Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Kjetil

Weak vs. Strong Emergence

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

This is only an aside...  I do not want to distract Leonid from providing an "knowable" example of caused emergence.

 

Grames, I do not know who your point about relationships being "causes" is directed to.  I think the niceties of what you speak of and rowsdower speaks of are so fine as to not create any consequences in reality given the same hypothetical situation, i.e. entities in relationships and the causal evolution which follows would likely not differ between you two although you would each point to slightly different things as being "causes".

 

In the end, whether or not relationships are themselves causes, they clearly must be caused.  Relationships do not exist prior to the proper context, arrangement of entities etc. coming into existence.  Thus the relationship is caused by virtue of the context, and the arrangement of entities being itself caused. If there is a time T1 at which point an emergent property does not exist by virtue of the absence of the context, arrangement of entities, relationships, then the fact that the emergent property exists at time T2 means that it, through a chain of causation, IS caused. 

 

An emergent property does not cause itself backward through time.  Such a thing would be incoherent mysticism.

 

My understanding of Objectivist philosophy is that nothing is in principle unknowable, and that nothing is causeless.  I would like to understand what knowable and caused emergence IS according to Leonid.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

StrictlyLogical-I already gave an example of emergent property which cannot be reduced to the properties of the parts. But I'll repeat it. Think about many half-balls which can randomly interact with each other. None of them has a property of rolling. Suppose that flat surface of these half-balls is adhesive. When these two half-balls interact they create a new entity, a ball which has an emergent property of rolling. In this example the cause of emergent property is a process of self-organization of half-balls which creates a new entity, a ball with the new property, rolling. In spite that half-balls are parts of the ball, its property of rolling cannot be reduced to them. Law of causality is Law of identity applied to action. An emergent property is a property of the new object with identity which is different from the identity of its parts. In Ayn Rand words, man is not a collection of chemicals, and neither any living object. The new identity of the living objects defines their new causality which is self-causation. Btw, you are wrong when you assume that in Objectivism nothing is causeless. Existence as a whole for example has no cause. Read OPAR by Dr. Peikoff.

Edited by Leonid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grames said:

"A relationship can be a cause. A relationship is an existent but not an entity. There is no principle that all causes are entities. "

This has been implicit in many of your posts but I find it alarming that you hold this premise consciously. The stolen concept fallacy is based on ontological facts. It is an epistemic error to claim that relationships exist apart from the entities relating because it is an ontological fact that one must perceive and then isolate the entity acting and relating, before one can abstract the action/relationship. ("Relationships are relationships of entities" ITOE

Ironically this is the same root of your confusion concerning first-level concepts (and the primary point Searle seeks to disentangle). Objectivism does indeed embrace an entity based causation.

"Only entities are metaphysical primaries" ITOE

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grames:

 

Assuming premises:

 

A. Each of mind, consciousness, human being at any one moment in time is (or is embodied in) a natural system/entity and has a specific identity;

B. At that same moment in time a context (surrounding reality) interacting with A has a specific identity.

 

I am interested in your thoughts regarding the O'ist law of causation being

1. universal (at all scales and applying to any and all natural systems/entities)

2. undeniably single valued and

3. a corollary of the law of identity. 

 

and how this applies to free will of a natural entity/system being the mind/consciousness/human being.

Law of causality applies to actions, not to entities. " The law of causation states that entities are the cause of action-not that every entity , of whatever sort has a cause , but that every action does; and not that the cause of action is action, but that the cause of action is entities." . ( OPAR pg 16). it is a corollary of the law of identity.  Not sure what you mean by "undeniably single valued" Volition is not an exception to the Law of Causality; it is a type of causation. ( ITOE 110)

In many instances the identity of entity is a such that entity can interact within  itself. This is a case of self-organization of matter.

 

"a process in which pattern at the global level of a system emerges solely from numerous interactions among the lower level components of the system. Moreover the rules specifying interactions among the system’s components are executed using only local information, without reference to the global pattern. In short pattern is an emergent property of the system rather than being imposed on the system by an external ordering influence.’’  Camazine et al. (2001)

 

In other words the interaction between parts of the entity is a cause of self-organization and emergent properties. From this definition follows that emergent property of the new system cannot be reduced to its parts. Consciousness and volition are emergent properties. Their cause is self-organization of the complex biological system, self-causation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Leonid:

 

 

Thank you for reminding me of your example.  This gives me something I can deal with.

 

 

You stated "An emergent property is a property of the new object with identity which is different from the identity of its parts."  In the context of your example, the half balls do not have the property of rolling whereas the whole balls do.  This is obvious.  Now, once we discover that half balls can and do form whole balls which exhibit rolling we discover that the causes of rolling (the emergent property) when viewed from the view of the half balls reside in the combination of facts:

 

1 half balls have a nature and identity such that they can form whole balls

2 whole balls have a nature which exhibits rolling

 

hence we can say with confidence (and since the half balls do not cease to exist when they form "whole balls"):

 

Half balls in the proper arrangement together cause the property rolling.

 

 

What would be meant by saying in this context: "The emergent property 'rolling' exhibited by whole balls, which are composed of half balls, is irreducible to the half balls"  IF this is a misstatement please correct me.

 

Also, can you give me an example of a context where the emergent property IS reducible?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grames said:

"A relationship can be a cause. A relationship is an existent but not an entity. There is no principle that all causes are entities. "

This has been implicit in many of your posts but I find it alarming that you hold this premise consciously. The stolen concept fallacy is based on ontological facts. It is an epistemic error to claim that relationships exist apart from the entities relating because it is an ontological fact that one must perceive and then isolate the entity acting and relating, before one can abstract the action/relationship. ("Relationships are relationships of entities" ITOE

Ironically this is the same root of your confusion concerning first-level concepts (and the primary point Searle seeks to disentangle). Objectivism does indeed embrace an entity based causation.

"Only entities are metaphysical primaries" ITOE

I did not and continue to not claim that relationships exist apart from entities. I merely claim that relationships do in fact exist. Further, what exists can in its turn be a cause.

Example: Gravitation. What we can observe is the force called gravity. We observe it in the weight of an object held in our hand, we can see it in its effect causing the planets to move in their orbits. Yet the gravitational force is not an entity, a thing with independent existence or a metaphysical primary. We infer an intrinsic attribute of entities which we refer to as their mass, and relative to other entities with mass they jointly cause the relationship which is the gravitational force (computable by the law of gravitation).  The gravitational force caused by the masses and distances between them in turn causes the participating masses to accelerate in accordance with the Newton's second law of motion, for those masses that are free to move (i.e. "falling" bodies, planets).   The newly imparted motions and positions of the bodies entail further consequences in new and revised relationships, and so on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 half balls have a nature and identity such that they can form whole balls

2 whole balls have a nature which exhibits rolling

 

hence we can say with confidence (and since the half balls do not cease to exist when they form "whole balls"):

 

Half balls in the proper arrangement together cause the property rolling.

Pardon me for butting in to a post addressed to Leonid, but

 

Half balls in the proper arrangement together cause the property rolling.

Half balls not in the proper arrangement together do not cause the property rolling.

The half balls are a constant in both cases. Half balls do and do not cause the property rolling. Lolwut? Contradiction.

The truth is that "the proper arrangement" of the half balls causes the property of rolling.

 

Also, can you give me an example of a context where the emergent property IS reducible?

 

By definition of what can be considered emergent, no.  An example of what is not emergent is the total mass of an entity, which is always exactly the sum of the masses of its parts and never more nor less.  That is an example of reducibilty, each part has its proportional share in causing an attribute of the whole.

Edited by Grames

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You cant have a relationship without entities, you can have entities which can alternate between having relationships or not. As such entities are primary  relationships are secondary to entities.

 

A relationship as such cannot cause anything nor even exist absent entities.  The entities in the context of the relationship are the causal primaries.

 

 

What rolls? The half balls stuck together.  Something, an entity pushed them into an arrangement and caused them to stick together.  Once they have been so stuck, they can roll, when caused to do so by being pushed by an entity for example.

 

 

This is similar to entities performing actions... you cant have a great deal of running in room 2b if there are no entities doing the running.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You cant have a relationship without entities, you can have entities which can alternate between having relationships or not. As such entities are primary  relationships are secondary to entities.

So what? This is old hat and not in dispute.

 

A relationship as such cannot cause anything nor even exist absent entities.  The entities in the context of the relationship are the causal primaries.

