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Reductionism

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fractal007
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since 06-01-2000
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0 posted 01-18-2001 07:16 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Do people here think that reductionism is a good philosophy to live by?  I find it to be an interesting philosophy, but it has this nasty tendancy to make me depressed and suicidal, lol.

I mean, when I apply reductionistic thought to life, life becomes meaningless.  I end up with the notion that all the humanity exists for is sex and pleasure.  

If reductionism is a good philosophy to live life by, then how should I approach living life without meaning?  I mean, if sex is the only purpose to life then how should I live life?  The thought of propogating something that is ultimately meaningless does not appeal to me very much.

I know this sounds more like something that ought to go on the Feelings board, but it's nevertheless one of those philosophical/scientific dilemmas that needs intellectual resolution instead of spiritual or psychological resolution.  

SO, I would appreciate any assistance, because this is really starting to bug me and consume much of my life...

Thankyou for your attention.
M'Hal
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since 01-04-2001
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1 posted 01-18-2001 07:41 PM       View Profile for M'Hal   Email M'Hal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for M'Hal

Frac-

I've never heard the term, "reductionism" before. I hope I gathered it's meaning correctly, if so, this is a familiar topic to my mind.

If you choose take this view on life, and find it nudging you towards ending yours (lol), something has to change.  I find "reductionism" a depressing perspective to live my life for.  

I think it's up to the individual to name a purpose for his/her life, then pursue it. It that person chooses to burn all their life force quickly and intensly through drugs, sex, or other indulgences of pleasure, then so be it.  Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

I don't know if you can label any philosophy "good", or "bad", those are such subjective words.  I would look at it as, how effective is it.  If a philosophy for living life makes you suicidal, then, in  my opinion, that isn't a very effective way of life.

Any how, sometimes keepin' it simple is the way to go.

M'Hal
Brad
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Jejudo, South Korea


2 posted 01-18-2001 08:05 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I've never heard of reductionism either. I've always thought of reductionism as a derogatory term used to label explanations of complex thought through sound bites. I have heard people say everything comes down to sex. I have always found that a rather silly argument. If something explains everything, it explains nothing. Even if it were true (and I don't think it is), it's probably not reductionist enough. it's the survival and reproduction of genes that matter, isn't it?

Brad
Ron
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3 posted 01-19-2001 12:02 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Reading a book doesn't hold a lot of interest for a man who is starving or has no where but the streets to sleep. That doesn't mean reading isn't important, it just means he has issues that take priority.

Propogation of the species doesn't define the meaning of life. It's just one of its higher priorities.

Go to a decent search engine and look up Abraham Maslow for a good discussion of why this kind of reductionism doesn't work too well.
fractal007
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4 posted 01-19-2001 03:11 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Thankyou for your replies.  This Maslow character's theories are indeed interesting and are starting to shed new light on the matter.

Thankyou, Ron.

About reductionism itself:

Reductionism is the theory which states that all things in the universe can be reduced down to smaller and smaller components, in order to better understand them.  My problem is that when it's applied to life, one get's grody things like Richard Dawkins' selfish gene theory, and ideas such as memetics[theory which states that all human behaviour can be reduced down to psychological units called memes which are similar to genes in that they try to propogate themselves.  An example of a meme is an advertisment slogan which entices people].  I'm sorry, but this causes a great deal of distress in my life, as I don't like to live life unless it has some meaning that's deeper than the preservation of my genes.  So this is the heart of my problem.  
mark woolard
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since 01-02-2001
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5 posted 01-19-2001 01:13 PM       View Profile for mark woolard   Email mark woolard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mark woolard

personally, i feel that "human copulation rituals" have been rediculously abused and propagated by knowledgeable individuals  through any and all public and private forums.  being rather uneducated in many philosophically technical areas, i don't claim to understand Dawkins or Maslow (i will check them out, though).  But in my opinion, to the question:  if reductionism were truly stating that life is sex, and reductionism were true, porn wouldn't exploit beautiful, natural, actions; silicone boobies wouldn't sell beer and chewing gum;  and smut solicitors wouldn't be blocked from my email everyday. . .why do i think this?

if life were sex, there would be no reason for porn because we could all get laid.  there would be no need for beer or chewing gum because we would all be getting laid.  and there would be no smut. . .in fact, there would be no social identity, or star trek reruns because we would all be getting laid!
fractal007
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6 posted 01-19-2001 04:10 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Mark:

Some good points.  I don't think that my concern is about something quite that extreme.  My concern is over the darwinian idea that the ultimate goal of life is to spread your genes.  

