With my e-mail program, I can't simply enter something identifiable as
mine when I get a bar rather than >s. So I hope the italics comes
On Thu, 31 Jan 2002 12:43:40 EST Dawsonzhu@aol.com writes:
David Siemens wrote:
I will grant that it is not possible to give a scientific description of
soul or spirit without reductionism. But deity also must be reduced to
anthropomorphic projection or something similar to fit scientific
categories. I do not see rational grounds for denying the latter if I
accept the former.
I agree that science is unlikely to have the capacity to
decide what a sprit is, although, I do consider
anthropology a respectable science, and evidence of
altars and burials with "gifts" or "tools for the afterlife"
certainly count as forms of spiritualness even if science
itself cannot say what a spirit is. So anthropology can at
least produce arguments suggesting that Neanderthals were
Note what is going on here: recognizing cultic activity in a group, not
recognizing any reality behind the activity. If anyone wants to deal with
the supernatural, it cannot take this route,
I do however respectfully disagree with your comment
implying that science _must_ use reductionism.
That is certainly what some scientist seem to think,
particularly the scientism types, but likewise,
each man takes the limits of his own vision for the
limits of the world.
Reductionism is used in science because it works _for
the experiments that it applies to_. It would not
apply to entangled spin systems, such systems are
irreducible: or should I say, once you have "reduced"
them, you've lost their information. That, at least,
appears to be our current place on the map of
understanding quantum mechanics. Critical phenomena is
also a bit strange in that way, although perhaps not
quite as bizarre as QM.
In discussions with a physicist, I got the clear impression that
reductionism runs the other direction. All macro phenomena are reduced to
quantum physics, with chemistry and physics in turn explaining the
phenomena of life, which in turn produce psychology and sociology. This
is not the traditional "naturalistic" reductionism. Note that this
approach requires emergence, though in principle the emergent properties
are extensions of the deeper phenomena. Also, this is sophisticated
enough to recognize that we are not reducing matters to generalizations
of observations, but are dealing with the results of theory construction.
Look at it this way. If you only look at atoms, you cannot
see that you have a crystal. If you only look at crystals
you cannot see that you have a tile and if all you look at
are tiles, you still cannot see that they are part of a
This assumes that what one observes is the ultimate entity that needs to
be considered, that there is no emergence. Further, what science deals
with "breathtaking mosaic"? This argument does not touch sophisticated
My point is that whereas reductionism is a valuable tool
for doing science, it is surely not the only allowed tool,
and in some cases it may not even be the best.
By Grace we proceed, (in science as well)
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