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Emergence and Convergence: Qualitative Novelty and the Unity of Knowledge (Toronto Studies in Philosophy) Hardcover – December 13, 2003

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


‘The sheer range of scientific/philosophical disciplines dealt with, competently and systematically, in Emergence and Convergence, cannot fail to impress. Quantum mechanics, economics, ethics, linguistics, truth, probability, are all brought into Bunge’s unified picture of the world.’ (Philip Goff) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


‘Mario Bunge has over the years established himself as the prime exponent of a scientifically informed philosophy of man, society, and nature. His characteristic mode of approach seeks to integrate science into a seamless whole with traditional philosophical concerns. This book – clearly written, incisively argued, and widely informed – forms part of this larger project and offers us some vintage Bunge.’ (Nicholas Rescher, Department of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh)

Product Details

  • Series: Toronto Studies in Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division (December 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802088600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802088604
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,777,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is written from scientific realistic point of view. The writing style is direct, compact, scientific, witty, and non-obscure.

The first main theme of this book is emergence (or strong emergence). The thesis, contested by some philosophers, is that a system can possess properties that none of its components possesses. These properties are said to be emergent. How properties emerge amounts to asking how things with emergent properties arise, which boils down to the problem of emergence mechanisms. Example of emergence: molecules, life, mind, social norms, state.

The second main theme of the book is convergence of scientific knowledge by reduction of one discipline to another, or integration of disciplines. Examples of the latter: biophysics, evolutionary development biology, cognitive neuroscience, social medicine, economic demography, political sociology.
Bunge claims that partial reductionism (micro-reductionism) is often successful, but full reductionism seldom is.

Throughout the book the author makes a case for systematic (in contrast to individualistic or holistic) approach to science. Though hardly an issue in the natural sciences, the systematic approach in the social sciences is often lacking. He strongly argues for an integration of the social sciences by claiming that every social fact has five different but closely linked aspects: environmental, biopsychological, economic, political, and cultural.
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Format: Hardcover
Mario Bunge has written a wonderfully clear and "systematic" presentation of systemism. It is strongly argued that systemism solves the problems of taking either a holistic or reductionist approach to all of human endeavor. On one hand, he shows how carefully describing all things and phenomena according to their internal components and relationships and their external relationships (viewing them as systems and as parts of systems) is a productive perspective in all areas of science, research and knowledge. On the other, the systemist approach is applied to understanding the phenomenon of emergence (the emergence of qualitative novelty from particular configurations of parts) and to the consideration of the convergence (and divergence) of scientific fields.
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By Herman Groen on September 14, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read it already but that one was not mine. Now it is and can I use my pencil, reading it again.
So very happy with this reprint

Herman, psychiatrist from Holland
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The subtitle of this book provides a very apt distillation of Bunge’s focus and exposition. Here, emergence is used in its ontological sense: to denote the incidence of “qualitative novelty,” or the manifestation of a notable kind of phenomenon. Accordingly, emergence here does not refer to “unpredictability from lower levels.” That characterization is emergence’s epistemological signature, and hence not one associated with the phenomenon’s nature per se, only its pursuit. The “unity of knowledge,” or even its consolidation at some modest scope, is the desired result of a convergence or selective integration of constituent parcels of knowledge. In the context of scientific research, for instance, such convergence is often more readily obtained through cross-disciplinary efforts. They entail an opportunistic convergence or cross-pollination among extant knowledge domains and their respective specialists in order to discover new knowledge in nascent domains. Moreover, such convergent interplay between established disciplines can lead to the emergence of new disciplines, like bioengineering.

Since Bunge views the world as a system of systems, the entire book unfolds within a framework of systemism, which subscribes to the following:

1. Systemism spans and reconciles holism and reductionism, and also bridges and elaborates the gap between them
2. Ontologically, everything is either a system of a component of one, where a system is a Composition of its constituents
3. Epistemologically, every parcel of knowledge is or ought to become a member of a conceptual system, such a theory
4. A system has well-defined boundaries, at which interaction with its enclosing Environment occurs
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