Reductionism LO1964

Doug Seeley (
05 Jul 95 19:36:37 EDT

Host's Note: I believe this is followup to Doug's own LO1911. I cannot
find Mike message from which he quotes...

Responding to Michael McMaster on Reductionism on Wednesday July 5th LO???

Mike, thanks for the thoughtful and comprehensive response to my missive
on Reductionism....

>My understanding is that we would have to claim that the result of
>the interaction was reducible to specifically identified agents and
>actions to become reductionist. ...

I don't entirely follow this statement, would You be willing to expand on
what You mean??

>It seems to be that contemporary science is more and more discovering
>that when you get there, nothing is there. Particle physics runs out
>of particles. Surface physics runs out of surface. Fractals go all
>the way down. The interpretive philosophies no particular problem
>with that because they consider it all to be a matter of language,
>dialogue, conversations, socially constructed reality held together
>by agreement based (probably) on pragmatic results.

Yes, it seems so... a kind of alignment with the Buddhist Sunyata or
Void... similar to Varela's main points in his book just a few years
ago... and quite in keeping with Marvin Minsky's paradigm of "the Society
of Mind".

However, my explorations, experientially and theoretically, gives me the
perspective that there is something beyond this nothing, this void....
that it is a physical nothing, but populated by non-physical somethings,
reiterating that for me consciousness does not derive from physical
entities, but rather the sources of this consciousness generates them.
Which leads me to the question... whom or what do the interpretive
philosophies consider are generating this linguistic based reality?? For
me, consciousness and its source are far more fundamental than what can be
constructed linguistically in all of our socially situated conversations.
It makes me wonder whether the interpretive position isn't a kind of
self-justification of our intellectual egos, wishing to avoid the
realities of actual deep contact with others??... a self-accusation which
comes up from time to time.

>The main argument isn't "there is no objective reality". The main
>argument is "what difference does it make if there is or there
>isn't?" ...I think this last part is key because it gets at the reason why we
>care about this conversation. That is, I don't care if its "true"
>but I do care what impact it has on the lives of human beings and of
>the planet. (Richard Rorty does some very nice work on this aspect
>of postmodern thought.)

I am really with You on this one.. it helps Us to get the heart of what
really matters.... with the belief in an objective reality as rock-bottom,
for me this spells an authority position vis-a-vis the autonomy of each
individual to construct their own reality... I agree with Humberto
Maturana's position on this one, even though he lumps all spiritual
positions with authoritarian dogma...

>postmodern science and explains that
>what makes them so is that they are seeing the flaws of the
>metanarratives of inherited scientific method and challenging those
>with new approaches that cannot be proved or argued within the old

Yes, this is what I like about complex adaptive system school [in my
earlier postings I did not use adaptive, because it was not our parlance
about this field back in Australia]. However, for me they are not
metanarratives in the linguistic sense, but rather belief in basic
metaphysical positions about the construction of reality and the laws of
physics. I know that this "narrative" position also has some following in
the theoretical side of the psychotherapeutic community... a position
taken by Michael White back in Adelaide for example....

But Mike, can You or anyone else shed some light for me on how it is that
some people feel that the construction of reality is *merely* language
based (accepting the role that language's distincition- making
capabilities plays) process and rooted in the living, conscious contact
between us all??

P.S. Would You supply some references on Don Lavoie and Richard Rorty's

Doug Seeley, Ph.D.	InterDynamics Pty. Ltd. (Australia) in Geneva
			CompuServe: 100433.133  Fax: +41 22 756 3957
			"Choice and Chance are One."