Weak and Strong Emergence, what is it?

In summary, the two definitions of emergence seem to be heavily reliant on local causation. Weak emergence reduces a system to its parts and assumes that the microstates of the parts are determined by the microstates of nearby parts. Strong emergence, on the other hand, assumes that higher-level phenomena are irreducible and exert a causal efficacy over the system.
  • #71
Emergence, Upward and Downward Causation

I would argue that emergence, at least from a scientific viewpoint, is neither strong or weak...that it springs from characteristics inherent in atomic structure. For instance, molecules of iron oxide are colourless, however, when aglomerated one of their apparent emergent properties is the familiar rust red colour. Likewise, atoms of gold are not shiny, yellow and hard, but in sufficient number form the familiar metal with its shiny, yellow appearance...shiny and yellow are apparent emergent properties of the atomic element.

Emergence often carries with it the notion of causality, because it appears that emergent properties are "caused" by the smaller bits necessary to bring about the appearance of the emergent properties. It would appear this may be so, because emergent properties occur regularly under consistent conditions, i.e., when iron (Fe) oxidizes (O2) it always turns rust red (R), and when sufficient numbers of gold atoms bond, a shiny, yellow metal appears. Another way of stating this is:

The direction of emergence is a movement from the micro to the macro, a "growing larger", hence upward causation. Following the idea of causality and emergence, an argument against downward causation can again be found in FeO2, that is, rust does not cause the emergence of unsullied iron or oxygen atoms or molecules.

I would argue that emergence and causation are distinct from one another. Emergent properties are inherent properties of their atomic particles. Therefore, inherent in the molecular bond of iron and oxygen is the reflection of red human eyes perceive.

Upward causation has been accepted within the realm of philosophy of science for some time...microscopic things build into macroscopic things, or, macroscopic things reduce to microscopic particles. Chemistry reduces to physics (don't get me started on that one :)

The idea of downward causation has been problematic to philosophers of science...for one thing, the whole idea reeks of "God"...anathema to scientists, if not philosophers, although analytical philosophers do not tend toward proofs of God either...but I digress.

But another problem philosophers of science have faced is an apparent lack of physical examples of downward causation, that is, something macro returning to its micro parts, parts unchanged. I would like to now pose a question to the group about, and example of, downward causation...what about the cycle of water (H20) (micro) evaporating from the earth, rising, condensing, forming a cloud (macro), rain falling to the earth, and returning to its constituent elements in the soil?

It would appear that in the same way the hydrogen and oxygen combined to eventually "cause" a cloud to form, the cloud eventually "causes" the formation of hydrogen and oxygen. It's a simple example, tidy, and answers to the issue of moving from the macro to the micro without addition or subtraction of "parts". Would appreciate any input on this idea. Thanks.
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #72
Hi Chestnut. Glad to see you didn't get roasted on some fire over Christmas! Welcome to the board.

Chestnut said: I would argue that emergence, at least from a scientific viewpoint, is neither strong or weak...that it springs from characteristics inherent in atomic structure.

I'd agree with this statement wholeheartedly. In fact, I'd intended to steer this thread in that direction, but never got that far. In "http://www.pnas.org/cgi/reprint/97/1/32.pdf"", Robert Laughlin et al. argues for emergence on the "mesoscopic" level. By this, I believe he's referring to only quantum phenomena, though he's certainly not talking about classical mechanics. So I believe your concepts here are in line with Laughlin, and also in line with current thinking, with the exception perhaps of your proposed "downward causation argument.

I also liked the distinction you make between causation and emergence here:

I would argue that emergence and causation are distinct from one another. Emergent properties are inherent properties of their atomic particles. Therefore, inherent in the molecular bond of iron and oxygen is the reflection of red human eyes perceive.

Nicely stated! I think this is fully in line with most of the current thinking in science and is key to understanding consciousness. Emergence is only a phenomenon which can be associated with quantum mechanics, not classical mechanics.* I also believe it puts consciousness squarely into the quantum mechanical category and out of the classical mechanics category.

I'm not sure this is clear to everybody though. If one still tries to accept emergence on a classical level such as computationalism, you're stuck trying to defend a phenomenon unlike any other we know of and I think this is why Chalmers ended up supporting this mysterious concept of "higher level physical laws" (see OP). Unfortunately, most philosophers supporting computationalism simply don't get it. They don't see a need for higher level physical laws. The entire argument is at 35,000 feet to them and they want to believe in computationalism, which relies strictly on classical mechanics.

