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When the part mirrors the whole: interactions beyond simple location

Gomez-Marin, Alex and Arnau, Juan (2019) When the part mirrors the whole: interactions beyond simple location. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Reductionists believe that we can make sense of the whole in terms of its parts. Emergentists react and reply that the reductionist program is unattainable partly due to the existence of emergent properties. Under the celebrated banner “the whole is more than the sum of its parts”, such holistic stance is particularly relevant to the study of life and mind, where interactions amongst system components and environment are key. However, both antithetical tendencies (reduction and emergence) often betray a commitment to what Whitehead called simple location, the idea that things are simply where they are. Here we show the problematic consequences of adopting such a view when trying to understand physical, biological and psychological identities. Dynamic interactions indeed denote “togetherness”, yet they are external: no matter how much one is eager to emphasize their role, each element that inter-acts still exists and can be thought regardless of any essential reference to other bits of matter. We uncover and reject such stance. We then propose an alternative based on Whitehead’s philosophy of organism. The doctrine of internal relations allows conceiving each relationship entering into the essence of an entity. This entails the idea that every part mirrors the whole, which needs to be qualified. We end by discussing the problem in the context of abstraction, and draw basic implications for a theory of perception. In sum, taking an event-notion of individuality, we propose to think “inter-identities” beyond the assumption of simple location. We are not enduring interacting substances, but internally related processes.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Gomez-Marin, Alexagomezmarin@gmail.com
Arnau, Juan
Keywords: simple location, internal relations, interaction, identity, perception
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Perception
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Depositing User: Dr. Alex Gomez-Marin
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2019 01:11
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2019 01:11
Item ID: 16258
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Specific Sciences > Cognitive Science > Perception
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
Date: July 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16258

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