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Most Basic Question in Science

Apeiron
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4/12/2013 11:33:17 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
This question belongs in philosophy since it's a metaphysical question about science; it involves a philosophy of science thinking cap-

Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

Or are the parts (and their relata) all that exist? So that it makes only pragmatic (conventional / anti-real) sense to speak of the whole?

If the whole is an existing thing, then there seems to be a clear and easy way to speak of such systems in our everyday experience (classical physics, say, macroscopic and synoptic scale systems), but when we get to the microscopic levels, are the whole and parts one? (This is probably why separating particles at the fundamental levels gets so weird).

Take for instance a hurricane, the parts of which involve water-vapor, wind, etc and their relata; convective and advective heat exchange, static energy, etc..

Now all this we call hurricane

But do hurricanes, as a whole, exist? Likewise does a universe exist? Do dogs exist?

I hope you can begin to see the reductionistic lean on the sciences over the past half century. I think a top-down approach is needed again to make any sort of sense of this myself, but where and how would that take place? Where do we start?
toolpot462
Posts: 289
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4/12/2013 11:59:03 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 11:33:17 AM, Apeiron wrote:
This question belongs in philosophy since it's a metaphysical question about science; it involves a philosophy of science thinking cap-

Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

Or are the parts (and their relata) all that exist? So that it makes only pragmatic (conventional / anti-real) sense to speak of the whole?

If the whole is an existing thing, then there seems to be a clear and easy way to speak of such systems in our everyday experience (classical physics, say, macroscopic and synoptic scale systems), but when we get to the microscopic levels, are the whole and parts one? (This is probably why separating particles at the fundamental levels gets so weird).

Take for instance a hurricane, the parts of which involve water-vapor, wind, etc and their relata; convective and advective heat exchange, static energy, etc..

Now all this we call hurricane

But do hurricanes, as a whole, exist? Likewise does a universe exist? Do dogs exist?

I hope you can begin to see the reductionistic lean on the sciences over the past half century. I think a top-down approach is needed again to make any sort of sense of this myself, but where and how would that take place? Where do we start?

Parts are abstract labels that we put on the whole to make sense of it. The whole is the only real thing that exists, because any other thing intertwines with and implies other things. Here, try to picture something without implying it's environment. Try to picture a planet without its surrounding space - you simply can't. Everything "goes-together". All of the parts we see are abstractions that we utilize for practical purposes. We cannot capture reality with these abstractions any more than we can capture water with a net.
I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and all your demons.
I'll be the one to protect you from
A will to survive and a voice of reason.
I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and your choices, son.
Apeiron
Posts: 2,446
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4/12/2013 12:12:40 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 11:59:03 AM, toolpot462 wrote:


Parts are abstract labels that we put on the whole to make sense of it. The whole is the only real thing that exists, because any other thing intertwines with and implies other things. Here, try to picture something without implying it's environment. Try to picture a planet without its surrounding space - you simply can't. Everything "goes-together". All of the parts we see are abstractions that we utilize for practical purposes. We cannot capture reality with these abstractions any more than we can capture water with a net.

I want to agree with you but I just can't imagine calling the ocean the universe- when really, "ocean" is just an abstraction of the universe.
RyuuKyuzo
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4/12/2013 12:33:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
There are no parts, there are no wholes. There is motion, static objects are illusions of the mind.
If you're reading this, you're awesome and you should feel awesome.
Apeiron
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4/12/2013 12:44:59 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 12:33:01 PM, RyuuKyuzo wrote:
There are no parts, there are no wholes. There is motion, static objects are illusions of the mind.

Motion of what?
toolpot462
Posts: 289
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4/12/2013 1:37:56 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 12:44:59 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 4/12/2013 12:33:01 PM, RyuuKyuzo wrote:
There are no parts, there are no wholes. There is motion, static objects are illusions of the mind.

Motion of what?

I agree with Ryuu. We can only describe things by their behavior pattern - there is no way to describe "what" is moving.

