Humanity in a Creative Universe

Author: Stuart A. Kauffman
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199390472
Release Date: 2016-02-02
Genre: Science

In the hard sciences, which can often feel out of grasp for many lay readers, there are "great thinkers" who go far beyond the equations, formulas, and research. Minds such as Stephen Hawking philosophize about the functions and nature of the universe, the implications of our existence, and other impossibly fascinating, yet difficult questions. Stuart A. Kauffman is one of those great thinkers. He has dedicated his lifetime to researching "complex systems" at prestigious institutions and now writes his treatise on the most complex system of all: our universe. A recent Scientific American article claims that "philosophy begins where physics ends, and physics begins where philosophy ends," and perhaps no better quote sums up what Kauffman's latest book offers. Grounded in his rigorous training and research background, Kauffman is inter-disciplinary in every sense of the word, sorting through the major questions and theories in biology, physics, and philosophy. Best known for his philosophy of evolutionary biology, Kauffman coined the term "prestatability" to call into question whether science can ever accurately and precisely predict the future development of biological features in organisms. As evidenced by the title's mention of creativity, the book refreshingly argues that our preoccupation to explain all things with scientific law has deadened our creative natures. In this fascinating read, Kauffman concludes that the development of life on earth is not entirely predictable, because no theory could ever fully account for the limitless variations of evolution. Sure to cause a stir, this book will be discussed for years to come and may even set the tone for the next "great thinker."

Humanity in a Creative Universe

Author: Stuart A. Kauffman
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199390458
Release Date: 2016-02-25
Genre: Evolution (Biology)

Much of Stuart Kauffman's work in the philosophy of evolutionary biology has centered on the question of what he calls "prestatability" in evolution: that is, whether or not science can precisely predict the future development of biological features in organisms, using a singular "FinalTheory" of evolution. In this book, Kauffman argues that the development of life on earth is not prestatable, because no theory could ever fully account for the limitless variability of evolution. He believes that the biological universe's primary trait is that it is creative, and that acknowledgingthis creativity will lead to a radically different way in which humans view themselves and all other living beings. It is an argument against Reductive Materialism.Kauffman also asserts that man's Modern preoccupation to explain all things with scientific law has deadened our creative natures. In his words, he aims for the book to be "one that revises our scientific world view of the universe as entirely entailed by law." Instead, he advocates an approach toscience that accounts for "unprestatable" creativity, thus allowing humans to fully realize their creative selves. The book will build off the ideas developed in his last two works, Reinventing the Sacred and Investigations. Incorporating philosophers like Kant and Descartes, as well as the scienceof Newton and Darwin, Humanity in a Creative Universe is Stuart Kauffman's argument for a creative and unpredictable view of modern science.

At Home in the Universe

Author: Stuart Kauffman
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199761852
Release Date: 1996-11-21
Genre: Science

A major scientific revolution has begun, a new paradigm that rivals Darwin's theory in importance. At its heart is the discovery of the order that lies deep within the most complex of systems, from the origin of life, to the workings of giant corporations, to the rise and fall of great civilizations. And more than anyone else, this revolution is the work of one man, Stuart Kauffman, a MacArthur Fellow and visionary pioneer of the new science of complexity. Now, in At Home in the Universe, Kauffman brilliantly weaves together the excitement of intellectual discovery and a fertile mix of insights to give the general reader a fascinating look at this new science--and at the forces for order that lie at the edge of chaos. We all know of instances of spontaneous order in nature--an oil droplet in water forms a sphere, snowflakes have a six-fold symmetry. What we are only now discovering, Kauffman says, is that the range of spontaneous order is enormously greater than we had supposed. Indeed, self-organization is a great undiscovered principle of nature. But how does this spontaneous order arise? Kauffman contends that complexity itself triggers self-organization, or what he calls "order for free," that if enough different molecules pass a certain threshold of complexity, they begin to self-organize into a new entity--a living cell. Kauffman uses the analogy of a thousand buttons on a rug--join two buttons randomly with thread, then another two, and so on. At first, you have isolated pairs; later, small clusters; but suddenly at around the 500th repetition, a remarkable transformation occurs--much like the phase transition when water abruptly turns to ice--and the buttons link up in one giant network. Likewise, life may have originated when the mix of different molecules in the primordial soup passed a certain level of complexity and self-organized into living entities (if so, then life is not a highly improbable chance event, but almost inevitable). Kauffman uses the basic insight of "order for free" to illuminate a staggering range of phenomena. We see how a single-celled embryo can grow to a highly complex organism with over two hundred different cell types. We learn how the science of complexity extends Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection: that self-organization, selection, and chance are the engines of the biosphere. And we gain insights into biotechnology, the stunning magic of the new frontier of genetic engineering--generating trillions of novel molecules to find new drugs, vaccines, enzymes, biosensors, and more. Indeed, Kauffman shows that ecosystems, economic systems, and even cultural systems may all evolve according to similar general laws, that tissues and terra cotta evolve in similar ways. And finally, there is a profoundly spiritual element to Kauffman's thought. If, as he argues, life were bound to arise, not as an incalculably improbable accident, but as an expected fulfillment of the natural order, then we truly are at home in the universe. Kauffman's earlier volume, The Origins of Order, written for specialists, received lavish praise. Stephen Jay Gould called it "a landmark and a classic." And Nobel Laureate Philip Anderson wrote that "there are few people in this world who ever ask the right questions of science, and they are the ones who affect its future most profoundly. Stuart Kauffman is one of these." In At Home in the Universe, this visionary thinker takes you along as he explores new insights into the nature of life.

