Re: complexity and heat, an analogy in the history of science

Sandy Madole (
Sat, 16 Aug 1997 10:08:07 -0400

Mark Crosby writes:
> Eliezer and JKC have recently dissected different types of emotions
> quite nicely. Your line of reasoning might also be applied to
> another abused concept, namely consciousness.

Yeah. This takes my thread back to where it derives from, Paul M.
Churchland's work (and not just his) on "folk psychology" and the
possibility (eliminative materialism) that hardly any of the words
that we currently use to describe psychological phenomena have any
actual referents. Psychological phenomena might easily be concrete,
real, physical, computational phenomena *without* having any kind
of one-to-one correspondence with any of the words we currently
use to talk about psychological phenomena. In other words, they
might *matter* without being *real*, in the sense that there might
not *really* be anything that corresponds to the words. (Although
things might be different with a future vocabulary of neuropsychology.)
Obviously, it's difficult to be clear when speaking of such things,
and I hope I'm not just making an ass of myself.

It was interesting to me to see the same kind of process happening
in word that is not obviously psychological in its content:
"complexity". The source analogies (like the disappearance of
"caloric") are all from physics because it is in physics that it
is easiest to formulate new, alien, but very concrete paradigms
that replace older ones and show their flaws and errors in a way
that is much easier to perceive and think about clearly than changes
of paradigm in, say, the social sciences.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd