Re: emergence

From: <>
Date: Sun, 24 Nov 2002 18:12:25 -0500

The correspondent with that mystical name touched an interesting problem
(earlier appearing in Hale's and Tim's posts): emergence.
Colin Hales:
> Our main gripe is the issue of emergent behaviour and the >mathematical
treatment thereof? Yes?<
(Tim's post see below).

I have an indecent opinion of this concept: it is "human ignorance".
Let me explain.
As long as we cannot qualify the steps in a 'process' leading to the
"emerged" new, we call it emergence, later we call it process.
Just look back into the cultural past, how many emergence-mystiques
(miracles included) changed into regular quotidien processes, simply by
developing "more" information about them.
I did not say: "the" information. Some.

The world as we know about it, consists of models which the mind
(who's-ever or what's-ever) was capable to construct at a given level of the
The natural systems are unconscionably broader and the undisclosed
(undetected, or just not included) effects play roles in the processes.
Reductionism closes her limiting/ed eye on such unwanted and
ununderstandable side-shows and their mathematical treatment as well, since
the latter is slanted towards the same level of development as is the
construction of the models considered.

Why can we not deduce an emergence from our known preriquisites?
There are two sides to the reasons:

Becuase the happenings in nature (I use the word in its broadest sense, like
existence, or multiverse) are inductive and by deductive thinking we cannot
reach an induction.
By churning reasults from the cut-off parts we included into our model we
cannot reach 'conclusions' including the "rest of it".
So we call it emergence with awe.

In Tim's example the watch is a mechanism, made from just that many parts
for a designed function included in its manufacturing purpose.
The cell? similarly a mechanism, but under the influence of more than we can
calculate. Biology cuts its interest to a domain so far studied and
discovered. From time to time new information occurs and the image changes.
Who can predict such "emergences" of the coming centuries in the human
epistemic enrichment?
Evolution follows the environmental influences (called pressures) of a wider
involvement than what our 'present' cognitive inventory can cover . (Any
'present' of course).
All kinds of variations occur instead of repetitions and selectively
So do societal changes in organizations, human and other (biosphere,
body/health, cosmic history, etc. etc.).

I wonder if mathematics can 'predict' the outcome of such 'emergences' which
are subject to unlimited variables unknown and their interchanging
influential efficiency upon a substrate, the total extent of which is also
unknown, way beyond (the known limitations of) the model we talk about.
Of course, a TOE may calculate this, but only a "real" one which includes
and handles all these (limitless) unknown I/O factors in its organized
mathematical performance.

John Mikes

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Sunday, November 24, 2002 4:25 PM
Subject: emergence

> hi all. in a recent msg I talked about emergence as
> a theme for the algorithmic revolution & CH zooms in & comments on that,
> spurring some more of my thoughts.
> this is a very tricky idea that I feel I definitely have not wrapped
> my own brain around, nor has anyone else. but, imho, its a genuinely
> new idea. "emergence" as a buzzword does seem to
> be a key element of a new TOE & the algorithmic revolution.
> flash: "emergence" is the opposite of reductionism. just as
> the 20th century and most of all prior science is about
> reductionism, we can now study emergence. perhaps that
> will be a key theme of 21st century science, physics, etc.
> the algorithm/computer is the breakthrough new tool that allows
> us to study emergence.
> emergence <=> reductionism are not mutually exclusive.
> its a feedback loop, a dichotomy, a bohrian complementarity.
> the forest versus the trees.
> mathematics underlies both, but in a different sense. the approaches
> & techniques are different. emergence tends to be a more qualitative
> than quantitative picture, rules or equations that one can write down
> but not so easily derive from the basic principles of the
> system.
> also, the clockwork universe theme seems to encourage reductionism.
> whereas maybe the algorithmical metaphor encourages "emergencism".
> what is emergence? its a very loaded word. we all pretty much
> feel we understand "reductionism" probably, but emergence
> is a new concept. I would argue its being defined as we speak
> & that science is coming to grips with an accurate definition.
> perhaps people here will contribute to that definition.
> my favorite examples of emergence that Ive noticed recently
> & can expand on if there is interest.
> - I have a web site that catalogs over 4000 known gliders for
> the game of life. **breathtaking**. can you predict these given
> the life rules? or how about, find a theory that predicts
> the gliders from a given set of rules?? this ties in with
> a brilliant proof that rule 110 is a universal TM, mentioned
> in wolframs book, which is very much oriented around glider
> physics of the rule.
> - oscillons. emergent behavior from many particles. a picture
> is worth a thousand words. check em out. still under the radar
> of just about everyone, but a quite exquisitely beautiful
> example. I believe it will be shown to predict all particle
> dynamics in the not-too-distant future.
> - fractals. another good metaphor for emergence. who would
> predict the equation z <- z^2 + c could lead to such incredible
> artwork & tapestries. cosmic.
> - robotics. imagine the aibo software, and then how that
> software animates the bot. and imagine putting aibos together.
> the behavior is emergent, unpredictable, intelligent, dynamic.
> - the cyberspace web. thriving, pulsing, growing, changing,
> constantly. all built out of basic building blocks like HTML,
> HTTP, apache servers, microsoft, whatever.
> - biology. ecosystems. parasites <=> hosts. predator <=> prey
> etcetera. biologists are just now starting to get an idea
> of how the whole fabric is woven together. a zillion interactions.
> unexpected findings.
> - graph theory is now starting to study "small world graphs" which
> have many extraordinary properties entailing emergence ("six degrees
> of separation"). several new books on the subject.
> a buzzword in the making.
> and so on!! so I am out of ideas at the moment
> until someone else says something else..
Received on Sun Nov 24 2002 - 18:18:54 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:07 PST