Emergence in evolution and the causal role of synergy

  • If reductionism and a search for deterministic, predictive 'laws' of nature represented the dominant research strategy – and world view – of the scientific community during the 20th century, 'emergence' has become a major theme, if not the dominant approach in the 21st century, reflecting a major shift of focus toward the study of complexity and complex systems. However, this important 'climate change' in the scientific enterprise has been accompanied by much confusion and debate about what exactly emergence is. How do you know it when you see it? Or don't see it? What are its defining properties? Is it possible to predict emergence? And is there more to emergence than meets the eye? Beyond these meta-theoretical issues, there is a deep question that is often skirted, or even ignored. How do we explain emergence? Why does emergence emerge? Here, I will briefly recount the history of this important concept and will address some of the many questions that surround it. I will also consider the distinction between reductionist and holistic approaches to the subject, as well as the distinction between epistemological and ontological emergence (that is, the ability to deduce or predict emergence versus the concrete reality of an emergent phenomenon). I will argue that living systems are irreducibly emergent in both senses and that biological evolution has quintessentially been a creative emergent process that is fully consistent with modern (Darwinian) evolutionary theory. Furthermore, as I will explain, novel 'synergies' of various kinds have been responsible for the 'progressive' evolution of more complex living systems over time. e selective advantages associated with emergent, synergistic effects have played a major causal role in the evolutionary process.

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Author:Peter A. Corning
Parent Title (German):Synergie : Kultur- und Wissensgeschichte einer Denkfigur ; Trajekte
Publisher:Wilhelm Fink
Place of publication:Paderborn
Editor:Tatjana Petzer, Stephan Steiner
Document Type:Part of a Book
Year of Completion:2018
Year of first Publication:2016
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2018/06/29
GND Keyword:Emergenz; Synergie; Evolution
Page Number:19
First Page:129
Last Page:147
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 80 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft / 800 Literatur und Rhetorik
Sammlungen:CompaRe | Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht