Methodological reductionism refers to procedure when problem (the object of explaining something) is split up into separate parts or aspects and thus reduced to simpler components that are individually easier to investigate. Methodological reductionism is major part of the normal process of science.
The Essential Incompleteness of All Science
In Popper's view the attempts at methodological reduction are fruitful, however there are still residues or vicious circles that have prevented full scientific reductions to be accomplished. As an example he is pointing at the origin of life and of the genetic code and suggests that we may be faced with the possibility that the origin of life (like the origin of physics) becomes an impenetrable barrier to science, and a residue to all attempts to reduce biology to chemistry and physics.
Ontological reductionism is associated with perception that the universe is nothing but a collection of atoms in motion, human beings are simply machines for propagating DNA which is self-sustaining process, the sense of personal identity, free will, and concept of beauty are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules; and there is no ultimate purpose in the universe. All human mental experiences such as hopes, fears, loves and beliefs are deemed as reduced to accidental atomic interactions.
Theological reductionism in Christian Theology is cutting down the Christian revelation to suit one's own theory. According to M.A. Smith, Marcarion, whose heretic sect exhibited traits of Gnosticism, was an early example of reductionist in this respect.
- Edgar Anrews (201093-94). "16.The second shoe: Man and his mind", Who made God? Searching for a theory of everything.. Carlisle, PA, USA: EP Books, 247, 252, 259. ISBN 978-0-85234-707-2.
- John C. Lennox (2009). "3.Reduction, reduction, reduction...Reductionism", God's undertaker. Has science buried God?. Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 52–57. ISBN 978-0-7459-5371-7.
- Philip Catton (2004). Karl Popper: Critical Appraisals. New York: Routledge, 235. ISBN 978-0-4153-1971-3.
- Karl R. Popper (1974). Scientific Reduction and the Essential Incompleteness of All Science. Quoted in Ayala, F. and Dobzhansky, T., eds., Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, University of California Press, Berkeley, p. 270. “What makes the origin of life and of the genetic code a disturbing riddle is this: the genetic code is without any biological function unless it is translated; that is, unless it leads to the synthesis of the proteins whose structure is laid down by the code. But … the machinery by which the cell (at least the non-primitive cell, which is the only one we know) translates the code consists of at least fifty macromolecular components which are themselves coded in the DNA. Thus the code can not be translated except by using certain products of its translation. This constitutes a baffling circle; a really vicious circle, it seems, for any attempt to form a model or theory of the genesis of the genetic code. Thus we may be faced with the possibility that the origin of life (like the origin of physics) becomes an impenetrable barrier to science, and a residue to all attempts to reduce biology to chemistry and physics.”
- M.A.Smith (1971). From Christ to Constantine. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 48. ISBN 0-85110-570-X.