Take for example the argument put forward by physicist Henry Stapp in his 1995 "http://psyche.cs.monash.edu.au/v2/psyche-2-05-stapp.html"" only a few months later. Stapp writes:
The fundamental principle in classical mechanics is that any physical system can be decomposed into a collection of simple independent local elements each of which interacts only with its immediate neighbors.
In other words, classical mechanics relies only on weak emergence as also defined by Bedau and who's definition I put in the OP. Stapp then points out the fundamental problem with this logic:
The information that is stored in anyone of the simple logically independent computers, of which the computer/brain is the simple aggregate, is supposed to be minimal: it is no more than what is needed to compute the local evolution. This is the analog of the condition that holds in classical physics. As the size of the regions into which one divides a physical system tends to zero the dynamically effective information stored in each individual region tends to something small, namely the values of a few fields and their first few derivatives.
Ok, I'll agree his argument needs work here, but his point is still valid IMO. Subjective experience can't be created by classical level elements which hold only one tiny aggregate of information about the experience. There has to be something, some mechanism to tie them together.[1]

Finally, he points out exactly what Chalmers says about higher level physical laws and why that isn't the right answer:
One could imagine modifying classical mechanics by appending to it the concept of another kind of reality; a reality that would be thought like, in the sense of being an eventlike grasping of functional entities as wholes. In order to preserve the laws of classical mechanics this added reality could have no effect on the evolution of any physical system, and hence would not be (publicly) observable. Because this new kind of reality could have no physical consequences it could confer no evolutionary advantage, and hence would have, within the scientific framework, no reason to exist. This sort of addition to classical mechanics would convert it from a mechanics with a monistic ontology to a mechanics with a dualistic ontology. Yet this profound shift would have no roots at all in the classical mechanics onto which it is grafted: it would be a completely ad hoc move from a monistic mechanics to a dualistic one.
To me, that's a beautiful retort! He points out exactly why we can't accept something like what Chalmers is saying about higher level physical laws.

The philosopher Kirk Ludwig however, doesn't seem to recognize the differences between classical and quantum mechanics from a philisophical perspective, and I think this is what leads him, like so many other philosophers, to attack Stapp. I'd comment on his paper, but this post is getting too long as it is.

~

Ok, why did I write all that? What's the point? The point is that if we accept emergence only at the molecular (mesoscopic to Laughlin) level where quantum mechanics is necessary, computationalism is dead.

I tried to work towards this conclusion in this thread, but unfortunately never quite got there. Maybe we should start over?

~

Chestnut said: But another problem philosophers of science have faced is an apparent lack of physical examples of downward causation, that is, something macro returning to its micro parts, parts unchanged. I would like to now pose a question to the group about, and example of, downward causation...what about the cycle of water (H20) (micro) evaporating from the earth, rising, condensing, forming a cloud (macro), rain falling to the earth, and returning to its constituent elements in the soil?

It would appear that in the same way the hydrogen and oxygen combined to eventually "cause" a cloud to form, the cloud eventually "causes" the formation of hydrogen and oxygen. It's a simple example, tidy, and answers to the issue of moving from the macro to the micro without addition or subtraction of "parts". Would appreciate any input on this idea. Thanks.
Sorry Chestnut, but we'll have to part company on this one. Note the definition (in the OP) of downward causation by Chalmers:
Downward causation means that higher-level phenomena are not only irreducible but also exert a causal efficacy of some sort. Such causation requires the formulation of basic principals which state that when certain high-level configurations occur, certain consequences will follow. …

With strong downward causation, the causal impact of a high-level phenomenon on low-level processes is not deducible even in principal from initial conditions and low-level laws. With weak downward causation, the causal impact of the high-level phenomenon is deducible in principal, but is nevertheless unexpected.

The concept of downward causation has nothing to do with something macro returning to its micro parts. It has to do with the macro thing having some causal efficacy over the micro parts. The phenomenon of something returning to its micro parts, be it water or an organism that is born, lives, dies, and who's parts eventually wind up in another living organism, has nothing to do with downward causation.


*** *** ***

*I believe I'm preaching to the choir here.

[1] Note that Searle, Putnam, and many other eminent philosophers basically agree with this, but don't point to QM as the answer. They do however point out that in computationalism, each micro element is a symbol, and if this is true (which it is) the concept of computationalism inevitably devolves into panpsychism. I've also tried using this argument in this thread which is a slightly different attack on computationalism.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #73
More on Ermergence, Reduction, Causation...

