The reductionist view of science is that all high-level behavior consists of the underlying lower-level behavior and should be analyzed into components to fully understand. However, good explanations can be self-contained and sufficient without needing an explanation of every low-level detail. For example, you can have a theory of how water boils that doesn’t need to predict movement of individual atoms.
- Rejecting explanations because they do not explain the lowest-level behavior is like the inverse of parochial errors, going so deep that nothing can be explained
- Multiple explanations at different levels of emergence is not inconsistent and abstractions are real
- The Beginning of Infinity
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The real world and it’s behaviors are extraordinarily complex. To theorize and create good explanations necessarily requires some encapsulation of ideas through abstractions. It is possible to understand a phenomena by understanding abstractions and similarly, it is possible to create new explanations by building on top of them.
People feel they understand things better than they actually do. This leads to biases and poor decision-making because of overconfidence in their knowledge.
A reductionist argument against an explanation might be that it is incorrect because there are multiple explanations of the same phenomena. If good explanations are hard to vary, how could there be multiple explanations? This argument doesn’t take into account that multiple explanations can exist at different levels of emergence and this is not altogether inconsistent.
Deeply theoretical fields don’t necessarily translate to highly practical fields. Economists don’t typically do well as investors. Just because biologists know a lot about the inner workings of the human body, doesn’t mean they make great medical doctors.
A strange loop is a combination of traits that creates the condition for selfhood. Categories of numerous symbols derive meaning from raw stimuli. Categorization leads to perception rather than reception. Abstractions create reality and high-level behavior no longer consists of lower-level behavior only. The loop reinforces the idea of the ‘self’ and the self feels the most real.
The problem with first-principles thinking is that you don’t know what you don’t know. You might end up deriving the same thing you could have read in a 101-level textbook. You might think you have a novel idea of a blockchain-powered utopia but it turns out it’s Georgism with extra steps.