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Human Implications

AngadSingh's picture
I'm interested in emergence's 'human' implications, primarily socio-economic behavior and interaction. In my mind, emergence retains a certain mystical quality typically reserved for theologies. It's imbued with transcendental powers, offering explanations for a diverse set of phenomena, from the big bang to coral reefs to the market economy. Though the concept remains opaque, I'm searching for a perspective that can provide insight into the most troubling aspects of human existence (marginalization, poverty, etc). Even if these phenemona possess no emergent qualities, some of their contributing factors (markets, social groupings, evolution) may prove susceptible to emergent analysis. As we struggle to achieve justice, knowledge, or a high salary, emergence is just another potential angle of analysis that can be utilized to serve some end. The term has a positive connotation to the extent that it can help achieve worthwhile ends (or be intellectually stimulating, I suppose).


LauraKasakoff's picture

I am skeptical about the role of emergence as a science that could possibly "achieve worthwhile ends" for humanity. Although there may be a myriad of natural phenomenon that show emergent tendencies, I am having trouble grasping how emergence could lead to a theory of everything. I don't think that emergence can be found everywhere, but I don't think that finding emergence everywhere is necessarily the way that emergence can help the human race. What I like about emergence is that the subject aims to use tools from a variety of disciplines in order to answer some of the most challenging and (in my opinion) most interesting philosophical questions. I think if the study of emergence in our world can help us better understand concepts such as intelligence, rationality, and free will, and in this way it can have great human implications.
AngadSingh's picture

I don't think explaining everything is a requisite for emergence to have material significance. I'm sorry if I implied that. But I would not undercut emergence's ability to explain more material stuff than intelligence, rationality, and other abstractions. For instance, the segregation model we observed the other day offers some insight into racial segregation - which is inextricably linked with marginalization, poverty, and other social systems I referenced in my post. Admittedly, the model is not perfect (or close to it) - but it is useful and unique method of analysis. This method of analysis, even if only marginally unique and useful, can complement more traditional forms of analysis - and in this manner, increase our understanding of these social stratifications and "achieve worthwhile ends" I certainly recognize the idealistic strains in my posts - hope you can bear with me
Doug Blank's picture

Skeptisicm is good! And I am skeptical of your skepticism! I do beleive that "emergence" will help ""achieve worthwhile ends" for humanity" and is worthy of scientific pursuit on many levels. But I don't think there will be a "science of emergence", per se. As Julia said, once you put on your "emergence-colored glasses" you may begin to see it everywhere. I think *it* is everywhere, whatever *it* is. For me, it is just that, a way of thinking, a perspective. Not a science, but a set of ideas that help one understand interactions. I hope it will help us understand ourselves, and our world.