more from William Lycan

Single Idea 5500

[catalogued under 7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 3. Levels of Reality]

Full Idea

Biologists don't split living things into a 'structural' level and an 'abstract' level; ..rather, they are organised at many levels, each level 'abstract' with respect to those beneath it, but 'structural' as it realises those levels above it.

Gist of Idea

Biologists see many organic levels, 'abstract' if seen from below, 'structural' if seen from above


William Lycan (Introduction - Ontology [1999], p.9)

Book Reference

'Mind and Cognition (2nd Edn)', ed/tr. Lycan,William [Blackwell 1999], p.9

A Reaction

This is a very helpful distinction. Compare Idea 4601. It seems to fit well with the 'homuncular' picture of a hierarchical mind, and explains why there are so many levels of description available for mental life.

Related Idea

Idea 4601 Higher-level sciences cannot be reduced, because their concepts mark boundaries invisible at lower levels [Heil]