Re: more, briefly

Moorad Alexanian (alexanian@UNCWIL.EDU)
Mon, 13 Apr 1998 13:57:27 -0500 (EST)

At 10:45 AM 4/11/98 -0400, Massimo Pigliucci wrote:
>> Can you define mathematically, the term 'epiphenomenon'? I hear this
>> term
>> bandied about by mechanists like design is bandied about by the ID
>> group,
>> but I don't see how one can give it an objective definition. It has
>> all the
>> smell of a subjective term to me.
>For a mathematical treatment of epiphenomena I refer you to Stuart
>Kauffman's "The Origins of Order", 1993, Oxford University Press, and
>especially to the excellent bibliography therein.
>For a more intuitive definition, epiphenomenon simply means "emergent
>property". The simplest example of emergent property I can think of is
>the junction of oxyne and hydrogen to yield water. While there is
>nothing magical or non-physical about it, the properties of water are in
>no way reducible to the sum of the properties of hydrogen and oxygen,
>since what makes water what it is is the *interaction* between the two.

In physics such "emergent properties" are called collective effects.
However, collective effects are measurable by physical apparatuses. Note
that that is the subject matter of science, namely, effects that are
measurable by machines. Questions of human consciousness, free will, etc.
can never be measured by machines. Such "measurements" are carried on by
individual human beings. It is true that their bodies can be wired and
physical measurements can be made. However, such measurements represent only
the physical manifestations of such human activities and do not represent
the non-physical essence of consciousness, free will, etc.

Take care,