21 October 2006

Mark Bickhard Articles on Interactivism or Dynamic Systems Theory

At the broadest level, interactivism involves a commitment to a strict naturalism. By naturalism is meant (roughly) a regulative assumption that reality is integrated; that there is no isolatable and independent grounds of reality, such as would be the case of the world were made of Cartesian substances; that there is no ultimate barrier to further questioning and potential understanding, such as would be the case if the world were made of Empedoclean earth, air, fire, and water. In such a case, for example, (as well as for the Cartesian version of a substance metaphysics) it would not make sense to ask Where does earth come from? or Why is water stable? Such basic substances are the limits of understanding. The grounds for naturalism are at least two-fold: 1) the history of science seems to show that there are no such barriers to further understanding-- we now have naturalic understandings of, for example, fire, heat, life, magnetism, and so on --and 2) the assumption of any such barriers at this point would itself be without warrant and a pointless obstruction to investigation.

Closely related to this naturalism is a process metaphysics: the fundamental nature of the world is organizations of processes. Again, there are several grounds for this:
  1. the history of science involves a progressive replacement of substance models with process models-- e.g., phlogiston with combustion, caloric with thermal heat, vital fluid with self maintaining and self reproducing organizations of processes, and so on--
  2. Our best science tells us that there are no particles, only processes of quantum fields,
Read them here.

Interactivism: A Manifest, Process and Emergence, and The Social Ontology of Persons look particularly interesting.


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