Investigations

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2000 - Science - 287 pages
4 Reviews
In the tradition of Schrodinger's classic What Is Life?, this book is a tour-de-force investigation of the basis of life itself, with conclusions that radically undermine the scientific approaches on which modern science rests-the approaches of Newton, Boltzman, Bohr, and Einstein.
Kauffman's At Home in the Universe, which The New York Times Book Review called "passionately written" and nature named "courageous," introduced pivotal ideas about order and evolution in complex life systems. In investigations, Kauffman builds on these theories and finds that classical science does not take into account that physical systems--such as people in a biosphere--effect their dynamic environments in addition to being affected by them. These systems act on their own behalf as autonomous agents, but what defines them as such? In other words, what is life? By defining and explaining autonomous agents and work in the contexts of thermodynamics and of information theory, Kauffman supplies a novel answer to this age-old question that goes beyond traditional scientific thinking.
Much of Investigations unpacks the progressively surprising implications of his definition. Kauffman lays out a foundation for a new concept of organization, and explores the requirements for the emergence of a general biology that will transcend terrestrial biology to seek laws governing biospheres anywhere in the cosmos. Moreover, he presents four candidate laws to explain how autonomous agents co-create their biosphere and the startling idea of a "co-creating" cosmos.
A showcase of Kauffman's most fundamental and significant ideas, Investigations presents a new way of thinking about the basics of general biology that will change the way we understand life itself--on this planet and anywhere else in the cosmos.
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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - fpagan - LibraryThing

Thoughts on theoretical biology by a prominent complexity theorist. Hard to say whether it will be regarded as having been a seminal book or a vapid piece of hand waving. Argues that science needs to be extended beyond the Newton-Einstein-Bohr model. Read full review

Contents

PROLEGOMENON TO A GENERAL BIOLOGY
1
THE ORIGINS OF LIFE
23
AUTONOMOUS AGENTS
49
PROPAGATING ORGANIZATION
81
A PHYSICS OF SEMANTICS?
109
EMERGENCE AND STORY BEYOND NEWTON EINSTEIN AND BOHR?
119
THE NONERGODIC UNIVERSE THE POSSIBILITY OF NEW LAWS
141
CANDIDATE LAWS FOR THE COCONSTRUCTION OF A BIOSPHERE
159
THE PERSISTENTLY INNOVATIVE ECONOSPHERE
211
A COCONSTRUCTING COSMOS?
243
EPILOGUE
267
REFERENCES
271
INDEX
273
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About the author (2000)


Stuart Kauffman, winner of the MacArthur "genius" award, is a founding member of the Santa Fe Institute, the leading center for the emerging sciences of complexity. A major force in science and its applications to the business world, he formed BiosGroup LP in 1996 in partnership with Ernst & Young. The author of previous bestsellers Origins of Order and At Home in the Universe, he lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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