Next Article in Journal
A Spacetime Foam Approach to the Schwarzschild-de Sitter Entropy
Previous Article in Journal
Some Divergence Properties of Asset Price Models
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Entropy 2000, 2(1), 1-25; doi:10.3390/e2010001

Emergence and Dissolvence in the Self-organisation of Complex Systems

School of Pharmacy, University of Lausanne, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 23298, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 21 November 1999 / Accepted: 28 January 2000 / Published: 4 February 2000
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [138 KB, uploaded 24 February 2015]   |  


The formation of complex systems is accompanied by the emergence of properties that are non-existent in the components. But what of the properties and behaviour of such components caught up in the formation of a system of a higher level of complexity? In this assay, we use a large variety of examples, from molecules to organisms and beyond, to show that systems merging into a complex system of higher order experience constraints with a partial loss of choice, options and independence. In other words, emergence in a complex system often implies reduction in the number of probable states of its components, a phenomenon we term dissolvence. This is seen in atoms when they merge to form molecules, in biomolecules when they form macromolecules such as proteins, and in macromolecules when they form aggregates such as molecular machines or membranes. At higher biological levels, dissolvence occurs for example in components of cells (e.g. organelles), tissues (cells), organs (tissues), organisms (organs) and societies (individuals). Far from being a destruction, dissolvence is understood here as a creative process in which information is generated to fuel the process of self-organisation of complex systems, allowing them to appear and evolve to higher states of organisation and emergence. Questions are raised about the relationship of dissolvence and adaptability; the interrelation with top-down causation; the reversibility of dissolvence; and the connection between dissolvence and anticipation. View Full-Text
Keywords: property space; emergent properties; dissolvence; information; self-organisation; complex systems; complexity property space; emergent properties; dissolvence; information; self-organisation; complex systems; complexity

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Testa, B.; Kier, L.B. Emergence and Dissolvence in the Self-organisation of Complex Systems. Entropy 2000, 2, 1-25.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Entropy EISSN 1099-4300 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top