A hierarchical framework for levels of reality: Understanding through representation [Book Review]

Axiomathes 19 (1):87-99 (2009)
Levels of reality reflect one kind of complexity, which can be modeled using a specification hierarchy. Levels emerged during the Big Bang, as physical degrees of freedom became increasingly fixed as the expanding universe developed, and new degrees of freedom associated with higher levels opened up locally, requiring new descriptive semantics. History became embodied in higher level entities, which are increasingly individuated, aggregate patterns of lower level entities. Development is an epigenetic trajectory from vaguer to more definite and individuated embodiment, punctuated by the emergence of new integrative levels. It is constrained by being subsumed by lower levels (e.g., physical dynamics) and may be guided by structural attractors as well as by internally stored information (e.g., genes) in the higher levels. I conjecture, on a thermodynamic basis, that the number of levels that become manifest in an expanding universe depends upon its rate of expansion.
Keywords Big Bang  Complexity  Convergent evolution  Development  Emergence  Hierarchies  Thermodynamics
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DOI 10.1007/s10516-008-9056-x
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Daniel W. McShea (2013). Machine Wanting. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4):679-687.

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