Funda-Mental (part 2) 


Let us explore our 'deepest longing' on the Internet, allowing Google to strut her stuff:  vitalism (7400), panpsychism (1700), pantheism (35000), animism (30000), holism (28000), 'conscious universe' (2300), etc.  These figures, or course, only show that certain terms are being bandied about on the web.  

But consider this data from the point of view of our apocryphal atomistic, mechanistic reductionist.  That poor gal might feel besieged.  She might feel like road kill on the highway to postmodernism and beyond.  

Consider holism: Holism in Artificial Intelligence?, for example.  This doesn't sound very touchy-feely, now does it?  Is this icon of the New Age being appropriated by the mechanists?  

"In the discussion on semantic holism it has been claimed that A.I. is almost entirely holistic. In this paper I show that some of the main lines of research in symbolic artificial intelligence are not holistic...."  

Hmmm...  What?

As best as I can make it out, this holism is the positing of a relationalism in regard to the meaning of words and sentences.  Context dependency is a part of it.  At first blush it is a promotion of structure or form over content or substance.  If this is a retreat from semantics to syntax, it is a reductionism.   Or is it?  We still have those relations to account for. Are they internal or external?  There's the rub.  Obviously I'm going to have to brush up on my syntax, maybe on the next page, or so.  Relations are generally taken to be in the eye of the beholder, or are they in the mind's I of the computer?  If the orange is ten inches from the apple, someone has to be able to verify that.  There have to exist measurement standards, etc.  And are the identities of the relata not thereby irreducibly entwined?   The deepest metaphysical proclivities of at least some of the meaning holists, such as Willard v. O. Quine, remain notoriously opaque, if I'm not mistaken [but see Quine's Holism].  May the Force be with you, Willard?  Later....

Even if it is not with Willard, there are, as you may see, a plethora of other willing subjects out there in Web land. 

We are then left to wonder whether this hypothetical, vital, Funda-Mental Force (or glue?), could be blind, given all that it must accomplish by way of evolution and watching out for Luke Skywalker.  As at least implied earlier, I have much difficulty conceiving of a non-transcendental panpsychism.  Does there not have to be a coherent source or potency beyond space and time?  Some great minds have propounded an atheistic pantheism, but are they thereby coherent?  And if the pan-Psyche is incoherent, how could we come to comprehend that of It, without at least personalizing Her?  Is the babbling brook incoherent?  Am I in a questioning mood today? 


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