Emergence

  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (187K)

    The Impossible Possibility: Divine Causes in the World of Nature

    "The ontology presupposed in this paper is an ontology of emergence, which I have elsewhere called emergentist monism. On this view there is only one natural world (hence dualism is false). But as this one 'stuff' becomes organized in more and more complicated ways, new properties emerge. Although their manifestation is dependent on the properties of the underlying particles, and thus ultimately on the laws of physics, their behavior is irreducible to any of the underlying levels. Hence the natural world evidences the emergence of genuinely new properties. At each level of emergence, new structures obtains and new causal forces are at work. We can extend the structure of emergence downward to address questions of fundamental physical law, and we can extend it upwards to come to a better understanding of conscious, and ultimately spiritual, properties. I have therefore argued that emergent causal levels reflect the hierarchical structure of the natural world and may help to elucidate the nature of divine action (though they are not identical to it)."
  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (65K)

    Part 2: The Emergence Of Spirit

    "...[T]he last few decades have brought an important new opening for science-based reflection on the nature of God. This opening lies in the ascendance of the concept of emergence, and more recently in the development of the new field of Emergence Studies. What is this new concept, and why does it so clearly give rise to speculation about God? Finally, assuming that it does, what might one conclude about the nature of God based on the new sciences of emergence?"
  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (211K)

    Part 1: The Emergence of Spirit

    "I believe that it is possible to develop a philosophy of the emergence of spirit in which the sciences (and meta-scientific reflection) provide the major touchstones. Foes, and perhaps even friends, may see this project as a return to Hegel; and surely it is Hegelian in scope (and in some other ways that experts will recognize). But it’s equally true to say that emergence theory turns Hegel on his head no less radically than Feuerbach did. Where “the rational necessity of the dialectic” once ruled, we now appeal to empirical results and an analysis of their implications. We believe we see in the natural world an open-ended process of increasing complexity, which leads to qualitatively new forms of existence."
  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (242K)

    Emergence, Supervenience, and Personal Knowledge

    "Although I will not continue to use the term 'supervenience' in the final section of this paper, you could understand the position on human personhood being defended as a version of emergentist supervenience. Rather than offering you a survey of the most recent articles and books on emergence — which has become a rather impressive body of literature — let me describe the decision points that one faces and then argue for a particular position on the nature of mind or personhood. To advocate an emergence approach is already to have made certain decisions. It is to reject reductionist physicalism, the belief that all adequate explanations will finally be given in the terms of contemporary physics. On the other side, it is to reject substance dualism, the view that there are two distinct kinds of substances. (In the substance dualism of Descartes, for example, these were res cogitans and res extensa, thinking and extended substance)."
  • File

    Clayton, Philip

     (323K)

    Neuroscience, the Person and God: An Emergentist Account

    "Strong forms of dualism and eliminative materialism block any significant dialogue between the neurosciences and theology. The present article thus challenges the 'Sufficiency Thesis,' according to which neuroscientific explanations will finally be sufficient to fully explain human behavior. It then explores the various ways in which neuroscientific results and theological interpretations contribute to an overall theory of the person. Supervenience theories, which hold that mental events are dependent on their physical substrata but not reducible to them, are explained. Challenging the determinism of 'strong' supervenience, I defend a version of 'soft' supervenience that allows for genuine mental causation. This view gives rise in turn to an emergentist theory of the person."
  • File

    Jargodzki, Christopher

     (104K)

    From Reductionism to Emergence: Science Takes A Cooperative Turn

    "The present essay explores the implications of the claim that the reductionist program in science has reached the stage of diminishing returns and is now giving way to the emergentist approach. This development has been particularly acute in physics, where it is exemplified by the continuing debate between the two Nobel laureates, Philip Anderson, arguing for emergence, and Steven Weinberg, espousing reductionism...Despite the fact that for the last 400 years reductionism has been quite successful in explaining the behavior of the natural world, lately there has been a growing realization of its shortcomings. These include difficulties with constituent reductionism as one delves into the subatomic realm described by quantum mechanics and relativistic physics, as well as the removal of the observer from the domain of nature that we endeavor to understand."
  • File

    Peacocke, Arthur

     (228K)

    Emergence, Mind, and Divine Action: The Heirarchy of the Sciences in Relation to the Human Body-Brain-Mind

    "The hierarchy of complexity (both synchronic and diachronic) observed by the sciences in the natural world will be interpreted in terms of an 'emergentist monism' which is non-reductive; which attributes an influence of the properties and states of higher levels upon their components; and which, because of such a 'causal' relation, justifies the attribution of reality to higher-level properties and states. It will be proposed that such a metaphysic also applies to the body-brain-mind-society complex of the human person and so warrants the the putative reality of reference of mental (and indeed spiritual) terms when applied to human persons -- as well as providing valuable clues to the nature of divine action."