A part of philosophy, emergence theories of the development of some phenomenon (for example life consciousness) where something emerges out of a background from which it could not have been predicted and in terms of which it cannot be fully explained. What emerges may be a law of nature, or a science, though this would normally be because of emergent properties in the relevant sphere. The existence of emergence theories contrasts with reductionism in the relevant sphere.
Close to this in theory in holism, a philosophical view which emphasizes the whole of something as distinct from its parts. This doctrine says that the whole in question cannot be explained in terms of its parts (emergence theories). Also connected is the 17th and 18th century theory of vitalism.
Source: Dictionary of Theories
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