File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1998/bhaskar.9807, message 14

Date: Mon, 06 Jul 1998 15:50:33 +1000
Subject: BHA: emergence

I am sorry this has taken so long bing an office worker it is hard to get the time to concerntrate.  There will need to be a second installment but as the issue has emerged within the list I to post it as is.

Reading of Emergence to a point.

Initially I want to pull various threads in this section together and try and develop an alternative structure based on: defining the concept; dealing with superstructuration; reflections on Hegel, implications for philosophy and history.

Emergence is where a new entity, structure, totality or concept is generated out of or arise from pre-existing material.  Thus emergence is both ontological and epistemological. RB gives us a clue to a specific ontological example of emergence in the foot note on the bottom of page 52 when he raises the issue of contemporary ecological findings.  Thus we see the emergence of the greenhouse effect from the burning of coal or the emergence of the hole in the ozone layer as a result of the use of CFCs and Halons by industrialised humanity.

Emergence is a 1M category of non-identity, specifically ontological and a stratificaltional dialectic. *Dialectics of M1 are typically dialectics of superstructruation, stratification and emergence* p237.  The epistemological example of emergence that RB sites is *chemical phenomena had first to be classified, described and explained in a dialectic of sui generis chemical principles before any explanatory reduction to physics could take place.*p 51.

Emergence consists in the formation of two types of superstructure:

Model A superstructuration - superimposition of the emergent level on the pre-existing one; and

Model B intrastructuration - intra-position of the emergent level within the pre-existing one.

RB combines these models with the principle that *higher order agencies set the boundary conditions for  the operation of lower order conditions* to unravel the *old Marxian conundrum of the superstructures* p53.  That is does base determine superstructure as Marx suggests in German Ideology

*On Model A we can readily say that it is the relations of production which determine the boundary conditions for the operation and development of the forces of production, and similarly the relationship between polity and economy.* The example offered here is in the capitalist society the economy determines the how the principles of engineering are put to use.

Under Model B the base *provides the framework principles for or conditions of possibility for the =A1higher level*. .* The example offered here is the spread of postmoderist culture occurs within the context of global capitalist comodification.

RB also argues that there is no reason why these models should not be deployed concurrently and that Model A and B *do not exhaust the formal possibilities, especially once one allows extrateous, contra-punctual and transvoid action.*

The Philosophy

Against mind/body dualism RB argues that emergence provides the link between =A1intentional embodied agency=A2 (the power to do) and our biological matter.  That is the power to do is emergent from our body. *... it is in virtue of our complex biological constitution that human agents have the powers we do;* p51.

Against reductionism =A1intentional embodied agency=A2 is irreducible to its material basis.  *...reasons (that are acted on) are just causes*.

Thus we have *the constillational identity of being and thought in the sense that thought is both (a) within being, but (b) over-reached by being, as (c) an emergent product of being.* p115

Scientific activity then is guided by reasons as causes.  *Scientists co-determine an empirical result, but for =A1intentional causal agency=A2 would not have occurred; yet at the same time potentially affords us empirical access to the real, transfactually efficacious, but normally empirically counterfactual causal structures of the world.* 

This is all fine up to the *but normally empirically counterfactual* I don=A2t get it.  There is a footnote which says *from which Nancy Cartwright=A2s =A1How the laws of physics lie=A2 Oxford 1983, derives its actualist title.

The essential manoeuvre against reductionism is to introduce human agency with her emergent casual powers which in an open, stratified world is inconsistent with actualism, because =A1intentional causal agency=A2 reintroducing the possibility of real novelty.  Ontological actualism is the *reduction the necessary and possible, constitutive of the domain of the real, to the actual.* p393.

Further in an open system which includes the possibility of real novelty, determinism which assumes an event was bound to happen before it was caused is unsustainable and represents *a confusion of ontological determination and epistemological predeterminism.*

The statement that the causal efficacy of reasons *links 1M causally efficacious determinations to 2E transformative negation (and the critique of actualism to that of monovalence)* needs greater explanation.   In relation to the link between M1 and 2E the metatheorm *that a reason can be a cause, and to cause is to negate is to absent (transfactually, rythmically, potentially holistically and possibly intentionally)* p281 provides greater clarity.

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