Contextual Emergence and Its Applications in Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science

  • Robert Poczobut Department of Epistemology and Cognitive Science at the Faculty of History and Sociology of the University of Bialystok
Keywords: contextual emergence; philosophy of mind; cognitive science; contextual explanation


The purpose of the article is to analyze the concept of contextual emergence as well as its selected applications in philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In the first section the author presents the general assumptions of the emergentist model of reality. He stresses that the concept of emergence can be applied to the description of various levels of organization of nature: one of these levels is that of mental-cognitive processes, analyzed within the fields of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. In the subsequent sections, he introduces the definitions of contextual emergence and systemic causation and he points to their selected applications to mental-cognitive systems. In the concluding part, he presents the ideas of Gerald Edelman and Michael Gazzaniga on the role of contextual explanations as well as the concepts of emergence in the philosophy of biology and cognitive neuroscience. He also indicates the possibility of incorporating the concept of contextual emergence into active externalism and the extended cognition theory.