Sunday, December 20, 2020

“Emergence” - A Handy Student Summary and Resources

 “Emergence” a students’ summary.      


My appreciation for “emergence” is a natural outgrowth of decades worth of proactive learning via the flow of fascinating new findings that Earth scientists, from geology to biology, to complex systems science, share with the world.

It seems self-evident to me that we can see emergence on a grand scale throughout the history of evolution, and also on the fine scale of my own mind and watching how accumulating understanding reaches certain breakthrough thresholds that have elevated my overall thinking to entirely new levels of (previously unimaginable) appreciation.

As a youth I accepted the Biblical reassurance: “Seek and ye shall find,” with time I discovered it’s a fundamental rule of nature.  Pay attention, remember, process your experiences and findings, then, once in a while, something goes pop, a veil drops and a whole new vista of understanding opens up.  To be folded into the rest of my understanding and echoed throughout my mindscape, where it blends in and retunes the previous state of affairs. 

Or to put it more simply, it feels to me like education and increasing knowledge of Earth’s evolution produces it’s own cascade of emergent awarenesses within our minds. For those paying attention, that is.

I bring it up because while surfing Google and YouTube for this C.A.R. project, I was surprised by some of the cynicism directed towards the notion of emergence and evolution.  Seems founded on misunderstanding, often willful, sometimes not.  All of it should be vulnerable to thoughtful, tactical, constructive, intellectual confrontation.  Unless we are changing minds, we are losing.  

Figure out how to take every cynical challenge and flip it around to a learning opportunity.  (The act of doing it, will teach you more, than you might be able to teach them.)

The confusion about "emergence" inspired me to collect this selection of YouTube videos that presents a variety of people, with varying expertise, explaining “emergence” within our physical reality, in a sober constructive manner.  I’ve also added some papers, though if you’re still interested in the topic by then, it’s time to visit GoogleScholar.  

Besides informing, hopefully this introduction to “Emergence” might inspire and help some with their own assignments. 


“Emergence” - A Handy Student Summary and Resources


Emergence (or: How Ants Find Your Picnic Basket): Jane Adams at TEDxGallatin

September 22, 2013 - TEDx Talks - 9:24 min

Jane Adams is a graduate of the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.  Her studies focused on the theory of emergence, the phenomenon by which simple systems governed by simple rules give rise to complex phenomena on a larger scale.


Life is an emergent property

February 15, 2017 - Tom Kennedy's Science - 8:25 min

Did you know that life is more than the sum of its parts? We are all made of the same basic building blocks, protons, neutrons, and electrons, yet at each level of organization from atoms, to molecules, to cells, to people, novel and sometimes unpredictable properties arise. Find out how life is an emergent property.


The Biggest Ideas in the Universe | 21. Emergence

August 11, 2020 - Sean Carroll - 1:33:40 min

Sean Carroll presents Idea #21, "Emergence." 

None of us is Laplace's Demon, so how are we able to successfully model the world even though we have incomplete information about it? The answer lies in the existence of higher-level patterns that emerge in the right circumstances. Special emphasis is placed on the emergence of a classical world from quantum mechanics.

Visit Professor Carroll’s website.


What is Emergence? Chris Fields

October 5, 2017 - scienceandnonduality - 9:42 min

In this short video the neuroscientist Chris Fields explains the scientific concept of emergence. He addresses some challenges that it presents to the scientific community and touches on the larger questions that it raises. 

Chris Fields uses concepts and tools from physics, information theory, evolutionary and developmental biology, and cognitive neuroscience in an attempt to understand how, and to what extent, one part of the world can be aware of another part of the world. Underlying this question is that of how observers draw boundaries around the systems being observed, including themselves. This later question raises, in turn, questions concerning the nature and awareness of time, memory and identity through time. Answers to these questions, however tentative, suggest approaches to open problems in cosmology, developmental biology, and the etiology of developmental disorders such as autism. 


Philip Clayton - How Can Emergence Explain Reality?

