Like generosity and pettiness, like love and suspiciousness, responsibility is what he calls a “strongly emergent” property — a property that, though derived from biological mechanisms, is fundamentally distinct and obeys different laws, as do ice and water.What does it mean to say something is emergent? The concept, as the second link rightly notes, is at least as old as Aristotle, but it has become more significant recently. From where, though, would such a thing emerge? There are two ways of thinking about an answer to that question. A thing can emerge in the sense that it can arise from a combination; but it can also emerge in the sense that it can emerge from hiding.
Now, my question is: those two senses appear to be different, but are they really? If we say that the combination is the thing, yet we must admit that reality is structured in such a way that the combination has the potential to give rise to the property. How is that different from saying that a property embedded in reality is, under the right circumstances, going to come out of hiding?
This is important to the long piece on a new theory of consciousness that I have yet to finish composing, but which I mentioned in discussions with Joseph W. recently. I think that consciousness is embedded in reality; and the brain is therefore a receiver of something that is already there, rather than a generator as we usually believe.