Nice breakdown of Emergence from a Researchgate question by Vincent Vesterby
What Emergence Is
At its simplest stage, emergence is the coming into existence, as a consequence of the motion of matter, of a pattern-of-material-organization that was not there just previously. The pattern-of-material-organization is newly existent—emergent.
Any group of material objects has a group-pattern-of-organization composed of the objects and the distance and direction relations between them. The motion of even one of the objects will initiate new distance and direction relations between the object that moves and all the other objects in the group—resulting in a newly existent group-pattern-of-organization, a newly emergent pattern-of-material-organization.
FOUNDATIONAL STAGES OF EMERGENCE DUE TO SIX DIFFERENT FACTORS
Emergence Due to Sequential-Enhancement
As one of the objects of a group of objects moves among the other objects, there is a continuous change of the distance and direction relations of that moving object with the other objects. There is continuous creation of emergent pattern-of-material-organization due to the continuous change of distance and direction relations.
The motion of an object through space is a sequentially occurring process. Consequently, the change of distance and direction relations due to that motion occurs sequentially. There is a continuous sequential emergence of newly occurring pattern-of-material-organization.
The occurrence of something new in a situation constitutes an enhancement of that situation. The occurrence of new part of the ongoing motion, the occurrence of the new distance and direction relations between the moving object and the other objects, the occurrence of the continuous sequence of new group-patterns-of-organization, are all sequentially occurring enhancements of the situation—sequential-enhancement.
The simplest, basic, form of emergence, that based on the motion of an object in relation to other objects in its group, with consequent emergence of new group-pattern-of-organization, is emergence due to sequential-enhancement.
Emergence Due to Combinatorial-Enhancement
When well separated objects move into close association with one another, they together form a group. A group comes into existence—it emerges as a consequence of the converging motion of the objects. The coming into existence of the group, as a consequence of the converging objects, is an enhancement of the situation—combinatorial-enhancement.
With the emergence of the group there is also the emergence of hierarchic organization. The group, as a whole, constitutes the top level of the hierarchic organization, and the individual objects that are the components of the group constitute the lower level.
An emergent hierarchic level generally has qualities that do not occur at lower levels. As a simple example, a group is always larger than any individual component of the group. A more complex example occurs in multilevel hierarchic organization where each level exists as a combination of the components of the lower levels such that the components of each level are different in what they are from the components of lower levels. An atom is different from the elementary particles of which is composed, and a molecule is different from the atoms of which it is composed.
It can also happen that an emergent quality, property, level, object, or system can have one or more qualities that also occurred as qualities of the lower level components. Isomorphies are the perfect example. A particular isomorphy can occur at multiple levels of a highly complex hierarchy. This often happens with the development of an isomorphy.
The hierarchical organization of material reality—from protons, atoms, and molecules, to planets, stars, and galaxies—from organelles, cells, and organisms, to social systems and ecosystems—is the result of emergence due to combinatorial-enhancement.
Emergence Due to Adjacent-Relation
When one object is moving on a direct path towards another object, the motion will bring the two objects closer and closer together, until there is no space between them. A new organizational pattern emerges—adjacent-relation. With adjacent-relation there are the two objects existing there together as a group. There is the direction-relation between them, but because there is no space between the objects, there is no distance-relation—an emergent group-pattern-of-material-organization with a direction-relation but no distance-relation.
When there is no space between the objects, the substantiality of the one object will be in direct contact with the substantiality of the other object.
The contact-relation comes into existence—the contact relation emerges.
The basic definition of emergence states that emergence occurs when the motion of matter results in the coming into existence of a pattern-of-material-organization (in space, in structure, and/or in process) that was not there just prior. This descriptive-definition is centered on pattern-of-organization, and in this case adjacent-pattern-of-organization emerges. But with the emergence of the contact-relation, something additional happens—the emergence of a supraorganizational-factor.
The situation where contact emerges has organizational aspects, such as the direction- and the adjacent-relations between the objects, but there is more involved in the emergence of contact. This event is based on the nature of matter, its materiality, its substantiality.
In prior cases of emergence, the matter played three distinct roles. It occupied space, it moved, and it was a component of a pattern-of-organization. Now the matter plays another role due to its substantiality—one part touches another part, one part contacts another part.
The emergence of the supraorganizational-factor, contact, is the result of the roles of the adjacent-relation between objects and the inherent substantiality of those objects.
Emergence Due to Blocked Motion
When one object is moving on a direct path towards another object, the motion will eventually result in a collision between the objects. The motion of the one object will result in a push against the other object. This push is the emergent factor.
