Fallacy of Division
An informal fallacy of emergence, in which properties of the parts are inadmissibly inferred to from the whole.
The flowers on this meadow are multicoloured.
This flower grows on the aforementioned meadow.
Consequently, this flower is also multicolored.
Obviously, the property that we could call “multicoloredness” is here something that only emerges because many (differently colored) flowers occur together in one place. Transfering this property from the whole (the meadow) to the part (the flower) would require additional information about the flower that is not given here.
- Fallacia divisionis
The fallacy of division is counterpart to the fallacy of composition. They both share the aspect that the phenomenon of emergence is ignored. It refers to a situation in which properties of the whole are transferred to its parts, without checking or validating that they are not in fact emergent or at least have changed through emergent aspects.
In other words, properties that emerge only because the individual parts of the whole interact with each other, cannot necessarily be found in the constituent parts as well.
Consciousness is a complex philosophical (and neurological) phenomenon that raised numerous questions that have not yet been conclusively resolved. Most importantly, it is not clear how the experience of consciousness arises and which other life forms experience it in a similar way.
A suggestion that can be heard from time to time to circumvent these problems can be formulated as follows:
“What if consciousness is not located in the nervous system,
but instead is a property of atoms and molecules?”
In other words, the proposal is to view consciousness not as an emergent feature of a complex nervous system, but as a resultant property that is already inherent at the molecular or atomic (and sometimes even sub-atomic) level.
Of course, this does nothing to solve the problem of consciousness, but rather shifts it from one level to another, as this only raises a new question, namely how consciousness can be present on the level of atoms or molecules – not to mention how this is a better explanation than considering it an emergent property of a complex nervous system.
Zenon’s Arrow Paradox
The Greek philosopher Zeno of Elea is best known today for the paradoxes he described. One of his best-known, the so-called “arrow paradox” can be formulated as follows:
An arrow is at a certain place at any point of time during its flight.
During each point in time (which has a length of 0) there is no movement.
But what is true for each point during a time span must also be true for the time span as a whole.
Therefore, the arrow cannot move.
What Zenon ignores (or what he rather elegantly distracts from) is that motion only occurs over a period of time, that is, only when multiple consecutive points of time come together. It is not inherent in the points themselves.
Strictly speaking, motion is also not a true emergent property, since it can also be inferred from knowledge of all the physical properties of the object (in particular, from knowledge of the energy of motion). In any case, however, motion can not be understood by looking only at a single point in time, only by observing at an object over a period.
- Ecological fallacy
- Mereological fallacy
- Division on Fallacy Files