Emergence

The Idea

Contributed by @philhagspiel |  Edited and curated by @philhagspiel

The interaction between simple things can create novel, complex and unpredictable systems.

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Finding Truth
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Systems Thinking
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A system can have properties that can hardly or not at all by explained by looking at the parts of the system individually.

In other words, emergence means that the whole can't be explained by what its parts do.

A few examples:

  • Language Individual sounds and even words don't have much of a meaning. However, when part of a system, the interconnection between words creates deep meaning over time, space and contexts.
  • Society
  • Cultural beliefs and values as well as institutions that govern our norms and standards only arise over long periods of time as the result of the interaction of millions of people.

  • Wetness
  • While a the water in a bucket is 'wet', none of the individual H2O molecules that make this have that same 'wetness' property — it arises only from an interaction between these individual molecules.

  • Life What we regard as life, complex as humans or simple as singular cells, arises from an interaction of molecules in a very specific and highly complex way — while none of the molecules is alive itself.
  • Corporate Cultures How working at a company feels like depends on the social dynamics and the hard to describe 'climate' that exists in relation to the organization — none of which can be explained by looking at individual people employees but only by studying the system of communication, processes and learned behavior between people.

Emergence is one of the most mysterious, yet powerful phenomena that govern the reality around us at every scale.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."

— Carl Sagan

Explore

This Kurzgesagt video on emergence gives a fascinating glimpse into the power and mystery of emerging phenomena in reality.

➞ For a highly technical perspective on emergence in the context of quantum physics, check out Sean Carroll's video explanation.

This Wikipedia article will teach you most of the fundamental aspects of emergence.

Resources

If this idea resonates with you, some of these resources might add value to your life.

MindVault Resources Master

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Read

A Short History Of Nearly Everything
Book

Bill Bryson

Read

Scale
Book

Geoffrey West

Read

Antifragility
Book

Nassim Taleb

Read

Fooled By Randomness
Book

Nassim Taleb

Read

Six Not-So-Easy Pieces
Book

Richard Feynman

Read

Six Easy Pieces
Book

Richard Feynman

Read

A Brief History Of Time
Book

Stephen Hawking

Listen

Lex Fridman Podcast
Podcast

Lex Fridman

Listen

Podcast

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Listen

Mindscape
Podcast

Sean Carroll

Listen

Podcast

Listen

Hidden Brain
Podcast

Listen

Invisibilia
Podcast

Watch

YouTube Channel

Watch

Crash Course: Statistics
YouTube Channel

Watch

YouTube Channel

Watch

YouTube Channel

Watch

Quanta Magazine
YouTube Channel

Watch

Physics Videos by Eugene Khutoryansky
YouTube Channel

Watch

YouTube Channel

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PBS Space Time
YouTube Channel

Watch

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Physics Girl
YouTube Channel

Watch

YouTube Channel

Watch

Minutephysics
YouTube Channel

Read

Lesswrong
Blog

Read

Edge.org
Blog

Check Out

Brilliant.org
Courses

Watch

Wondrium
Streaming Platform

Check Out

Udemy
Courses

Check Out

Khan Academy
Courses