Emergence and epiphenomena (4)

Rob Freeman lists at chaoticlanguage.com
Fri Mar 3 21:44:48 UTC 2006

On Saturday 04 March 2006 03:42, Salinas17 at aol.com wrote:
> In a message dated 3/3/06 2:43:07 AM, lists at chaoticlanguage.com writes:
> <<...what is your point?>>
> Well, for one thing -- there's nothing mysterious about gliders. Also, yes,
> I don't understand how direct or indirect causes helps anything.
> If the issue is emergence, I'd suggest that what's missing is
> functionality...

You are changing your characterization of what is different about emergent 
systems from "we cannot perceive the process" to "what's missing is 
> The real question is what does this unforeseen effect have in terms of
> intended results.  Language is seeping with intentions, goals, objectives. 
> But a pure structural approach appears to be blind to all that.

So the whole emergent structure debate really comes down to a war between 
structuralists and functionalists?

What is it they say? When all you have is a hammer, every problem becomes a 

Anyway, for anyone interested, my point is that there is something different 
about emergent systems, and I think this difference is informative for those 
who seek to model language.

As I said a few messages back:

"There is no real mystery about saying something is emergent, but it does have 
consequences. In the case of language it means if we look to directly 
describe grammar in terms of rules we will fail. We must attempt to describe 
grammar indirectly (for example, in terms of rules for generalizing over 

..this is a good thing for functionalists. It fits nicely with a model which 
sees language as a product of systemic contrast (indirect causes), and not 
something which can be described in terms of formal rules (direct causes)."

If anyone is interested in an implementation of this they can write to me and 
I can give them a model, right down to algorithms.


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