A synopsis of the similiarities and differences of the emergent theory and the reductionist theory in explaining the world

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Reductionism and The Emergent Theory

Throughout time people have always has the desire to understand the world around them. In this pursuit of knowledge many theories have been formulated to try to explain natural phenomenon. Theories of particular interest are those that attempt to give an answer to what is the best way to understand the mysteries of the world. Two prominent views are the reductionist theory and the emergent theory. Reductionism claims that there is a basic unit that composes all physical entities in this world, and anything can be understood by reducing it to its ultimate components. In this tradition the whole is defined in terms of its parts. The emergent theory argues that properties and laws cannot be reduced to those of its constituents. Rather the world is structured into layers each with their own properties and laws. Many of the inhabitants of the layers are interconnected but their properties and laws remain irrelevant to one another.

In this spirit the parts are defined in terms of the whole.

The similarities and differences between the reductionist and the emergentist explanations of the world are best illustrated with a discussion about the nature of the mind. Both the reductionist and emergent views of the mind agree that it originated through evolution from molecular structures. The reductionists then go on to say that the mind can be understood by reducing it to its components and it is merely a simplistic way of defining the actual and potential patterns of behavior. The emergent view on the other hand sees the mind as existing on a higher level of reality and that its properties cannot be reduced to simple physical structures. Even though there are relationships between the physical structures and the mental processes that take place, emergentists argue that by...