question for philosophers

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question for philosophers

Postby dumbernmud » Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:18 pm

Hi,

I'm a new fan of philosophy (in my old [middle] age), and am trying to figure out what principle governs the reduction of something's parts while the thing remains what it is....i.e., what principle describes the ability to suffer the loss of certain components while remaining the same essential thing.

For example, I understand that skin cells die at a rate by which the entire skin of a human being can be said to be totally replaced in seven years. (Going from memory here, may not be fully accurate.) Yet the human being remains the same essential being and is unchanged by the process.

What philosophic principle explains this phenomena?

Thanks.
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Postby Faust » Tue Oct 03, 2006 6:23 pm

Er, um, essentialism?

I dunno.

I'm sure there is an actual philosopher about that can tell you.
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Postby dumbernmud » Tue Oct 03, 2006 10:04 pm

Hello Faust,

Thanks for your comment. Can't find essentialism in my dictionary, so am in the dark still, but will google it in a bit. I thought maybe this would be some sort of reductionism, but can't seem to make a very good connection...definitions of reductionism don't quite work.

Anyone else?
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Re: question for philosophers

Postby Membrain » Tue Oct 03, 2006 10:28 pm

dumbernmud wrote:For example, I understand that skin cells die at a rate by which the entire skin of a human being can be said to be totally replaced in seven years. (Going from memory here, may not be fully accurate.) Yet the human being remains the same essential being and is unchanged by the process.
What philosophic principle explains this phenomena?


I don't have a one-word answer, but I have something that may interest you.

Replying to another post today I ran across the online script to one of my favorite philosophical movies "Mindwalk", and I posted an excerpt from it to answer someone's question. Allow me to do that again, and if you like what you read, I recommend renting the DVD (the link is at the bottom).

And just to give a quick summary of the point of the dialog, "life" is defined as "self-maintaining, self-renewing, self-transcending".

The dialog has three people:

Sonia: The physicist
Jack: The presidential candidate
Thomas: The poet

Enjoy!

JACK
Okay, Sonia, let’s hear it... What is life?

SONIA
In systems language the answer would be: The essence of life is selforganization. What’s so funny?

THOMAS
(laughs)

THOMAS
“What is life, Ma’am?” “Life is self-organizing.” I mean, that’s very, very nice. That’s very nice. That’s very very very nice. That’s very nice. I don’t know, it just sounds to me like something out of “Alice in Wonderland.”
(In a fit of laughter he collapses on the sand and pats the ground with his hand.)

THOMAS (CON’T)
Maybe there is someone down there who speaks your language...Jabberwocky!...You know, as Merlin once said to King Arthur: “Don’t dishonor your feast by rejecting what’s come to it.” So sit. What is life? Life is self-organizing. Well, that’s just extraordinary.
(He motions them to sit down also, and they do so, JACK with some reluctance.)

SONIA
Yes it is, and it means something specific, too. It means that a living system is self-maintaining, self-renewing, self-transcending.

JACK
What does self-maintaining mean?

SONIA
It means that a living system although dependent on its environment is not determined by it. Take the yellow fields of rye around this island. With all the rain here, those fields should green all year round. But every summer they turn yellow. Why? To use a metaphor, each plant remembers that it originated in the hot and dry climate of Southern Asia. It “remembers” and not even a drastically different climate can’t change its inner workings. It is self-maintaining, self-organizing.

JACK
I see. What about self-renewing? What does that mean?

SONIA
Take us. Like all living organisms we are constantly replacing ourselves in
continuous cycles, and much faster than we can imagine. Your pancreas, for example. Do you know that it replaces most of its cells within 24 hours? That means you wake up with a new pancreas each morning, and a new stomach lining as well. And your skin...Do you know that your skin falls off at the rate of 100,000 cells a minute? Do you know that most of the dust in our homes consists of our own dead skin cells?

THOMAS
That will get into a poem! Our households are filled with dead skin!

