Single Idea 16562

[catalogued under 11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding]

Full Idea

The intelligibility of a phenomenon consists in the mechanisms being portrayed in terms of a field's bottom out entities and activities.

Gist of Idea

We understand something by presenting its low-level entities and activities


Machamer,P/Darden,L/Craver,C (Thinking About Mechanisms [2000], 7)

Book Reference

-: 'Philosophy of Science' [-], p.21

A Reaction

In other words, we understand complex things by reducing them to things we do understand. It would, though, be illuminating to see a nest of interconnected activities, even if we understood none of them.

Related Idea

Idea 16559 Descriptions of explanatory mechanisms have a bottom level, where going further is irrelevant [Machamer/Darden/Craver]