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Kjetil

Weak vs. Strong Emergence

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Are you saying diamond is irreducible to carbon atoms?

No. What I said that properties of diamond cannot be explained by reducing them to the atoms of carbon. If that were the case than these properties would be undistinguished from that of coal or graphite. All 3 are made of carbon atoms but have different structures which define their properties. As diamond is not just collection of carbon atoms, so living cell is not just collection of chemicals. It has certain structure which defines its emergent properties and which cannot be reduced to intracellular elements. Life starts on the level of cell as a whole.

Edited by Leonid

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No. What I said that properties of diamond cannot be explained by reducing them to the atoms of carbon. If that were the case than these properties would be undistinguished from that of coal or graphite. All 3 are made of carbon atoms but have different structures which define their properties. As diamond is not just collection of carbon atoms, so living cell is not just collection of chemicals. It has certain structure which defines its emergent properties and which cannot be reduced to intracellular elements. Life starts on the level of cell as a whole.

"Emergent properties," is a pseudo-concept. The properties of physical things are always explained in terms of their components and the relationship of those components to each other, their structure. Nothing is "just a collection" of components or parts. When is anything ever explained by reducing it to its component parts, without including the relationship of those parts to each other? In some rare cases, the structure of an entity will be determined by the properties of its components, but that structure is still part of the understanding of the entity.

Something that identifies everything, identifies nothing. If emergent properties are whatever properties a thing has when its components are organized in a certain way, then the properties of every existent there is, are "emergent." It identifies nothing new because the fact that a thing's properties are determined by its components and structure is all that can be known.

If "brick-buildingness" is a property of brick buildings emerging from the way bricks are organized into a structure, than when bricks are dumped higgily-piggily into a pile, the attribute "pileness" is emergent. Absurd.

All these pseudo-concepts: emergent properties, self-organizing systems, symmetry-breaking systems, holism, etc. are the inventions of physicalists to argue that physical components can be organized in such a way that life just, "emerges," as a property. Let it be demonstrated, just once, that physical components without life (not already living components) can be organized into a living organism. By inventing concepts for processes or attributes that have never been observed to "prove" something is the worst kind of rationalization. Nevertheless, some very intelligent people are taken in by them.

[i know the pseudo-concepts I've listed are used to put over a number of other very bad ideas, like societies being "emergent" organisms, etc.]

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"Emergent properties," is a pseudo-concept. The properties of physical things are always explained in terms of their components and the relationship of those components to each other, their structure. Nothing is "just a collection" of components or parts. When is anything ever explained by reducing it to its component parts, without including the relationship of those parts to each other? In some rare cases, the structure of an entity will be determined by the properties of its components, but that structure is still part of the understanding of the entity.

That relation is what an emergent property is - it's a feature not present when the components are alone. Two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom together behave differently than alone. Don't make it more complicated than it is.

Edited by Eiuol

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No. What I said that properties of diamond cannot be explained by reducing them to the atoms of carbon. If that were the case than these properties would be undistinguished from that of coal or graphite. All 3 are made of carbon atoms but have different structures which define their properties. As diamond is not just collection of carbon atoms, so living cell is not just collection of chemicals. It has certain structure which defines its emergent properties and which cannot be reduced to intracellular elements. Life starts on the level of cell as a whole.

 

Leonid:

 

Are you stating that once we know what carbon atoms are, everything there is to know, how the nuclei and electrons are arranged and interact with externalities, different shells, quantum excitations, manner in which covalent bonds can be formed, and the fact that carbon CAN and does come together to form coal, graphite and diamond, what exactly do you mean when you say that "diamond cannot be explained by reducing them to atoms of carbon".

 

Is not the inherent structure and interactive properties of carbon atoms that which give rise to its ability to form coal, graphite and diamond?  If not inherent in the properties of the atoms of carbon to form these things, what are you talking about?

 

If you are talking about ignorance, i.e. a lack of knowledge and the ability to explain HOW and WHY diamond comes about, that would be a question of scientific knowledge not a pronouncement about metaphysical reality per se.

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"Emergent properties," is a pseudo-concept. The properties of physical things are always explained in terms of their components and the relationship of those components to each other, their structure. Nothing is "just a collection" of components or parts. When is anything ever explained by reducing it to its component parts, without including the relationship of those parts to each other? In some rare cases, the structure of an entity will be determined by the properties of its components, but that structure is still part of the understanding of the entity.

Something that identifies everything, identifies nothing. If emergent properties are whatever properties a thing has when its components are organized in a certain way, then the properties of every existent there is, are "emergent." It identifies nothing new because the fact that a thing's properties are determined by its components and structure is all that can be known.