Reinventing the Sacred

Author: Stuart A. Kauffman
Publisher: Basic Books
ISBN: 9780465012404
Release Date: 2008-01-10
Genre: Science

Consider the complexity of a living cell after 3.8 billion years of evolution. Is it more awesome to suppose that a transcendent God fashioned the cell at a stroke, or to realize that it evolved with no Almighty Hand, but arose on its own in the changing biosphere? In this bold and fresh look at science and religion, complexity theorist Stuart Kauffman argues that the qualities of divinity that we revere--creativity, meaning, purposeful action--are properties of the universe that can be investigated methodically. He offers stunning evidence for this idea in an abundance of fields, from cell biology to the philosophy of mind, and uses it to find common ground between belief systems often at odds with one another. A daring and ambitious argument for a new understanding of natural divinity, Reinventing the Sacred challenges readers both scientifically and philosophically.

Big History and the Future of Humanity

Author: Fred Spier
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 9781444395877
Release Date: 2010-12-03
Genre: History

Big History and the Future of Humanity presents an original theoretical approach that makes “big history” – the placing of the human past within the history of life, the Earth, and the Universe -- accessible to general readers while revealing insights into what the future may hold for humanity. Provides an accessible and original overview of the entire sweep of history that places human history within the history of life, the Earth, and the Universe Features an original theory of “big history” which explains all of history and opens up an entirely new interdisciplinary research agenda Offers new insights into the future of humanity by better understanding the past Presents a new approach to complexity studies, which takes into account the greatest galaxy clusters as well as the tiniest sub-atomic particles

Human Universe

Author: Professor Brian Cox
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
ISBN: 9780008129798
Release Date: 2015-05-07
Genre: Science

Top ten Sunday Times Bestseller ‘Engaging, ambitious and creative’ Guardian Where are we? Are we alone? Who are we? Why are we here? What is our future?

The Cradle of Humanity

Author: Mark Maslin
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198704522
Release Date: 2017-01-26
Genre: Science

POPULAR SCIENCE. Humans are rather weak when compared with many other animals. We are not particular fast and have no natural weapons. Yet Homo sapiens currently number nearly 7.5 billion and are set to rise to nearly 10 billion by the middle of this century. We have influenced almost every part of the Earth system and as a consequence are changing the global environmental and evolutionary trajectory of the Earth. So how did we become the worlds apex predator and take over the planet? Fundamental to our success is our intelligence, not only individually but more importantly collectively. But why did evolution favour the brainy ape? Given the calorific cost of running our large brains, not to mention the difficulties posed for childbirth, this bizarre adaptation must have given our ancestors a considerable advantage.

Improbable Planet

Author: Hugh Ross
Publisher: Baker Books
ISBN: 9781493405398
Release Date: 2016-09-06
Genre: Religion

The Latest Scientific Discoveries Point to an Intentional Creator Most of us remember the basics from science classes about how Earth came to be the only known planet that sustains complex life. But what most people don't know is that the more thoroughly researchers investigate the history of our planet, the more astonishing the story of our existence becomes. The number and complexity of the astronomical, geological, chemical, and biological features recognized as essential to human existence have expanded explosively within the past decade. An understanding of what is required to make possible a large human population and advanced civilizations has raised profound questions about life, our purpose, and our destiny. Are we really just the result of innumerable coincidences? Or is there a more reasonable explanation? This fascinating book helps nonscientists understand the countless miracles that undergird the exquisitely fine-tuned planet we call home--as if Someone had us in mind all along.

