Philosophy Science

History: When reductionism started to become ridiculous?

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Here’s an interesting essay against reductionism, from Science, 1972. Not that anyone listened.

Someone might reduce a house cat to chemical elements to see what a cat is, but that isn’t what a cat is. The cat begins beyond those elements and cannot be reduced to them.

4 Replies to “History: When reductionism started to become ridiculous?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    I read an interesting article along this same line of thought yesterday. A article which, besides being very encouraging, struck a cord as to how ‘anti’ reductionist it was:

    The Easter Question – Eben Alexander, M.D. – March 2013
    Excerpt: More than ever since my near death experience, I consider myself a Christian -,,,
    Now, I can tell you that if someone had asked me, in the days before my NDE, what I thought of this (Easter) story, I would have said that it was lovely. But it remained just that — a story. To say that the physical body of a man who had been brutally tortured and killed could simply get up and return to the world a few days later is to contradict every fact we know about the universe. It wasn’t simply an unscientific idea. It was a downright anti-scientific one.
    But it is an idea that I now believe. Not in a lip-service way. Not in a dress-up-it’s-Easter kind of way. I believe it with all my heart, and all my soul.
    The universe we live in is one in which everything is connected. Not just in a manner of speaking, but actually. Every atom in your body, and every subatomic particle of which those atoms are made, is in profound and direct relationship with every other atom, and every other particle, in the universe: a universe that is composed not of hard, unyielding matter but of energy. This energy, in turn, is “made” of (or “manifested” by) something called consciousness. And consciousness itself is not “made” of anything, for it transcends all materiality. If we insist on envisioning consciousness as being “made” of anything, that substance must be the Divine itself.
    We are, really and truly, made in God’s image. But most of the time we are sadly unaware of this fact. We are unconscious both of our intimate kinship with God, and of His constant presence with us. On the level of our everyday consciousness, this is a world of separation — one where people and objects move about, occasionally interacting with each other, but where essentially we are always alone.
    But this cold dead world of separate objects is an illusion. It’s not the world we actually live in.,,,
    ,,He (God) is right here with each of us right now, seeing what we see, suffering what we suffer… and hoping desperately that we will keep our hope and faith in Him. Because that hope and faith will be triumphant.

  2. 2
    Babamar says:

    Reductionism implies materialism implies atheism, and vice-versa.

    As Plato has observed, atheism is a disease of the soul before it is an error of the mind.


  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Cell Machines: A Well-Designed DNA Pump – June 7, 2013
    Excerpt: Here’s another one (molecular machine) most non-specialists are not aware of: a DNA pump.
    In Bacillus subtilis, there’s a machine called SpoIIIE, a multi-part motor that uses ATP to pump the 4,100 genes into the spore through a narrow opening called the septum. A member of the FtsK family of translocase motors, the machine was recently described in PLoS Biology by a team in France that used super-resolution microscopy to see how the machine parts are recruited and assembled.
    Here’s a portion of the authors’ summary describing how it works:
    “Molecular motors are implicated in myriad cellular processes, notably in the transcription, replication, and segregation of DNA. Segregation or packaging of DNA is essential for production of viable viral particles, proper division of bacterial cells, and production of spores. A dramatic example of this process occurs during sporulation in Bacillus subtilis, in which a large proportion of the chromosome is actively transferred across a division septum by the SpoIIIE motor protein. Here, we use advanced microscopy methods to study the mechanism of recruitment and assembly of the SpoIIIE pump and the architecture of its complex with DNA. We found that SpoIIIE complexes are recruited before the beginning of cell division, and are subsequently escorted by the constriction machinery to the center of the septum. We show that the directionality of DNA transport by SpoIIIE results in the establishment of an asymmetric complex that exports DNA into the nascent spore.”
    Notice that they improve on Macosko’s number of machines in the cell: it’s not just a “host” of machines; there are “myriad” cellular processes that use “molecular motors,” most notably those that process DNA. That comment is just a preface to what they called a “dramatic example of intercompartmental DNA transfer,” the “SpoIIIE DNA pump.”
    In describing this marvel, the authors use the word “motor” 29 times, “machine” or “machinery” 24 times, and “mechanism” or “mechanical” 9 times — but “evolution” or “evolved” (in the Darwinian sense) zero times. Contra Dobzhansky, it doesn’t appear that SpoIIIE makes sense in the light of evolution.,,,