Since in English there are nouns which act, our perception of reality can be warped into parts which move. We could just as easily have a language consisting of only verbs.
I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and all your demons.
I'll be the one to protect you from
A will to survive and a voice of reason.
I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and your choices, son.
AlbinoBunny
Posts: 3,781
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4/12/2013 2:06:50 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 11:33:17 AM, Apeiron wrote:
This question belongs in philosophy since it's a metaphysical question about science; it involves a philosophy of science thinking cap-

Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

Or are the parts (and their relata) all that exist? So that it makes only pragmatic (conventional / anti-real) sense to speak of the whole?

If the whole is an existing thing, then there seems to be a clear and easy way to speak of such systems in our everyday experience (classical physics, say, macroscopic and synoptic scale systems), but when we get to the microscopic levels, are the whole and parts one? (This is probably why separating particles at the fundamental levels gets so weird).

Take for instance a hurricane, the parts of which involve water-vapor, wind, etc and their relata; convective and advective heat exchange, static energy, etc..

Now all this we call hurricane

But do hurricanes, as a whole, exist? Likewise does a universe exist? Do dogs exist?

I hope you can begin to see the reductionistic lean on the sciences over the past half century. I think a top-down approach is needed again to make any sort of sense of this myself, but where and how would that take place? Where do we start?

If all the parts are in a certain place the whole exists. If all the parts are there but in the wrong place then said whole doesn't exist.
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AlbinoBunny
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4/12/2013 2:08:27 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 12:12:40 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 4/12/2013 11:59:03 AM, toolpot462 wrote:


Parts are abstract labels that we put on the whole to make sense of it. The whole is the only real thing that exists, because any other thing intertwines with and implies other things. Here, try to picture something without implying it's environment. Try to picture a planet without its surrounding space - you simply can't. Everything "goes-together". All of the parts we see are abstractions that we utilize for practical purposes. We cannot capture reality with these abstractions any more than we can capture water with a net.

I want to agree with you but I just can't imagine calling the ocean the universe- when really, "ocean" is just an abstraction of the universe.

But there isn't a single whole, there are many wholes. The difference is the arrangement of their parts, that's why parts have an important distinction.
bladerunner060 | bsh1 , 2014! Presidency campaign!

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Apeiron
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4/12/2013 3:28:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 2:06:50 PM, AlbinoBunny wrote:
At 4/12/2013 11:33:17 AM, Apeiron wrote:
This question belongs in philosophy since it's a metaphysical question about science; it involves a philosophy of science thinking cap-

Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

Or are the parts (and their relata) all that exist? So that it makes only pragmatic (conventional / anti-real) sense to speak of the whole?

If the whole is an existing thing, then there seems to be a clear and easy way to speak of such systems in our everyday experience (classical physics, say, macroscopic and synoptic scale systems), but when we get to the microscopic levels, are the whole and parts one? (This is probably why separating particles at the fundamental levels gets so weird).

Take for instance a hurricane, the parts of which involve water-vapor, wind, etc and their relata; convective and advective heat exchange, static energy, etc..

Now all this we call hurricane

But do hurricanes, as a whole, exist? Likewise does a universe exist? Do dogs exist?

I hope you can begin to see the reductionistic lean on the sciences over the past half century. I think a top-down approach is needed again to make any sort of sense of this myself, but where and how would that take place? Where do we start?

If all the parts are in a certain place the whole exists. If all the parts are there but in the wrong place then said whole doesn't exist.

wrong according to what?
Df0512
Posts: 966
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4/12/2013 3:30:23 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 11:33:17 AM, Apeiron wrote:
This question belongs in philosophy since it's a metaphysical question about science; it involves a philosophy of science thinking cap-

Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

Or are the parts (and their relata) all that exist? So that it makes only pragmatic (conventional / anti-real) sense to speak of the whole?

If the whole is an existing thing, then there seems to be a clear and easy way to speak of such systems in our everyday experience (classical physics, say, macroscopic and synoptic scale systems), but when we get to the microscopic levels, are the whole and parts one? (This is probably why separating particles at the fundamental levels gets so weird).

Take for instance a hurricane, the parts of which involve water-vapor, wind, etc and their relata; convective and advective heat exchange, static energy, etc..

Now all this we call hurricane

But do hurricanes, as a whole, exist? Likewise does a universe exist? Do dogs exist?

