Received: by alpheratz.cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk id AAA16421 (8.6.9/5.3[ref email@example.com] for cpm.aca.mmu.ac.uk from firstname.lastname@example.org); Wed, 13 Feb 2002 00:14:20 GMT Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 11:09:13 +1100 Subject: Re: Memes and Emergent Properties Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed From: John Wilkins <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit In-Reply-To: <email@example.com> Message-Id: <E99D654E-2015-11D6-8846-003065B4D1F0@wehi.edu.au> X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.480) Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org Precedence: bulk Reply-To: email@example.com
On Tuesday, February 12, 2002, at 10:08 PM, John Croft wrote:
> Hi Folks
> I have been reading up on emergent properties, and
> wonder whether the conception of Emergence applies to
> memes. Emergence is being used increasingly in a
> number of fields. ...
Emergence was initially defined WRT evolution by Jan Smuts, CL Morgan,
Samuel Alexander, CD Broad and RW Sellars in the 1920s. Bergson was in
there as well, but the overall idea goes back to Mill and _A System of
Logic_ c 1848.
Generally, emergence has been superseded as an ontological concept by
"supervenience (see Jaegwon Kim's book _Supervenience and mind_) but the
notion remains popular in philosophy of mind and computation.
I have to ask what the concept implies other than the fact that there
are things at one level of organisation we may not have expected, either
because we hadn't been capable of the derivation, or because we did not
have a full account of lower level phenomena. This is, of course, the
holism versus reductionism debate, and very sterile it is too, IMO. I
prefer GC Williams' characterisation of reductionism and holism in
biology as a function of the size of the glassware used.
-- John S Wilkins Head, Communication Services The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research Parkville, Victoria, Australia
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