Partially Excerpted Conversation: Levels of Emergence

Standard

This is an expanded excerpt from the emergence discussion from the Partially Examined Life Citizen Commons.  We studied the classic More is Different: Broken Symmetry and the Hierarchical Nature of Science by P.W. Anderson.  Their discussion software butchered my reply, so I figured I should clean it up by reposting it here.
It is difficult to have productive disagreements around “emergence” and “reductionism” because of the vague, confusing, and downright inconsistent way these terms are used. To help clear things up, I propose we talk in terms of the following levels.
Continue reading

Partially Examined Assumptions from PEL #46: Plato on Ethics & Religion

Standard

Dear Partially Examined Life podcasters,

Like Skepoet, I was very impressed by your recent episode on Plato’s “Euthyphro.”  And yes, Seth, I deeply appreciated your perspective on Judaism. In particular, it helped me realize that modern Christianity in practice actually functions the way you describe Judaism (with decisions made by a small group of authorities revered for their understanding of the text), even if in theory it we claim our theology is a matter of rigorous logical deductions available to all.

That said, my overall reaction was much like the one Socrates had:

But I see plainly that you are not disposed to instruct me-dearly not: elsewhy, when we reached the point, did you turn, aside? Had you only answered me I should have truly learned of you by this time the-nature of piety.

I freely admit I am a philosophical dilettante and undoubtedly biased my religious upbringing.  That is why (like Socrates to Euthyphro 🙂 I come to you who seem so certain to in hopes of illuminating my ignorance.  Yet just when you seem on the verge of actually addressing the problem I care about, you veer away.  Perhaps you can help me understand why…

Continue reading