If "brick-buildingness" is a property of brick buildings emerging from the way bricks are organized into a structure, than when bricks are dumped higgily-piggily into a pile, the attribute "pileness" is emergent. Absurd.

All these pseudo-concepts: emergent properties, self-organizing systems, symmetry-breaking systems, holism, etc. are the inventions of physicalists to argue that physical components can be organized in such a way that life just, "emerges," as a property. Let it be demonstrated, just once, that physical components without life (not already living components) can be organized into a living organism. By inventing concepts for processes or attributes that have never been observed to "prove" something is the worst kind of rationalization. Nevertheless, some very intelligent people are taken in by them.

[i know the pseudo-concepts I've listed are used to put over a number of other very bad ideas, like societies being "emergent" organisms, etc.]

 

 

This is an important error to point out. 

 

I'd also point out that there seems to be an inherent misidentification of the distinction between nature, I.e. metaphysical reality, A IS A, even when A is "a collection of carbon atoms in a particular arrangement of covalent bonding, i.e. molecular structure' and knowledge or lack thereof, i.e. a study of K as we know it is insufficient to describe what we observe by a study of J (the study of arrangements of K).  What they seem to miss here is that IF knowledge of K were complete it would include the arrangements of K, interactions of K, ALL there is to know about K. 

 

Back to metaphysics: The behavior of diamond IS determined by the structure and function of the components which make it up.  Nature IS, it does not emerge.  Is it ONE way in these circumstances, it is ANOTHER way in another set of circumstances.

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Back to metaphysics: The behavior of diamond IS determined by the structure and function of the components which make it up.  Nature IS, it does not emerge.  Is it ONE way in these circumstances, it is ANOTHER way in another set of circumstances.

Those circumstances are how carbon atoms are arranged. The only way to talk about a diamond's properties is to say how they act together. You would talk about relationships among atoms. Emergence as a property that appears out of nothing at all is the wrong way to treat emergence. The right way to treat emergence is relationships between entities, enabling behaviors not possible to entities alone - potentialities are not actualities. To say "determined by' is rather misleading, because emergence is supposed to be the fact that the components don't have the same characteristics as a whole. Is a carbon atom dense? The question doesn't even make sense!

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Those circumstances are how carbon atoms are arranged. The only way to talk about a diamond's properties is to say how they act together. You would talk about relationships among atoms. Emergence as a property that appears out of nothing at all is the wrong way to treat emergence. The right way to treat emergence is relationships between entities, enabling behaviors not possible to entities alone - potentialities are not actualities. To say "determined by' is rather misleading, because emergence is supposed to be the fact that the components don't have the same characteristics as a whole. Is a carbon atom dense? The question doesn't even make sense!

 

You do not have an incorrect interpretation of what it means for bricks to be in the form of a house or carbon atoms to act in the way they do when in a covalent lattice.  The components do not have the property, they make it possible, they are the reason WHY and HOW there is the property at all.  Emergence out of nothing is like trying to remove the WHY and HOW from existence, i.e. mysticism.

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That relation is what an emergent property is - it's a feature not present when the components are alone. Two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom together behave differently than alone. Don't make it more complicated than it is.

If a so-called emergent property is nothing more than a feature resulting from the combining of components in a certain way, what is the point of such a concept. It is the so-called "emergent" concept that is the unnecessary complication.

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This is an important error to point out. 

 

I'd also point out that there seems to be an inherent misidentification of the distinction between nature, I.e. metaphysical reality, A IS A, even when A is "a collection of carbon atoms in a particular arrangement of covalent bonding, i.e. molecular structure' and knowledge or lack thereof, i.e. a study of K as we know it is insufficient to describe what we observe by a study of J (the study of arrangements of K).  What they seem to miss here is that IF knowledge of K were complete it would include the arrangements of K, interactions of K, ALL there is to know about K. 

 

Back to metaphysics: The behavior of diamond IS determined by the structure and function of the components which make it up.  Nature IS, it does not emerge.  Is it ONE way in these circumstances, it is ANOTHER way in another set of circumstances.

Yes, exactly! I very much appreciate the addition of the technical (physical, metaphysical) aspects of your comment.

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You do not have an incorrect interpretation of what it means for bricks to be in the form of a house or carbon atoms to act in the way they do when in a covalent lattice.  The components do not have the property, they make it possible, they are the reason WHY and HOW there is the property at all.  Emergence out of nothing is like trying to remove the WHY and HOW from existence, i.e. mysticism.

