Self-Organizing Systems

— giving us a universe of surprise


Quotes re emergence (various sources)

“The behavior of large and complex aggregates of elementary
particles, it turns out, is not to be understood in terms of a simple
extrapolation of the properties of a few particles. Instead, at each new
level of complexity entirely new properties appear.”
P. W. Anderson, More is Different, Science, Aug., 1972

“Weather is an emergent property: take your water vapor out over the
Gulf of Mexico and let it interact with sunlight and wind, and it can
organize itself into an emergent structure known as a hurricane.”
P. W.Anderson quoted in Complexity by M. Mitchell Waldrop

“The origin of life and the origin of man were evolutionary crises,
turning points, actualizations of novel forms of being. These radical
innovations can be described as emergence, or transcendencies, in the
evolutionary process.”
Theodosius Dobzhansky, The Biology of Ultimate Concern, 1967

“Life is not a circular process, doomed to endless cycles of recurrence,
each emergence to a higher level brings with it unexpected and
unpredictable elements... When processes reach a certain point of
development, they reveal unexpected characteristics which surpass
the limitations of their earlier conditions.”
Lewis Mumford, The Conduct of Life, 1951

“Internal complexity can translate a simple change into a wondrous
alteration of quality... Perhaps the greatest evolutionary invention, the
origin of consciousness, required only an increase in brain power.”
Stephen Jay Gould, Bully for Brontosaurus, 1991