The question concerning emergence: Implications for artificiality

  • Ali S
  • Zimmer R
  • Elstob C
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This position paper has three parts. In the first part, a brief historical background and various modern formulations of the concept of emergence are presented. A number of problems associated with the concept are identified. One outstanding problem involves the incommensurability of secondary qualities (or phenomenal qualia) with materialist (externalist) ontologies. The intractability of this problem with respect to existing scientific approaches is an indicator of ontological category error, in this case, an attempt to subsume subjectivity into objectivity. In the second part, various attempts at solving the mind-body problem (of which the subjectivity-objectivity issue is a modern incarnation) are investigated and shown to be problematic. It is argued that these problems necessitate reconsidering the metaphysical foundations upon which the concept of emergence is grounded. In the third part, the notion of emergence is reconsidered and a new theory grounded in a synthesis of Heideggerian and Whiteheadian metaphysics is outlined. Finally, the implications of this synthesis for artificing (technology) are briefly considered. It is maintained that "strong" artificiality, the artifactual realization of natural phenomena such as life and mind, is impossible and that this result follows from the essence of artificing. Thus, ontology does not entail technology.

Author-supplied keywords

  • artificality
  • category problem
  • emergence
  • ontology
  • panexperientialism

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  • S. M. Ali

  • R. M. Zimmer

  • C. M. Elstob

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