SONIA
And at the same time as all those cells are being shed, just as many are dividing and producing new skin. That’s self-renewal.

THOMAS
As Heraclitus once said: “A man can’t step into the same river twice.” Sonia says: “A man can’t shake hands with the same man twice with the same hand.” Right?

SONIA
Yes and no. Though most of our cells are being replaced, we do recognize each other because, you see, the pattern of our organization is still the same. That’s one of the important characteristics of life — continual structural change, yet stability in the pattern of the system’s organization.

THOMAS
And that’s all there is to life?

SONIA
No. There is self-transcending. See, self-organization is not only the living systems maintaining themselves and continually renewing themselves; it also means that they have an inherent tendency to transcend themselves; to reach out and create new forms. That’s one of the most exciting parts to me, that the basic dynamics of evolution is not adaptation but creativity.

THOMAS
You mean that living systems will evolve just for the hell of it?
They’ll sort of go exploring whether they need to for survival or not?
So I’m not as far out of step as I usually suppose.

SONIA
No, you’re not. Creativity is a basic element of evolution. Every living organism has the potential for creativity, for surprising and transcending itself,

THOMAS
Creating what, for instance? Beauty?

SONIA
Oh, yes. Beauty too. See, evolution is so much more than adaptation to the environment. After all, what is the environment if not a living system, which evolves and creatively adapts itself. So which adapts to which? Each to the other — they coevolve. Evolution is an ongoing dance..,an ongoing conversation.

(JACK is so impressed that he no longer thinks of clever answers to contradict her, but actually listens and reflects.)

JACK
We are systems, and the planet is a system. We don’t evolve on the planet, we evolve with the planet.

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:-iq ... =clnk&cd=1
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Postby Xunzian » Tue Oct 03, 2006 10:31 pm

If you really want a treat, check out the Horak debate. While it primarily deals with human nature, it also touches on the idea of self and the conflict between monists and dualists.

Good stuff.
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Postby omar » Wed Oct 04, 2006 12:52 am

Hello dumber:
(points on originality)

Welcome to philosophy where you may find that being a know it all entails only that you admit how you don't know a thing-- so again, points for a great philosophical name!
Anyway to your question: "trying to figure out what principle governs the reduction of something's parts while the thing remains what it is....i.e., what principle describes the ability to suffer the loss of certain components while remaining the same essential thing."
The two that immediately come to mind are Holism, which means that: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts."; and Platonism, in a way, with his attention to Forms and Ideas. What you seek is really early philosophy, that begins with Thales, and tries to discover what is the principle, or thing, which all other things derrive from. It was believed by some that there was this "essense", this blue-print that was only poorly represented in matter. This is Plato. Aristotle took it further and "was the first to use the terms hyle and morphe. According to his explanation, all entities have two aspects, "matter" and "form." It is the particular form imposed that gives some matter its identity." (from Wiki)
Based on this hypothesis (which echoes Parmeneides' monism in some respects), if I interpret it succesfully, matter is very much the same in-itself-- reduced to it's most simple components, all things, including you, me, sticks and rocks etc, are made of the same stuff- elements which are given in the periodic table. Yet, our form is different that sticks and stones. So, is there a blue-print that nature follows in our seeds, so that a tree becomes a tree and not a cat, even though, reducibly, materialy, there should be no reason why the seed of a tree should become necessarly a tree and not a cat?

Now, there is Heraclitus. He may have said that you can never step in the same river again. This is what is in your mind, in whatever incarnation it is, and there have been many. "For example, I understand that skin cells die at a rate by which the entire skin of a human being can be said to be totally replaced in seven years." If we take that as true then, supposing that you are 40-42 years old, then you are on the seventh object under the colloquial "dumbernmud" (You should know that I mean what you consider your self). It is posited worse than that in Hume and in Russell. Logically, even if your cells remain eternally, you yourself should be different at any given moment. This is clearly proven by the fact that you don't remember many things from childhood, and the fact that from childhood to now, you have changed many views so that you might not be said to be the same...that you have changed. The river flows and does not stop, so that at a given time, though we say it is the same river, new waters now fill the banks. The question for the philosopher is if this habit of still calling a river or a person by name but a means of short-hand language, or is it because the name of something designated it's essense as well. Is the river more than just the waters that fill a bank? Are you more than a loose collection of inaccurate memories or cells? What is in a name?

