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The Reduction Complex

Stephen L. Talbott

This chapter is part of a work in progress and is subject to continual revision. Date of last revision: November 9, 2004. The chapter was originally published in NetFuture #158. Copyright 2004 The Nature Institute. All rights reserved. You may freely redistribute this chapter for noncommercial purposes only.

Materialism, mechanism, reductionism--these are strange and slippery terms, easily abused by both advocates and opponents. You realize that they must be slippery when you consider how widespread the claim to be a materialist is among scientists today, and then ask yourself, "Where is the material in this passionately embraced materialism? What sort of material, for example, does the quantum physicist believe in? How material are the energies and intersections of forces that guide our thinking about the physical world today?" 1

How material, for that matter, is a machine as it is now conceived "mechanistically"? Just as the Cheshire cat slowly disappeared, leaving behind only its smile, so, to