[lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism

  • From: Donal McEvoy <donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 6 Sep 2015 16:46:42 +0000 (UTC)

"In this metaphysical picture, there is no "atomic"
or  "corpuscular" structure that deterministically underpins or holds rigid
what is constituted by it."

This seems to beg the question that ALL Atomic or Corpuscular Theories 
are deterministic in nature>
Yes, it is possible to have an indeterministic "atomic" or "corp.r" theories:
but the more important point is downward causation. Without 'downward
causation' we are at the mercy of the atomic or corpr., as everything else is
constructed upwards from these.

The idea that there is an atomic/corpr. structure, that constitutes the basis
for everything above it, lends itself to the view that this basis determines
everything above it (irrespective of whether the basis is itself a product of a
deterministic or indeterministic process) - if it does not, then something else
must come into play and if something else comes into play that means the
"basis" is not constitutive of everything above it. But that means we cannot
talk of a "basis" here anymore than between W1, W2 and W3 - where we may accept
W2 emerged from W1, and W3 from W2, without accepting that they are "based" on
what they emerged from in the sense that they are constituted by that "basis".

In relation to W1-W2-W3, Popper makes the point that "indeterminism is not
enough": we could have an indeterministic W1, but if W2 exerts no 'downward
causation' on W1 then human freedom (which is based on acting on W2 conscious
thoughts) must be an illusion. In a similar way, an indeterministically-derived
"atomic structure" would remove human freedom if that "atomic structure"
determined everything above it - for example, conscious thought.

Consider sense-data as the 'atoms of W2': the (supposed) sense-data might be
'given' as part of an indeterministic process but if they constitute a rigid
underlying "atomic structure" for all experience then all experience - that is,
all levels of experience, including conscious thought - is determined by
sense-data. This inevitably turns humans into automatons for processing given
'sense-data' - and it is by-the-by whether those sense-data are 'given' by way
of a deterministic or an indeterministic process.

On Sunday, 6 September 2015, 14:10, "dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx"
<dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

We are considering Popper's attitude towards Corpuscularism (Logical or 
other) and Atomism at large.

In a message dated 9/6/2015 4:05:40 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx had written a very deep commentary, in the sense that 
might require an exegesis (cf. "Let there be light").

For McEvoy had written:

"Popper does not think "atomism" is a true metaphysical picture of the 
physical world or of W1, despite its success as a research programme."

And McEvoy allowed that this might be difficult to digest. Not to me, 
because I everytime I hear the word 'metaphysical' I hear the surname "Hegel" 
and everytime I hear the phrase "research programme" I hear the surname 
"Lakatos" and I collapse.

McEvoy's exegesis goes as follows:

"What then might Popper suggest is a truer metaphysical picture of  W1?"

I like 'truer'. Geary constantly answers, in his seminars, "Very true". One
day, one student challenged him: "What do you mean, 'Very true': either
it's  true or it ain't. It can't be VERY true." "A truer truth has never been
spoken,"  the master uttered.

McEvoy continues:

"One answer is in his formulation that reality consists in "changing 
propensities for change", which leads us to his defence of a propensity theory 
of probability that takes a propensity to be a real (dispositional) property
of  a state of the world. In this metaphysical picture, there is no "atomic"
or  "corpuscular" structure that deterministically underpins or holds rigid
what is  constituted by it."

-- This seems to beg the question that ALL Atomic or Corpuscular Theories 
are deterministic in nature. I don't think they were for Boyle or Locke. If
I  have a rose in front of my nose, surely the corpuscules of the rose will
project  into my nose and later my brain (via different tubes) making me
utter, "What a  sweet-smelling rose".

But surely it is not predetermined (or 'predestined', as religious 
thinkers of a different ilk might put it) that my nose should encounter that 
So, we have corpuscular theory _sans_ determinism.

McEvoy concludes his exegetic post (where he then proposes Popper's 
alternative to Corpuscularianism in terms of a theory of Dispositional 
Propensities which are yet real (as in "He does not yet know how to swim; but
does: he has a propensity for it, a dispositional propensity for it; and I tell 

you, in little Tommy's case, this dispositional propensity is a REAL
property"  -- vide "Logical Entities Monthly"):

"This metaphysical picture is part of Popper's defence of indeterminism  -
both within the natural sciences and at a metaphysical level (i.e. Popper
uses  an array of arguments to counter determinism in both its scientific form
and its  metaphysical form - including an argument that claims to logically
refute  'scientific determinism'). Of course none of this work would have
been  considered fit for publication by the esteemed editorial board at Mind."

I would think Popper learned about INDETERMINISM via Heisenberg -- for W1 
-- and then invented his own version of metaphysical indeterminism.
Everytime I  hear the adjective 'metaphysical' in a sentence that also mentions
Popper I am  amused, because when philosophy students first learn about Popper
is via the  verifiability criterion of meaning and how Popper comes up to say
that he is not  interested in meaning nor in a demarcation between meaning
and not meaning, but  between science and metaphysics.

The student who is in a Lit.Hum. programme and knows his Greek (and a 
little Latin) is amused, because there is nothing in 'scientia' that precludes 
'metaphysica' being one. In fact, Kantotle, the greatest metaphysician,
would  allow for metaphysical propositions being 'scientific'. But of course
none of  this would be considered fit for the Proceedings of the Sir Karl
Popper  Appreciation Society!

I was also thinking that when Russell coined "Logical Atomism" he was 
thinking (in more than one way) Hegel. First, Russell was from Cambridge, and 
Hegel was being the rage in Oxford with Bradley and Bosanquet. For Russell, 
everything is corpuscular; but he would use 'atom', because Boyle had
introduced  Corpuscularism to Oxford (and Russell hated Oxford -- he was from
Cambridge).  Russell looked for corpuscules everywhere, as in

i. The king of France is not bald.

He makes in his essay on "On Denoting" a reference to Hegel's 
anticorpuscularianism. For the Corpuscularian is an analytic at heart (like H. 
Paul G.)
was, while Hegel was synthetic (at heart, too):


"Either `the present King of France is bald' or `the  present King of
France is not bald' must be true. Yet if we enumerated the  things that are
and then the things that are not bald, we should not find  the present King
of France in either list. Hegelians, who love a SYNTEHSIS, will  probably
conclude that he wears a wig."



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