The subject of this paper is the question of how causally efficacious mental properties can be incorporated into a physicalist framework. The problem is introduced by way of Jaegwon Kim’s supervenience-argument, where he formulates it as a question of what causal role is left for the mental to play given certain assumptions of the causal structure of the physical universe. I present his version of physicalism and how mental to physical relations are conceived within this framework. Further, I discuss whether his reductionistic approach to mental causation problem leaves mental properties with adequate causal powers.In the second half of this paper I consider theories that approach the issue from a non-reductionist perspective, positing emergent causal forces fundamented on the defining characteristics of complex systems. After elaborating on these basic features of such systems I introduce the notion of cognition in its minimal sense as a process of relation between a living system and its environment. This notion is then traced upwards through the levels of evolutionary complexity, reaching the sphere of human agency and cognition. The assumption underlying the theories presented in the second half is that life and mind are fundamentally interconnected and that the causal features of human mentality can only be adequately understood as the pinnacle of a hierarchy of organizational complexity. The downward structuring influences of these cognitive capacities are essential to the process of living and play an indispensable causal role in the characterization of living organisms as self-organizing structures of processes. The claim is that mental notions such as normativity and intentionality cannot be satisfactorily grasped apart from the natural world they emerge out of. Lastly, I briefly consider the theories of the emergent causal powers of mind presented in the second half in relation to Kim’s perspective on physicalism. Here I also discuss whether physicalism has room for higher-order mental capacities as pictured by these non-reductionist theories.