Is there a theory or alternative or nonconventional explanation to the phenomena of emergence? Emergence state that we can't predict chemistry or biology from physics alone, because there are properties that emerge from the interactions of many particles. So because in a computer simulation, we have the same thing as in our world, but the properties of emergence in a video game can be explained by a game engine, are there alternative explanations to emergence and what are they?

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    "Emergence state that we can't predict chemistry or biology from physics alone, because there are properties that emerge from the interactions of many particles." Physics also models the interactions.
    – wizzwizz4
    2 days ago
  • You may find this answer relevant, counterposing emergent phenomena to reductionism, as contrasting modes of explanation: 'What's the "opposite" of emergence?' philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/81417/…
    – CriglCragl
    10 hours ago

2 Answers 2


The question of emergence is entangled with the mystery of supervenience or general talk of "levels of reality." In some sense, we can interpret a presumed base level as some sets (of properties), and emergent levels involve sets of those sets (and properties of those properties). So emergence becomes the physical manifestation of higher-order logic, perhaps.

For example, there are different proof structures on different "levels of logic" (different sublevels of the logical level of reality, even). Some things that can be proven in some form, in some way, on one level, are either perhaps unprovable even in principle if formulated on some other level, or at any rate their proof becomes a different matter (if dependent, for some of its content, on the weaker (or in another sense stronger) logic's functionality).

Oddly, for example, we have a rather keen sense of how long some proofs in some theories (or subtheories) would have to be (to really be proofs, so to say), even if we don't otherwise quite know in advance what these proofs would consist in. We also know that we "can't" have a finitely axiomatizable theory of non-absolute sets, but at least some theories of absolute proper classes can be finitely axiomatized. So we can logically switch from infinite-proofs-by-schematism to infinite-proofs-by-class-induction, which presumably affects some sort of "required length of proof" parameter, here.

Anyway, the Lévy hierarchy also showcases how subtle shifting and compounding of logical "dynamics" can yield factive structures (or (structural) facts about (structural) facts) where different levels might be styled as featuring "emergent (logical) phenomena." And so again, if there is ever a deep enough mirroring from logical to physical space, perhaps via a Tegmark circuit in an in re realist realm (of mathematical objects), then perhaps physical emergence is a reflection of logical and mathematical (qualitative) emergence (even from largely quantitative permutations).


There's no universal consensus on what emergence is. The notion of emergentism as a philosophical doctrine has more than one interpretation. If you're looking for alternative explanations, start with the general encyclopedic references, such as weak and strong flavors of emergent properties (SEP). This IEP article on emergence has the following distinctions:

The British Emergentists

  • J. S. Mill
  • Samuel Alexander
  • C. Lloyd Morgan
  • C. D. Broad

Later Emergentism

Kinds of Emergence

  • Strong and Weak Emergence
  • Synchronic and Diachronic Emergence

As you can predict, in philosophy, there's a lot of hairsplitting over exactly emergence and the belief in it entails!

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