Water has emergent properties?

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  • #51
arildno
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The Grand Declamation of Unexplainability from the Philosopher sort of justifies his professional existence, doesn't it?
The physicist's justification for his professional existence is trivial and undoubted, whereas the philosopher??
 
  • #52
arildno
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Why do you think physicists work with basic laws of interactions, rather than fighting over unverifiable ontological claims and counter-claims?

Perhaps they have the dastardly attitude that they wish to check their predictions?
 
  • #53
Q_Goest
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Q_Guest:
Are any of these people you refer to practising physicists, to be deemed competent at discussing matters physical?
I looked at Kronz' educational background; he had just a few credit hours in maths&physics within his philosophical education from the early 1980s.
Similarly, this Humphreys seems to have a B.A in "maths and physics" back from 1971.
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To be blunt:
I do not see, at the outset, that these guys really have much relevant to contribute to the developing understanding of physics. In contrast to physicists.
Hi arildno,
I’ve read a few hundred papers and numerous books that cover this topic and I would say these are solid references that help define the terms being discussed here. The papers help clarify what is meant by words like emergence and in fact, they provide the BEST examples of those definitions. I think it’s clear from reading these papers that the authors have a solid background in the natural sciences and are very familiar with what they are writing about.

In comparison, I’ve seen quite a number of papers written by physicists and others who should be qualified to discuss things like emergence and downward causation who are utterly ignorant of the most fundamental concepts that they write about. A perfect example is Dr. Robert Bishop who writes papers about downward causation in fluid mechanics (here here). Those papers espouse that there are “nonlocal, global forces” which emerge during Rayleigh Benard convection that exhibit influences over the convective cells above and beyond anything explained by the Navier Stokes equations, Van Der Waal forces or gravitational forces. These are unexplained forces which organize and conduct the fluid into cells. Bishop is one of those I put in a minority category of people who feel that new, unexplained forces emerge from nonlinear physical systems that can’t be explained by the local interactions nor by any molecular interactions that have already been identified. But Bishop is only one of a vocal handful. Note that Bishop also teaches at Wheaton University where they teach “For Christ and His Kingdom”. In my opinion, that explains his interest in downward causation.

The papers I’ve provided are solid and help provide definitions for people who want to understand the arguments surrounding emergence. I think if you read through the articles, you’ll find they are consistent with our present understanding of nature and physics.
 
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  • #54
arildno
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Thank you for the details, Q-Goest!

I do not go as far as saying it is "impossible" for some ontological emergence to be present, one way or other. That would be rather metaphysical of me, wouldn't it?

Furthermore, since sufficiently complex axiomatic systems may "generate" sentences within that are true, but cannot be proven in terms of the axiomatic proof structure within that system, might not I make a hand-waving analogy that something like that might be present in Reality as well?

But NOW, I am well and truly speculative...:smile:
 
  • #55
Pythagorean
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I agree with Q Goest that "weak emergence" is an appropriate description of what we accept as emergence in physics (particularly the nonlinear sciences) and "strong emergence" is closer to what Diderot seems to be asking (though I haven't read "hundreds of papers" on the subject).

"The whole is more than the sum of the parts" is a rather confusing and ambiguous statement, though. Especially to mathematicians and physicists for which sum has a precise meaning. We can describe a function such that:

F(a+b+c) ≠ F(a) + F(b) + F(c)

and such functions are common in descriptions of reality. This is, of course, any system that does not obey superposition, which is typical of nonlinear systems; also this can end up in the whole being less than the sum of the parts. But if "whole is more than the sum of parts" just means "whole system is not deducible from elements of the system" then we've already covered that.
 
  • #56
arildno
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It seems that for some, "deduction" is equated to "summation".
That is one source of confusion with the "The whole is no more than the sum of its parts".
 
  • #57
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Q_Goest #47, #53

Thank you for the summary and links, I have to read up. One quick response:
New nonseperable fused properties, which come out of quantum mechanical interactions (Q_Goest#47), do not support the thesis of strong emergence – as defined in the OP. Obviously if these properties are deducible from quantum mechanical interactions they are not ‘in principle not deducible from the most complete knowledge of a lower level’.
 
  • #58
Q_Goest
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Q_Goest #47, #53

Thank you for the summary and links, I have to read up. One quick response:
New nonseperable fused properties, which come out of quantum mechanical interactions (Q_Goest#47), do not support the thesis of strong emergence – as defined in the OP. Obviously if these properties are deducible from quantum mechanical interactions they are not ‘in principle not deducible from the most complete knowledge of a lower level’.
Yes and no…. Strong emergence requires some kind of downward causation which is the “not deducible” part you are thinking of. Zz mentioned Laughlin who talks about this kind of “not deducible” bit in his Nobel lecture (as well as some of his papers). Laughlin generally refers to nonsepararable systems. But others have suggested there is something nonreductive and therefore not deducible about much larger systems such as societies. I don’t think anyone is suggesting there is downward causation at play in societies.

The concept of deducibility isn’t really specific enough in my opinion. I see arildno and Pythagorean have both already said as much and I’d agree. In fact, different philosophers use the term to either mean something is strongly emergent (ex: Chalmers) or something that might be weakly emergent such as societies. Deducibility needs to be clarified before you can use it in discussions about emergence. I think the way you want to use it is as Chalmers does, “That is, if there are phenomena whose existence is not deducible from the facts about the exact distribution of particles and fields throughout space and time (along with the laws of physics), then this suggests that new fundamental laws of nature are needed to explain these phenomena.” So where does that leave us when it comes to phenomena that can’t be reduced mathematically such as solving the Navier Stokes equations, the n body problem or societies? If the equations governing a system are not deducible, even in principal, that's not proof of downward causation.
 
  • #59
Pythagorean
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So where does that leave us when it comes to phenomena that can’t be reduced mathematically such as solving the Navier Stokes equations, the n body problem or societies? If the equations governing a system are not deducible, even in principal, that's not proof of downward causation.
Yes, and furthermore when we do eventually get around to making new mathematics to describe something that was elusive before, it often turns out that it's a matter of assumptions in language and interpretation, not a matter of it being "not deducible".

For instance, Ito Calculus was invented as one interpretation of stochastic systems, but it turns out the Stratonovich's interpretation is more appropriate (at least for classical physical systems). And essentially the difference is that Stratonovich says "ok... Gaussian noise isn't really Gaussian in the real world so we can actually use the old tricks if we just assume that the Gaussian noise is only almost Gaussian" whereas Ito took the Gaussian noise to be literally Gaussian (even though we don't observe true Gaussian noise in nature) and changed the calculus itself to get a meaningful result.

So, here, it's a matter of assumptions becoming ingrained in symbols that we use in mathematics and those assumption turn out being ideals that don't really fit the natural world.
 

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