Hi Q-Goest...

Thanks for the welcome. Amazingingly excellent reply for 6:06 a.m. (at least that's when your message came in here...I'm in the PST...what time zone are you in?)

I'm afraid I must be very brief, partially because I slept in very late and have to get prepared for evening festivities, and partially because I have to go through my materials and find the various citations to support my statements!

Your concurrence, at least on some points, is appreciated. Following are a couple of questions/observations...

In "The Middle Way", Robert Laughlin et al. argues for emergence on the "mesoscopic" level. By this, I believe he's referring to only quantum phenomena, though he's certainly not talking about classical mechanics. So I believe your concepts here are in line with Laughlin, and also in line with current thinking

Could you please write Robert Laughlin's definition of "mesoscopic"? Although it literally means middle view, and, as you say, may be discussing quantum phenomena, how does the middle view translate into emergence?

I also believe it puts consciousness squarely into the quantum mechanical category and out of the classical mechanics category.

I'm afraid I'm a bit reluctant to mix consciousness discussion with quantum theory. Although physicists do this, and more so lately, a la Fred Alan Wolf, for instance, and although I personally believe that some of the connextions associated with quantum physics and consciousness may hold true, I believe they fall into the area of belief rather than quantifiability and proof. I am not saying these beliefs are not true, just not proven, which, while allowing for the structure of rational argumentation, fails to provide the content.

Regarding Stapp's commentary, thanks for providing his straightforward argument on the failure of classical mechanics's ability to address the unseeable, and potentially unnecessary, evolution-wise, consciousness.

This whole business of philosophy of science's attempt to address the unseen "otherness" in physical "stuff" is interesting. Consider Paneth's discussion of the elements as basic and simple subtances. This has been followed through most recently by Scerri, who describes

"...the notion of an element as a basic substance concerns just its identity and its ability to act as the bearer of properties. A basic substance does not however possesses any properties. The properties of an element however reside in the simple substance and not in the element as a basic substance. According to this view, the identity of an element and its properties are regarding as being quite separate."

This is just one example of a scientist/philospher attempting to lend legitimacy and substance to that which can't be quantified. Discussion of emergence based on atomic structure is comparatively "a walk in the park".

I tend to think of emergence, reduction, and upward and downward causation as one process. Robin Le Poidevin's paper, "Missing Elements and Missing Premises: A Combinatorial Argument for the Ontological Reduction of Chemistry", has been a rich resource in my thinking. So, too has been Robin Hendry's Chapter 9, entitled "Is There Downward Causation in Chemistry?" from the book "Philosophy of Chemistry: Synthesis of a New Discipline".

Regarding Chalmers:
Downward causation means that higher-level phenomena are not only irreducible but also exert a causal efficacy of some sort. Such causation requires the formulation of basic principals which state that when certain high-level configurations occur, certain consequences will follow. …

With strong downward causation, the causal impact of a high-level phenomenon on low-level processes is not deducible even in principal from initial conditions and low-level laws. With weak downward causation, the causal impact of the high-level phenomenon is deducible in principal, but is nevertheless unexpected.

While Chalmers is firm in the widely-held philosophy regarding downward causation and its impossibility, I would ask, "Must a higher level phenomena be irreducible in order to exert a causal efficacy?" "Can a reducible higher level phenomena exert a unique causal efficacy that would not otherwise appear if the higher level phenomena was reduced? (here's were emergentism comes in)" If the answer to that question is yes, then Chalmers' concern about "certain consequences" is allayed.

With regard to Chalmers' statement that causal impacts of high-level phenomenon on low-level processes is not deducible (strong version), and deducible only in principle (weak version)...I must acknowledge Chalmers' sincerity and scholarship on causality, first principles, etc., but I fail to see his logic...perhaps if I had a larger quote to provide greater context of his view? I would argue that causal impacts are deducible as concerns high-level phenomenal impacts on low-level processes.

My last point relates to a bit of the last Chalmers quote:
With weak downward causation, the causal impact of the high-level phenomenon is deducible in principal, but is nevertheless unexpected.

Ironically, one of the most widely held tenets concerning unexpected, undeducible outcomes is that those qualities are absolutely necessary to a property being determined to be an emergent property. Are causal impacts always to be considered surprises?

