(Definition: A "chunk" is a structural concept. It is in some way like a logical atom but also generalise to system entities where a concept is due to integration of many parts into the whole hence cannot be segmented. What makes "chunk" different from "non chunks" is that regardless of what scale where it is irreducible, its interaction with other concepts can be described, that is, "chunks" and their interactions can be described using relations akin to drawing a mind map or flow chart or any kind of structural reasoning approaches.
"Non chunks" are non structural. They cannot be described in terms of relations. The best we know about them is they give some outcome when they interact with something, but we cannot describe how the outcome arises and there is in general no correlation between the possible outcomes
A good way to decide whether something is a "non chunk" is whether you can make power point slides based on it and the presentation ends up looking structural. Non chunk's generally indescribable property makes this practically impossible because there is nothing you can consider as an anchor to the subject
Another way to think about "non chunks" is that their non structural nature often preclude them to have a word description. A dictionary entry of a "non chunk" probably either have vague words, or maybe just a picture with no words as its definition
Some "non chunk" examples include (romantic) love and the indescribable captivating feature of Mona Lisa as mentioned in Cort Ammon's answer, as well that exhaustive list near the end of the question)
This question had been a long curiosity to me, given that for nearly all disciplines of knowledge I have came across such as natural science, social science, arts, culture, commerce can all be learnt and understood by expressing the key ideas in a "chunky" way,
and my mind is so geared towards analytic thinking (that one of my friend said I probably have modeled continental philosophy in an analytic way by expressing the concepts as a function that depends on many parameters to take account of context), that I am having trouble learning how to think non analytically
Take for example in chemistry, you have a chemical reaction
Here you can understood this in terms of "chunks" like:
- Chemical elements,e.g. H, O and their properties (atomic no. ,electronics etc.)
- Interactions, e.g. electrostatic attractions, orbitals, energies etc.
In arts, say I want to make a sculpture, then some of the "chunks" are
- Ideas: What I want or intended to express
- Elements: Color, texture, configurations etc.
- Materials: Metal, acrylic, Styrofoam
- Method: Printing, painting, machining etc.
- Choice of site: Parks, shopping centre tc.
- Interpretations: How the meaning of the artwork is dependent on the time, audience, culture etc. it is presented
In management, you worry about "chunks" like
- Parties involved: E.g. leaders, the employees, the production line etc.
- Factors such as profit, resources, economics, culture, work atmosphere etc.
In biology, you have more complex systems, but they are still quite "chunky"
Superorganisms such as slime molds (which is an aggregate of amoeba moving collectively) and ant colonies. They had to be treated as one entity at such level but otherwise its interaction with the surroundings can still be treated as if they are individual objects
The ecosystem and human impacts on it, how it is "chunky" in that it is linked to things like pest, antibiotic resistance, changes in the microbiome
Emergent phenomenon like dissipative systems in biological system that are not in thermodynamic equilibrium
In complex systems, while you have large graphs showing the network of two the systems joined together, you can still characterise it in a chunky way like
- The feedback loops
- The nodes and the connections etc.
In writing a story, you have a narrative, characters, settings, which in turn depends in a complex way to the culture, the background of the writer, the intentions. History, Archaeology, Paleontology etc. also have similar "chunky" elements such as the excavated object, the chemical analysis, the history, folklore etc.
And in physics, we have highly nonlocal and highly holistic "chunks" such as a quantum entangled system, and physics phenomenon can be checked with experiments, which are also chunky because it is step by step
There's also religion, philosophy itself, language, politics (though messy because you need to take account of bias) etc. that also are quite "chunky" (skipped else the post will become too long)
And finally, in recent years, there has been a growing trend of companies from different disciplines collaborating together, thus you have "chunks" of knowledge in each disciplines all interacting and mixing with each other as new ideas are generated
So just with the example, one can see the success in the combined multidiscipline approach that make use of concepts like systemics, reduction, induction, holism, deduction, emergentism, top down, bottom up approaches in educating and learning
But then, all of the above have one thing in common: They are all algorithmic ways to deal with "chunks", thus they are technically analytic, right?
But we have concepts like:
(romantic) love, life (as in living), daily chores, emotions, intuitions/gut feelings, leap of faith, etc. and most importantly, Experience (and qulia) that are not chunky because not only we cannot describe or derive them fully into or from some simpler "chunks" (so it fails the analytic approach),
even if we treat them as irreducible system level entities, we still have no way, not even a statistical pattern in how the outcomes when they interact with other concepts are governed (thus systemics also failed to satisfactory describe them), thus they seemed to be nonlocal or something more general at all scales
My question is then:
What are the widely accepted ways of thinking that is not algorithmic (completely on the opposite end of the spectrum of my usual thinking process), i.e. not any of the following:
Holism, systemics, reduction, induction, holism, deduction, emergentism, top down, bottom up approaches, multidicipline
that can give insights on the concepts I listed above such as Experience?