Glenn Ellmers


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The Futility of Emergence

Is it ok to still post a question here? (I only discovered this blog recently. Not sure if anyone will see this.) Accepting that "emergence" is the wrong term, could someone tell me the right term for what I thought emergence referred to?

Someone mentioned water. Even if we knew a lot (everything?) about hydrogen and oxygen atoms, we would not be able to deduce fluid dynamics. There is something about water -- it's properties and behaviors -- that isn't reducible to its constituent parts in isolation, right? Scientific reductionism means we can drill everything down to its most elemental workings, but in some cases we can't drill up. We can't get to fluid dynamics (or other kinds of complexities) just by starting with hydrogen and oxygen atoms, the way we could hypothetically infer -- a la Laplace -- the position of the balls on a billiard table after the break.

What is that called?