Chestnut
 
  • #74
Chestnut said:
Ironically, one of the most widely held tenets concerning unexpected, undeducible outcomes is that those qualities are absolutely necessary to a property being determined to be an emergent property. Are causal impacts always to be considered surprises?
From your two posts to date, you seem to have an extremely rational perspective. I am led to ask your intention as per the meaning of "undeducible". Do you mean "absolutely undeducible" or undeducible via the finite conscious procedures common to ordinary logic?

As far as comprehending the possible extent of “deducible emergent phenomena” you should take a look at my deduction posted quite a while ago in this thread. I am curious as to your possible reactions.

Have fun -- Dick
 
  • #75
Chestnut said: Amazingingly excellent reply for 6:06 a.m. (at least that's when your message came in here...I'm in the PST...what time zone are you in?)
It seems this website adjusts the time postings are made depending on your time zone. I'm in PA, so I actually posted that at 9:06 am, but since you're in California, the website displays that as 6:06 am. Ok, maybe 9:06 is still early but I'm not that early! lol

Hope your party went well last night. How come I didn't get an invite? grrrr
<grin>

Chestnut said: Could you please write Robert Laughlin's definition of "mesoscopic"?
Here's a good definition for U of Minn. school of physics and astronomy:
The Greek word meso means "in between". Mesoscopic Physics refers to the physics of structures of intermediate sizes, ranging from a few atomic radii to a few microns. A mesoscopic sample is too big to study its properties by the methods standard in the physics of individual atoms, and is too small for the application of the familiar physical laws of the macro world. Put another way, a macroscopic device, when scaled down to a meso-size, starts revealing the quantum signatures of conventional characteristics. For example, in the macro world, the conductance of a wire increases continuously with its diameter, but in the meso world the wire's conductance is quantized - i.e., the increases occur in steps.
And also from the examples given by Laughlin, it seems the focus is on how nature behaves when the number of atoms or molecules is too small to average themselves out such as is the case for classical mechanics, but the number is also too large to consider the behavior of individual atoms. The properties of matter however, still depend on quantum interactions between atoms in the material.

Although it literally means middle view, and, as you say, may be discussing quantum phenomena, how does the middle view translate into emergence?
Emergence is a philosophical concept which is not well defined, but in general we can look at the two forms of emergence, weak and strong, as being two diametrically opposite possibilities. Weak emergence is well defined by Bedau. Strong emergence is defined by everybody, so I selected Chalmers for the OP.

It is my view that anything that can be defined by classical mechanics such as a bridge, a car, a rocket, the orbit of planets, or a computer can be reduced to its constituent parts, such that any phenomena you observe is reducible to those parts. This view most closely follows the definition of weak emergence. The phenomena exhibited by those classical objects are weakly emergent and reducible. I believe this view is consistent with what you've said, and also consistent with scientific and engineering philosophy in general.

However, as we examine smaller and smaller 'things', there is a scale at which we find phenomena which might not be considered reducible. Laughlin and many others consider this level to be this mesoscopic level. At this level, phenomena depends on interactions which debatably, are interdependent in a way that prevents one from reducing things further.

At any rate, this irreducibility at the mesoscopic scale is IMO, a potential example of 'strong emergence' depending on how you define it. I think Chalmers' definition of strong emergence is acceptable:
Chalmers: We can say that a high-level phenomenon is strongly emergent with respect to a low-level domain when the high-level phenomenon arises from the low-level domain, but truths concerning that phenomenon are not deducible even in principal from truths in the low-level domain.
Unfortunately, Chalmers wants to use this definition on things well above the mesoscopic level, at the level of computers.

Chestnut said: I'm afraid I'm a bit reluctant to mix consciousness discussion with quantum theory. Although physicists do this, and more so lately, a la Fred Alan Wolf, for instance, and although I personally believe that some of the connextions associated with quantum physics and consciousness may hold true, I believe they fall into the area of belief rather than quantifiability and proof. I am not saying these beliefs are not true, just not proven, which, while allowing for the structure of rational argumentation, fails to provide the content.
Consider something that exhibits phenomena which can be fully described using classical mechanics such as a computer, an aircraft, or a galaxy. Can that thing also exhibit phenomena which are not reducible to its constituent parts?

That question takes a lot of thinking. There are a few different responses:
1. Chalmers says yes, and that you therefore need additional physical laws to understand those irreducible phenomena.
2. Many computationalists will recognize the quandary and say no. The Turing test for example says all you need is to do is examine the behavior of the thing to determine if it is conscious, but a p-zombie could equally well pass the test. In short, there is no solid ground to stand on here IMO.
3. In general, I think the scientific/engineering community would say no for exactly the reason pointed out by Stapp.