To move from "A relationship as such cannot cause anything nor even exist absent entities." to the implied assertion "A relationship as such cannot cause anything" is a non sequitor. It does not follow.

And why care about "causal primaries"? Do "causal secondaries" not exist or somehow not count as important? I point out this type of thinking as an illogical attempt to project the hierarchical nature of knowledge onto metaphysics. Objectivism rejects metaphysical hierarchy, everything that exists exists wholly as much as anything else that exists. There are no gradations to existence, something exists or it does not. Relationships exist. Yes relationships depend upon the entities that are relating, but that does not mean the relationship does not really exist after all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You cant have a relationship without entities, you can have entities which can alternate between having relationships or not. As such entities are primary  relationships are secondary to entities.

 

A relationship as such cannot cause anything nor even exist absent entities.  The entities in the context of the relationship are the causal primaries.

 

 

What rolls? The half balls stuck together.  Something, an entity pushed them into an arrangement and caused them to stick together.  Once they have been so stuck, they can roll, when caused to do so by being pushed by an entity for example.

 

 

This is similar to entities performing actions... you cant have a great deal of running in room 2b if there are no entities doing the running.

Emergence really isn't my thing, though I love reading these discussions to try to better understand these matters.

But... on the subject of "relationships" and "entities"...

Isn't it the case that "two entities," when arranged in a particular kind of relationship, might be looked upon as being an entity itself?

For half balls, if we're looking at rolling emerging from the (proper) relationship of one half ball to the other (i.e. "stuck together" in some manner), wouldn't it be equally correct to view that "relationship" as describing one entity -- the ball?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grames, thanks for responding, your response is a good foil for my clarification. I figured that my post appeared as a strawman. The stolen concept involved is not obvious.

Ms. Rands reduction of the concepts society, groups, etc are an excellent foil for this whole thread.:

"Any group or “collective,” large or small, is only a number of individuals. A group can have no rights other than the rights of its individual members."

"Collectivism holds that, in human affairs, the collective—society, the community, the nation, the proletariat, the race, etc.—is the unit of reality and the standard of value. On this view, the individual has reality only as part of the group, and value only insofar as he serves it."

"Modern collectivists . . . see society as a super-organism, as some supernatural entity apart from and superior to the sum of its individual members."

"The philosophy of collectivism upholds the existence of a mystic (and unperceivable) social organism, while denying the reality of perceived individuals—a view which implies that man’s senses are not a valid instrument for perceiving reality. "

The above reductions demonstrating the stolen concepts involved, like individual rights, depend on the existence of the individuals AS individuals. The basis of all rights is the ontological fact that men are individual living entities. True, the relationships man engages in make, or cause dynamic effects not possible to the individuals alone. But these effects depend on the attribute the individuals posses that make the CONCEPT of society meaningful, consciousness.

Likewise relationships are not some super-entity apart from the entities relating. Society exist, groups, exist, guitars and pianos exist, and yes, concertos exist, but concertos are effects of the dynamically interacting individuals. A great concerto can cause an emotion but your previous comments on ontology lead me to think you mean something different by relations being causes, something ontologically relevant to the "patterns and configurations" of Campbell's paper. Something leading you earlier to claim that "not even an entity ontology" can be claimed. No?

Edit: we do NOT perceive forces! If we did the whole ontological debate over abstract/theoretical concepts in the scientific realism debate would be meaningless. We perceive the EFFECTS of one entity upon another with no observable intermediary. Conceptualizing the ontological facts making this possible is the whole problem of the scientific realism debate over observation language vs abstract language.

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps my use or understanding of the term "relationship" is incorrect. 

 

As I use the term, it, as Plasmatic so correctly stated, is not a "super-entity" apart from the entities in relationship.

 

above

below

close to

far from

 

these are relationships which characterize entities.  Can "close to" or "above" as such cause anything?

 

This is what would seem to be implied by the statement that "relationships ARE causes".

I must be missing something.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have said explicitly that this area is a weakness in Oism. Yes, Ms Rand says there is no metaphysical hierarchy, but what exactly does it mean for "entities to be the only metaphysical primaries?? How can abandoning the implications of this effect ones view of rights, perception, the "primacy of existence"? There are metaphysical/ontological implications not mined here. Implications causing nasty effects on some folks views in physics and biology.

