Originally posted by wittywonka
Is there such a thing as an emergent property? Or can all physical phenomena in the universe be explained simply by chemical/physical/mathematical reduction?
As KazetNagorra says, the answer is both. There are such things as emergent properties, but they can be explained by simple chemical / physical / mathematical reduction.
So waves on the ocean exist, and are a property of the sea, but we could explain them using the motions and interactions of the individual water molecules, gravity, and possibly the air molecules that create them in the first place. But the emergent property of waves, may have similarities to some other system whose underlying physical basis is completely different. So for example light waves do not involve particles moving in the same form as water waves yet the two exhibit properties of waves that can usefully be compared.