How the Leopard Changed Its Spots

Author: Brian C. Goodwin
Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691088098
Release Date: 1994
Genre: Science

Do genes explain life? Can advances in evolutionary and molecular biology account for what we look like, how we behave, and why we die? This intervention into biological thinking argues that such genetic reductionism has limits. It shows how an understanding of the self-organizing patterns of networks is necessary for making sense of nature.

Humanity

Author: Jonathan Glover
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300186406
Release Date: 2012-09-11
Genre: History

A study of history and morality in the twentieth century, this text examines the psychology which made possible Hiroshima, the Nazi genocide, the Gulag, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia.

Journey of the Universe

Author: Brian Thomas Swimme
Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300171907
Release Date: 2011-06-28
Genre: Nature

The authors tell the epic story of the universe from an inspired new perspective, weaving the findings of modern science together with enduring wisdom found in the humanistic traditions of the West, China, India, and indigenous peoples. This book is part of a larger project that includes a documentary film, educational DVD series, and Web site.

The Singularity is Near

Author: Ray Kurzweil
Publisher: Gerald Duckworth & Co
ISBN: 9780715640159
Release Date: 2010-02-11
Genre: Science

Inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil examines the next step in the evolutionary process of the union of human and machine. He foresees the dawning of a new civilization where we will be able to transcend our biological skills with the vastly greater capacity, speed and knowledge-sharing abilities of our creations. In practical terms, human aging and illness will be reversed; pollution will be stopped and world hunger and poverty will be solved. There will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. The Singularity is Near offers a view of the coming age that is both a dramatic culmination of centuries of technological ingenuity and a genuinely inspiring vision of our ultimate destiny.

Our Final Hour

Author: Martin Rees
Publisher: Basic Books
ISBN: 0786740698
Release Date: 2009-03-17
Genre: Science

Bolstered by unassailable science and delivered in eloquent style, Our Final Hour's provocative argument that humanity has a mere 5050 chance of surviving the next century has struck a chord with readers, reviewers, and opinion-makers everywhere. Rees's vision of our immediate future is both a work of stunning scientific originality and a humanistic clarion call on behalf of the future of life.

Our Mathematical Universe

Author: Max Tegmark
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780385350495
Release Date: 2014-01-07
Genre: Science

Max Tegmark leads us on an astonishing journey through past, present and future, and through the physics, astronomy and mathematics that are the foundation of his work, most particularly his hypothesis that our physical reality is a mathematical structure and his theory of the ultimate multiverse. In a dazzling combination of both popular and groundbreaking science, he not only helps us grasp his often mind-boggling theories, but he also shares with us some of the often surprising triumphs and disappointments that have shaped his life as a scientist. Fascinating from first to last—this is a book that has already prompted the attention and admiration of some of the most prominent scientists and mathematicians.

The Resilient City

Author: Lawrence J. Vale
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0198039131
Release Date: 2005-01-20
Genre: History

In 1871, the city of Chicago was almost entirely destroyed by what became known as The Great Fire. Thirty-five years later, San Francisco lay in smoldering ruins after the catastrophic earthquake of 1906. Or consider the case of the Jerusalem, the greatest site of physical destruction and renewal in history, which, over three millennia, has suffered wars, earthquakes, fires, twenty sieges, eighteen reconstructions, and at least eleven transitions from one religious faith to another. Yet this ancient city has regenerated itself time and again, and still endures. Throughout history, cities have been sacked, burned, torched, bombed, flooded, besieged, and leveled. And yet they almost always rise from the ashes to rebuild. Viewing a wide array of urban disasters in global historical perspective, The Resilient City traces the aftermath of such cataclysms as: --the British invasion of Washington in 1814 --the devastation wrought on Berlin, Warsaw, and Tokyo during World War II --the late-20th century earthquakes that shattered Mexico City and the Chinese city of Tangshan --Los Angeles after the 1992 riots --the Oklahoma City bombing --the destruction of the World Trade Center Revealing how traumatized city-dwellers consistently develop narratives of resilience and how the pragmatic process of urban recovery is always fueled by highly symbolic actions, The Resilient City offers a deeply informative and unsentimental tribute to the dogged persistence of the city, and indeed of the human spirit.