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grames, thanks for responding, your response is a good foil for my clarification. I figured that my post appeared as a strawman. The stolen concept involved is not obvious.

Ms. Rands reduction of the concepts society, groups, etc are an excellent foil for this whole thread.:

"Any group or “collective,” large or small, is only a number of individuals. A group can have no rights other than the rights of its individual members."

"Collectivism holds that, in human affairs, the collective—society, the community, the nation, the proletariat, the race, etc.—is the unit of reality and the standard of value. On this view, the individual has reality only as part of the group, and value only insofar as he serves it."

"Modern collectivists . . . see society as a super-organism, as some supernatural entity apart from and superior to the sum of its individual members."

"The philosophy of collectivism upholds the existence of a mystic (and unperceivable) social organism, while denying the reality of perceived individuals—a view which implies that man’s senses are not a valid instrument for perceiving reality. "

The above reductions demonstrating the stolen concepts involved, like individual rights, depend on the existence of the individuals AS individuals. The basis of all rights is the ontological fact that men are individual living entities. True, the relationships man engages in make, or cause dynamic effects not possible to the individuals alone. But these effects depend on the attribute the individuals posses that make the CONCEPT of society meaningful, consciousness.

Rand's reduction of the concept of a collective to its parts can be related to the concept of emergence. In a valid concept of emergence there is something new that arises in addition to the attributes of the individual parts. In a collectivists' version of emergence, the individual parts somehow lose their previous identities which are replaced by the new collective entity. It is the subtraction that is invalid.

 

Likewise relationships are not some super-entity apart from the entities relating. Society exist, groups, exist, guitars and pianos exist, and yes, concertos exist, but concertos are effects of the dynamically interacting individuals. A great concerto can cause an emotion but your previous comments on ontology lead me to think you mean something different by relations being causes, something ontologically relevant to the "patterns and configurations" of Campbell's paper. Something leading you earlier to claim that "not even an entity ontology" can be claimed. No?

That is just being prudent to not claim more than one can prove. 

 

 

Ooops. Hit the post button too soon.

 

Edit: we do NOT perceive forces! If we did the whole ontological debate over abstract/theoretical concepts in the scientific realism debate would be meaningless. We perceive the EFFECTS of one entity upon another with no observable intermediary. Conceptualizing the ontological facts making this possible is the whole problem of the scientific realism debate over observation language vs abstract language.

 

The weight of an object in my hand is an EFFECT perceived, subsumed under the concept force along with the force of a strong wind in my face and my own weight on my feet.  I don't see the problem.  All these forces are in fact commensurable, they are the same kind of thing as physics and engineering after Newton has given ample evidence for that conclusion.

Edited by Grames

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have said explicitly that this area is a weakness in Oism. Yes, Ms Rand says there is no metaphysical hierarchy, but what exactly does it mean for "entities to be the only metaphysical primaries?? 

 

How about if I answered "I don't know, but it surely does NOT mean that entities are the only possible physical primaries because metaphysics is not physics."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Grames said:
 

Rand's reduction of the concept of a collective to its parts can be related to the concept of emergence. In a valid concept of emergence there is something new that arises in addition to the attributes of the individual parts. In a collectivists' version of emergence, the individual parts somehow lose their previous identities which are replaced by the new collective entity. It is the subtraction that is invalid

 
In Rand's treatment it is the addition of a new metaphysical entity that is invalid. You are missing the exact point she is making. Metaphysically nothing emerges. The collectivist error is thinking that rights are true of the group but not the individuals because they think the group is an entity. edit: incidentally the above is a great description of Campbell's premise about substance ontologies.... 
 
Grames said:
 

That is just being prudent to not claim more than one can prove............How about if I answered "I don't know, but it surely does NOT mean that entities are the only possible physical primaries because metaphysics is not physics."

 
What one is validly entitled to mean is NOT physics. I do not run an experiment to determine what I mean by entity. I can prove that this concept is a philosophical primary of the metaphysical kind via reduction to first level concepts (which are ALL entities) ! The fact is that many have not stopped to reduce the concept entity. Doing so is nothing less than the answer to problem of universals.  "abstractions as such do not exist. Only concretes exist.".... but concepts are "mental existents", why? Why did Ms. Rand struggle to answer the question about calling concepts "mental entities" and then resort to "mental something" without realizing that is a restatement? Because "entities are what they are and have to act accordingly" presupposes one has answered what it means to be an entity! Because an explicit application of epistemology to any "widening" or subdivision must not fail to consider the generative context of differentiation.
 
