Emergence and Convergence: Qualitative Novelty and the Unity of Knowledge

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University of Toronto Press, 2003 - Science - 330 pages
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Two problems continually arise in the sciences and humanities, according to Mario Bunge: parts and wholes and the origin of novelty. In Emergence and Convergence, he works to address these problems, as well as that of systems and their emergent properties, as exemplified by the synthesis of molecules, the creation of ideas, and social inventions.

Along the way, Bunge examines further topical problems, such as the search for the mechanisms underlying observable facts, the limitations of both individualism and holism, the reach of reduction, the abuses of Darwinism, the rational choice-hermeneutics feud, the modularity of the brain vs. the unity of the mind, the cluster of concepts around 'maybe,' the uselessness of many-worlds metaphysics and semantics, the hazards posed by Bayesianism, the nature of partial truth, the obstacles to correct medical diagnosis, and the formal conditions for the emergence of a cross-discipline.

Bunge is not interested in idle fantasies, but about many of the problems that occur in any discipline that studies reality or ways to control it. His work is about the merger of initially independent lines of inquiry, such as developmental evolutionary biology, cognitive neuroscience, and socio-economics. Bunge proposes a clear definition of the concept of emergence to replace that of supervenience and clarifies the notions of system, real possibility, inverse problem, interdiscipline, and partial truth that occur in all fields.

 

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This is an excellent book on Systemic Thinking that deals with any discipline as a whole. It is left to the genius of Bunge to avoid the common pitfalls of thinking. He avoids both reductionist and holistic views and sort of strikes a middle ground or a middle path.
He says that both the forest and the trees are important to look at. We can't choose one for the other. Accordingly, he highlights the limitations of both individualism and holism.
Systemic thinking generally lacks mathematical rigor. Bunge uses modern mathematics to explain the concepts extremely well.
An excellent book that arms a reader to study reality 'as it is' and think of ways to control or change its outcomes.
This book must be considered as a landmark book in the development of Systemic Thinking process.
A must read for anyone interested in serious thinking.
Dibyendu De
dde337@gmail.com
 

Contents

Introduction
3
Part and Whole Resultant and Emergent
9
System Emergence and Submergence
26
The Systemic Approach
40
Semiotic and Communication Systems
53
Society and Artefact
70
Theoretical
82
Practical
97
Credibility
226
Probabilistic Epistemology
228
Plausibility or Verisimilitude
232
Towards a Plausibility Calculus
233
Concluding Remarks
235
Emergence of Truth and Convergence to Truth
237
Towards an Exact Concept of Correspondence
239
Partial Truth
241

Three Views of Society
112
Reduction and Reduction ism
129
A Pack of Failed Reductionist Projects
149
Why Integration Succeeds in Social Studies
168
The Case of Mental Functions
179
Connectionism
183
Localization of Mental Functions
185
Functional Interdependence of Neural Modules
187
From Mystery to Scientific Problem
188
Two Convergence Processes
191
Concluding Remarks
194
Rationalchoice Theory and Hermeneutics
196
Divergence and Convergence
197
Methodological Individualism
199
Subjective Process and Observable Behaviour
201
Inverse Problems
203
Figuring Out Mediating Mechanisms
206
The DelinquencyUnemployment Relation
208
Concluding Remarks
209
The Case ofMaybe
213
Logical Possibility
214
Factual Possibility
217
Likelihood
220
Relation between Frequency and Probability
221
Probability Chance and Causation
223
The Emergence of the Knowledge of Truth
245
Truthcentred Ethics and Ideology
247
Concluding Remarks
249
Emergence of Disease and Convergence of the Biomedical Sciences
250
What Kind of Entity Is Disease?
252
Diagnosis as an Inverse Problem
253
Knowledge of Mechanism Strengthens Inference
256
Bayesian Number Juggling
259
Decisiontheoretic Management of Therapy
261
Medicine between Basic Science and Technology
263
Concluding Remarks
266
The Emergence of Convergence and Divergence
268
Convergence
270
Caution against Premature Unification
272
Why Both Processes Are Required
274
Logic and Semantics of Integration
277
Glue
278
Integrated Sciences and Technologies
280
Concluding Remarks
282
GLOSSARY
285
REFERENCES
293
INDEX OF NAMES
315
INDEX OF SUBJECTS
323
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About the author (2003)

Mario Bunge is the Frothington Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at McGill University.

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