Emergence: conceptual and philosophical aspects

DIEP Workshop | 9th May - 11th May 2019 | @ Mediamatic  (Sluisdeurenloods room) | Amsterdam | Dijksgracht 6

Robert Batterman

Piers Coleman

Nigel Goldenfeld

Elena Castellani

Alexandre Guay

Angelo Vulpiani

Eleanor Knox

James Ladyman

Martha Lewis

Stephen Blundell

Max Cooper

Organizers: Jay Armas, Jeremy Butterfield, Sebastian De Haro, Klaas Landsman

An invitation to emergence | workshop aims

The phenomenon of emergence seems to pervade a broad class of disciplines while simultaneously being notoriously difficult to define in precise terms. Philosophers and scientists have attempted to catalogue different aspects and distinguish between distinct types of emergent behaviour. Artists, inspired by some of these ideas, have attempted to portray it in a variety of forms. The result of this multiplicity of endeavours is far from a unified theory or common perspective on emergence. The usefulness of the notion of emergence in terms of its explanatory power and ability to provide understanding of new phenomena depends on the possibility of taming its pervasiveness. A conceptual analysis should help in giving generalized accounts of the phenomenon of emergence, to distinguish different kinds of emergence as well as to shed light on the importance of emergence for the understanding and explanation of scientific phenomena. The workshop aims at bringing together conceptual analyses and examples of emergence in different sciences (including physics, astronomy, cosmology, chemistry, earth science, biology) in order to better understand its scientific importance.

Invited speakers (confirmed)

Robert Batterman

(University of Pittsburgh)

James Ladyman

(University of Bristol)

Stephen Blundell

(University of Oxford)

Piers Coleman

(Rutgers University)

Martha Lewis

(University of Amsterdam)

Max Cooper

(Artist/performer)

Nigel Goldenfeld

(University of Illinois)

Alexandre Guay

(University of Louvain)

Eleanor Knox

(King's College London)

Angelo Vulpiani

(University of Rome, La Sapienza)

Programme (registration closed):
All talks by invited speakers will take place at Mediamatic, room Sluisdeurenloods.
Thursday, 9th of May
16:00-16:15  Opening comments by Klaas Landsman
16:15-17:15  Nigel Goldenfeld (abstract)
17:15-18:15  James Ladyman (abstract)
18:15-19:15  Drinks
 
Friday, 10th of May
09:00-10:00  Piers Coleman (abstract)
10:00-11:00  Stephen Blundell (abstract)
11:00-11:30  Coffee & Tea break
11:30-12:30  Max Cooper (abstract)
12:30-13:30  Lunch
13:30-14:30  Martha Lewis (abstract)
14.30-16:30  Contributed talks 1 (abstracts)
Session A (Sluisdeurenloods room): Joshua Rosaler, Kohei Morita, Quentin Rodriguez, Alexander Franklin
Session B (Haeckel room): Guido Bacciagaluppi, Katie Robertson, Manus Visser, Bixin Guo
16:30-17:00  Coffee & Tea break
17:00-18:00  ​Contributed talks 2 (abstracts)
Session A (Sluisdeurenloods room): Joseph Kouneiher, Samuel Fletcher
Session B (Haeckel room): Vanessa Seifert, Simon Friederich
18:30-22.00  Workshop dinner at Mediamatic
Saturday, 11th of May
10:00-11:00  Robert Batterman (abstract)
11:00-11:30  Coffee & Tea break
11:30-12:30  Contributed talks 3 (abstracts)
Session A (Sluisdeurenloods room): Olivier Sartenaer, Alex Moran
Session B (Haeckel room): Marta Conti, Erica Onnis
12:30-13:30  Lunch
13:30-14:30  Angelo Vulpiani (abstract)
14.30-15:30  Eleanor Knox (abstract)
15:30-16:00  Coffee & Tea break
16:00-17:00  Contributed talks 4 (abstracts)
Session A (Sluisdeurenloods room): Núria Muñoz Garganté, Tiziano Ferrando
Session B (Haeckel room): Thomas Durlacher, Sander Beckers
17:00-18:00  Alexandre Guay (abstract)
18:00-18:15  Closing comments by Jeremy Butterfield
Abstract (Nigel Goldenfeld): Emergence and Minimal Models
I attempt to demystify the notion of emergence, by explaining with simple examples how it arises.  In particular I highlight the importance of emergent generalized rigidity, which is often overlooked in general discussions.  I explain also how emergence relates to notions of complexity, and can be exploited by minimal modelling.  Examples are given from the author's own work in a variety of topics including turbulence, high temperature superconductivity, pattern formation and synthetic biology.
Abstract (James Ladyman): What does complexity science tells us about emergence?
This paper considers some of the varieties of emergence in complexity science, and identifies several important features that different complex systems exemplify in different ways. It explains what it means to measure complexity and argues that there is no single concept of complexity.
Abstract (Piers Coleman): Emergence and Reductionism: An awkward Baconian Alliance

Reductionism is the marvelous idea that as we take matter apart to its smallest constituents, and understand the laws and forces that govern them, we can understand everything. Emergence, by contrast, is the intriguing idea that as matter comes together, it develops novel properties and unexpected patterns of collective behavior. Reductionism and emergence are often regarded as conflicting world-views.

