Chemical & Engineering News (1967)
Hungarian-born English physical chemist Michael Polanyi’s 1967 anti-reductionism cover story article “Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry”, wherein he uses information theory to argue that quantum mechanics is inadequate to explain life; cover shows an “artist's statement that form and function of a biological system (a flower) cannot be explained by the laws governing its parts.” [1]
In isms, anti-reductionism, aka “holists” or “emergentists”, as compared to reductionism, is the view that various subjects, concepts, and phenomena, generally biological (chnopsological) and or humanities centric phenomena, cannot be "reduced" down to pure physics and chemistry.

Anti-reductionists will often tend to hold to the unbridgeable gap model. Anti-reductionists will often tend to posit the existence of higher laws, e.g. "biotic laws", unique to humans or living systems (chnopsological systems).

One of the first noted anti-reductionists was Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico who in the early 18th century was anti-Cartesian in the sense that he conceived that to reduce human affairs to geometrical methods was madness (or would make one go mad), or something along these lines.

The following are recent noted anti-reductionists: Walter Elsasser (1955), Eugene Wigner (1967), Arthur Koestler (1964), Michael Polanyi (1967), Lila Gatlin (1972), Philip Mirowski (1988), Robert Rosen (1991), David Chalmers (1995), Alicia Juarrero (1999), and John Eccles, among others.

In 1964, Floyd W. Matson, in his The Broken Image: Man, Science and Society, platforms around Niels Bohr’s complementarity principle, as a type of ontic opening polemic, to argue that a whole frog is a whole frog, about which physical and chemical reduction can tell us nothing. [9]

Spokespersons for anti-reductionism view, according to Lila Gatlin (which seems to be her inclination), are physicists Walter Elsasser (The Physical Foundation of Biology, 1955; “The Atom and the Organism”, 1966) and Eugene Wigner (Symmetries and Reflections, 1967) who supposedly find difficulty with the view that living systems obey the fundamental laws of chemistry and physics (in particular quantum mechanical laws) and go on to postulate the existence of higher “biotoic laws” said to govern living systems. [2]

Hungarian-born English physical chemist Michael Polanyi, in his 1967 Chemical & Engineering News cover story article “Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry”, shown adjacent, uses information theory (see: Shannon bandwagon) in an attempt to argue that quantum mechanics is inadequate to explain life (see: defunct theory of life)—stating that: [2]

“All objects conveying information are irreducible to the terms of physics and chemistry.”

Polanyi’s article is abstracted as follows: [1]

“When I say that life transcends physics and chemistry, I mean that biology cannot explain life in our age by the current workings of physical and chemical laws.”


Chaos theory
In 1990, James Gleick stated the following: [7]

Chaos is anti-reductionist. This new science makes a strong claim about the world: namely, that when it comes to the most interesting questions, questions about the order and disorder, decay and creativity, pattern formation and life itself, the whole cannot be explained in terms of the parts.”

Reductionist Steven Weinberg, naturally enough, has taken objection to this assertion. [8]

An image of emergence—i.e. that emergent properties, wetness, “emerge” at the holism or system level, that cannot be explained by looking at reductive atomic methods—often used as a tool, along with self-organization, by anti-reductionists to bring, using evasive and subtle methods, spirituality and religion back into science or nature. [6]
Nonreductive consciousness
Australian philosopher David Chalmers is a noted anti-reductionist in regards to consciousness. [3] In his 1995 article “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness”, argues that there is no way to reduce experiential qualities to physical processes, the truncated synopsis of his views being as follows: [4]

“No mere account of the physical process will tell us why experience arises. The emergence of experience goes beyond what can be derived from physical theory. I argue that if we move to a new kind of nonreductive explanation, a naturalistic account of consciousness can be given. I put forward my own candidate for such an account: a nonreductive theory based on principles of structural coherence and organizational invariance and a double-aspect view of information”

In both the Chalmers and Polanyi examples we see recourse to the use of the Shannon bandwagon/Sokal affair models of information to argue for anti-reductionism.

Australian neurophysiologist John Eccles, according to Chalmers, supposedly, held the view that consciousness is not reducible to physics. [5]
The following are related quotes:
“At its nuttiest extreme are those with holistics in their heads, those whose reaction to reductionism takes the form of a belief in psychic energies, life forces that cannot be described in terms of the ordinary laws of inanimate nature.”
Steven Weinberg (1992), Dreams of a Final Theory [8]

“Here’s a Philosophy TV dialogue (Ѻ) between John Dupre (left) and Alex Rosenberg (right). They are both physicalists — the believe that the world is described by material things (or fermions and bosons, if you want to be more specific) and nothing else. But Dupre is an anti-reductionist, which is apparently the majority view among philosophers these days. Rosenberg holds out for reductionism, and seems to me to do a pretty good job at it.”
Sean Carroll (2010), “Physicalist Anti-Reductionism” (Ѻ), Nov 3

1. Polanyi, Michael. (1967). “Life Transcending Physics and Chemistry” (abs), Chemical and Engineering
, 45(35):54-66.
2. Gatlin, Lila L. (1972). Information Theory and the Living System (pgs. 14-16). Columbia University Press.
3. David Chalmers – Wikipedia.
4. (a) Chalmers, David. (1995). “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness” (abs), Journal of Consciousness Studies, 2:208.
(b) Deacon, Terrence W. (2011). Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter (pg. 7). W.W. Norton & Co.
5. Chalmers, David. (1992). “Realms of Cognitive Science”,, Jan 30.
6. Bownds, Deric. (2008). “Can ‘Emergence’ Put Spirituality Back into Nature?”,, Jun 24.
7. (a) Gleick, James. (1990). “Closing Address”, Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College, Oct.
(b) Weinberg, Steven. (1992). Weinberg, Steven. (1992). Dreams of a Final Theory: the Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature (pg. 60). Random House.
8. Weinberg, Steven. (1992). Weinberg, Steven. (1992). Dreams of a Final Theory: the Scientist’s Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature (pg. 60). Random House.
9. (a) Matson, Floyd. (1964). The Broken Image: Man, Science, and Society (§Homo ex Machina: the Legacy of Newton, pg. 34). G. Braziller Anchor Books.
(b) Anderson, Robert. (1965). “Review: The Broken Image” (pdf), American Anthropologist, 67(1):195-97.

External links
Antireductionism – Wikipedia.
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