Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

bigjeff5 comments on Reductionism - Less Wrong

40 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2008 06:26AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (150)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: bigjeff5 01 February 2011 09:06:37PM *  1 point [-]

But Eliezer wants to forbid things at "higher levels of simplified multilevel models" from existing out there in the territory.

You're confusing the map and the territory.

The territory is only quarks (or whatever quarks may be made of). There is nothing else, it's just a big mass of quarks.

The map is the description of this bunch of quarks is human, while that bunch is an airplane.

There was a time when physicists thought that earth, air, water, and fire were the reality - that they were fundamental. Then they discovered molecules, and they thought those were fundamental. Then they discovered atoms, and thought those were fundamental. Etc. on down until the current (I think, I'm not a physicist) belief that quarks are fundamental.

At no point did reality change. Reality did not change when we discovered rocks were made up of molecules - the map was simply inaccurate. The reality was that rocks were always made up of molecules. The same when we discovered that molecules were made of atoms. It was always true, our map was simply not as accurate as we thought it was.

You could quite accurately say the map is wrong because it does not perfectly reflect reality, but the map is extremely useful, so we should not discard it. We should simply recognize that it is a map, it is not the territory. It's a representation of reality, it is not what is real. We know Newtonian Mechanics is a less accurate map than Special Relativity, but it is more useful than SR in many cases because it doesn't have the detail cluttering up the map that SR has. Yeah, it's less precise, but for calculating the trajectory of an artillery shell it is more than good enough.

The different levels are maps, there is only one territory.

Comment author: DanielLC 29 March 2011 06:08:58AM *  2 points [-]

The territory is only quarks (or whatever quarks may be made of).

It's also leptons.