I'll contrast reductionism and emergence, showing they compliment one-another. Often, a deep understanding of reductionist physics depends on understanding its emergent consequences. Thus energy was unknown to Newton, Leibniz, Lagrange or Hamilton, because they did not understand heat and understanding the weak force awaited an understanding of the Meissner effect in superconductivity.

Taking examples from current research, I will discuss how the link between emergence and reductionism continues to link the lab with the cosmos.

Abstract (Stephen Blundell): Emergence and causation: storytelling for multi-particle creatures in a complex Universe

Physical models frequently treat few-particle systems in an empty Universe. In reality, we are multi-particle creatures endowed with conscious attributes, making deductions about a complex and messy world. Powerful insights may be obtained from the field of condensed matter physics which is concerned with the properties of large numbers (say, N = 10^23) of atoms or molecules in a crystalline lattice. The largeness of N leads to emergent properties in low-energy physical phenomena which are not present in single atoms or molecules. The principal barrier to reductive accounts is the large size of N which substantially exceeds the number of ideas one can carry in one’s head at one time. In fact, the physical limits of the human mind define the nature of the explanations and stories that we can process. This observation illuminates the nature of science and our attempts to find convenient descriptions of (i.e. tell stories about) the world, as well as re-framing our accounts of causation.

Abstract (Martha Lewis): Language change and concept composition

This talk will discuss a notion of meaning, in which the meaning of words emerges within a community of language users, through pairs of individuals using those words. I will discuss some of the recent literature and results concerning this notion of meaning and its application to artificial intelligence. I will then go on to talk about compositionality - the idea that the meaning of a phrase should depend on the meaning of its parts and the rules used to combine them, and finally how compositionality interacts with emergent meanings.

Abstract (Martha Lewis): Language change and concept composition

This talk will discuss a notion of meaning, in which the meaning of words emerges within a community of language users, through pairs of individuals using those words. I will discuss some of the recent literature and results concerning this notion of meaning and its application to artificial intelligence. I will then go on to talk about compositionality - the idea that the meaning of a phrase should depend on the meaning of its parts and the rules used to combine them, and finally how compositionality interacts with emergent meanings.

Abstract (Robert Batterman): Emergence and Universality

This talk argues that the presence of universal behavior is an indicator of the emergent nature of that behavior.  Building on some early work by Kadanoff, I focus on a conception of stability that is important for understanding the relative autonomy of universal behavior and the sense in which it is emergent as well.  I focus on two examples, the emergence of critical phenomena and the emergence of continuum behavior as expressed by the continuum equations of fluid mechanics and the Navier-Cauchy equations for elastic materials. I stress the importance of mesoscopic parameters---order parameters and material parameters---for the both characterizing universal emergent phenomena and for the explanation of that phenomena.  I address some objections in the philosophical literature to the understanding of universal, and hence, emergent phenomena by appeal to the renormalization group.

Abstract (Angelo Vulpiani): Probability, Typicality and Emergence in Statistical Mechanics

The mathematical relevance of the probability theory for the statistical mechanics is obvious. From a physical and conceptual point of view the basic problem is the nature of the link between the probabilistic computations (i.e. the averages over an ensemble) and the actual results obtained in experiments which, a fortiori, are conducted on a single realisation (or sample) of the system under investigation.

With the aid of simple analytical computations in stochastic systems, and neat numerical simulations of deterministic Hamiltonian systems, we revise the basic features of irreversibility at a macroscopic level and, thus, of the foundation of the second principle of thermodynamics as drawn by Boltzmann.

Emphasis will be put on the fact that, in systems characterized by a very large number of degrees of freedom, irreversibility is already manifested at a single-trajectory level for the vast majority of the far-from-equilibrium initial conditions, a property often referred to as typicality.

Abstract (Alexandre Guay): Composition and diachronic emergence

In this talk I will explore a compositional mystery about the relation between electrons and anyons in the context of the fractional quantum Hall effect. I will show how considering the fraction quantum Hall effect as a diachronic emergent state limits drastically the possible composition relations sustainable.

Abstract (Max Cooper): The Aesthetics of Emergence

Part lecture and part audio-visual live show, I will present some of my artistic work exploring emergence from an aesthetic perspective as part of my career as a systems biologist turned electronic musician.

Abstract (Eleanor Knox): Emergence and Novel Explanation

Jeremy Butterfield has argued that emergence is novel and robust behaviour. Much has been written about robustness, but novelty is less well analysed. This talk will argue that one important form of novelty is the novel explanatory value that comes with certain kinds of variable changes. It will illustrate the point with one example from physics (that of phonons) and another from biology (outputs of neural nets in lobsters).

Abstracts: Contributed talks

There are a total of 20 contributed talks. For abstracts and titles, download the file here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Registration (free)

Registration is now closed. The number of available spaces are limited. For more information send us an e-mail to info@d-iep.org

Organisers

Jácome Armas

(University of Amsterdam)

Jeremy Butterfield

(University of Cambridge)

Sebastian De Haro

(University of Amsterdam)

Klaas Landsman

(Radboud University)

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