The Metaphysics of Emergence
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About the Book
Everything in the Universe has emerged, in some sense, since the Big Bang. But the concept of emergence is problematic and controversial. The Metaphysics of Emergence contends that the contemporary philosophical debates are vitiated by the persistence of the traditional assumption that what primarily exists are particular entities: things. Instead it presents a sustained argument for recognizing generic processes as primary.
This radical alternative finds support from interpreting the sub-atomic 'particles' of contemporary physics as nodes in a quantum field, and resolves long-standing problems of explaining identity over time. Campbell then proceeds to develop a metaphysical taxonomy of emergent entities, showing how all biological creatures maintain themselves by changing their interaction with their environments. This approach enables a fruitful account of emergence, and provides reasons to reject the widespread view that reality is determined by its physical basis. The book concludes with a discussion of human mentality, values, and freedom.
About the Author
Richard Campbell AM is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at The Australian National University. He has served as Dean of Arts and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the ANU, and was for 15 years also involved in restructuring the system of school education in the Australian Capital Territory. In 1986 he was installed by Queen Elizabeth II as a Member of the Order of Australia. He is author of Secondary Education for Canberra (1973), From Belief to Understanding (1976), Truth and Historicity (1992), The Concept of Truth (2011), and numerous articles.
indiscernibles is restricted so as the exclude the predicate ‘being identical to’, this principle implies that identity is a matter of logical necessity. If x and y have the same properties without restriction, since “ ... = x” is a relational property, and “x = x” is necessarily true, it follows from the principle that “x = y” is necessarily true. Since many philosophers wish to maintain that identity is contingent, they have to restrict the scope of relevant properties. Perhaps all that is
usually, but unsatisfactorily, translated as “activity”; Sachs (1999) translates it as “being-at-work”). For Aristotle, energeia is an ultimate idea, not definable by anything deeper or clearer, but grasped directly from examples, at a glance, by means of analogy (Met. 1048a38–9). The primary sense of the word refers to those actions which are complete only when their ends have been achieved – as distinct from what he calls ‘motions’. The contrast is exemplified in the following passage (Met.
cells, and sometimes limbs or skin, in their cycles of regeneration. What is critical is whether the constituting organization of the organism remains self-constituted and self-maintained. Recursive self-maintenance and the ability to perform actions are holistic features which come into being only when integrated and cohesive systems emerge which can sustain their own existence despite being in far-from-equilibrium states. Entities are constituted by their internal processes interacting in ways
Life 187 Some recent research suggests that language was more likely to have developed from systems of gestures than from expressive (non-linguistic) vocalizations (Fay et al. 2014). The experiments which support this view involved pairs of modern human participants being required to communicate a range of pre-specified items (emotions, actions, objects) over a series of trials to a partner using either non-linguistic vocalization, gesture or a combination of the two. Although these results
2007, 105). Renfrew points out, however, that there was no single Neolithic revolution because humans had by this time dispersed widely across the globe (delayed in the cases of America and Oceania by tens of thousands of years) and there was little contact between the continents (2007, 120). 188 The Metaphysics of Emergence into the ‘theoretic’ stage, as it is characterized by ‘institutionalized paradigmatic thought’. The driving force in the evolution of cognition from this time until the