Emergence is often described as the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts: interactions among the components of a system lead to distinctive novel properties. It has been invoked to describe the flocking of birds, the phases of matter and human consciousness, along with many other phenomena. Since the nineteenth century, the notion of emergence has been widely applied in philosophy, particularly in contemporary philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and metaphysics. It has more recently become central to scientists’ understanding of phenomena across physics, chemistry, complexity and systems theory, biology and the social sciences.

The Routledge Handbook of Emergence is an outstanding reference source and exploration of the concept of emergence, and is the first collection of its kind. Thirty-two chapters by an international team of contributors are organised into four parts:

  • Foundations of emergence
  • Emergence and mind
  • Emergence and physics
  • Emergence and the special sciences

Within these sections important topics and problems in emergence are explained, including the British Emergentists; weak vs. strong emergence; emergence and downward causation; dependence, complexity and mechanisms; mental causation, consciousness and dualism; quantum mechanics, soft matter and chemistry; and evolution, cognitive science and social sciences.

Essential reading for students and researchers in philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and metaphysics, The Routledge Handbook of Emergence will also be of interest to those studying foundational issues in biology, chemistry, physics and psychology.

chapter |19 pages


ByRobin Findlay Hendry, Sophie Gibb, Tom Lancaster

part 1|156 pages

Foundations of emergence

chapter 1|13 pages

British Emergentism

ByBrian P. McLaughlin

chapter 2|18 pages


ByPaul Noordhof

chapter 3|11 pages


ByKerry McKenzie

chapter 4|12 pages


ByJohn Bickle

chapter 5|10 pages

Emergence, Function and Realization

ByUmut Baysan

chapter 6|12 pages

Strong Emergence and Alexander’s Dictum

ByAlex Carruth

chapter 7|12 pages

Emergence, Downward Causation and its Alternatives

Critically surveying a foundational issue
ByCarl Gillett

chapter 8|10 pages

The Causal Closure Principle

BySophie Gibb

chapter 9|13 pages

Computational Emergence

Weak and strong
ByMark Pexton

chapter 10|11 pages

Being Emergence vs. Pattern Emergence

Complexity, control and goal-directedness in biological systems
ByJason Winning, William Bechtel

chapter 11|12 pages

Complexity and Feedback

ByRobert Bishop, Michael Silberstein

chapter 12|20 pages

Between Scientism and Abstractionism in the Metaphysics of Emergence

ByJessica Wilson

part 2|58 pages

Emergence and mind

chapter 13|8 pages

Emergent Dualism in the Philosophy of Mind

ByHong Yu Wong

chapter 14|8 pages

Emergent Mental Causation

ByDavid Robb

chapter 15|11 pages

Emergence and Non-Reductive Physicalism

ByCynthia Macdonald, Graham Macdonald

chapter 16|9 pages

Intentionality and Emergence

ByLynne Rudder Baker

chapter 17|10 pages

Emergence and Consciousness

ByRobert Van Gulick

chapter 18|10 pages

Emergence and Panpsychism 1

ByJohn Heil

part 3|92 pages

Emergence and physics

chapter 19|11 pages

Phase Transitions, Broken Symmetry and the Renormalization Group

ByStephen J. Blundell

chapter 21|10 pages

Emergence in Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics

ByStewart Clark, Iorwerth Thomas

chapter 22|12 pages

The Emergence of Excitations in Quantum Fields

Quasiparticles and topological objects
ByTom Lancaster

chapter 23|11 pages


A personal perspective on a new paradigm for scientific research
ByDavid Pines

chapter 24|17 pages

Emergence and Reductionism

An awkward Baconian alliance
ByPiers Coleman

chapter 25|12 pages

The Emergence of Space and Time

ByChristian Wüthrich

part 4|81 pages

Emergence and the special sciences

chapter 26|10 pages

Digital Emergence

BySusan Stepney

chapter 27|13 pages

Emergence in Chemistry

Substance and structure
ByRobin Findlay Hendry

chapter 28|11 pages

Emergence in Biology

From organicism to systems biology
ByEmily Herring, Gregory Radick

chapter 29|6 pages

Emergence in the Cell

ByMichel Morange

chapter 30|18 pages

Evolution, Information and Emergence

ByGeorge Ellis

chapter 31|13 pages

A-Mergence of Biological Systems

ByRaymond Noble, Denis Noble

chapter 32|8 pages

Emergence in the Social Sciences

ByJulie Zahle, Tuukka Kaidesoja