More interesting than the principle is the ethical or moral implications of each view. Here is a bit of sci-fi:
Suppose you meet a very nice girl, hot bod, intelligent, like sports, talks to a minimun and never about gossip. You date for few months and sure enough, such a woman, you end up asking in marriage. At your wedding, the priest goes through the usual wedding sermons and declarations and then he gets to the part that he asks those present if there is some reason why they should not be together. Someone steps up and says: He cannot marry Susan because Susan is a robot! Susan does not exist. Susan is not a woman that you can take in marriage!

Here are your options as a philosopher. You could say that "Susan" is the name of that which is in front of you, that is, the stimuli of your impression. From that point of view, you cannot even know if the person who spoke against Susan is a robot himself. Susan simply denotes the surface of things and makes no speculation as to what is it's essense, so let the wedding continue.
Or you could feel that Susan had lied to you because in some way, what now stands as Susan fails to meet some quality you've associated with her name...say her mortality, because you had an idea with her form of humans and as you know, humans are mortal. She looked human, spoke like a human and therefore you assumed she was a human being. To you, Susan implied human, not robot.

Now think this. If I took a human being and "reduce" it to parts, I would have killed it. That means that would have removed an essential characteristic from it that I could not reinstate...no Frankenstein.
But if I take Susan apart, since she is but servos and gaskets etc, I could still put her back together and make her function as before without fail.

I believe that we are more than the sum of our parts, perhaps not to say that we have an essense that is absolute and impertubable, but that we certainly have a pattern in our cells.

This is very interesting stuff and worthy of an initial study because it permeates philosophy from beginning to what you read now.
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Postby Jakob » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:22 am

faust wrote:Er, um, essentialism?

I dunno.

I'm sure there is an actual philosopher about that can tell you.


Wasn't Ernst Wernklepmter essentially an essentialist?
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Postby detrop » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:29 am

That was a really good post, Omar.

Preesh.
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Postby Obw » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:32 am

Essentialism or "Platonic realism". Or Aristotelian 'form + matter' - "hylomorphe". Or in a modern sense, it is best to refer to it by what it is not - i.e. a non-nominalist view of the brain (in this case).
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Postby Faust » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:53 am

Jakob - as the World's Leading Authority on Ernst Werklempter, I will tell you that he was a Positionist, first and foremost. But he can also be rightly described as a Non-Negative Nihilistic Noumenist.

Plistz, in his semi-authoritative "Ernst Werklempter: Philosopher, Iconoclast, Chronic Complainer" wrote:

"Werklempter's view of the thing-in-itself-in-itself is a stunning formulation. It turns Plato on his ear, and Kant on his arse, which is very unattractive".

Werklempter himself says, in his scintillating but generally upsetting "Why I Am So Scintillating, But Generally Upsetting":

"The other day I moved all my furniture around. Just for the hell of it. I still hate this apartment."

Does that answer your question?
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Postby dumbernmud » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:01 pm

Thanks all for the contributions. I googled essentialism and found it's the closest to date in describing what I'm looking for....thanks, Faust. I am surprised, though, that there isn't a short definition for this principle.

Loved your post, Omar....when you were describing Susan, I immediately thought 'stepford wives'....lo and behold, the robot thing appeared. I must be an intuitive! On the other hand, the description "...very nice girl, hot bod, intelligent, like sports, talks to a minimun and never about gossip" has to be a manufactured agent!

As re your comment,
Logically, even if your cells remain eternally, you yourself should be different at any given moment. This is clearly proven by the fact that you don't remember many things from childhood, and the fact that from childhood to now, you have changed many views so that you might not be said to be the same...that you have changed.

