Classification of Emergent Properties

From the presentation of the concepts above it can be seen that emergence and emergent properties will not easily find a clear, consistent and unifying definition for covering all the cases described. The widespread and 'loose' use of the concepts over a vast range of areas at first glimpse simply shows confusion. However, it is possible to establish some typology of the areas where, and the ways in which, the concepts have been used, following Figure 2.

First, emergent properties might appear through evolution of the systems, primary emergence, hereafter only being repeated. This characteristic may be called 'evolutionary emergence'. As structures are integrated, new organizational forms, as previously mentioned often hierarchical, occur ('hierarchical emergence').

Taking the view that emergent properties do exist and that the reductionistic approach to science will not (dis)-solve the problem so it eventually disappears may allow us to establish a schematic relationship between the various categories of ecosystem properties.

One major line follows a direction of research problems, the search for the unexplained and not understood. This lies close to using emergent properties as research strategies, while the extreme leads to the reductionist approach. This is more or less the situation at the second line, where properties are 'collective' and additive, that is, that the properties are the sum of the whole, and may be explained at subsystem level, provided sufficient knowledge exists. At the other end, the attitude that only holistic studies will lead to increased understanding might be taken.

Along the third line, we find the core of emergence, and following the above points the respective features may be divided in an evolutionary line and in a hierarchal line. Here emergence is basically represented as a function of time and space. The evolutionary process was described above and deals with primary and secondary emergence. The organizational, hierarchical line includes four areas described in the previous sections: 'global emergent properties' as a function of local rules and local interactions, 'thermodynamic emergent properties' dealing with emergence as a consequence of mainly the second thermodynamic law, the emergence of (dissipa-tive) structures as a result of thermodynamic gradients. 'Computational emergence' is also based on global patterns emerging form local rules. As mentioned above, emergent properties also appear as a result of models

repetition

Figure 2 An attempt to form a typology of emergent properties.

repetition

Figure 2 An attempt to form a typology of emergent properties.

being used to analyze the problem, which is called 'emergent property relative to a model'.

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