Reductionist Heresies

Reductionist heresies present an interlocking, debased and crude version of the so-called ‘human situation.’ Their ideas reflect the ideological positions of the proponents of reductionist theories. There are two related versions – associated with the two principle modes of biological explanation. Firstly – explanation of biological phenomena in terms of chemical and/or physical properties. Asking the system under study ‘what is the system made of? Secondly the explanation of biological phenomena in evolutionary sense, thus ‘how did the system arise?’. Hence, molecular biology reductionism – “man is nothing but an assemblage of molecules”.  Closely related is ‘chimpomorphic reductionism’.  or “man is nothing but an ape”. Therefore part specifications are of only limited value because rigid stances adopted by the extreme proponents of these views are – philosophically and scientifically absurd and scientifically limited. Thus “When the brain is specified it must be in terms of all its components and their interactions, and not just a small proportion of them.” The philosophical limitations of reductionism are more serious. There is the danger of the devaluation of humans by the denial of the validity or reality of the “…higher order hierarchical explanations.”. Hence – the examination of one hierarchical level is to risk ignoring the others.  E.g, – schizophrenia is ‘biochemical’ which leads to orthomolecular psychiatry. From there to the social control of people by use of chemicals. This thus ignores the environment. Chimpomorphia – arose out of ethological explanation. Ethology itself arose in response to a reductionist myth or the …arid sterility of behaviourist psychology.” Ethological extrapolations of Lorenz, Morris et al. The behaviourists emerged as a healthy reaction to “…the introspective psychology of the 19th century – Gall, Freud.  The reaction to Pavlov in 1913 by Watson was behavioural control. Thus a certain tendency to treat the brain as a ‘black box’ with knowledge as ‘input’ and ‘output’. This was accompanied by a series of “…quasi-mathematical statements about intervening variables.”  Thus – Skinner, and Clark Hull. Note stimulus-response (S-R).be continued

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