Home| Letters| Links| RSS| About Us| Contact Us

On the Frontline

What's New

Table of Contents

Index of Authors

Index of Titles

Index of Letters

Mailing List

subscribe to our mailing list:


Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


Letter Serial Correlation

Mark Perakh's Web Site


[Write a Reply] [Letters Index]

Title Author Date
Emergentism vs Reductionism ? Perakh, Mark Nov 02, 2004

Mr. Tremblay wrote further:

> "So I guess good questions to ask you here would be :
> 1. Do you think the surface of an object is made only of colourless
particles ?
> 2. Do you think that colourless particles alone can give rise to the
property of colour, or there needs to be something else that has colour ?"

Particles do not have a property which can be named "color" in the conventional sense of the term. (In physics of quarks a property called "color" is also used, but this term has noting to do with the term "color" as used in optics, the latter obviously being what Mr. Tremblay refers to). If bodies have color (in the sense of optics) it is because they radiate, reflect, and/or transmit electromagnetic waves in a certain range of wavelengths, or, in terms of photons, because they radiate, reflect, and/or transmit photons in a certain range of energies. The energy of radiated and reflected photons is determined by the electron structure of atoms, while the energy of transmitted photons is determined by both electron structure of atoms and that of molecules (and in some cases of clusters of molecules -- like the blue color of the sky which is due to the fluctuations of air density in the upper atmosphere, or the scarlet color of the sky at sunset which is due to the variable refraction of different wavelengths).

Mr. Tremblay continues:

"3. Are questions 1 and 2 about different things ?

> My answers to these questions would be yes, yes, and no."

Sorry, but questions 1 and 2 make little sense from the standpoint of physics, so if Mr. Tremblay wants to discuss the question of the relationship between the emergentist and the reductionist views, perhaps he has to come up with a different example. His argument, though, seems to be not against me but rather against Davies and other contributors to the anthology From Complexity to Life. Indeed, I have not made in my commentary to Davies's paper any assertion regarding the juxtaposition of the emergentist vs. the reductionist positions. Moreover, in my previous reply to Mr. Tremblay's letter, I wrote that in my view there is a whole spectrum of views on that relationship, with two mutually exclusive extreme positions and many intermediate ones. Perhaps it would make more sense if he writes up a commentary of his own to Davies's paper rather than continue commenting on my comments (although I certainly appreciate his interest in my commentary and wish him all the best).

Mark Perakh
Related Articles: Paul Davies: Emergentist vs. Reductionist