 
 
Grames said:
 

The weight of an object in my hand is an EFFECT perceived, subsumed under the concept force along with the force of a strong wind in my face and my own weight on my feet.  I don't see the problem.  All these forces are in fact commensurable, they are the same kind of thing as physics and engineering after Newton has given ample evidence for that conclusion

 
You, and most physicist, don't see the problem because of taking for granted and importing many philosophical assumptions about certain concepts that have not been reduced. Newton "framed no hypothesis" about what mediates those effects but he thought it was preposterous to think that it was not mediated by entities. All of this is a great example of why all physicist should be required to take philosophy of physics courses. Campbell starts his paper by assuming that because Carnap and the logical positivist failed to answer this riddle correctly that it cant be done. I intend to do so......  ;)
 
Edit: physics and engineering are concepts for what entities do!

Edited by Plasmatic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An example of a relationship per se causing an effect rather than the entities causing it would be helpful in my understanding your position Grames.

 

Trying to keep it real.

 

 

Example: Gravitation. What we can observe is the force called gravity. We observe it in the weight of an object held in our hand, we can see it in its effect causing the planets to move in their orbits. Yet the gravitational force is not an entity, a thing with independent existence or a metaphysical primary. We infer an intrinsic attribute of entities which we refer to as their mass, and relative to other entities with mass they jointly cause the relationship which is the gravitational force (computable by the law of gravitation).  The gravitational force caused by the masses and distances between them in turn causes the participating masses to accelerate in accordance with the Newton's second law of motion, for those masses that are free to move (i.e. "falling" bodies, planets).   The newly imparted motions and positions of the bodies entail further consequences in new and revised relationships, and so on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Force doesn't cause mass to accelerate any more than rolling causes a ball to roll. If force were an existent of its own there would have to be a way for bodies to interact with it; reifying a relationship requires a new relationship (in the quoted diagram, note that the right half still has arrows). At some point a relationship must be direct (an entity acts upon another entity with no intermediary). (We can validly reify the relationship with, say, gravitons.) Positing a relationship between a relationship and its entities (other than "aspect of") is a stolen concept; you have forgotten that you found the relationship by separating out an aspect of the entities.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sSrictlyLogical "What would be meant by saying in this context: "The emergent property 'rolling' exhibited by whole balls, which are composed of half balls, is irreducible to the half balls"  

 

Yes that true. However the concept of causation is applicable to interaction, not to entities. So instead of "Half balls in the proper arrangement together cause the property rolling." I'd say that interaction between half-balls causes emergence of the new entity, a ball with the property of rolling. The examples of weak emergency when new property could be reduced to parts are numerous. For example spontaneous folding of protein molecule which causes activation of enzyme, formation of cell membranes etc... For full review of biological self-organization see http://mechanism.ucsd.edu/teaching/philbio/readings/edelmann.biologicalselforganization.2007.pdf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting paper but it is not relevant to our discussion of irreducible versus reducible emergence.

 

I see no difference between the half balls - full balls - rolling example which you have characterized as "irreducible" and folding of proteins which you have characterized as "reducible".

 

Could you clarify what is not reducible and how it is not reducible in the example... and contrast that with what is reducible and how it is reducible in some other example?  I still do not see any difference in reality between natural systems purportedly exhibiting different properties i.e. irreducibility and reducibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually weak reducible emergency is a misnomer. Protein folding  is a self-assembly process, doesn't produce completely new emergent properties. The property of enzyme activity is not emergent, the active sites of protein exist in the protein molecule and simply became exposed during the process of folding. Therefore the enzymatic activity could be reduced to these previously existed sites. However the process of crystallization does. The structure of these objects  is responsible for their properties rather then their molecules. So the physical properties of these objects cannot be reduced to their parts.

Coal and diamond have different properties in spite that they made out of the same molecules of carbon. The same applies to the assembly of balls from the half-balls. 

Edited by Leonid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...