But the changes you note still don't destroy the sovereignty of individuality, right? I've changed in a lot of respects since childhood, we all have, but isn't what remains in the midst of all these changes still the same individual? Or is this actually the same point you're making by pointing out that we're more than the sum of our parts?

BTW, the reason I'm pursuing this is trying to tie philosophy (which I'm finding fascinating, started reading it less than three years ago) and theology together to arrive at an unorthodox but IMO warranted conclusion for a universal Christian salvation. All interpretation is of particulars...the division of particulars to either heaven/hell. I think the application of this principle...which sounds like 'essentialist' view at this point...reveals a substructure in the Bible of how every human is saved....destruction and rebirth are directed to essence rather than particulars, which would retain individuality in the same way replacement of material cells leave individual intact.

Thanks again for all the input!
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Re: question for philosophers

Postby Justly » Wed Oct 04, 2006 4:44 pm

dumbernmud wrote:Hi,

I'm a new fan of philosophy (in my old [middle] age), and am trying to figure out what principle governs the reduction of something's parts while the thing remains what it is....i.e., what principle describes the ability to suffer the loss of certain components while remaining the same essential thing.

For example, I understand that skin cells die at a rate by which the entire skin of a human being can be said to be totally replaced in seven years. (Going from memory here, may not be fully accurate.) Yet the human being remains the same essential being and is unchanged by the process.

What philosophic principle explains this phenomena?

Thanks.

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Postby omar » Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:11 pm

Hello dumbernmud:

Like I said, yes, that is the most convincing view, but one which much be first studied by you. Don't take it on my saying so, cause I can be very wrong. Your beliefs should be carefully picked.
Now, we're talking logic here. From that point of view, your individuality, your self, is disconnected into snap-shots which pass just like the film in a movie, or animation, giving you the impression that "You" is a whole, a unit designated by the "I". This is stuff many here still discuss, so just watch long enough and you might catch such a discussion.
But because of the perspective used, that is, logic, one must agree with the premise to an extent. It is enough to demonstrate that you do change to allow the conclusion that the self must therefore be an illusion. I believe that we do change but that our changes are a matter of degree and not in kind. But from the view point of logic there is little middle ground- it is simply established that the self is not one continuous unit, but a group of ideas held together by a principle or law of association.

Let me just say, as a sort of an advice, that you should not take any "goals" into studying philosophy. Personalize it, make it yours, apply it so that it is relevant in your life, yes, yes, but don't try to fit philosophy into preconceived goals, such as an unorthodox theology. There is plenty of theologians already doing that. If you do, you might put words in it's mouth, so to speak and you might miss something important it had to say.

Philosophy is not theology because it departs from a doubt, not from a given belief in God and in His account written in the Bible. Philosophy surrenders itself to reason. Theology surrenders itself to it's faith, over an above reason. Even when they delve into metaphysics, philosophy imagines creatures and realms quite different from the christian theologian.
I am telling you all this because there is no possible "unorthodoxy" in what you're doing, so long as what is reviewd as pertaining to "Christian salvation". The philosopher should ask himself first:"Why Christianity, from all the other faiths that roam the Earth?" You might find that in responding to that question and finding reasons why Christianity is for you the true religion (and not just superstition) might also answer the other question concerning a salvation.
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Postby dumbernmud » Thu Oct 05, 2006 3:07 pm

Hi Omar,

Good thoughts. Don't know how realistic it is at this late stage in the game (I'm on the wrong side of 50) to abandon presuppositions and start from scratch. Am operating from the premise that if something is true, it'll hvae true relations. Philosophy, as fascinating as it is, is at the same time only another flawed system of thought put into play by flawed human beings. Hey, it's what we do. I suspect a lot of philosophy suffers from the same ailment as any other intellectual methodology....its conclusions suffer from the same kinds of predisposition in interpretive process as theology or science. We're really all on the same boat after all, and all playing by the same general rules, it seems.

