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Aaron
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PostSubject: Greedy reductionism   Tue May 15, 2007 2:26 pm

I wanted to bring this definition up because I think it's important to distinguish between good reductionism and bad reductionism.

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Greedy reductionism is a term coined by Daniel Dennett, in the book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, to distinguish between what he considers acceptable and erroneous forms of reductionism. Whereas reductionism means explaining a thing in terms of what it reduces to, greedy reductionism comes when the thing we are trying to understand is explained away instead of explained, so that we fail to gain any additional understanding of the original target.

For example, we can reduce temperature to average kinetic energy without denying that temperature exists, so this is good reductionism. In contrast, when we consider the question of why clicking on a hyperlink takes us to one website and not another, any answer that says that it all comes down to electrons and that hyperlinks don't really exist anyhow is a greedy attempt to explain away the problem without solving it.

I believe people like Dawkins are guilty of using "greedy" reductionism as a means of explaining away religious experience instead of using "good" reductionism as a means of gaining greater insight into it.

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Travis Clementsmith
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PostSubject: Re: Greedy reductionism   Tue May 15, 2007 2:59 pm

I agree, in fact, I can see it being applied by many different groups, for example: "God did it."

-TC

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PostSubject: Re: Greedy reductionism   Tue May 15, 2007 3:22 pm

Travis Clementsmith wrote:
I agree, in fact, I can see it being applied by many different groups, for example: "God did it."

-TC

Yes good observation. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Greedy reductionism   Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:40 pm

I think that greedy reductionism, when wholeheartedly pursued, leads to nihilism. When one pushes a quadrant far enough, they find that it cannot stand on its own. If they also believe that the quadrant represents EVERYTHING (as greedy reductionism would have them believe), they conclude that nothing can stand so nothing is true or has value. They either give up hope or become intellectually dishonest in order to deny their nihilism. (e.g. Nietzche criticized the ultrareligious (LL greedy reductionists) as nihilists.)

Of course, if one stops pursuing greedy reductionism, one realizes that nihilism is not the only choice. Integralism provides an alternative to the various types of nihilism that follow from greedy reductionism.
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PostSubject: Re: Greedy reductionism   Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:49 pm

Yes it seems to lead to the view that we are either just "dust in the wind" or that the only life that seems to count is "our spiritual existence". Our daily life becomes just a meaningless illusion.

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