Aug 23, 2014 - Closer To Truth - 13:25 min

How does Emergence work? What does it say about reality?

Dr. Clayton is a constructive Christian theologian, deeply engaged in dialogues with science, contemporary philosophy, and the world’s religious traditions. He is particularly interested in the evolving understanding of Christian faith in the 21st century. 


The Re-Enchantment of Humanity: Dr. Stuart Kauffman

 February 7, 2012 - UVMcomplexity - 37:56 min

The mixture of quantum and classical is neither deterministic -- after Newton and Einstein -- nor quantum random -- after Schrodinger and von Neuman. The world is new. But what does this mean for the social and natural sciences?

On December 2, 2011, the Vermont Complex Systems Center at the University of Vermont invited Dr. Stuart Kauffman (along with Professors Christopher J. Koliba and Brian Beckage) to discuss this far-reaching topic as part of the Complex Systems Spire Speaker Series


Unit 1 Emergent Properties

August 8, 2013 - Jack Murnan - 27:01 min

A textbook review of Unit 1 Emergent Properties.


Cell Theory - Emergent Properties + Differentiation

October 10, 2013 - Alex Lee - 11:10 min

Cell Theory - Emergent Properties + Differentiation

From his YouTube channel:

I've created videos for the entire IB Biology SL and HL syllabus that I teach including Options A, D, and E.  I have used the powerpoints, notebooks, and other visuals that I normally use in my class and I hope they help in your understanding of the topics.  Focus on the BIG PICTURE of biology and you will see how a few major themes run through this amazing field of science.  Good luck with your studies and let me know if there is anything that I can do to help you along.


22. Emergence and Complexity

February 1, 2011 - Stanford - 1:42:29 min

(May 21, 2010) Professor Robert Sapolsky gives a lecture on emergence and complexity. He details how a small difference at one place in nature can have a huge effect on a system as time goes on. He calls this idea fractal magnification and applies it to many different systems that exist throughout nature.




Exploring universal principles and emergent properties of biological complexity across levels of life

NSF Reintegrating Biology Workshop Vision Paper

Atlanta, Georgia December 6, 2019

Sarah Maurer, Central Connecticut State University​

Dustin R. Rubenstein, Columbia University

Problem and Importance

Across all levels of biological organization, simple units often combine to create more complex ones: atoms combine to form molecules, cells aggregate to form tissues, individuals group to form societies, species assemble to form communities. This general pattern of biological assembly is often referred to as an increase in biological complexity across increasing levels of life, an idea framed in an evolutionary sense by the formation of a cooperative group followed by a transition to a new level of organization (Maynard Smith and Szathmáry 1995). Yet, this and other frameworks of biological assembly have served more as heuristic tools and have proven challenging to test empirically across levels of biological organization. Indeed, testing the idea that basic rules underlie biological assembly remains a fundamental but unsolved problem.

Although there are obvious connections between levels of biological organization in the ways that biologists think about this idea, exemplified by common key words like “function and structure”, “interaction/signaling”, and “robustness/resilience”, t​esting any unifying model of biological assembly requires “currencies” that are comparable across levels. Two such ​universal currencies​ that have received attention previously but remain only loosely linked through different levels of biological organization are ​energy​ and ​information​. It is likely that there are other universal currencies that we are not yet able to measure or have not yet considered, but we focus on these two currencies here.

Our Proposal

We propos​e to develop ​a unifying model of biological assembly that spans all levels of biological organization and builds from the idea that an increase in biological complexity is associated with changes in a universal principle (e.g. from physics) or force (e.g. natural selection) that can be quantified and compared across levels by using universal currencies like information or energy. One example of how we might approach addressing these forces at higher levels may be thinking about functional specialization, a topic we outline below. …


Understanding the Brain’s Emergent Properties

Don Miner and Marc Pickett and Marie desJardins 

Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering University of Maryland


In this paper, we discuss the possibility of applying rule abstraction, a method designed to understand emergent systems, to the physiology of the brain. Rule abstraction reduces complex systems into simpler subsystems, each of which are then understood in terms of their respective subsystems. 

