Publication 491

Bich L. (2012) Complex emergence and the living organization: an epistemological framework for biology. Synthese 185(2): 215–232. Fulltext at
In this article a constructivist framework is proposed in order to integrate emergentist thought with systemic studies on biological autonomy – specifically: the autopoietic theory - which are focused on the role of organization. A particular attention is paid to the role of the observer’s activity, especially to the different operations he performs in order to identify the pertinent elements at each descriptive level and to the relationships between the different models he builds from them. An epistemological notion of emergence as non-derivability – that of “complex emergence” – is introduced, that allows a) a distinction between autonomy and self-organization, and b) a reinterpretation of downward causation not as a direct or indirect influence of the whole on its parts, but instead as an epistemological problem of interaction between descriptive domains.


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