Emergence Is Coupled to Scope, Not Level

Alex Ryan, arXiv, Oct 18, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Very nice paper (PDF). Some really good observations, including:
- that emergence should be defined by scope rather than level (in my own work I have described it by levels, and not really considered defining it as anything) - and of drawing the distinction (last paragraph) between global and local scopes
- the question of whether emergence is a perceptual (or epistemic) property (ie., 'recognition') as I have defined it, or whether it is an ontologically 'real' property - this paper takes a broad position that it is ontological, but I don't agree with the argument ("Naissance emergence is an ontological concept, since in light of the preceding discussion it cannot be epistemic.")
- that the limitation of mathematical models of emergence is the lack of entropy (which restricts the number of possibilities) - I would contrast this with (mathematical) discussions of scale-free networks
- the description of the phenomenon of 'scaling' - eg. the spread of a disease is the 'scaling' of an emergent property in a network
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