I hope you can begin to see the reductionistic lean on the sciences over the past half century. I think a top-down approach is needed again to make any sort of sense of this myself, but where and how would that take place? Where do we start?

There are so many more questions before we can accurately answer that. I believe that the ocean the dogs and us are the universe. I suppose a better definition of universe would help. But we were made from essintailly the same stuff the universe itself is made up of. We can freely move and exist inside of it. We maybe supervenient in technical terms but still a part of it.
AlbinoBunny
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4/12/2013 3:49:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Wrong as in different.
bladerunner060 | bsh1 , 2014! Presidency campaign!

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Wnope
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4/12/2013 4:17:02 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 11:33:17 AM, Apeiron wrote:
This question belongs in philosophy since it's a metaphysical question about science; it involves a philosophy of science thinking cap-

Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

Or are the parts (and their relata) all that exist? So that it makes only pragmatic (conventional / anti-real) sense to speak of the whole?

If the whole is an existing thing, then there seems to be a clear and easy way to speak of such systems in our everyday experience (classical physics, say, macroscopic and synoptic scale systems), but when we get to the microscopic levels, are the whole and parts one? (This is probably why separating particles at the fundamental levels gets so weird).

Take for instance a hurricane, the parts of which involve water-vapor, wind, etc and their relata; convective and advective heat exchange, static energy, etc..

Now all this we call hurricane

But do hurricanes, as a whole, exist? Likewise does a universe exist? Do dogs exist?

I hope you can begin to see the reductionistic lean on the sciences over the past half century. I think a top-down approach is needed again to make any sort of sense of this myself, but where and how would that take place? Where do we start?

Your approach seems to deny the reductionist an ability to empirically observe the emergence of new properties from smaller parts.

For instance, you can study individual molecules in a hurricane, but from that information couldn't derive the behavior of the hurricane itself. When studying the individual molecules we don't say "well, I guess hurricanes don't exist." When studying the hurricane you don't say "well, this displays irreducible qualities and thus any level of analysis (such as how molecules move) below it is invalid."

If the you take into consideration the possibility of emergence, it makes sense to speak of analyzing a system on multiple levels. A simple example is "selection." It makes sense to speak simultaneously of selection on the "gene level" on the "organism level" and even the "group level" at times. To speak of group selection does not deny the simultaneous activity of gene level selection. Gene level selection does not deny the existence of group selection and vice versa.

Yet the way you phrase it, it would seem we have to choose whether group selection exists or is simply parts of organism selection and if organism selection exists or is simply parts of genic selection.
Sidewalker
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4/12/2013 11:54:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 11:33:17 AM, Apeiron wrote:
This question belongs in philosophy since it's a metaphysical question about science; it involves a philosophy of science thinking cap-

Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

Or are the parts (and their relata) all that exist? So that it makes only pragmatic (conventional / anti-real) sense to speak of the whole?

If the whole is an existing thing, then there seems to be a clear and easy way to speak of such systems in our everyday experience (classical physics, say, macroscopic and synoptic scale systems), but when we get to the microscopic levels, are the whole and parts one? (This is probably why separating particles at the fundamental levels gets so weird).

Take for instance a hurricane, the parts of which involve water-vapor, wind, etc and their relata; convective and advective heat exchange, static energy, etc..

Now all this we call hurricane

But do hurricanes, as a whole, exist? Likewise does a universe exist? Do dogs exist?

I hope you can begin to see the reductionistic lean on the sciences over the past half century. I think a top-down approach is needed again to make any sort of sense of this myself, but where and how would that take place? Where do we start?

I think where we start is to take the whole system into account and accept that reality is a unified and coherent whole, parts can only be partly true. We need a view that is consistent with a multilevel view of reality that recognizes the emergence of new kinds of events at higher levels of organization and in new contexts.

We don"t need to reject reductionism, just know that it is part of a dynamic and seek a more balanced view that is more dynamic and relational rather than in such static terms. Better understanding is dependent on a wider context of interpretation to see that Nature is itself hierarchically arranged" each level establishes its own stability by using mechanisms made available by lower levels, while establishing functional contexts at higher levels.

There are two polar opposite ways to look at ontology, an objective ontology, one of objects; and a relational ontology, one of relationships. Taken alone, neither is right, to say that "opposites" are "polar" is to say much more than they are opposed or separated; it is to say that they constitute a whole. It is vital to understand that many things that appear to be opposites are in fact inseparable opposites; they constitute a whole. They are not mutually exclusive; they are mutually sustaining, reciprocal in their true nature. Our mind thinks of them as basically separate from each other but in reality they constitute a whole in the same way that the earth"s poles are the ends of a single entity. There is a reciprocal, transactional relationship being described. Polar opposites don"t even exist without each other, they are contingent upon each other, you can"t have the one without the other. Polar opposites are like the two sides of a coin, or the two ends of a stick; they reference two opposing aspects of one and the same thing.

The scientific view has necessarily been unbalanced by an overemphasis on an ontology of objects because it has traditionally been concerned with establishing a set of precisely measurable regular relationships between isolated phenomena under strictly controlled conditions. But objects are no more real than the relationships associated with and between those objects, isolating them for study is limiting, aspects of thier nature are lost, objects don't exist is isolation. An object is completely defined by its relationship to other things. An object is defined by locating it in time and space, which is to say by defining its relationship to other things.

Scientifically, this need for a more balanced view has been demonstrated on the largest and smallest scales, on the largest scales we have the General theory of Relativity, and on the smallest scale we have Quantum Theory, both about as generally accepted to be true to reality as two scientific theories can be. The General Theory of Relativity is explicitly ontological, it tells us what time, space, matter and energy are, and what it tells us is that they are relationships. On the quantum level, it has been demonstrated that particles can only be defined in relation to other things, if you know where it is you can"t know where it is going, how it relates to other things, and if you know its movement in relation to other things, you can"t know where it is. If you try to know a particle as having a precise independent existence, you can"t know anything about its relationship to the rest of reality, and if you try to know its relationship to the rest of reality, you can"t know anything about its independent existence. I think it logically follows that a particle doesn"t really have independent existence; you just can't meaningfully reduce the whole to a simple sum of its reduced parts.

In the end, science is demonstrating that reality is a highly integrated and dynamic pattern of interdependent events, its parts contribute to and are modified by the unified activity of the whole. Everything occurs in a context that affects it, a more balanced view that conceives of the universe as a network of interactions in which every entity is constituted by its relationships is more true to reality.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
R0b1Billion
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4/13/2013 2:01:28 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

My interpretation of the Anthropic Principle would be that consciousness creates biology, not the other way around. Besides, we can look at cells, DNA, neurological activity in the brain... Despite advanced technology and centuries of scientific experiment and theory, we have no explanation for what "life" is other than a clumsy list of attributes that we observe in the life we've seen so far. How did an early Earth create living cells that could survive, divide, and evolve? How do cells, operating on chemical principles, produce thoughts? If you can't answer these questions, then you can't say that we as people are supervenient on biology and chemistry for our life and for our thoughts, because you can't explain how these lower levels create them.

The uncertainty principle also seems to break up the pattern. Quantum foam is at the bottom, which is completely chaotic, yet gives rise to microscopic particles, which can't be completely identified (position, velocity), which give rise to larger forms which are very much unlike the lower levels. Perhaps I just have a hard time fathoming how the levels can be so unlike each other yet constitute the same stuff.
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- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
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Apeiron
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4/14/2013 7:45:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Yea, Supervenience.

A supervenes on B just if there can be no change to A without a change in B
The kind of non-locality attributed to the set-up will depend on our interpretation of quantum mechanics

The properties of the whole can"t change without the properties of the parts changing

But it might be that the properties of the whole stay the same when the parts are in flux

E.g., ave temp can"t change without the temperature and the individual parts changing... But it might be that certain individual parts of the room change without the average temp changing

So normally we think of properties of wholes supervening on the properties of parts.

In QM, the property of the whole doesn"t seem to supervene in the property of the parts.
Lordknukle
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4/14/2013 7:49:10 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Honestly, who cares? It's like those people that say that you can't really touch anything. They might be right, but what effect does that have on our lives?
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
Apeiron
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4/14/2013 9:37:27 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/14/2013 7:49:10 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Honestly, who cares? It's like those people that say that you can't really touch anything. They might be right, but what effect does that have on our lives?

