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What a fascinating subject and exposition, Tony. Thank you. This is clearly way over my head but I am curious and always eager to learn and explore new ideas (for me, they are :)). You go over so many interesting points about emergence but they are too many for me to address them all with the depth I wanted. So, let me take just a small nip of all the points you make and ask you to comment and expand on what you think about Susan Greenfield’s take that consciousness do really changes the brain physically. That brains that think on different things are measurabily different. She cites multiple experiments and evidence of such. (a good summary in one of her interviews). To me it contrasts to something you say about that “there is no purely physical explanation for consciousness.”. My point is, don’t you think that, the synapses resulting of studying the maps of London by its taxi drivers before taking the test change the brain *physically* in a way that later, during the test, can lead to the emergence of a map of London, or at least, parts of it in the taxi driver’s mind/consciousness when taking the test or during a taxi drive? Wouldn’t that be a purely physically explanation of consciousness? If not, why not?
Another thing is regarding emergence being a concept and not physical. Isn’t it like everything we know? We only have concepts in our mind that can better or worse reflect the objective reality. Whatever we use to conceptualize and materialize the objective reality in our brains doesn’t imply that it doesn’t exist in physical reality. From what I’ve understood of emergence as described by Ursula in her book is that there are real physical properties that emerge from the properties of the system’s constituents and the interactions between the constituents.
A water molecule is nothing but an oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms bonded in a V-shaped configuration, but when many liquid water molecules are frozen, their bonds form an open lattice with the emergent property called buoyancy—ice floats.
My point is, buoyancy is a physical characteristic emerged from how the water molecules bond in certain circumstances (cold) that emerged when ice is dropped into water. You can say that emergence is a concept but only just as buoyancy is. No? Did I miss your point? If so, can you try to explain in another words why do you say that Emergence is a conceptual phenomenon, not physical.