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Thread: Robert Rosen

  1. #1 Robert Rosen 
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    Robert Rosen has suggested that physics in its current form, mechanics, and it's permeation into biology is incorrect and it is failing us.

    Taken from the section "Note to the Reader" early in the book from Life Itself.

    It has turned out that, in order to be in a position to say what life is, we must spend a great deal of time in understanding what life is not. Thus, I will be spending a great deal of time with mechanisms and machines, ultimately to reject them, and replace them with something else. This is in fact the most radical step I shall take, because for the past three centuries, ideas of mechanism and machine have constituted the very essence of the adjective "scientific"; a rejection of them thus seems like a rejection of science itself.

    But this turns out to be only prejudice, and like all prejudices, it has disastrous consequences. In the present case, it makes the question "What is life?" unanswerable.; the initial presuppositions we are dealing with mechanisms already excludes most of what we need to arrive at the answer. No amount of refinement or subtlety with the world of mechanism can avail; once we are in that world, what we need is already gone. Thus, we must retreat to an earlier epistemological stage, before the assumptions that characterize mehanisms have been made.

    The stage to which we retreat is embodied in what we call Natural Law, which seems to me to be the bare minimum required to do science at all. The essence of it lies in what we call modeling relation. Roughly speaking, this involves only bringing of two systems of entailment into congruence. Modeling relations provide the thread that ties everything in the volume together.

    From this perspective, the hypotheses of mechanism turn out to be only a very special way of embodying Natural Law, and correspondingly, a very limited way. As it turns out, mechanism presupposes the identity of two modes of modeling that can be very different from each other and that we exhibit under a wide variety of rubrics: analytic/synthetic, syntactic/semantic, product/coproduct, ect. Presuppositions of their identity thus creates a degeneracy, nongenericity; it is precisely this very degeneracy that has become identified with science itself. But it is, from my perspective, an impediment; when i remove it, I glimpse a whole new world of possibilities, with exactly the same claim to be called science as mechanism does. Only in such a world, as I argue, do we find the resources to grapple with the question "What is life?"


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  3. #2  
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    Good luck with that.


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  4. #3  
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    Indeed - prejudice and ignorance on your part. not sure what part is Rosen and yours - both are pompously sophomoric.

    To the statement "...for the past three centuries, ideas of mechanism and machine have constituted the very essence of the adjective "scientific""

    This is as shallow as much of your ravings. Mechanisms and machines have nothing to do with the concept of science. Simply looking in the dictionary would have enlightened you to the fact that science is a process of learning/understanding based on a methodology of hypothesis driven experimentation - and the body of knowledge gained by that process.

    "WE call modeling relation"? Maybe you call it - we scientists do not use the term.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorge1907
    Indeed - prejudice and ignorance on your part. not sure what part is Rosen and yours - both are pompously sophomoric.

    To the statement "...for the past three centuries, ideas of mechanism and machine have constituted the very essence of the adjective "scientific""

    This is as shallow as much of your ravings. Mechanisms and machines have nothing to do with the concept of science. Simply looking in the dictionary would have enlightened you to the fact that science is a process of learning/understanding based on a methodology of hypothesis driven experimentation - and the body of knowledge gained by that process.

    "WE call modeling relation"? Maybe you call it - we scientists do not use the term.
    Allow me to clarify. He's not talking about the semantic meaning of science but science as it is viewed today, hence, "in its current form". Where components can be separated in a reductionist way and analyzed independently and then reassembled like a machine. Where mystical "forces" govern behavior. In reality components feedback to one another and to the whole in an observable and quantifiable way.
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  6. #5  
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    Rosen's comments, taken out of context and with inadequate preamble, are rather dense, turgid and dry. However, his meaning is relevant and interesting. Allow me to paraphrase: science has maintained a mechanistic approach to investigations and explanations since the time of Newton. This mechanistic approach seeks to examine components of the system rather than the system as a whole: it is reductionist, rather than holistic. Such an approach fails in biology as it ignores emergent properties, of which life is one of the interesting examples.
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