Thursday, 24 January 2008

Man is a unified whole of mind-body. In search for the parts that make up the whole.

"The whole is more than the sum of its parts"

The above mentioned quote has been around since the time of Aristotle and is used to explain emergence, as these quotes, suggest, attributed to the pioneer psychologist G. H. Lewes,:

"Every resultant is either a sum or a difference of the co-operant forces; their sum, when their directions are the same -- their difference, when their directions are contrary. Further, every resultant is clearly traceable in its components, because these are homogeneous and commensurable. It is otherwise with emergents, when, instead of adding measurable motion to measurable motion, or things of one kind to other individuals of their kind, there is a co-operation of things of unlike kinds. The emergent is unlike its components insofar as these are incommensurable, and it cannot be reduced to their sum or their difference." (Lewes 1875, p. 412)(Blitz 1992)"

Emergence was further defined as:

"the arising of novel and coherent structures, patterns and properties during the process of self-organization in complex systems."(Corning 2002)

and elaborated, to describe the qualities of emergence by this definition in more detail:

"The common characteristics are: (1) radical novelty (features not previously observed in systems); (2) coherence or correlation (meaning integrated wholes that maintain themselves over some period of time); (3) A global or macro "level" (i.e. there is some property of "wholeness"); (4) it is the product of a dynamical process (it evolves); and (5) it is "ostensive" - it can be perceived. For good measure, Goldstein throws in supervenience -- downward causation." (Corning 2002)"

The ideas mentioned can be used to think further in matters concerned with the ongoing monism vs dualism dispute. The connection of mind and body as it is evident by the following quote:

"Corliss Lamont rightly contends that the fundamental issue is the relationship of personality to body, and divides the various positions into two broad categories: monism, which asserts that body and personality are bound together and cannot exist apart; and dualism, which asserts that body and personality are separable entities which may exist apart. Lamont is convinced that the facts of modern science weigh heavily in favor of monism, and offers the following as scientific evidence that the mind depends upon the body:

- in the evolutionary process the versatility of living forms increases with the development and complexity of their nervous systems
- the mind matures and ages with the growth and decay of the body
- alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs can affect the mind
- destruction of brain tissue by disease, or by a severe blow to the head, can impair normal mental activity; the functions of seeing, hearing and speech are correlated with specific areas of the brain.
- thinking and memory depend upon the cortex of the brain, and so ‘it is difficult beyond measure to understand how they could survive after the dissolution, decay or destruction of the living brain in which they had their original locus.’ (page 76)

These considerations lead Lamont to the conclusion that the connection between mind and body “is so exceedingly intimate that it becomes inconceivable how one could function without the other … man is a unified whole of mind-body or personality-body so closely and completely integrated that dividing him up into two separate and more or less independent parts becomes impermissible and unintelligible.”[1]

The idea of the individual as being a unified whole of mind-body or personality-body has to looked at, from the perspective of 'the whole is more than the sum of its parts' concept, as both modes of inquiry, reductionist and holistic, in collaboration will provide answers to the ongoing problem.

Though science has built up a case of hard facts to defend its stance than the dualist side, however is short-sighted and downright ignorant to dismiss whatever has been with us, in individual and collective level, since the dawn of humanity and continues to be with us all along. Certainly what is for science to examine is not tangible and hard to configure but there is bound to be something to work on.

Ways of approach can be provided by following the perspective of strong emergence, as someone can surmise by reading the following quotes:

"Mark A. Bedau observes:

"Although strong emergence is logically possible, it is uncomfortably like magic. How does an irreducible but supervenient downward causal power arise, since by definition it cannot be due to the aggregation of the micro-level potentialities? Such causal powers would be quite unlike anything within our scientific ken. This not only indicates how they will discomfort reasonable forms of materialism. Their mysteriousness will only heighten the traditional worry that emergence entails illegitimately getting something from nothing."(Bedau 1997)


"the debate about whether or not the whole can be predicted from the properties of the parts misses the point. Wholes produce unique combined effects, but many of these effects may be co-determined by the context and the interactions between the whole and its environment(s)." (Corning 2002)"

Along that same thought, Arthur Koestler stated,

"it is the synergistic effects produced by wholes that are the very cause of the evolution of complexity in nature" and used the metaphor of Janus to illustrate how the two perspectives (strong or holistic vs. weak or reductionistic) should be treated as perspectives, not exclusives, and should work together to address the issues of emergence.(Koestler 1969)"


"The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from those laws and reconstruct the universe..The constructionist hypothesis breaks down when confronted with the twin difficulties of scale and complexity. At each level of complexity entirely new properties appear. Psychology is not applied biology, nor is biology applied chemistry. We can now see that the whole becomes not merely more, but very different from the sum of its parts."(Anderson 1972)"