Argument: Synchronic emergence across categories, e.g. the mental from the physical, is insoluble because the concurrence of events eliminates the time for intervening process. Diachronic emergence within a category, e.g., a chemical reaction, evolution, is a process of part-to-whole transformation. The emergence (synthesis) of parts to wholes is not an assemblage of parts to aggregates, but the perishing of partlike wholes as they are replaced by larger ones that also perish. Every whole embodies a potential implicit in the capacity of its parts to be united. The synthesis of parts to wholes is their replacement by this potential. In this sense, the whole is prior to the parts. The unity of an object is a temporal phenomenon. Temporal order appears in the surface progression of nature. More deeply, it is the passage through the precedence in becoming.


Identity Theory Mental Property Actual Object Brain State Part Transition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    K. Popper and J. Eccles, The Self and Its Brain (New York: Springer, 1981). Popper argues that objective probabilities underlie the possibility of emergent entities. Probability, however, only makes room for, i.e., entitles or logically enables, emergence; it does not explain it.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A.N. Whitehead, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1919), 12.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    C. von Ehrenfels, Uber Gestaltqualitaten. Vierteljahrschrift für wissenschaftliche Philosophie 14:(1890). There are prior references, R. Frondizi: The Nature of the Self, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1953). Lao-tse in 600 B.C. may have been the first to refer to whole-part relations in his Tao-te-ching: “the sum of the parts is not the whole.”Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For example, the relation in size of the visible universe to the earth, the earth to an atomic nucleus, and a nucleus to a superstring is roughly of the same magnitude. See F. Dyson, Infinite in All Directions, Gifford Lectures (New York: Harper & Row, 1985); D. Bohm, Causality and Chance in Modern Physics (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    As Scaltsas put it, elements are consumed by their unification, the relation between elements “destroys the relata, leaving nothing standing but the whole,” T. Scaltsas, “Is a Whole Identical to Its Parts?” Mind 99(1990):583–598. From a different perspective, Heller writes, “We do not start with parts and somehow build extended wholes out of them; we start with filled regions of spacetime and then look to the relationships between those regions to discover the part-whole relationships between objects.” M. Heller, “Things Change,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52(1992):695–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 7.
    On whole-part relations in Gestalt psychology, see B. Smith, ed., Foundations of Gestalt Theory (Munchen/Wien: Philosophia Verlag, 1988); D. Sweet, “The Gestalt Controversy: The Development of Objects of Higher Order in Meinong’s Ontology,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53(1993) 553–575. For some theorists, e.g., Köhler, emergentism was not obligatory.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    For the history of the concept, see C. L. Morgan, Emergent Evolution (New York: Holt, 1931); B. McLaughlin, “The Rise and Fall of British Emergentism,” in Emergence or Reduction: Essays on the Prospects of Nonreductive Physicalism, ed. A. Beckermann, H. Flohr, and J. Kim (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1992).Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    D. Baxter, “Many-One Identity,” Philosophical Papers 17(1988):193–216.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    For Lewis, composition is identity; D. Lewis, Parts of Classes (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    T. Horgan, “From Supervenience to Superdupervenience: Meeting the Demands of a Material World,” Mind 102(1993):555–86. Also, papers in A. Beckermann, H. Flohr, and J. Kim, Emergence or Reduction.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 12.
    S. Alexander, Space, Time, and Deity (London: Macmillan, 1920).Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    The identification of properties rather than the events on which the properties depend would seem to be a ploy to satisfy the logical demands of identity theory and avoid the deeper problem of subjectivity or the actual nature of the identity. For an insightful discussion of these issues, see, J. Kim, “On the Psycho-Physical Identity Theory,” American Philosophical Quarterly 3(1966):227–35.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    M. Bunge and R. Ardila, Philosophy of Psychology (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1987).Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    J. Van Cleve, “Mind-Dust or Magic,” Philosophical Perspectives, 4, Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind (Atascadero, CA: Ridgeview, 1990), 215–226.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    C. Sherrington, The Integrative Action of the Nervous System (1906; reprint New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1947).Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    Penrose comments on the subjective element in the judgment of “manifest” (macroscopic) disorder. R. Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Personalised recommendations