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Emergence, The Societies Hidden From Plain Sight

Updated: May 28, 2019

By: Robin Taraksh Yadav


Interaction is a fundamental action that we perform on a daily basis: from the elementary conversations to the most convoluted lectures and speeches we mingle, we share, we converse. Our interactions form groups and communities which progressively build up to societies, and each time we collect, a larger property is created. Little do we know, the inanimate entities that surround us and make up our universe are much more similar to us than we realize...

Emergence, although a definite concept, is an ambiguous one.

An Introduction to Emergence

A single molecule of water is pretty useless. It can bond with other molecules, add itself to a compound, and take part in other similar #reactions. That action has no significance when compared to the scale of the world. On the other hand, the collective #action of many has an effect unattainable in the previous state of individual molecules, many molecules cause wetness, they create the rivers and oceans that envelope the planet. These are emergent properties, ones that are formed by the collective #behaviour of a multitude of systems and cannot be acquired individually.

Although it is difficult to focus on the many facets of emergence to come up with a definition. We can say that it is a novel property, one which may be depending on the existence of a system, and is created due to a collective force of said aforementioned systems. All of which is greater than and different than its constituents. A whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Emergence and the #environment

Emergence can be found in abundance almost everywhere, take into account one of the most common examples: ant colonies. A single ant has no substantial ability. When observing this single ant, , would you be able to tell that a collective force could form a colony run by chemical substances? Emergence requires an inclusive approach that focuses on observation as a whole rather than a reductionist approach of surveying sub-systems.

In terms of physics, emergence tends to focus upon macroscopic scales. These can include snowflakes formed by physical interaction of water molecules with aid from environmental factors such as temperature, another physical emergent property of average kinetic energy of molecules. Eventually, the formation of environmental components by emergence can take place at an exponential rate, fabricating changes or creating new environments by weather events such as snow storms or blizzards.

This leads to the production of producing a structure comprising of distinctive patterns of organization, entitled integrative levels. As a result, new descriptive categories are necessary for the different levels when referring to phenomena that involve emergence. As emerging macro-level phenomena cannot be described within the vocabulary applicable to its parts; these features require new terms and concepts to classify them.

Evolution and Biology

Emergence can also be found in abiogenesis, which is the process that outlines the result of #life with the origin of inanimate matter such as organic molecules and compounds. Atoms form compounds and molecules, which in turn form polypeptides, proteins, cells and so on until an organism is created. Emergence has links toward evolutionary biology due to the fact that it shows increments in the complexity of life. Apart from that, emergence is also related to the formation of consciousness via the neurons and other components of the brain, given by the term noogenesis.

Emergence is one of the most complex and mesmerizing properties of the #universe, probably the most arcane property. It tells us how the world is constructed around us and even how the most microscopic bodies have their own conversations that enable us to eat toast, crunch candy, binge-watch #Netflix, and read this article.


Yaneer Bar-Yam (12 Aug. 2011) “Concepts: Emergence.” Evolution, Retrieved 22 Feb. 2019.

“Emergence.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Feb. 2019, Retrieved 24 Feb. 2019.

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