Sunday, August 08, 2010

Quote of the Day: "Strong Emergence is Uncomfortably Like Magic"

"Although strong emergence is logically possible, it is uncomfortably like magic. How does an irreducible but supervenient downward causal power arise, since by definition it cannot be due to the aggregation of the micro-level potentialities? Such causal powers would be quite unlike anything within our scientific ken. This not only indicates how they will discomfort reasonable forms of materialism. Their mysteriousness will only heighten the traditional worry that emergence entails illegitimately getting something from nothing."-- Bedau 1997 Via Wiki

If we can get a universe from Nothing, we should be able to get emergent properties from the same source.

After all, which is more improbable, a universe from Nothing, or a mere emergence of properties from within this universe? Getting something from nothing is not an anomaly of science, it is the very foundation of Big-Bang science.

[headline corrected]


Anonymous said...

It should be noted that that Bedau was talking of Strong Emergence ("a type of emergence in which the emergent property is irreducible to its individual constituents"), not Emergence generally.

It should also be noted that Ricky omitted the rebuttal quote from the Wiki article straight after the Bedau quote:

"the debate about whether or not the whole can be predicted from the properties of the parts misses the point. Wholes produce unique combined effects, but many of these effects may be co-determined by the context and the interactions between the whole and its environment(s)." (Corning 2002)

Anonymous said...

In fact I would like to point out that omitting the word "strong" from the headlined quote is a lie of omission.

Anonymous said...

"If we can get a universe from Nothing, we should be able to get emergent properties from the same source."

A typical ignorantly incredulous caricature of a scientific explanation. Have you considered a career in creationist apologetics?

Anonymous said...

I would further point out that, if you consider Bedau's opinions on Emergence to be valuable, you should consult the book he edited on the subject two years ago, rather than a single-sentence comment he made about Strong Emergence 13 years ago. I have not read the book, but given that Bedau's personal contribution to it is a chapter titled 'Downward Causation and Autonomy in Weak Emergence', it might be reasonable to suspect that he favours Weak Emergence ("new properties arising in systems as a result of the interactions at an elemental level") over Strong.

Anonymous said...

My suspicion above has been confirmed:

"According to Bedau, science is only concerned with weak emergence (WE)." -- From System Complexity to Emergent Properties, M. A. Aziz-Alaoui, C. Bertelle (2009), p17

Joe said...

Well its apparent that xn hrfn woa is kicking against the goads again.

What kind of obsession would drive a person to spend every waking moment posting anti-Christian drivel on a Christian website except that person is being brought kicking and screaming into the Family of God.

Much like St Paul who was so convinced Christianity was wrong he approved of the killing of St Stephen xn hrfn woa is busy kicking against the goads. I wonder if xn hrfn woa realizes that Yahweh is patient and far far far greater than xn hrfn woa's little temper tantrums.

In ways its kind of fun to watch. In other ways its kind of sad knowing full well all xn hrfn woa's rants will soon fall flat even to his own mind.

Oh well if I were a drinking man I be buying the beer and popcorn as I watch this bit of entertainment.

Imagine the great xn hrfn woa the Christian slayer now a Christian. I can hardly wait!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joe for another pointless ad hominem attack, fails to address any of the many fatal flaws in Ricks post.

If all you're going to do is whine when somebody points out that the 'Emperor has no clothes', then you really serve no purpose.

P@J said...

xn, no wonder Ricky treats you like a non-person here. Your disassembly of his arguments is brilliant.

Joe, I don't see "anti-christian" in xn's responses here, he appears to be simply pointing out the untruths Ricky is using. It hardly takes all day; most of his posts can be exposed as fallacious in 5 minutes of judicious internet use.

As for motivation: many skeptically-minded people enjoy the "sport" of spotting logical fallacies and outright lies in people's arguments. Admittedly, xn is clearly fighting someone below his weight class here, but sparring with a weaker opponent provides an easy way to keep one’s skills up to date. I think his conversion is unlikely, and most unlikely would be it’s arriving as a result of Ricky’s lies.

But keep wishing… or should I say praying for it.

Anonymous said...


You make it all sound so Dusty Springfield: "Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying..." ;)

Good to have you back.

RkBall said...

On the contrary, I've got xn to concede that meaning, purpose, and values are subjective. Which means that it is impossible, under atheism, for a human being to have or live a genuinely authentic existence. Subjective is just another word for "made-up", or "arbitrary", or, "ultimately fictitious", and "unreal".

Atheists should at least want for there to be a God -- it would authenticate human existence -- their existence. But they don't. They relish the idea that there is no God, and, therefore, no objective reality to meaning, purpose or values. Such a tendency can only be viewed as perverse, and, dare I say it, irrational.

Anonymous said...


1) I would first point out that your comment is a Gish Gallop past the fatal flaws in your Emergence post.

2) That "meaning, purpose, and values are subjective" is an assertion of mine, not a concession.

No, subjective does not mean "'made-up', or 'arbitrary', or, 'ultimately fictitious', and 'unreal'." This is in fact a highly tendentious definition of the word. This can be seen in the (widely accepted) statement that appreciation of art and music is subjective. This does not mean that appreciation of art and music is "'made-up', or 'arbitrary', or, 'ultimately fictitious', and 'unreal'" -- just that it is very idiosyncratic and very personal. I would further point out that religious experiences are also subjective (as can be seen from the wide range of religious experiences supporting different religions).

As you have not demonstrated that the subjective is in some way inauthentic, your assertion that "it is impossible, under atheism, for a human being to have or live a genuinely authentic existence" is unsubstantiated.

"Atheists should at least want for there to be a God ..."

Again the Rick&Joe show ignores the elephant in the room and pretends that there are only two choices: Atheism or the Christian God.

Why shouldn't atheists rather wish that there be an Allah?

Why shouldn't atheists rather wish that there be a Brahman?

Why shouldn't atheists rather wish that there be Nirvana?

Why shouldn't atheists rather wish that there be the Tao?



Given the wide range of mutually-contradictory choices, why wish for any of the above?

And when will you stop ignoring the elephant?

-- Hræfn (which for some unfathomable reason Open-ID renders as xn--hrfn-woa), posting anonymously as posting using Open-ID gives the dreaded "bX-ywtyjz" error message now that comment-moderation is on.

RkBall said...

Note to posters: I am reserving the right to nuke any posts beginning with "Ricky". It's up to you. Free will on your part; free will response on mine.

Hræfn said...

So Rick (no "y"), are you going to answer my "Why shouldn't atheists rather wish that there be ...? Given the wide range of mutually-contradictory choices, why wish for any of the above?" questions?

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"