...the problems with reductionism: read this bit by stuart kauffman, physicist.
as background... basically (and this is my really crude grasping of it), reductionism is the attempt to explain a given phenomenon in terms of its components. the idea is that understanding some- thing is a matter of identifying its parts and how those parts work.
there are a lot of reasons to endorse reductionism. one reason is that reductionism is quite useful as a tool (i mean that loosely). reductionism succeeds in providing satisfactory explanations and yielding predictions, thus putting 'the world' in our apparent grasp.
however...the world is messy. einstein (and others) showed us that mechanistic understandings are not quite right. they are almost right (in some respects), but there are a lot of important things they cannot account for or accomodate -- entropy and chaos, for example. reductionists would be quick to say that einstein's view is only a different kind of reductionism, but i think they miss the point. the point is that reductionist theories, by their very structure, can only reach so far. and in fact, it is my view that all theories are similarly limited in varying degrees. i wrote about this a little bit in my other blog. at any rate, nothing i could say could be as interesting as this mini-discussion, which i found on jonah lehrer's blog, the frontal cortex. check it out :)
...an egomaniac: rod blogojevich, cowboy! cowboy!!!