Chestnut said: I would ask, "Must a higher level phenomena be irreducible in order to exert a causal efficacy?" "Can a reducible higher level phenomena exert a unique causal efficacy that would not otherwise appear if the higher level phenomena was reduced? (here's were emergentism comes in)"
If something is reducible, then by definition the interaction of those parts is both necessary and sufficient to describe everything that 'thing' is doing. We don't need to propose downward causation, since anything the 'thing' is doing is by definition, being done because of the interaction of the lower level parts. Similarly and to my point above, and to what Stapp has pointed out, we also don't need to propose there are other phenomena occurring which can't be described by the interaction of those parts which require additional physical laws such as what Chalmers suggests.

Chestnut said: I would argue that causal impacts are deducible as concerns high-level phenomenal impacts on low-level processes.
Not sure what you meant there. Can you clarify?

Chestnut said: Ironically, one of the most widely held tenets concerning unexpected, undeducible outcomes is that those qualities are absolutely necessary to a property being determined to be an emergent property. Are causal impacts always to be considered surprises?
I think for something to be truly emergent in more than the weak sense, outcomes should not only be surprises, but they must be irreducible as well.

Happy New Year!
 
  • #76
Hi Dr. Dick...

In this context, I mean absolutely not deducible at this time.

Regarding your post, "my deduction", I did open it last night after returning from a late evening...it was a lot of text! Screenfulls and screenfulls. Then I googled you...there are a lot of Richard D. Staffords out there...could only find 2 entries, of posts to websites such as this, that seemed at all relevant. However, you've clearly put a lot of work into your thinking and analysis. Do you have a website listing your publications? Also, do you have an area of specialty? Thanks.

Chestnut
 
  • #77
Causal Forces in Biological Sciences...emergence? downward causation?

Dear Q-Goest,

I've gotten off on a bit of a tangent, I'm afraid...have you read anything by Rupert Sheldrake? I've just begun his "A New Science of Life", and it appears he will be addressing causal forces as well...and appears may be in agreement with Chalmers' belief in necessity for new physical laws. The book jacket said the Royal Academy voted it the book most needing to be burned when it was published, while Nature had kudos for it.

As an aside, I find fascinating the various arguments that God exists, or that there is a purpose or meaning of life, couched in scientific or analytical philosophical terms. From Thomas Aquinas' 7 Proofs of God, to physics-as-explanation for the unprovable in the movie, "What the Bleep do we Know", to everything in between, it seems for centuries there has been a quest to couch the unprovable in scientific or analytic terms. Apparently simple belief isn't enough. I've got a love of science and philosophy, and what I believe to be a knowledge of their limits, at present. What I love to do is read the attempts to discuss the intangibles, the sums that are greater than the parts, something a layperson would call believing, or faith, or even self-evident, and see if it can be done. If it can...what a paper that would make!

At any rate, Sheldrake first discusses the physico-chemical processes/paradigm as
the framework of thought within which questions about the physico-chemico mechanisms of life processes can be asked and answered.
It is mechanistic, but he believes it
will be the only framework available to experimental biologists until another alternative is discovered.

He states
Any new theory capable of extending or going beyond the mechanistic theory will have to do more than assert that life involves qualities or factors at present unrecognized by the physical sciences; it will have to say what sorts of things these qualities or factors are, how they work, and what relationship they have to known physico-chemical processes.

He addresses the idea of a new type of causal factor, unknown to the physical sciences, which interacts with physico-chemical processes within living organisms, and describes the vitalist philosophy, the organismic philosophy and the morphogenetic field philosophy and their contributions to this idea. Vitalist: there exists a new type of causal factor, unknown to the physical sciences which interacts with physico-chemical processes within living organisms. Conclusion: no repeatable results or predictions, therefore not valid scientifically.

Organismic: not everything in the universe can be explained from the bottom up in terms of properties or atoms or hypothetical particles. Recognizes the existence of hierarchically organized systems that possesses properties which cannot be fully understood in terms of the properties exhibited by their parts in isolation from one another (not deducible). Sheldrake favors A.N. Whitehead's description of everything as an organism, where "biology is the study of larger organisms...physics is the study of smaller organisms". Conclusion: no testable predictions, therefore not valid.

Morphogentic fields:
the term itself seems to imply a new type of physical field which plays a role in the development of form.
Conclusion:
the concept can only be of practical scientific value if it leads to testable predictions that differ from those of the conventional mechanistic theory.

