[lit-ideas] atomism

  • From: Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 7 Sep 2015 04:55:49 +0000

Nothing links atomism to determinism, viz. the plain fact that one can take as
atoms quanta

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From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
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Sent: 06 September 2015 20:36
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Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Logical Corpuscularism

Grice once said (slightly out of the blue):

"Do not multiply senses beyond necessity".

He was in Memphis, where 'the blues' was alleged to have a different Fregeian

The issue applies to 'corpuscule'. It's NOT like we have two 'senses' of
"corpuscule" (Boyle's mot). And so there is no real need (if a fictional one)
to distinguish between Logical Corpuscularism and Physical Corpuscularism.

Yet, "DETERMINISM", qua keyword, usually occurs in contexts where PHYSICAL
Corpuscularianism is discussed.

In a message dated 9/6/2015 12:47:36 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx grants that "[ii]t is possible to have
indeterministic "atomic" or "corpuscular" theories: but the more important
point is downward causation."

The keyword changes from DETERMINISM then to DOWNWARD CAUSATION.


"Without 'downward causation' we are at the mercy of the atomic or corpuscular
[level], as everything else is constructed UPWARDS from these. The idea that
there is an atomic or corpuscular 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, 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"

I llike that use of "between". We once discussed this with Geary. He claimed
that since etymologically, 'between' is cognate with 'twin' -- as in Siamese
Twins -- it would be otiose to have 'between' used for the Siamese Twins, and
say, their wives.

One Siamese twin, Chang, married Adelaide Yates.

His twin brother, Eng, married, Sarah Anne Yates.

Curiously, while Adelaide and Sarah Anne were sisters, they were neither
Siamese nor twins.

McEvoy goes on:

"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"."

This, and previous along similar lines by McEvoy, reminded me of Grandy's and
Warner's interpretation of Grice's idea of 'rationality' -- For Grice, as
established in various of his unpublications, rationality (or 'the
rational') EMERGES from or SUPERVENES on the pre-rational: the psychological
(Popper's W2). This allows Grice to say that one can provide a reductive yet
not reductionist analysis of 'rationality' in terms of beliefs and desires
which are not 'rational' per se, but COULD be deemed thus, once rationality
has emerged. I think Grice borrows this from Kantotle -- Man was for Aristotle
the 'rational animal', but he was like Grice, a gradualist (one note Grice
left read: "read chimp lit."). So, there is a continuum between the rational
animal and the other animals which are not rational. In Kantotelian parlance,
'psychologia rationalis' can still be found to have a 'basis' in 'psychologia
pre-rationalis'. A similar terminology is found when Grice adopts Hume's
distinction between a concept and a conception: it may be argued that
rationality is CONSTRUCTED out of pre-rational states.

McEvoy goes on:

"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, human freedom (which is based on acting on W2 conscious
thoughts) must be an illusion."

Well, Grice provided a linguistic botany for 'free', and found that in a PURELY
PHYSICAL 'sense' (the only sense, perhaps), it is used, as in 'free fall'
(title of Golding's novel). But Grice, knowing his Greek and Latin, knows that
the concept of 'free' here is metaphorical when applied to anything but the
physical. It was coined by Greek philosophes who metaphorised over 'will' being
'free' (like a man may be said to be 'free', i.e. not a slave. Some Greek
philosophers took this metaphor so lightly that they came with the idea that
will was not free, but semi-free or half-free. Unless we find a LITERAL way to
describe the phenomenon we shouldn't live by metaphors, _contra_ Lakoff and

McEvoy goes on:

"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, all experience - that is, all levels of experience, including
conscious thought - is determined by sense-data. This inevitably turns humans
into automat[a] 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."

I should have to elaborate on that, but I feel like introducing billiard.
The keyword would become BILLIARD.

Determinism in the West is often associated with Newtonian physics, which
depicts the physical matter of the universe as operating according to a set of
fixed, knowable laws.

The "billiard ball" hypothesis, a product of Newtonian physics, argues that
once the initial conditions of the universe have been established, the rest of
the history of the universe follows inevitably.

If it were actually possible to have complete knowledge of physical matter and
all of the laws governing that matter at any one time, then it would be
theoretically possible to compute the time and place of every event that will
ever occur (Laplace's demon).

In this sense, the basic particles of the universe operate in the same fashion
as the rolling balls on a billiard table, moving and striking each other in
predictable ways to produce predictable results.

Only for Boyle, the billiard balls are too big, and he prefers a corpuscule.



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