February 4, 2009

Super Super Supervenience

I've been busy and I've been sick. You don't want to hear about that. You might want a new fancy vocabulary word.

Supervenience is a characteristic of sets of properties. One set supervenes on the other if a change to one set cannot be made without a corresponding change being made in the other.

Example: Since is the case that the set of mechanical things are contained by the set of physical things, then it can be stated that the mechanical supervenes on the physical.

As it happens, lots of things supervene on the physical. Some are trickier than others. For my example, I used something pretty simple that nobody would really want to argue. Now, a lot of people would say that any category you could come up with supervenes on the physical.
Saying that life supervenes on the physical would anger some people. Particularly those who think there's some external life-force that's present in trees but not rocks, et cetera.

The term kind of annoys me. I feel like the set that supervenes should be the larger set, the super set! I would have made it so that the set that includes another supervenes on that set, but unfortunately I wasn't there when they coined this term. I'll just have to get used to it.

Hopefully you don't feel the same annoyance at the term and can find some way to use it in your daily life. You can confuse the hell out of somebody, which will be fun. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit Google Bookmark

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