Beware the Limits of Reductionism

There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies. – Shakespeare

I said before that generalization, patterns, and abstraction are powerful ideas, but they have their limits. It is useful to reduce a thing to its core principles, but beware! Taking reductionism too far you can lose the essence of the thing.

Poetry is far more than words and meter; man far more than mammal; and reality far more than relativity or quantum mechanics. There’s nothing wrong with thinking about music in terms of the temporal and harmonic relationships between sounds, but if you think of it as only that, you’ll never understand why some music moves you.

By Jeff Garretson

Husband, father. Data Engineer. Explorer of Powerful Ideas. Faith and Reason integrated.