    Semi related notes:

    The physics of going viral: Researchers measure the rate of DNA transfer from viruses to bacteria – June 27, 2012
    Excerpt: previous work has shown that the genetic material (in a bacteriophage virus) is under more pressure within its protein shell than champagne experiences in a corked bottle. After all, as Phillips says, “There are 16 microns [16,000 nanometers] of DNA in a tiny 50-nanometer-sized shell. It’s like taking 500 meters of cable from the Golden Gate Bridge and putting it in the back of a FedEx truck.” Phillips’s group wanted to find out whether that pressure plays a dominant role in transferring the DNA. Instead, he says, “What we discovered is that the thing that mattered most was not the pressure in the bacteriophage, but how much DNA was in the bacterial cell.”,,, The mean ejection time was about five minutes, though that time varied considerably.
    This was markedly different from what the group had seen previously when they ran a similar experiment in a test tube. In that earlier setup, they had essentially tricked the bacteriophages into ejecting their DNA into solution—a task that the phages completed in less than 10 seconds.
    But Phillips says, “What was true in the test tube is not true in the cell.” E. coli cells contain roughly 3 million proteins within a box that is roughly one micron (1,000 nanometers) on each side. Less than 10 nanometers separate each protein from its neighbors. “There’s no room for anything else,” Phillips says. “These cells are really crowded.”

    The Virus – Assembly Of A Molecular “Lunar Landing” Machine – video

    Clockwork That Drives Powerful Virus Nanomotor Discovered
    Excerpt: Because of the motor’s strength–to scale, twice that of an automobile–the new findings could inspire engineers designing sophisticated nanomachines.

    A Cornucopia of Evidence for Intelligent Design: DNA Packaging of the T4 Virus – May 2011

    The Virus – A Molecular “Lunar Landing” Machine – video

    Virus caught in the act of infecting a cell (w/ video) – January 10, 2013
    Excerpt: The researchers show that when searching for its prey, the virus briefly extends—like feelers—one or two of six ultra-thin fibers it normally keeps folded at the base of its head. Once a suitable host has been located, the virus behaves a bit like a planetary rover, extending these fibers to walk randomly across the surface of the cell and find an optimal site for infection.

    Discovery of first motor with revolution motion in a virus-killing bacteria advances nanotechnology – March 20, 2013
    Excerpt: Peixuan Guo and colleagues explain that two motors have been found in nature: A linear motor and a rotating motor. Now they report discovery of a third type, a revolving molecular motor.,,,
    The motor moves DNA with a revolving in the same motion as the Earth revolving around the sun. “The revolution without rotation model could resolve a big conundrum troubling the past 35 years of painstaking investigation of the mechanism of these viral DNA packaging motors,” the report states.

  4. 4
    Axel says:

    ‘As Plato has observed, atheism is a disease of the soul before it is an error of the mind.’

    Yes. A pathological choice.

    It’s interesting re your comments on mind/energy, Philip, that one of the Fathers, Origen, postulated that we might be angels, pure spirits, i.e. like those we call angels, the Cherubim, Seraphim, et al, who have ‘cooled down’ (and solidified)!

    He knew better, indeed, perhaps because he was able to muse in a free-ranging way, he is said to have been considered the ‘go to’ man for orthodoxy by his contemporaries.

    Well, I say he knew better, but perhaps Adam and Eve’s bodies had a rarefied quality about them, prior to the Fall, and that was the thought that intrigued him; a quasi angelic nature.

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