This process aids in the understanding of complex systems and how behavior emerges from the low-level interactions. We believe that this technique can be applied to the brain in order to understand the mind and its essential cognitive phenomena. Once a sufficient model of the brain and mind is created, our framework could then be used to build artificial general intelligence that is based on human intelligence.  …


On the Solvability of the Mind–Body Problem

Jan Scheffel - 02 August 2019

volume 30, pages 289–312(2020) - Axiomathes


The mind–body problem is analyzed in a physicalist perspective. By combining the concepts of emergence and algorithmic information theory in a thought experiment, employing a basic nonlinear process, it is shown that epistemologically emergent properties may develop in a physical system. Turning to the significantly more complex neural network of the brain it is subsequently argued that consciousness is epistemologically emergent. Thus reductionist understanding of consciousness appears not possible; the mind–body problem does not have a reductionist solution. The ontologically emergent character of consciousness is then identified from a combinatorial analysis relating to universal limits set by quantum mechanics, implying that consciousness is fundamentally irreducible to low-level phenomena.


Understanding consciousness is a central problem in philosophy. The literature produced through the centuries, relating to the ‘mind–body’ problem, is also vast. A subset of some 2500 articles on theories of consciousness can be found in PhilPapers (2019). An apparent difficulty lies in the fact that while we normally seek scientific understanding from a reductionist perspective, in which the whole is understood from its constituents, consciousness has for millions of years naturally evolved into an extremely complex system with advanced high-level properties.

The theoretical difficulties we have faced strongly suggest that fundamentally new ideas are needed for the mind–body problem to reach its resolution. In this work it is argued that emergence, combined with results from algorithmic information theory and quantum mechanics, is such an idea. …


Emergent Properties

Aug 10, 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The world appears to contain diverse kinds of objects and systems—planets, tornadoes, trees, ant colonies, and human persons, to name but a few—characterized by distinctive features and behaviors. 

This casual impression is deepened by the success of the special sciences, with their distinctive taxonomies and laws characterizing astronomical, meteorological, chemical, botanical, biological, and psychological processes, among others. 

But there’s a twist, for part of the success of the special sciences reflects an effective consensus that the features of the composed entities they treat do not “float free” of features and configurations of their components, but are rather in some way(s) dependent on them.


The point generalizes to more complex and longer-lived entities, including plants and animals, economies and ecologies, and myriad other individuals and systems studied in the special sciences: such entities appear to depend in various important respects on their components, while nonetheless belonging to distinctive taxonomies and exhibiting autonomous properties and behaviors, as reflected in their governing special science laws. 

The general notion of emergence is meant to conjoin these twin characteristics of dependence and autonomy. It mediates between extreme forms of dualism, which reject the micro-dependence of some entities, and reductionism, which rejects macro-autonomy. …




Cc’s Students’ Study Guide for The Case Against Reality

©2020 Peter Miesler
I intend to be a witness for a fact based DeepTime, 
Evolutionary perspective on our “human mind” -“physical reality” interface.


Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball in Zero-Gravity, a critical review of, The Case Against Reality:  Why Evolution Hid The Truth From Our Eyes, by Donald Hoffman, ©2019, W.W.Norton Company

(1.01)  The Prelude, Prof Donald Hoffman Playing Basketball In Zero-Gravity

(1.02)  Chapter 10a, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (1/3)

(1.03)  Chapter 10b, Community: The Network of Conscious Agents (2/3)

(1.04)  Chapter 10c, Cmty: Network of Hoffmanian Conscious Agents (3/3)