This said, I love philosophy because it's nature seems to make it harder to hide one's dispositions in the folds of her fabric....though it appears to good old subjective me that the generally sharper class of people in her hallowed halls rise to the occassion, as they do in any other intellectual endeavor. It's those philosophic connections in the processes involved which leads to the universal bias in interpretation that I find most fascinating, and this just ain't found in matter, as Hume taught. Metaphysics seems about the only lady still searching this area, and she's just a fading old girl today...though there may some life in her limbs yet.

Again, thanks for your guidance. It's appreciated.
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Postby Emorgasm » Thu Oct 05, 2006 10:32 pm

I will turn to contextualism to address this.

While this may not appeal to your "goal", it is (as far as this debate goes) a novel way of discussing identity.

What you are trying to define is identity. Identity is abstract - the fact that I am "Emorgasm" isn't because I am objectively "Emorgasm," it's because I am identified as such by beings with the capacity to identify me as such (including myself.) Without that conscious identification, identity would not exist. Identity is contextual - this means that something can only be identified relative to something else. For example, attempt to define something without refering to a different object. In describing an apple, I must first describe that it grows on a tree, and follow with any number of more accurate descriptions (each one of which will neccessarily be relative.)

Following this logic, something's identity can be described in many ways, each one of them accurate. Identity is contextual - it depends on the perspective taken and the comparisons used to define an object. Dumbernmud, if we're speaking cellularly, has changed a great deal since his birth. If we're speaking in terms of particle physics, chances are that his identity has completely changed (because of the number of interactions that particles undergo on a submicroscopic level.) If we're speaking in terms of his role in society, he may have been very much the same person for the last 40 years. If we're speaking in terms of his role in a narrative, his identity may be very concrete.

None of these are contradictory. They are, however, from different vantage points - this is what makes the ship whose boards have all been replaced seem like a paradox. It is not - the ship has multiple, completely reconciliable identities depending on the context that its identity is defined in; in terms of it's label in the navy's roster, it is very much the same, while in terms of it's particulate components, it is very much a new ship. Both of these are correct.

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Postby dumbernmud » Fri Oct 06, 2006 5:55 pm

Thanks for your input, Emorgasm. You make some good points.

Am I thinking wrong here, or would contextualism have a correlation to relativism?
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Postby DT Strain » Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:06 pm

Dumbernmud,

What you describe in the original post is actually a concept that also exists in Complex systems theory. It is considered one key trait that differentiates life forms as a subset of complex systems. In other words, not all complex systems are 'life' but all life are complex systems.

The term for the ability of a complex system to replace all of its components and still maintain the same pattern is called: Autopoiesis

Here's a link:
http://www.prototista.org/E-Zine/Autopoiesis.htm
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Postby dumbernmud » Sat Oct 07, 2006 3:03 pm

Thanks for the link, DT Strain. I've saved it to favorites after a quick glance and will delve into it later.
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Postby dumbernmud » Sun Oct 08, 2006 4:47 pm

still researching.....

obw, could you explain what you mean when you say essentialism is not a non-nominalistic view of the brain? Curious to know what you mean by this. In exploring the subject the last couple days, it would seem essentialism and nominalism are opposed.
Essentialism or "Platonic realism". Or Aristotelian 'form + matter' - "hylomorphe". Or in a modern sense, it is best to refer to it by what it is not - i.e. a non-nominalist view of the brain (in this case).


DTStrain,

Aside from the obvious immediate difference between essentialism and autopoiesis--that the former seems to be more generic as referring to all complex entities while autopoiesis is focussed on living organisms--would it be wrong to say that autopoiesis is an essentialist view in a general sense?

I'm also wondering how Emorgasm's contextualism fits into this picture. Would it be correct to say that because context depends on a particular conscious view, contextualism would necessarily render the view of 'uniqueness retained in the midst of change' as subjective and relative?

Thanks to all for his/her contribution.
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Postby detrop » Sun Oct 08, 2006 5:15 pm

Nice link, DT Strain.

