By Roger J. Faber
Ebook by way of Faber, Roger J.
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Extra info for Clockwork garden: on the mechanistic reduction of living things
The fourth reply establishes the need for scope but fails to block the move from upper to lower level. 5. Reality has no structure of its own. According to this reply, such structure as the world seems to display is imposed upon it by the arbitrary linguistic and conceptual categories we employ in our descriptions. Thus the partition of the world into atoms recommends itself with no greater force than do alternative partitions that present other thingshuman beings, for instanceas the causal agents.
Our senses, connected as they are to the causal influences of our environment, sometimes lead us to respond to such transient configurations as waves as if they were concrete things. We respond to a traveling wave just as we do to a moving swimmer, by shifting our gaze horizontally; but, when we follow a wave, the only objects engaging in horizontal motion are our eyes. Living organisms, considered as arrangements of parts, are more like waves than like rocks. Take a single-celled organism. As the processes of metabolism proceed, with a steady importing of nutrients and exporting of wastes, not much remains at a later time of the material that once composed the cell, even if it has done nothing so drastic as to reproduce by fission.
Besides, dualism, for all its internal problems, offers a more interesting program; it is a more entertaining source of puzzles and speculations than its monist alternatives. Can we accommodate dualism without succumbing to blind unreason? I think we can. I want to urge that we need not dwell in desert landscapes in order to preserve a rational sobriety. Many people have helped to move this work along with inspiration, criticism, and advice. Foremost among them is Abner Shimony, who guided me in my first venture into a new area, who suggested doing a book, and whose thoughtful criticism kept it more or less on track.