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Re: [ontolog-forum] Universal Basic Semantic Structures

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John F Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2012 09:41:12 -0400
Message-id: <50645778.2030302@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Doug, William, and Leo,    (01)

Rom Harré
> the brain is not a part of a person in the way that a grain of sand
> is part of a beach. It is part of a person’s body and a person’s body
> is not a part of that person in the relevant sense.    (02)

> I would consider this philosophical game playing.  I'm guessing that
> RH is discussing a person as a "soul", a "life force" or event.    (03)

No.  He is treating a person as a living human being, all of whose
parts are working together in every action.  Please note the longer
quotation by RH from another lecture (copy below).  He knows a great
deal about neuroscience, psychology, and how they are interrelated.    (04)

To avoid issues of "soul" or "life force", let's consider the sentence,    (05)

    The rover Curiosity analyzed a rock on Mars.    (06)

The rover contains many parts, including computers, cameras, tools,
wheels, etc.  To do the analysis, it had to use all the parts working
together, and no single part could be said to do the analysis.    (07)

If you consider the rover to be the mereological sum of its parts,
you are ignoring all the structure, the methods of interconnection,
the function of each part, and all the knowledge (programs and data)
located in multiple computers and storage units in the rover.    (08)

As RH said, mereology is OK for talking about grains of sand on
a beach.  But even for a beach, there is a considerable amount
of structure.  Note how mixtures of sand and water behave.    (09)

So even with sand on a beach, mereology is only a partial theory
of the combination.  When you get to something as complicated as
a Mars rover, it's hopelessly inadequate as a theory of structure.    (010)

And when you're talking about plants, animals, or people, there
is so much that we don't understand about the living organism
that it is a serious mistake to treat it as a sum of its parts.    (011)

> If a body is a *part* of an animal, what is the other part???    (012)

The other part is the *process*.  The body of an animal or a car
is mereologically the same as its body immediately after its death
(or you turn off the engine).  But a running car and a living animal
can do things that the static body cannot.    (013)

Cars are designed in a way that lets you restart the process.
Some bacteria can turn into spores and be revived, but most higher
animals cannot be stopped and restarted.  Aristotle would call
that running process the psyche, but you could also call it the
functionally organized process of the living organism.    (014)

> I'm not a relativist nor a subjectivist nor a nihilist.    (015)

There is nothing subjective about function.  Engineers build
functionality into their machines.  Biologists determine the
function of the genes, proteins, hormones, cells, and organs
of a living organism.  Understanding how all the functions
work together successfully is a major challenge.    (016)

Fundamental principle:  Mereology does not take structure and
function into account. You need much, much more than mereology
or even mereotopology -- you need to consider the functionality
of each part and its role in a working system or organism.    (017)

_____________________________________________________________________    (018)

Why Brains Can’t Think: Exposing the Mereological Fallacy
Rom Harré, Emeritus Fellow of Linacre College
Monday 16th July, 7pm: Rewley House    (019)

As the 21st Century opened, the discipline of 'academic psychology' 
seemed to be separating into two radically distinct and perhaps 
irreconcilable domains. Cultural/Discursive psychology focused on the 
discursive means for the management of meaning in a world of norms, 
while Neuropsychology focused on the investigation of brain processes 
loosely correlated with intuitively identified cognitive processes. 
These two domains can be reconciled in a hybrid science that brings them 
together into a synthesis more powerful than anything psychologists have 
achieved before.    (020)

The marriage of Neuroscience and Cultural/Discursive psychology is based 
on the insights of many critics of the causal framework for psychology, 
but the most insightful has been one philosopher in particular, Ludwig 
Wittgenstein. Hybrid psychology depends on the intuition that while 
brains can be assimilated into the world of persons, as among the 
instruments people use for carrying out many of their projects, people 
cannot be assimilated into the world of cell structures and molecular 
processes. To suppose that they can be has been called the 'mereological 
fallacy' – ascribing attributes of wholes to some of their parts. People 
think. Brains, parts of people’s bodies, do not.    (021)

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