POST 23 – 3-12-2014
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In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence is conceived as a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties. In philosophy, almost all accounts of emergence include a form of irreducibility (either epistemic or ontological) to the lower levels. Also, emergence is central in theories of integrative levels and of complex systems. For instance, the phenomenon life as studied in biology is commonly perceived as an emergent property of interacting molecules as studied in chemistry, whose phenomena reflect interactions among elementary particles, modeled in particle physics, that at such higher mass—via substantial conglomeration—exhibit motion as modeled in gravitational physics. Neurobiological phenomena are often presumed to suffice as the underlying basis of psychological phenomena, whereby economic phenomena are in turn presumed to principally emerge.
Emergence seems a rather passive concept, suggesting that things emerge only when a special set of conditions arises by some sort of natural process. This may be true of natural occurrences but once humans get involved, there may be intentional human intervention that can provide a more active process – perhaps “breakthrough”. – or is there some better word?
The definition I have quoted above suggests that the emergent entity or phenomenon will be more complex than the predecessor. This may not always be the case, for example the biological evolutionary process may lead to specialisation with a simpler outcome such as in the case of parasites organisms including viruses appear to have evolved from more complex beings.
As I awoke from a recent afternoon nap I was ruminating about my last blog post about CREATIVITY, and began to consider whether I could ask Helen Kennedy, an artist I know, to take some of the ideas from that and paint something from its immateriality.
The prints and paintings of Helen Kennedy enquire into the relationships between colour and the phenomenon of light. Kennedy’s work investigates the many contradictions and dualities of light, both its immateriality and its ability to create three dimensional spaces. Her work explores the empty space between areas of structure or matter, and light between the visible and invisible worlds.
I was attracted to her ability to give a reality to her concepts of light and colour. If she could do that I guessed she might attempt to do so for the phenomenon of emergence.
I wondered, idly, whether I could have a go at it myself, as the ideas are mine, not anyone else’s. My lack of skills in that medium discouraged me.
Then the variant thought came to me. It should have been quite obvious but it was not.
My medium is words, especially on occasions of deep emotion, poetry.
I got up and went to the computer and produced this:
The new thing, the variant, springs into the mind as a surprise in there, and it will blend with the old. It will merge to give me something new that emerges for me to understand, to explain, to depict, to share. It calls upon my skill to convey its meaning so others will share the new idea. This brainchild from my own journey, my experience. My gift to you and to others. How do I depict emergence?
My mind is full
Of all those things
Accumulated over the years
From instinct, emotion, experience
From experiment, from learning
Held together by memory
Fitting together in a fugitive story
Recalled in a mix of the real and the imagined
Held in the prepared soil of the mind’s effort to see reality
And then a surprise, the unexpected, is there
A variant, an error, a mutant
Blend it, merge it, test it
Grasp it, hold it, never let it go
It may be precious.
Something new may have emerged
Mould and manipulate it
To show its message, its meaning
So as to be real to me
So I can make something that will be real to you