• dissipation;
  • eigenmode;
  • entropy;
  • evolution;
  • free energy;
  • the principle of least action


Emergence is analyzed by the principle of least action. The supreme law of nature describes diverse systems as actions that evolve from one state to another by consuming free energy in least time. As the system will either gain or lose quanta at the step of evolution, the systemic characteristics after the change of state cannot be reduced to those before the change. The change will invariably entail also a change in inter-actions, which are flows of energy on paths that integrate ingredient systems to a synergistic system. New qualities will emerge along with opening interactions just as old ones will disappear along with ceasing interactions. The analysis of emergence as a natural process reveals that its irreducible and unpredictable nature does not result from complexity as such but because the natural process itself is molding the surroundings where it is evolving. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Complexity, 2012