Re: emergence (or is that re-emergence)

From: <>
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 11:41:06 -0500

Thank you, Eric for your considerate reply, however more comprehensive
(branching into math) than I can absorbe all of it.
Please see my remarks interjected as lines between ********
John M

----- Original Message -----
From: "Eric Hawthorne" <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2002 2:42 AM
Subject: Re: emergence (or is that re-emergence)

> Let me first apologize for not yet reading the mentioned references on
> the subject,
> John Mikes wrote:
> >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.
> >
> I don't think this is correct.
> A fundamental concept when talking about "emergence" ought to be the
> pattern, or more precisely, the interesting, coherent, or perhaps useful
> pattern; useful
> perhaps in the sense of being a good building block for some other
> "Process" is a subset of pattern, in the sense in which I'm using
> "pattern". Also,
> "system" is a subset of "pattern".
I also think in second thought that my statement is NOT correct. I mixed the
(misused name) complexity, indeed a set of all descriptions with the model
we form within a topic (a defined subset).
Once you mention a 'pattern', it is a model. A cut-off view within the
topical interest of the observer. In the 'emergence' as I formulated it, the
effect of the "total" is invoked, influences from broader sets than the
model itself.

I find mathematical examples off (my) base, since math is 'describing' the
model and so it is the map of the territory - where the territory itself is
also only a model of our viewed (selected) part in question.
> Q:
> How do you know when you have "completely" described a pattern?
> Two examples, or analogies, for what I mean by this question:
> e.g. 1 I used to wonder whether I had "completely" proved something in
> math, and
> would go into circles trying to figure out how to know when something >was
sufficiently proved or needed more reductionism ...
You said it in the last three words. I try to generalize (which is, of
course, beyond my capabilites, but so be it: I don't cut my inqueries to
the conventional old reductionistic knowledge in searching for new views).
Your "completely" described pattern is still an "incomplete" model.
[let me skip your example #1, the "A" to it, shows the "model" indeed]
> e.g. 2 Is the essence of human life in the domain of DNA chemistry, or
> in the domain
> of sociobiology, psychology, cultural anthropology? Are we likely to
> have a future
> DNA based theory of psychology or culture? Definitely not. Cellular
> processes and
> psychology and culture are related, but not in any essential manner.
I don't know what is "life", especially "human life"? There is a 'pattern'
in processes of changes in parts of the complexity which - at a certain
level - may be called 'life', not essentially different from other types of
How good old reductionist science boxed in the models formulated under this
name are good for the developmental sequence in the inquiry, but do not
contribute much to my search of fundamental generalization. The
organizations are interconnected and interinfluenced, which makes the
difference between a machine and a natural system (words borrowed from
Robert Rosen's vocabulary).
Cellular processes IMO are definitly model based cut-offs.
> A:
> Let's define a "complete" description of a pattern as a description which
> describes the essential properties of the pattern. The essential
> properties of the
> pattern are those which, taken together, are sufficient to yield the
> defining
> "interestingness, coherence, or usefulness" of the pattern.
> Note that any other properties (of the medium in which the pattern
> lives) are
> "accidental properties" of the incarnation of the pattern.
> Note also that the more detailed mechanisms or sub-patterns which may
> have generated
> each particular essential property of the main pattern are irrelevant to
> the creation
> of a "minimal complete description" of the main pattern being described.
> As long as
> the "property" of the main pattern has whatever nature it has to have as
> far as the
> pattern is concerned, it simply doesn't matter how the property got that
> way, or
> what other humps on its back the property also has in the particular
> incarnation.
> And that "level-independence" or "spurious-detail independence" or simply
> "abstractness" of useful patterns is one of the reasons why it makes
> sense to talk
> about emergence.
> e.g.of "level-independence of a pattern".
> 1. "Game of Pong"
> 2a. Visual Basic 2b. Pascal program 2c. Ping-pong
> program on PC on a Mac ball,
> bats, players
> 3a. x86 ML program 3b. PowerPC ML program 3c. Newtonian physics of
> everyday objects
> 4a. voltage patterns in 4b. voltage patterns in
> silicon NAND gates Gallium Arsenide NOR gates (you get the idea)
> Key:
> -----
> 1. The "main" pattern being described
> 2, 3, 4. Lower-level i.e. "implementation-level" or
> "building-block-level" patterns whose own
> internal details are irrelevant to the emergence of the main pattern,
> which emerges
> "essentially identical" from all three of very different lower level
> "building-block" patterns.
> So in summary, an emergent pattern is described as emergent because it
> emerges,
> somehow, anyhow, doesn't matter how, as an abstract, useful, independently
> describable pattern (process, system, state-of-affairs). A theory of the
> pattern's essential
> form or behaviour need make no mention of the properties of the
> substrate in which the
> pattern formed, except to confirm that, in some way, some collection of
> the substrate
> properties could have generated or accidentally manifested each
> pattern-essential property.
> A theory of form and function of the pattern can be perfectly adequate,
> complete, and
> predictive (in the pattern-level-appropriate domain of discourse),
> without making any
> reference to the substrate properties.
I subscribe to every word you wrote, within the description of the
reductionist modeling of patterns, theories, functions, chosen to a
"purpose" or "usefulness". I think we use the word "emerge" in different
meanings: you condone it for a result of a known process with different
qualia than the participating components, while I restricted it to the "awe"
of an unknown appearance of a surprizing (new?) feature.
Your (?) addition in the Subject ("or is that "re-emergence") shows the
relevance of the difference in meaning. "My" version cuts out definitely a
"re-emergence" meaning.
I think the big fashionable hoopla about 'emergence' during the past decade
was impressing (annoying? trapping?) me.
I don't argue for the correctness of my definition. It is 'one' definition.
> This is not to say that any substrate can generate any pattern. There
> are constraints,
> but they are of many-to-many cardinality from substrate level to pattern
> level.
> Why are computers, of all forms, so cool?
> Because certainly any universal computer substrate can generate
> any computable pattern. Are all realizable patterns computable?
> Probably. Cool.
How about the "unrealizable" patterns, like natural systems, with unlimited
variables and qualia beyond our inventory? covering unlimited scales?
Are they also computable? (that would embroaden my feeble imagination of

Received on Wed Nov 27 2002 - 12:14:22 PST

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