Emergence and epiphenomena (5)

Salinas17 at aol.com Salinas17 at aol.com
Sat Mar 4 16:34:31 UTC 2006

In a message dated 3/3/06 4:38:39 PM, lists at chaoticlanguage.com writes:
<< You are changing your characterization of what is different about emergent 

systems from "we cannot perceive the process" to "what's missing is 

functionality"? >>

So, you can't see how they can be one and the same?

Perhaps the reason "we cannot perceive the process" is because we are leaving 
out the functional parts.

<<So the whole emergent structure debate really comes down to a war between 

structuralists and functionalists?>>

Well, if you leave the functional out of language, you are not describing 
what makes it move, change or emerge.  If the structure were the only purpose of 
language -- if it were only a pattern generating machine for our aesthetic or 
contemplative appreciation -- then there'd be no point to looking beyond that 
for language's function. But that's not what language is.

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


No, I think they say -- When you have no hammer, every nail is a problem.

<<In the case of language it means if we look to directly describe grammar in 
terms of rules we will fail....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).>>

I confess I'm not sure what you are saying here, but if you mean by "indirect 
causes" factors outside of language drive the structure of language, that has 
to be true or language is merely an exercise in logic.  But there are also 
structural imperatives that say how so much information has to be handled - if 
that's what you mean by direct causes.  I think that's a real difference -- if 
that's the difference you mean.  There is why we want to build a boat in the 
first place, what we would do with it.  Then there is how a boat must be built 
to float.  Both determine what the structure of the boat should be, if not 
will be.

<<If anyone is interested in an implementation of this they can write to me 

I can give them a model, right down to algorithms.>>

Or you can summarize it here so the rest of the list can see it.  I don't 
suppose anyone would complain.

Steve Long

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