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wockyman comments on Reductionism - Less Wrong

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

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Comment author: wockyman 02 January 2009 06:39:53AM 1 point [-]

Simply because particles are the smallest things does not mean they are the only things. Particles are defined by how they act. How a particle will act can only be determined by taking into account the particles surrounding it. And to fully examine those particles, their surrounding particles must be examined. And so on and so forth...

As you move up in scale, new rules and attributes emerge that do not exist at the smaller scales. You can speculate about whether or not these new things might have been deduced as possibilities from quantum laws. But short of complete omniscience (physically impossible by the uncertainty principle), the subatomic laws will only tell you what *can* arise, not what *does* emerge.

So it doesn't really make sense to arbitrarily draw a line at a certain scale of examination and say, "Only these things REALLY exist." Reductionism yields a convenient mental model with practical application... but it is still just a map.