If a system is alive, it is cognate. Thus, all animals, plants, fungi, protoctistans & even bacteria are cognate, where cognition means knowing, awareness of environment. They may not all be conscious - which is knowing that you know - but they are cognate.


This is a good point that brings about another question; is "knowing that you know" a product of language use or is it a fundamental structure to the cogito that precedes language.

What is the experience of self-awareness like without thinking-with-words?

Is it possible? Probably not, but we should also consider the nature of language without our describing it with language; the "meaning" of a word-sound cannot be an entity that is carried without its form as tonal data, except when reading text and not hearing it. The mind understands meaning, then, not through context but through matching tonal data to imagery or real tacit experience. However, the neurological understanding, which is the actual act of processing the data and is an executive function, cannot be experienced and must be assumed. I am saying that "sense is made" by your mind, but you are after-that and through this lapse a "self" is experienced as the pre-reflective cogito, which is what the assertion above points to.

Our dilemma here is not if consciousness happens, but what is the bare minimal neccesary object that must exist for consciousness to exist as a consciousness-of-something.

I can be nonintentionally focused on driving my car. How much of that is habit and how much of that requires me to "pay attention," which amounts to intentional consciousness; having "myself-driving-this-car" as direct knowledge and in the form of language as I think to myself while driving.
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Postby Colinsign » Sun Oct 08, 2006 6:07 pm

détrop wrote:Nice link, DT Strain.

If a system is alive, it is cognate. Thus, all animals, plants, fungi, protoctistans & even bacteria are cognate, where cognition means knowing, awareness of environment. They may not all be conscious - which is knowing that you know - but they are cognate.


This is a good point that brings about another question; is "knowing that you know" a product of language use or is it a fundamental structure to the cogito that precedes language.

What is the experience of self-awareness like without thinking-with-words?

Is it possible? Probably not, but we should also consider the nature of language without our describing it with language; the "meaning" of a word-sound cannot be an entity that is carried without its form as tonal data, except when reading text and not hearing it. The mind understands meaning, then, not through context but through matching tonal data to imagery or real tacit experience. However, the neurological understanding, which is the actual act of processing the data and is an executive function, cannot be experienced and must be assumed. I am saying that "sense is made" by your mind, but you are after-that and through this lapse a "self" is experienced as the pre-reflective cogito, which is what the assertion above points to.

Our dilemma here is not if consciousness happens, but what is the bare minimal neccesary object that must exist for consciousness to exist as a consciousness-of-something.

I can be nonintentionally focused on driving my car. How much of that is habit and how much of that requires me to "pay attention," which amounts to intentional consciousness; having "myself-driving-this-car" as direct knowledge and in the form of language as I think to myself while driving.


Detrop, you always manage to articulate with a strong degree of clarity, it is great and always helps with my thinking, with getting a grip on certain ideas and understanding them.

Thank You :D
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Postby DT Strain » Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:15 am

dumbernmud wrote:DTStrain,
Aside from the obvious immediate difference between essentialism and autopoiesis--that the former seems to be more generic as referring to all complex entities while autopoiesis is focussed on living organisms--would it be wrong to say that autopoiesis is an essentialist view in a general sense?

I'm also wondering how Emorgasm's contextualism fits into this picture...


Unfortunately, I'm not educated well enough on the points you're asking to give a very satisfactory answer, I'm afraid. But these are fascinating questions. I would point out one thing, refering to the section I've bolded in the above quote: autopoiesis is not focused on living organisms per se. It's just that all living organisms we know of have this as a feature. But there are other systems which undergo autopoiesis which we would not consider to be single living organisms. For example, a flowing river, an ecosystem, or a hurricane. All of these patterns continually replace the makeup of their components while maintaining their pattern. So, living biological organisms are only a subset of all complex systems which undergo autopoiesis. It makes one wonder how arbitrary our definition of 'life' really is.
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Postby detrop » Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:03 pm

Essentialism or "Platonic realism". Or Aristotelian 'form + matter' - "hylomorphe". Or in a modern sense, it is best to refer to it by what it is not - i.e. a non-nominalist view of the brain (in this case).


