I have been studying the concept of emergence, especially from Arthur Peacocke, and Michael Polanyi recently. Peacocke was very much influenced by Polanyi, but instead has developed a monistic approach to reality within an emergentist-naturalistic-panentheistic perspective. Peacocke speaks about the process of evolution having ‘creativity’ as does the emergentist process philosopher Ian Barbour who suggested that there is some ‘design’ in the system of evolution.
Polanyi believed in an irreducible hierarchy in nature, but one that has arisen through ‘ontogenetic emergence.’ This process was believed to have been driven forward by a ‘creative agent’ or director. (Polanyi (1962) Personal Knowledge, Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp. 393-395 (ontogeny – the development of what exists – as a child develops from an embryo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontogeny )
Compares perhaps with Darwin’s concluding remarks “There is grandeur in this view of life . . . having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that . . . from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.”
Polanyi perhaps saw something mysterious, and unknowable, (i.e.tacit knowledge) in how human beings have arisen through an emergent evolutionary process. Steve Meyer in ‘Signature in the cell’ also makes some very interesting comments about Polanyi and the sequence of nucleotides in the genetic code not being physically determined.
I would like to ask some questions here for discussion.
How did Polanyi see mind acting on the evolutionary process?
How would we view Polanyi’s position involving ‘ontogenetic emergence’ directed by a ‘creative agent’ ?
From this, would ID proponents see ID as part of emergence or as an alternative to emergence?