I have another question for Ron and anyone else that supports humanistic psychology.  Is the spreading of the genes considered to be in the same boat with religion?  I know this sounds extreme, but I will explain myself.  Among many intellectual circles, religion is considered to be nothing more than a set of ideas/memes designed to exert power and control over the individual, by the church/government and so on.  It dictates that one's ultimate purpose is to be subserviant to that which is larger than the self, namely the church.  I agree with this view on the level of humanity itself.  But I do believe in God, but choose to not take everything the church says as gospel, and get all my information straight from the horse's mouth.  So, my question is:

Would being subservient to the preservation of the species not be the same as being subservient to a group of people?  

So basically, it's this whole darwinian idea that we, as humans are just supposed to try to reproduce ourselves as much as we can, that bothers me.  

In my life, I tend to want to try to serve myself and God[whoever He/she/it is], by doing what is ethically right, and also by being creative and writing[which is something I enjoy].  But if I know that all this is meaningless[like that all this creativity and belief in God is all nothing more than a strange mutation somewhere along the way, of the human brain], then I find that I cannot do it anymore, because I can see straight through it.
mark woolard
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7 posted 01-20-2001 02:23 PM       View Profile for mark woolard   Email mark woolard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mark woolard

"would being subservient to. . .be the same as. . .to people?"

sure.  even Darwinian evolution has a following (servants?) whose zeal equals many religious fundamentalists.

the word "religion" is human, and carries a nasty flavor of (like you said) control, ignorance, and domination.  this can be applied to both "the church" and "the world".  

the thought i'm chewing on now is this:  religion is a word that has lost its charge, for pepople are realizing that the word no longer just applies to "the church"--

anyway. . .i hope this is at least close to staying on the subject. . .and your statements of/about your beliefs,fractal, peaked my curiosity.  think there's any room here for a God/faith discussion?  
IsGona
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since 07-14-2000
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8 posted 01-20-2001 03:15 PM       View Profile for IsGona   Email IsGona   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for IsGona

I don't mean to butt in here, not being someone that visits this forum very often.  And I do not want to be little this descusion, but I don't see what the big deal is.  Fractal, if you find reductionism or any other philoshophy depressing or distasteful than treat them as so.  Just because it has been said and written in books does not mean we need to find a way to apply it to our lifes.  I find philosphy to be a very interesting topic, even though I do not study it.  I think that's the thing.  Philosophy is just IDEAS so I can discuss it w/o studying it.  I don't think it is important to know all these philosophies or that we need to live by one.  I think it is great to discuss them and learn what you will from them, buttake them for what they are (IDEAS).  If you disagree with an idea then no harm done.  Live life by your OWN ideas.  I think my quote form one of my favorite bands is the best philosophy of all.  (see below)

~Jason

"Every body has their destiny...
I'LL CHOOSE MY OWN
~Hatebreed~




[This message has been edited by IsGona (edited 01-20-2001).]
Marilyn
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since 09-26-1999
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9 posted 01-20-2001 08:11 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

You know....I have been lucky enough to have grown up in a church that has always encouraged individual thought. Our questions were always welcomed and if the answer we received wasn't satisfatory, we were encouraged to find our own. I am lucky because few organized religions encourage such things. Belief is as indiviual as we are. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is as unique as he was. Each chruch family is as different as the indiviuals that make it up. You can not find peace and comfort in something that you are forced to do or believe.

This ties into the thread I posted. Power corrupts and there are individuals who feed on power.