I know your response was not to me, but permit me to say you have captured what the pseudo-concept of "emergence" is--mysticism. Exactly!

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Regi said:

Let it be demonstrated, just once, that physical components without life (not already living components) can be organized into a living organism

Yes, abiogenesis is an assumption. Like the universe, many hold as an unjustified given, "life had to start somewhere!"...,

Edit:

If a so-called emergent property is nothing more than a feature resulting from the combining of components in a certain way, what is the point of such a concept. It is the so-called "emergent" concept that is the unnecessary complication.

Yes, the problem is that a rearrangement of components presupposes that the components were already in an arrangement previously....modus ponens

Edit: it occurred to me to ask what differentiates emergence from the concept of transmutation???

Edited by Plasmatic

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formation_and_evolution_of_the_Solar_System.

 

Either something was somehow alive throughout the whole process, or, what I think is more reasonable, life started some time after the formation of Earth.

 

(italics, my emphasis.)

In my thread "Biologists Replicate Key Evolutionary Step", you'll find many current discoveries that allude to this in their consideration. While I have a passive interest in the developments, I've not tried to put them together as Newton did his observations of the movements of the heavens in conjunction with the tides and other phenomenon relating to the development of the concept we today hold as "gravity." Neither am I adverse to life being present as a permanent aspect of existence either. As a student of Objectivism, learning to expand my grasp of both evidence (of the senses) and proof (derived from the evidence of the senses,) are often challenged by integrating the observations in a manner consistent with the method of logic.

 

The paragraphs cited are what I consider to be the most relevant aspects of the articles linked to. While I don't aspire to answer this personally, the relevant factors seemed worth identifying at the time.

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Just to be clear, going from unicellular organism to multi is not what I'm referring to by abiogenesis. Im also not principally opposed to the possibility of life from non-life, only the assumption that its a given.

Edited by Plasmatic

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"what is the point of such a concept."
Because it points out a relation that doesn't exist without various components interaction. Can carbon atoms be dense? Can carbon atom arrangements be dense? Is there a concept that already makes this distinction?

"Emergence out of nothing is like trying to remove the WHY and HOW from existence, i.e. mysticism."

Right, as I said, some people have a bad interpretation. The components make it possible, but the components don't necessarily have the properties of their interactions. Bricks of a house don't interact in a way to produce properties different than the components. Emergence doesn't have to deny that the properties are the result of interaction. If you don't like the word, fine, but it seems like we agree about the nature of what we are referring to.  

Metaphysically, there is no emergence, that's because properties of anything are epistemological - they exist as part of entities and don't exist on their own.

Anything else to add would just be repeating Grames.

Edited by Eiuol

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louie said:

Metaphysically, there is no emergence, that's because properties of anything are epistemological - they exist as part of entities and don't exist on their own.

Your still lugging this ridiculous notion around? Concepts of properties are epistemological not the properties themselves. This is the very basis of objectivity as defined by Rand.

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I just mean to say that there aren't characteristics separate from entities. They aren't features of existence, they're really just what your senses pick up and distinguished by your mind automatically or volitionally. Existence is a totality, any divisions are an act of perception or cognition. That's how emergence is valid - if you describe relations, you describe divisions or levels of abstraction. The parts are always there, you just point out different relations.

Edited by Eiuol

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lets relate this to identity theory for a second. Would it be accurate to say that when carbon atoms are in the necessary arrangement, that the diamond is identical to its constituent arrangement? If so, then emergentism seems to be an attempt to repudiate invalid conceptions of identity. That is, eliminativism seems to be a failure to recognize that dynamic relations are constitutive of material structure as much as fundamental constituents.... I am just finding it necessary to reevaluate the context of differentiation on this concept.

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louie,, I dug this up to help remove this mis-integration from your thinking.

to say it is epistemological rather than metaphysical is to say it exists only in relation to your grasp of it, or it requires your grasp of it in order to acquire its existence-it doesn't. Surely if anything is metaphysical attributes are.

ITOE appendix

Edited by Plasmatic

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"Would it be accurate to say that when carbon atoms are in the necessary arrangement, that the diamond is identical to its constituent arrangement?"

Yes, that's accurate. The arrangement is a diamond. The arrangement is not equal to the pieces, clearly.

 

What's the page of that quote? It wouldn't change my position on emergence, though. Emergence is epistemological by that explanation in the quote still; I just think attributes are also epistemological by that explanation. It's probably better to say that not all attributes are metaphysical, but some are. I think Rand might mean something specific by attribute. How would density be metaphysical? We'd be talking about Platonism if *all* characteristics are metaphysical. The question is serious - how can density be metaphysical?

