
is semantic in form. relationships oriented.

Information free of human determination is always quantitative in form and
can exist 'free' of us.

is false when interpreted as made up of elements that oppose each other;
that contradict each other re the whole/parts determinations. What forces
this 'illusion' is not recognising the crossing of context boundaries where
reductionism reduces things to a single context, or better still, NO
context. When we discuss genotype we are being reductionist, when we discuss
phenotypes we are into multi context considerations and so have shifted
levels of analysis, we have moved from considering the 'one' to considering
the 'many'. This does not negate a reductionist perspective it just adds an
element to the analysis where single context is replaced by multiple
contexts; the reductionism thus gets more complex.

If you can restrict the inclusion of context change to a quantitative
interpretation then you can have information that is multi-dimensional
(where each context adds a dimension) and still be declared 'free' of us.

Single dimension thinking is of the correct/incorrect form.
Two dimensional thinking, retaining only the correct/incorrect distinction
has four states.
Three dimensional thinking has eight states.
Four dimensional thinking has sixteen states
and so on.

At each level 'novel' states emerge that are made-up of the entanglement of
the original elements of the dichotomy such that by the time you get to
three dimensional thinking you have six states that reflect entanglements
plus the original two 'pure' states of correct or incorrect.

These novel states, when considered only within their immediate context,
take on 'meaning' that is as certain as the meaning of the original states,
these novel states are experienced in an absolute, fundamentalist way just
as the original states are experienced but the process of increasing
contextal considerations causes us to label contexts so we can differentiate
one from the other and this labeling follows the same patterns in that I can
use quantitative labels (i.e. first, second, third etc) or qualitative
labels (colour codes, scaling of the worthless/priceless dichotomy etc)

This methodology, using the qualitative/quantitative distinctions can be
applied at any level of analysis such that I can zoom-in to 'four
dimensional thinking' and see it in a single dimensional frame of mind and
in doing so see this 4D as 'objective' and 'free' from us; thus my intent
determines what I see.

Quantitative reductionism aims to establish the identity of objects where an
object is something (!) we can bound and so distinguish 'this' from 'that'.
Qualitative reductionism aims to determine all of the aspects of an object
and this has to include object-to-context relationships and in doing so this
method of reductionism can lead to the experience of dependencies that the
quantitative method wishes to avoid; in qualitative reductionism we
experience what seems to be a sense of 'wholeness' greater than in
quantitative reductionism. This experience is an illusion in that we have
crossed contextual boundaries but in doing so try to cling to the 'whole'
concept that comes with the object oriented quantitative methods of

In the so-called Gestalt state we are in fact NOT experiencing a particular
wholeness but more all of the dependencies of a whole with all possible
contexts and those context's dependencies on other contexts and so on -- we
are experiencing relationships which have a sense of the infinite about

This sense of the infinite, which is qualitative, when entangled with the
quantitative sense of a whole in the form of 'one' can elicit a sense of
'oneness' that can be perceived as being 'greater than the sum of parts' of
the original whole. This perception is false in that it disregards the
context-related boundary crossings.



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)