Investigations

Investigations

by Stuart A. Kauffman
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0195121058

ISBN-13: 9780195121056

Pub. Date: 09/28/2002

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

"It may be that I have stumbled upon an adequate description of life itself."

These modest yet profound words trumpet an imminent paradigm shift in scientific, economic, and technological thinking. In the tradition of Schrodinger's classic What Is Life?, Kauffman's Investigations is a tour-de-force exploration of the very essence of life itself, with

Overview

"It may be that I have stumbled upon an adequate description of life itself."

These modest yet profound words trumpet an imminent paradigm shift in scientific, economic, and technological thinking. In the tradition of Schrodinger's classic What Is Life?, Kauffman's Investigations is a tour-de-force exploration of the very essence of life itself, with conclusions that radically undermine the scientific approaches on which modern science rests—the approaches of Newton, Boltzman, Bohr, and Einstein.

Building on his pivotal ideas about order and evolution in complex life systems, Kauffman 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? Kauffman supplies a novel answer that goes beyond traditional scientific thinking by defining and explaining autonomous agents and work in the contexts of thermodynamics and of information theory. Much of Investigations unpacks the progressively surprising implications of his definition. Significantly, he sets the stages for a technological revolution in the coming decades. Scientists and engineers may soon seek to create autonomous agents—both organic and mechanical—that can not only construct things and work, but also reproduce themselves! Kauffman also 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 fundamentals of general biology that will change the way we understand life itself—on this planet and anywhere else in the cosmos. "I have watched the long gestation of Investigations with some apprehension but more anticipation. Its reach is gigantic, from the most primitive origins of life to the macroeconomics of innovation. What comes up in its grasp is original and stimulating. This is a must read for anyone interested in the outer edges of understanding of the world around us.
—(Philip Anderson, Nobel Laureate, Princeton University)

About the Author:
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195121056
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
09/28/2002
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
308
Product dimensions:
8.97(w) x 5.84(h) x 0.78(d)

Table of Contents

Prefaceix
1Prolegomenon to a General Biology1
2The Origins of Life23
3Autonomous Agents49
4Propagating Organization81
5A Physics of Semantics?109
6Emergence and Story: Beyond Newton, Einstein, and Bohr?119
7The Nonergodic Universe: The Possibility of New Laws141
8Candidate Laws for the Coconstruction of a Biosphere159
9The Persistently Innovative Econosphere211
10A Coconstructing Cosmos?243
Epilogue267
References271
Index273

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