the seemingly cyclical nature of knowledge formation.
Emergent structures are patterns not created by a single event or rule. Nothing commands the system to form a pattern. Instead, the interaction of each part with its immediate surroundings causes a complex chain of processes leading to some order. One might conclude that emergent structures are more than the sum of their parts because the emergent order will not arise if the various parts are simply coexisting; the interaction of these parts is central. Emergent structures can be found in many natural phenomena, from the physical to the biological domain. For example, the shape of weather phenomena such as hurricanes are emergent structures.
It is useful to distinguish three forms of emergent structures. A first-order emergent structure occurs as a result of shape interactions (for example, hydrogen bonds in water molecules lead to surface tension). A Second-order emergent structure involves shape interactions played out sequentially over time (for example, changing atmospheric conditions as a snowflake falls to the ground build upon and alter its form). Finally, a third-order emergent structure is a consequence of shape, time, and heritable instructions. For example, an organism’s genetic code sets boundary conditions on the interaction of biological systems in space and time.