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Regi said:

Yes, abiogenesis is an assumption. Like the universe, many hold as an unjustified given, "life had to start somewhere!"...,

Edit:

Yes, the problem is that a rearrangement of components presupposes that the components were already in an arrangement previously....modus ponens

Edit: it occurred to me to ask what differentiates emergence from the concept of transmutation???

Yes. Whether abiogenesis can happen or not, it is dangerous to assume something as an axiom. It is certainly not self-evident, and there is no other evidence for it.

 

I'm not sure exactly what you are getting at. I'm sure you're not asking me for the difference in the dictionary definitions. All explanations of "emergence" seem to me, either obvious, "There is no 'carness' in the parts of a car," [so what!] or absurd, "beauty emerges from the organization of oil and pigments on a canvas." Transmutation means the change of one chemical element into another, originally by alchemy (pseudo-science, so never happened) or by atomic reaction or radioactive decay (and it does happen). I don't see how one thing being changed into another could be confused with the concept emergence, as useless as I think the concept emergence is. Perhaps some academic genius will propose that new elements "emerge" by the "submergence" of others. I can make up concepts too.

 

Oh dear, now you have me thinking, a very dangerous thing. Perhaps we should develop a whole new theory of ontology in which "emegence" and "submergence" are the metaphysical principles explaining all existence and change. I mean, if new stuff just keeps emerging the universe would jam-packed in no time at all, so there must be submergence to make space for all the new emerging things. No?

 

What do you think?

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All explanations of "emergence" seem to me, either obvious, "There is no 'carness' in the parts of a car," [so what!]

See my post #117. Those questions I asked in response were not rhetorical, I'm actually asking you.

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Eioul

 

"The question is serious - how can density be metaphysical?"  and similar comments

 

Ignoring the invalidity of the pseudo-concept of "emergence" for a moment:

 

A pile of fine graphite dust, is metaphysically speaking different from the same number of atoms in diamond form.  They have different densities, hardness, resistivity, opacity, clarity etc. and differences in respect of a whole host of other physical properties.  These are real differences in terms of the nature of the substances, both interactive, i.e. having causal consequences in reality with other entities and as can be measured in isolation.

 

Density is a real physical quantity, when for example a liquid freezes locally, the density of the solid determines whether it floats or sinks.  As you know ice floats on water, solid iron however sinks in molten iron.  Whether something floats or not, is not an example of "epistemological consequence" but metaphysical causation.

 

 

Also, to state physical properties are epistemological is to give up the notion of properties being Objective, causally linked both to reality and means of perception. 

 

Of course a property purported to be a "physical property" which really was subjective is not an Objective property, but I believe that removes it from the realm of "physical property"

 

 

All this said, I may have misunderstood what you mean.  If I did, I apologize.

 

Edit:  Actually I cannot understand what "epistemological property" could mean... so I've butchered it to mean something like a "subjective property"... which also is unfathomable to me.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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See my post #117. Those questions I asked in response were not rhetorical, I'm actually asking you.

My initial response was serious enough. I'm sorry if you didn't appreciate the irony. I'll refrain.

 

I read your post #117 but did not get any clarification of what it is, exactly, you are asking.

 

I did see this:

 

"Metaphysically, there is no emergence, that's because properties of anything are epistemological - they exist as part of entities and don't exist on their own."

 

...and have no idea what it is supposed to mean. If an entity has properties ( inherent ones, like it size, or weight, or color, not extrinsic ones like where one lives, "Athenian," or what one does for an occupation, "painter") those properties are metaphysical properties. The entity has those properties whether anyone is aware of them or not. They exist metaphysically as properties of the entity. It is an entities properties that identify it, in fact, an entity is its properties.

 

Strictly speaking, an entity's properties are not part of the entity, they are the entity. It is true, no properties exist independently of the entities they are the properties of, and they certainly do not exist epistemologically.

 

The properties of an entity may be identified epistemologically, but that identification is only a true one if the entities actually have those properties.

 

I think you might be referring to abstract qualities, like "dogness" or "humaness." Such concepts do only have epistemological existence because they are not part of the entities they refer to. A dog is a dog because it has all the properties necessary to dogs, and we can, epistimologically refer to all those properties as dogness. We can even say a dog is a dog because it has dogness, because that means it has all the properties that make a dog a dog. But dogness has no metaphysical existence. It is a concept for what we know about a dog's nature.

 

The same would be true for humaness. This is as close as I can come to making sense of what you said, but that may be just because I've misunderstood or misinterpreted something. Please correct me if that is the case. I also am no closer to understanding exactly what you are asking me.

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