Sheldrake's book is said to demonstrate the last conclusion. I find this interesting because it feeds right into our discussion of emergence and downward causation. There are hints that his work supports LePoidevin (cited in another post), so am looking forward to reading more.

Hope all well in your world!

Chestnut
 
Last edited:
  • #78
Hi Chestnut,
I haven't read anything by Sheldrake, so I looked him up on the net. Wikipedia has this on him:
His best known book, A New Science of Life, was published a week after the New Scientist article. He put forward the hypothesis of formative causation (the theory of morphic resonance)[3], which proposes that phenomena — particularly biological ones — become more probable the more often they occur, and therefore that biological growth and behaviour become guided into patterns laid down by previous similar events. He suggests that this underlies many aspects of science, from evolution to laws of nature. Indeed, he writes that the laws of nature are better thought of as mutable habits that have evolved since the Big Bang.
Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Sheldrake

also:

Sheldrake observed:
"The instructors [at university] said that all morphogenesis is genetically programmed. They said different species just follow the instruction in their genes. But a few moments' reflection show that this reply is inadequate. All the cells of the body contain the same genes. In your body, the same genetic program is present in your eye cells, liver cells and the cells in your arms. The ones in your legs. But if they are all programmed identically, how do they develop so differently?"
Sheldrake then became interested in "holistic" ideas after reading Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's works on the topic. He developed a theory to explain this problem of morphology, with its basic concept relying on a universal field encoding the "basic pattern" of an object. He termed it the "morphogenetic field".
The morphogenetic field would provide a force that guided the development of an organism as it grew, making it take on a form similar to that of others in its species. DNA was not the source of structure itself, but rather a "receiver" that translated instructions in the field into physical form.
Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphic_resonance

Is that an accurate description of any of his ideas? If so, I guess I'd understand why "The book jacket said the Royal Academy voted it the book most needing to be burned when it was published,".

I see the intro of his book is also given online at Amazon.com:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0892815353/?tag=pfamazon01-20
It seems to confirm what the Wiki article is saying. I don't believe there's any need to resort to morphogenetic fields though. What little I know about biology is that there are chemical concentrations throughout the body during growth which are responsible for organ development. I think someone in the biology area here could shed some light on this if you're interested.

Chestnut said: What I love to do is read the attempts to discuss the intangibles, the sums that are greater than the parts, something a layperson would call believing, or faith, or even self-evident, and see if it can be done. If it can...what a paper that would make!
Yes! Stapp's paper doesn't quite make it, though I'd agree with his conclusions. Do we need something more than reductionism and "weak emergence" to understand life? I believe we do, but I disagree with Sheldrake on the level at which that operates. Sheldrake from what I understand, is suggesting something along the lines of what Chalmers is suggesting, though Chalmers is careful not to say anything that might get his books burned! lol

I think the level at which 'strong emergence' operates (if you can call it that) is this mesoscopic level. Protein folding is discussed quite a bit in the Laughlin paper I mentioned. Is that physically irreducible? I think so, and I think there are a number of irreducible phenomena at this mesoscopic level. I think consciousness and life in general are also irreducible below the mesoscopic level, but not above. Above that level, I see no reason to resort to irreducible physical laws such as Sheldrake's morphogenetic field.

You quoted Sheldrake however in this statement I believe:
Any new theory capable of extending or going beyond the mechanistic theory will have to do more than assert that life involves qualities or factors at present unrecognized by the physical sciences; it will have to say what sorts of things these qualities or factors are, how they work, and what relationship they have to known physico-chemical processes.
Interesting. It's a valid point, though I don't think it necessarily supports his ideas about morphogenetic fields. I can understand now why you're interested in this topic though. I'd agree his ideas about this field is a form of strong emergence. It seems strong emergence ideas are rather vague. In Sheldrake's case, he seems to be much less vague but unfortunately I disagree with his concept as I don't believe we need anything more than classical mechanics to account for any phenomena at this level.

Have you given any thought to the difference between classical mechanics and quantum mechanics when it comes to emergence?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Similar threads

Replies
6
Views
5K
  • General Discussion
Replies
18
Views
5K
  • Beyond the Standard Models
8
Replies
264
Views
16K
  • Beyond the Standard Models
Replies
10
Views
1K
  • Programming and Computer Science
Replies
1
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
10
Views
2K
Replies
113
Views
19K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
7
Views
962
  • Quantum Physics
Replies
23
Views
2K
Back
Top