Machine generated contents note: -- Preface -- Introduction: Truth in Trouble -- The Linguistic Conception of Truth -- The Functions Truth Serves -- Truth in Action -- Acting Truly -- The Genesis of Representations -- Acts of Assertion -- The Truth of Statements -- The Challenge of Sceptical Relativism -- Truth as Faithfulness -- Bibliography -- Index.
The development of a defensible and fecund notion of emergence has been dogged by a number of threshold issues neatly highlighted in a recent paper by Jaegwon Kim. We argue that physicalist assumptions confuse and vitiate the whole project. In particular, his contention that emergence entails supervenience is contradicted by his own argument that the ‘microstructure’ of an object belongs to the whole object, not to its constituents. And his argument against the possibility of downward causation is question-begging and makes (...) false assumptions about causal sufficiency. We argue, on the contrary, for a rejection of the deeply entrenched assumption, shared by physicalists and Cartesians alike, that what basically exists are things (entities, substances). Our best physics tells us that there are no basic particulars, only fields in process. We need an ontology which gives priority to organization, which is inherently relational. Reflection upon the fact that all biological creatures are far-from-equilibrium systems, whose very persistence depend upon their interactions with their environment, reveals incoherence in the notion of an ‘emergence base’. (shrink)
The paper proposes a process-based model for an ontology that encompasses the emergence of process systems generated by increasingly complex levels of organization. Starting with a division of processes into those that are persistent and those that are fleeting, the model builds through a series of exclusive and exhaustive disjunctions. The crucial distinction is between those persistent and cohesive systems that are energy wells, and those that are far-from-equilibrium. The latter are necessarily open; they can persist only by interaction with (...) their environments. Further distinctions, developed by means of the notions of self-maintenance and error detection, lead to the identification of complex biological organisms that are flexible learners, some of which are self-conscious and form themselves into social institutions. This model provides a non-reductive model for understanding human beings as both embodied and yet emergent. In particular, it provides a way of characterizing action as ‘metaphysically deep’, not an ontological embarrassment within an otherwise physicalist world. (shrink)
Fractal geometry offers a new approach to describing the morphology of fern leaves. Traditional morphology is based on the Euclidean concept of shape as an area defined by a boundary. This approach has not proven successful with fern leaves because they are so elaborate. Fractal geometry treats forms as relationships between parts rather than as areas. In fern fronds there are often constant relationships between parts. Four fractal methodologies for describing these relations within leaves are explored in this paper. These (...) include recursive line branching algorithms, iterated function systems (IFS), modifications of IFS, and L-systems. The methods are evaluated by comparing their results with measurements and appearances of various ferns. Fractal methods offer objective, quantifiable and succinct descriptions of fern-leaves. We conclude that fractal geometry offers simple descriptions of some elaborate fern shapes and that it will probably have application in investigating different aspects of ferns and other organisms. (shrink)
In this scholarly but non-technical book, Campbell elucidates the concept of truth by tracing its history, from the ancient Greek idea that truth is timeless, unchanging, and free from all relativism, through the seventeenth-century crisis which led to the collapse of that idea, and then on through the emergence of historical consciousness to the existentialist, sociological, and linguistic approaches of our own time. He gives a scholarly but vivid and economical exposition of the views of a remarkably wide range of (...) thinkers, always showing how their ideas engage with our contemporary concerns. He argues that current problems with truth arise from the way differing past conceptions continue to resound in our contemporary use of the word, and suggests that we must formulate a new conception of truth that is compatible with awareness that human existence is finite and contingent--with awareness of our own historicity. (shrink)