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Tradition and Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

Volume 29, Issue 3, 2002/2003

Philip Clayton
Pages 8-19

Emergence, Supervenience, and Personal Knowledge

Michael Polanyi was perhaps the most important emergence theorist of the middle of the 20th century. As the key link between the British Emergentists of the 1920s and the explosion of emergence theory in the 1990s, he played a crucial role in resisting reductionist interpretations of science and keeping the concept of emergence alive. Polanyi’s position on emergence is described and its major strengths and weaknesses are analyzed. Using Polanyi as the foundation, the article surveys the major contemporary options in the philosophy of mind and defends a particular understanding of the relationship of mental properties to brain states.

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