Motion and sequential-enhancement play their roles here, continuously changing the distance relation between the objects, shrinking the pattern-of-organization between them until combinatorial-enhancement occurs and they become a group. Eventually the two objects constitute a group with no space between them, and emergence due to adjacent relation occurs in conjunction with the substantiality of the objects, with the consequent emergence of the supraorganizational-factor, the contact relation. The one object plays a blocking role, and the momentum of the other object plays a role that results in the emergent push.
Multiple factors play roles here that result in the emergence of push.
Push, like contact, is a supraorganizational-factor. There are organizational factors involved, such as the direction relation between the objects, and the directional orientation of the push, but there is more involved in the emergence of push. This event is based on the nature of matter, its materiality, its substantiality, now interrelating with motion and the consequent momentum the moving object has when blocked.
Emergence Due to Push
In a group of objects that are not moving relative to one another, when one of the objects moves, comes into contact with, and pushes against one of the other objects, that second object will begin to move relative to the other objects in the group. The motion resulting from the push will change the distance and direction relations of that newly moving object with all the other objects in the group. New group-pattern-of-organization will emerge.
This is a two-stage emergence event—the emergence of the motion due to the push, and the emergence of the new pattern-of-organization due to the motion of the pushed object. With the emergence of motion there is the concurrent emergence of new pattern-of-organization.
Motion is a supraorganizational-factor. There are organizational factors involved with motion, such as the direction of the motion, but for motion to occur there must be a role for substantiality—it is matter that moves.
With emergence due to push, there are two concurrent emergent products, the motion of the pushed object, and the emergent group-pattern-of-organization. The emergence of the supraorganizational-factor, motion, results in the concurrent emergence of new pattern-of-organization.
The emergence of the two prior supraorganizational-factors, contact and push, did not result in the emergence of new pattern. Neither contact nor push itself results in change of direction or distance relations between objects. Change of direction and distance relations requires the supraorganizational-factor motion.
Emergence Due to Coherence
Units of matter stick together, they bond, they cohere. This is a stage in the development of combinatorial-enhancement. Units of matter not only come together to form a group, they join together, in a variety of ways, to form structure. For example, when atoms join together to create molecules, each type of molecule has a specific pattern-of-structural-organization of the component atoms.
Coherence is a supraorganizational-factor based on the nature of matter, its materiality, its substantiality. Like the previous supraorganizational-factors, coherence has organizational aspects, such as the directional relation between the coherent objects, and their positional-orientation to one another—what side of the one object is coherent to what side of the other object. And, as with the other supraorganizational-factors, there is more to coherence than the organizational factors. Matter bonds to matter in a variety of ways, from covalent bonding of atoms to Velcro strips sticking together, with all these different ways of bonding the result of what matter is, the result of the intrinsic nature of what it is that is substantial.
When coherence occurs—when coherence emerges—structure emerges.
When the supraorganizational-factor coherence emerges, the organizational-factor structure emerges.
Structure is an emergent form of pattern-of-material-organization.
When coherence occurs, a new pattern-of-organization emerges, and it does so in an emergent form of pattern-of-material-organization.
Thus, as when motion is emergent there is concurrent emergence of group-pattern-of–material-organization, when coherence is emergent there is concurrent emergence of structural-pattern-of-material-organization.
EMERGENCE AT HIGHER LEVELS
Foundationally, emergence in its simplest form, is based on (a) material components, (b) relations between those components, (c) pattern-of-material-organization, (d) motion, and (e) sequential-enhancement.
These foundational components are present in all developed forms of emergence, together giving each case, form, stage, or level of emergence its intrinsic identity as an instance of emergence.
At each hierarchic level there are emergent factors, emergent patterns-of-material-organization, that did not occur at, nor play roles at, prior lower levels, but that can play their roles at the level at which they are emergent, and also at levels that are higher yet. These emergent factors can play roles in the nature of emergence at the higher hierarchic levels of the organization of material reality—resulting in the developed forms of emergence.
At high levels, hundreds or thousands of factors can be involved in the process of emergence, as for example in the process of biological evolution. Nonetheless, the foundational components of the process of emergence, the foundational form of emergence, will be there within these highly complex forms of emergence, making it possible to identify the highly complex forms as cases of emergence.
To understand the complex forms of emergence, it is necessary to identify the foundational components and their roles as they occur within the highly developed forms. Because the basic components themselves will likely be in developed form, it might take some effort to recognize them.