Anyway...I think I have strayed slightly from the topic here..lol. I don't believe that propogation of the species is as important to our survival as it used to be. Just look at the over population problem we are faced with today. Sex is more about recreation these days then propogation. Pleasure has become the vocal point of our society reguardless of the consequenses. We have all become immune. Just look at the Clinton scandal as an example. At one point in our history impeachment would have been a given but not in the 21st century. Our systems have been overwhelmed by "what feels good is good". I would rather live by something that has more substance then that. You are not alone in your thinking frac. We each must find our own ideals to live by. We need to find what makes us whole, what makes us feel fulfilled, not what empties us of meaning.


hmmmm...do you think I have wandered all over the gambit with this ramble?..lol
Moon Dust
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10 posted 01-20-2001 09:30 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

Frac, Just do whatever you feel is right. If you like writing, then do it. It doesn't matter how much you try and reduce (or reduction, whatever ) it to how things work spiritualty or physically. It matters what you make of life, not what life is about. And another thing, I agree with everyone else about this reduction thing, I wouldn't apply it to life, it ain't worth it. Try going on with a more positive attidued or philosophy.    

Life has got to chnage,
Nothing stays the same,
Soon it will be time,
For me to move on.

Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


11 posted 01-21-2001 08:47 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

As I've stated before, I don't think Reductionism is a useful way to think; in fact, I see it as a 'cop out' to avoid complexity.

Yet, I don't think "it gives you a bad feeling" is a strong enough argument to simply dispense with it. If I understand your argument correctly, you seem to be worried that it might be "right". Are you sure your anxiety isn't caused by the same problem that you mentioned in Maria's thread -- the idea of the ANSWER. This distinction has to drop out to a more tentative, pragmatic truth if you follow your other arguments.

Human beings are meaning making animals but there's no way outside of a conversation with God to determine their objectivity (in an absolute sense). This means reductionism may be right; it may be wrong but those that advocate such a position as objective are playing God. I don't have any interest in playing that game. It doesn't work for me because it hides the complex multiplicity of the world I see. I may be wrong but I don't find such thinking very useful.

And don't forget simplicity can be a tremendous aphrodesiac.  

Brad

fractal007
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since 06-01-2000
Posts 2032


12 posted 01-22-2001 12:57 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Brad:

Yes, you are right.  I am afraid that it may be right.  That is why I get so depressed about it.  I always see through things, I don't just live in the moment like some people who could care less about what the meaning of it all is.

If I don't see a meaning to my life, then I tend to not really live it very well.  I don't want to live life thinking that my only purpose is to get married, have sex, and then die.  But that, it seems to me, is EXACTLY what the reductionistic view of humanity is saying, assuming I'm interpreting the darwinian view of how life got here, and what its purpose is, correctly.  Now, I'm not saying I disagree with evolution.  Frankly, I think that creationists are the most naiive[sp] and simple minded philosophers out there.  If God created us using as simple a method as the account described in Genesis, and now expects me to bow down and drop everything and worship him, then I see that as being no better than reductionism.  In both extremes I feel that God ought not to have created me in the first place, or else I feel that the day I was concieved was a cursed one indeed.

So yes, Brad, I admit to you and everyone else - I am afraid that the meaning of life is SIMPLE as hell.  Either that God is a practical joker, making things look old, or else that we're just here to make woopy.  Both views scare the living crap out of me.  

View number one makes life meaningless because God has a SIMPLE purpose for humanity[to worship him for ever and ever and think airy fairy thoughts.  How beautiful, lol].  View number two makes life meaningless because it says that life is nothing more than a reiterating cycle of meaningless reproduction.

I just hope that the universe is the infinitely complex enigma, that I hope it to be.  Better to live a meaningless life and have a big puzzle to solve, than to live a meaningless life as a sex crazed animal.
Moon Dust
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13 posted 01-22-2001 06:59 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

Now that I know a little more about reductionism, could I ask some questions?

ok if you reduce something, say an object, if you reduce something enough doesn't it eventully become nothing?

And how when appiled to life can make it so simple when you have to pick out every complexity out to make it that way?

When freedom wisphers your name, it's time to fight for it.


 
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