(1.05)  Chapter 1, Mystery: The Scalpel That Split Consciousness

(1.06)  Chapter 2, Beauty: Siren of the Gene

(1.07)  Chapter 3, Reality: Capers of the Unseen Sun

(1.08)  Chapter 4, Sensory: Fitness beats Truth

(1.09)  Chapter 5, Illusory: The Bluff of the Desktop

(1.10)  Chapter 6, Gravity: Spacetime is Doomed

(1.11)  Chapter 7, Virtuality: Inflating a Holoworld

(1.12)  Chapter 8, Polychromy: Mutations of an Interface

(1.13)  Chapter 9, Scrutiny: You Get What You Need, in Both Life and Business

(1.14)  Appendix,  Precisely: The Right to Be (Foolish)


Hoffman/Prakash’s Objects of ConsciousnessObjections and Replies

Frontiers in Psychology - June 17, 2014

(2.01)  4/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness,  (conclusion)

(2.02)  1/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (1-12)

(2.03)  2/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (13-17)

(2.04)  3/4_Hoffman, Objects of Consciousness, questions + replies (18-21)


(3.01)  Diary - But, wait!  There's more.  Ten Learned Responses:

Probing the interface theory of perception: Reply to commentariesDonald D. Hoffman, Manish Singh & Chetan Prakash" 

Psychonomic Bulletin & Reviewvolume 22, pages1551–1576(2015)


We propose that selection favors nonveridical perceptions that are tuned to fitness. Current textbooks assert, to the contrary, that perception is useful because, in the normal case, it is veridical. Intuition, both lay and expert, clearly sides with the textbooks. We thus expected that some commentators would reject our proposal and provide counterarguments that could stimulate a productive debate. ...

(3.02)  Barton Anderson - Where does fitness fit in theories of perception? 


(3.03)  Jonathan Cohen - Perceptual representation, veridicality, and the interface theory of perception. 


(3.04)  Shimon Edelman - Varieties of perceptual truth and their possible evolutionary roots. 


(3.05)  Jacob Feldman - Bayesian inference and “truth”: a comment on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash. 


(3.06)  Chris Fields -Reverse engineering the world: a commentary on Hoffman, Singh, and Prakash, 

“The interface theory of perception”. 


(3.07)  Jan Koenderink - Esse est Percipi & Verum est Factum. 


(3.08)  Rainer Mausfeld - Notions such as “truth” or “correspondence to the objective world” play no role in explanatory accounts of perception. 


(3.09)  Brian P. McLaughlin and E. J. Green Are icons sense data


(3.10)  Zygmunt Pizlo - Philosophizing cannot substitute for experimentation: comment on Hoffman, Singh & Prakash. 


(3.11)  Matthew Schlesinger Interface theory of perception leaves me hungry for more. 



Student Resources - Background info:

(4.01)  Rainer Mausfeld: ‘Truth’ has no role in explanatory accounts of perception.
(4.02)  Paul Mealing: considers Hoffman's "Objects of Consciousness.”
(4.03)  The Case For Reality: Because Apparently Someone Needs to Make One
(4.04)  Sabine Hossenfelder in Defense of Scientific Realism and Physical Reality
(4.05)  "Emergence" - A Handy Summary and Resources
(4.06)  Physical Origins of Mind - Dr. Siegel, Allen Institute Brain Science, Tononi, Koch.
(4.07)  Can you trust Frontiers in Psychology research papers?  Students' Resource
(4.08)  Critical Thinking Skills - In Defense of Reality - A Student Resource
(4.09)  Philo+Sophia - Love of Wisdom - A Student Resource



(5.01)    Summary, 

explaining why I pursued this project.


Dr. Mark Solms deftly demystifies Chalmers’ “Hard Problem” of Consciousness, while incidentally highlighting why Hoffman’s “Conscious Agents” are luftgeschäft. 

(6.01)  Dr. Mark Solms demystifies Chalmers' "Hard Problem" of Consciousness.

(6.02)  The Other Side of Dr. Mark Solms, farmer, vintner, humanitarian.

(6.03)  Students’ Resource: A representative cross-section of Dr. Mark Solms' scientific publications.


My homemade philosophical underpinning . . . 


(7.01)  An Alternative Philosophical Perspective - “Earth Centrism     
(7.02)  Appreciating the Physical Reality ~ Human Mindscape divide          
(7.03)  Being an element in Earth’s Pageant of Evolution
(7.04)  It’s not a “Body-Mind Problem,”  it’s an “Ego-God Problem.”

Feel free to copy and share

Email: citizenschallenge  gmail  com


Students Introduction to Reality Based Brain/Consciousness Research

The Mind as a Complex Mathematical System with Emergent Properties, Daniel Siegel

A Scientific Explanation of the Human Mind | Daniel Siegel

Dan Siegel: The Neurological Basis of Behavior, Mind, Brain and Human Relationships, Part 1 to 3 

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

Consciousness: here, there and everywhere?  Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch

Video, Giulio Tononi on Consciousness

The Integrated Information Theory of Consciousness, Dr. Christof Koch,

Allen Institute for Brain Science

Allen Brain Observatory: Visualizing the brain in action

Allen Cell Types Database: Understanding the fundamental building blocks of the brain

Allen Institute for Brain Science,  Coding & Vision 101, 12-part undergraduate-level lecture series

Brain Expansion Microscopy, Harvard Medical School,

Lattice light-sheet microscopy

Gut bacteria and mind control: to fix your brain, fix your gut!

New center advances biomedical and brain imagingUniversity of Delaware,

Stunning Brain Map Reveals Tiny Communication Network

Brain Research: New Discoveries and Breakthroughs at UC Davis


Some Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Perceptual Systems, Historical Background, Innate And Learned Classical perceptual phenomena, Broad theoretical approaches, Current research/future developments.


Ecological approaches to perceptual learning: learning to perceive and perceiving as learning

Agnes SzokolszkyCatherine ReadZsolt Palatinus, et al., 2019

The Essential Elements of an Evolutionary Theory of Perception

Eric P. Charles, 2017,

The evolution of early symbolic behavior in Homo sapiens

Kristian Tylén, Riccardo Fusaroli, Sergio Rojo, et al. PNAS 2020

The Evolution and Fossil History of Sensory Perception in Amniote Vertebrates, March 21, 2018 

Evolutionary Specialization of Tactile Perception in Vertebrates

Eve R. SchneiderElena O. Gracheva, and Slav N. Bagriantsev, 2016

Evolutionary Psychology and the Emotions

Leda Cosmides & John Tooby, Handbook of Emotions, 2000

The evolution of modern human brain shape

Simon Neubauer, Jean-Jacques Hublin and Philipp Gunz, 2018:

Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System

Rainer Mausfeld, PhD.

Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology

By: Stephen Burnett, PhD, Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):75

Ch.17. A Hierarchical Model of the Evolution of Human Brain Specializations

H. Clark Barrett

Surroundings and Evolution Shape Human Sight, Smell and Taste

by: Andrea Korte, February 19, 2017


The bottom line, courtesy of:

Mysteries of Modern Physics by Sean Carroll

Jan 29, 2020  -  Darwin College Lecture Series

Sean Carroll,  10:45

. . .  these are the particles that make up you and this table and me and this laptop and really everything that you have ever seen with your eyes touched with your fingers smelled with your nose in your life. 

Furthermore we know how they interact with each other and even better than that, the most impressive fact is that there will not be a discovery tomorrow or next century or a million years from now which says you know what there was another particle or another force that we didn't know about but now we realize plays a crucial role in our everyday life. 

As far as our everyday life is concerned by which I really mean what you can see with your eyes touch with your hands etc we’re done finding the underlying ingredients. That is an enormous achievement in human history one that does not get enough credit, because of course as soon as we do it we go on to the next thing.  

Physics is not done.  I'm not saying that physics is done, but physics has understood certain things and those things include everything you encounter in your everyday life - unless you're a professional experimental physicist or unless you're looking of course outside our everyday life at the universe and other places where we don't know what’s going on. … 


Peter Miesler

aka citizenschallenge

email:  citizenschallenge at gmail

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