J Bov Explodes Rhetorically

Trying to Reconcile Holism and Reductionism Using Only A Chair…

Consider this:
If a robot can be shown a chair and told ‘this is a chair’, then be shown a totally different (chair like) object and identify it as a chair also, rather than, say, a stool, or differentiate between a stool and, for example, a side-table of similar size, it’s more than likely that there is no separate, definable ‘chair-ness’ inherant in the object.
Rather, it is a construction of building blocks that form a recognisable form, based on or bourne out of it’s function. A simply defined, easily recognisable piece of learned information; a chair has a base or legs, a platform for sitting and a vertical portion to rest your back against. A machine or robot could simply learn to look for these basic parts and match them to available data, remembering (to a degree) what a chair should be or have. A sort of educated inference if it hasn’t seen the specific object before.

This is, of course, unless the robot has access to a different form of ‘thinking’ than it was programmed with. Some combination of processors that gave rise to another kind of intelligence. The ghost in the machine, if you will. An indefinable quality that allows it to recognise the inherant ‘chair-ness’ of an object alongside is physical attributes as a chair. Even if we can’t recogninse or find this ability in the robots programming or build, perhaps simply because an intelligence with the same ability created the one in question it is just naturally endowed with it also; it’s programmed in unknowingly as part of the ability to recognise objects.

Perhaps the question isn’t of holistic (the whole is more than the sum of it’s parts) or reductionist (there is only the simply defined building blocks or parts that define an object and it’s function) viewpoints; it’s possible there is a third way to view this.
This leads to the more pertinent question, or rather suggestion:
An object, in this case a chair, does have or contain a definable ‘chair-ness’, but this attribute is not above and beyond the sum of it’s parts. The physical objects that make it up, it’s visible, testable components (legs, a seat, a backrest etc.) combined with it’s definite function (for sitting, resting etc.) give the object it’s undefinable attribute as a ‘chair’ (in whatever language you care to mention).
It is X type of object because it has Y and it is for Z, where X is a quality that can only really but determined by personal experience rather than explanation. One could explain the components and the function of the chair, but not communicate in any real way its ‘chair’ aspect.

This may be the very reason we have one name for it, rather than a sentence explaining its form and function. Obviously it’s partly for the sake of expendiency, but perhaps the need to consolidate its nature into one word also defines its aspect, or is a product thereof. We see it’s ‘chair-ness’ so we call it a chair. Not implying that chairs existed long before we had a name for them, just that the object has an attribute we can use one word to define. Of course it could well be that because we have one word for the object, this adds to its ‘chair-ness’, one more part of it to be added to the whole, the name somehow begets or at least contributes to the aspect of this object.

Obviously, this all depends on whether the fucking thing exists in the first place.


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Isolation has made you become unhinged

Comment by Nicholas Shearon

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