Dude, it's fundamental physical reality where, if we get a good grasp on how it works, we can revolutionize tech, our way of thinking about the world, etc... that's huge.
AlbinoBunny
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4/15/2013 2:24:26 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/14/2013 7:45:57 PM, Apeiron wrote:
Yea, Supervenience.

A supervenes on B just if there can be no change to A without a change in B
The kind of non-locality attributed to the set-up will depend on our interpretation of quantum mechanics

The properties of the whole can"t change without the properties of the parts changing

But it might be that the properties of the whole stay the same when the parts are in flux

E.g., ave temp can"t change without the temperature and the individual parts changing... But it might be that certain individual parts of the room change without the average temp changing

So normally we think of properties of wholes supervening on the properties of parts.

In QM, the property of the whole doesn"t seem to supervene in the property of the parts.

Aren't there some properties where the arrangement of the part change the properties of a whole? Even if the parts don't change?
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toolpot462
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4/15/2013 10:42:55 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/13/2013 2:01:28 AM, R0b1Billion wrote:
Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

My interpretation of the Anthropic Principle would be that consciousness creates biology, not the other way around. Besides, we can look at cells, DNA, neurological activity in the brain...

Why are you separating the consciousness and biology? When we create AI, are we going to separate the intelligence from the mechanism as well?

Despite advanced technology and centuries of scientific experiment and theory, we have no explanation for what "life" is other than a clumsy list of attributes that we observe in the life we've seen so far.

We can only describe things by their behavior. You're not going to find some primordial "stuff" you can call life.

How did an early Earth create living cells that could survive, divide, and evolve? How do cells, operating on chemical principles, produce thoughts? If you can't answer these questions, then you can't say that we as people are supervenient on biology and chemistry for our life and for our thoughts, because you can't explain how these lower levels create them.

We're pretty close to answering these questions.

We can observe how biology and chemistry effect us and our thoughts. When you change the chemistry of the brain, you get different thoughts. When you disrupt the biology of, say, the heart, you die. It's only rudimentary that complicated systems are composed of less complicated components.
I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and all your demons.
I'll be the one to protect you from
A will to survive and a voice of reason.
I'll be the one to protect you from
Your enemies and your choices, son.
slo1
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4/15/2013 4:54:08 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/12/2013 11:33:17 AM, Apeiron wrote:
This question belongs in philosophy since it's a metaphysical question about science; it involves a philosophy of science thinking cap-

Is an existing whole supervenient on the parts?

Or are the parts (and their relata) all that exist? So that it makes only pragmatic (conventional / anti-real) sense to speak of the whole?

If the whole is an existing thing, then there seems to be a clear and easy way to speak of such systems in our everyday experience (classical physics, say, macroscopic and synoptic scale systems), but when we get to the microscopic levels, are the whole and parts one? (This is probably why separating particles at the fundamental levels gets so weird).

Take for instance a hurricane, the parts of which involve water-vapor, wind, etc and their relata; convective and advective heat exchange, static energy, etc..

Now all this we call hurricane

But do hurricanes, as a whole, exist? Likewise does a universe exist? Do dogs exist?

I hope you can begin to see the reductionistic lean on the sciences over the past half century. I think a top-down approach is needed again to make any sort of sense of this myself, but where and how would that take place? Where do we start?

If the configuration of the parts did not make the whole then there would be no differences between the "wholes" as the parts are all the same. I am not a dog, I am not a hurricane, i am not you..................or am I?
Lordknukle
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4/15/2013 9:25:29 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 4/14/2013 9:37:27 PM, Apeiron wrote:
At 4/14/2013 7:49:10 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Honestly, who cares? It's like those people that say that you can't really touch anything. They might be right, but what effect does that have on our lives?

Dude, it's fundamental physical reality where, if we get a good grasp on how it works, we can revolutionize tech, our way of thinking about the world, etc... that's huge.

No. We can revolutionize our tech if we take all the pseudo-intellectual college kids majoring in philosophy and place them into science. At least they'll be doing something useful then.
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."