Emergence is about how complex and coordinated behavior can evolve out of relatively simple systems. In this essay I discuss 3 types of emergence; only one of which I think has been more widely recognised. These theories relate to the basic understandings and ways that humanity has viewed itself and will view itself……
Adam Smith and Charles Darwin made remarkable discoveries about systems science. They both discovered emergence. These discoveries in their respective fields were powerful and amazing.
Adam Smith postulated that if you had all these people acting in self-interest that a certain order would emerge. He called this the Invisible Hand. Game theory and computer simulations of complex adaptive systems have taken his theory a step further and have since shown that if you have all these agents acting in selfish ways really complex behavior will emerge. (For some of the pioneering work in this area see for instance the research that comes out of the Santa Fe Institute.)
Darwin postulated that beginning the idea that individual organisms undergo small changes from generation to generation and the idea that fitter organisms survive that new types of organisms will emerge.
This discovery of emergence has been very powerful. And so these theories have gone onto become quite famous. However because the two theories has also been bundled in with the assumption that individuals are always acting selfishly the popularity of these theories has led people to assume that people and organisms always act selfishly at the fundamental level.
What we now need to do is unbundle the two concepts : emergence and motivation.
When we do that we realise that we can also have emergence with organisms that are loving and caring.
With that fundamental and powerful shift in assumptions we can build a theory of evolution that takes into account that organisms are loving, empathic, and caring of each other. Emergence will also happen if we assume that love exists. And emergence will happen in rather different ways than if each individual was only looking after itself.
The theory of complex adaptive systems can also look at situations where we begin with the assumption that agents are compassionate and care about each other. If we make computer simulations based on these behaviors we will see that emergence will still happen but in rather different ways than if we assume all agents are selfish. This field of loving complex adaptive systems will be an exciting new area of study.
In the field of economics we can begin with the fundamental assumption that people care about each other to varying degrees. In every interaction we also empathic to what the other wants. If we do that order will also emerge in a society. Markets will still self-organize, albeit in somewhat of a different way than conservative economics theories postulate. E.g. Supply and demand curves can be somewhat different when we people are not just looking for the best deal for themselves, that they also care about what the seller wants. Emergence still happens, but in a different way. And this emergence will be a very powerful one, we will discover that it will lead to even more coordination and complex harmonization than the Invisible Hand of Adam Smith could achieve.
So I’ve discussed two different types of emergence
1. emergence assuming selfish agents
2. emergence assuming agents who care about each other
There is also a third type of emergence.
3. emergence assuming spiritual agents who are part of the underlying oneness.
This is when we begin to take into account higher consciousness realms. In these realms the underlying oneness begins to become apparent. The individuality of agents is no longer an assumption we can make. The agents can tap into a larger field of consciousness that guides the collective behavior.
So what that leads to is a new theory of biological evolution that takes into the underlying oneness of all organisms. At a deeper level organisms are not competing with one another, because they are one. Emergence is still happening at this level, and this emergence will be of quite a different character than the two types of emergence above. This new type of biological evolutionary theory will be about an emergence which combines theories of complex adaptive systems with spirituality. This new biological evolutionary theory is a very new field, and which I postulate will be one of the leading edge fields of study in the 21st century. I predict it will experience explosive growth similar to how neuroscience talk off in the late 20th century. And this new theory of emergence will blow everyone’s mind in terms of the extraordinary stuff it can account for and give insights into.
This new theory of emergence will lead to a new type of economic theory which assumes individuals are part of the same underlying oneness. Again emergence will happen, but of quite a different order e.g. what happens to supply and demand curves will be different when we realise that buyer and seller are part of the same underlying oneness. This new economic theory will bring in the new era of sacred economics, it will merge old theories with spirituality. Again I predict the early part of the 21st century will lead to the explosive growth of this field. And it will couple with fundamental changes in the way we organize our economic systems.