Is Dumbernmud refering to Essentialism as Obw has described it there, and could you, Obw, expand a bit on that?

I personally see no reason to posit an essence to anything. Why can't there be infinite particulars? I suppose it was the use of mathematical systems, symbols, for representing things and quantities, that led the first thinkers to propose a "universal" or "essential" idea of something, in this case, the symbol and number. Since they used single variants several times over, the numbers became a priori to the quantities and things they represented.

I am reminded of Nietzsche saying that causal entities, that is subjects, are invented so the world can be calculated. I add-- these developments were not intentional or purposeful by man. The a prior structures of the world and experience, if there are any, must be a synthesis of stimulus and stimulation-- there need not be a medium, a "thing to be stimulated." This process is honed through the act of sensibility. It is at its origins sensory....it isn't "experience."

Man did not invent mathematics-- but what he refers to as "mathematics" is the act of these a priori systems working.

If there is anything essential to these states of autopoiesis it would be in the dynamic created between a stimulus and a response. If this response is simply a kind of feedback, then there is no "essential" type of system save the concept of the cogito created in experience or in "having a perspective."

A chair's "being" is feeding back...it is as causally real as I am. Here the dilemma is this; where is consciousness happening in this organic system. If it isn't anywhere, then it cannot effect anything...it would hover above the world without touching it. If it is somewhere...then its possible the chair is conscious like myself, since the beginning of my body and the beginning of the chair's body is only a matter of space. But space, like consciousness, is nothing.

Anyway I say that the idea of "essence" is incompatible with the act of existing, since all events that have being are particular contingencies in the universe. They have no history or design, they are not teleological, and do not have being until they have been.

Recall Sartre's analogy of the artisan and papercutter-- the finished shape of the paper would be the intention of the cutter, but would be independent of the cutter once it was created...it would be that shape with or without the cutter present. Man can be compared to the paper shape, yet since there is no God, no artisan to have an intention, a design in mind, the being of the paper shape would be determined by its surging into the future and would never become something determined. For to say one quality of man is determined is like saying one specific law of the universe is determined...which would in turn require another law to substantiate it, so on and so forth until to reach an intial cause, of which there cannot be.

Therefore nothing in the mind of man has or is capable of describing an "essence," but his experience has an essential characteristic which can be considered a priori to his synthesis, his formualtion and signification of the event. The mathematics are happening because there is sensibility, but the symbols and entites which are represented are always particular events and things. Their genus is only due to their recurrance. The habitus, as Dunamis once called it I think.
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Postby Emorgasm » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:46 am

Yes, contextualism is very closely related to relativism.

More specifically, contextualism is the result of the linguistic application of relativism - it does generally insist, though, that philosophy (and in fact, all thought) is linguistic in nature, something that many self-declared "relativists" disagree with.

The neutrality of viewpoints is borrowed directly from physical relativism, though, as developed by Einstein (or at least, that's where I pull it from.)

As far as contextualism fitting into the overall framing of the question at hand:

Contextualism provides a framework within which the problems of identity that seem to be caused by autopoiesis dissapear. It is not contradictory within the framework of contextualism for today's dumbernmud to be both the same and radically different compared to the dumbernmud of ten years ago; it depends entirely on the viewpoint taken, and each viewpoint is valid in a fitting context.

Relativism is nearly impossible to honestly apply to a religious concept without deconstructing the religion, though.
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Postby dumbernmud » Fri Oct 13, 2006 10:41 pm

Haven't had much time to post last few days, but want to thank all who've contributed, I love the diversity of thought.

I find you last post fascinating, detrop. Will try to formulate a few questions in next couple days as it speaks to something I've been working on about what seem to me similarities in the nature of the mind's formulation of substance and essence.
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