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Living Systems Paperback – May, 1995

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1157 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Pr of Colorado (May 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870813633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870813634
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 7.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,359,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By W. T. Louderback on February 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the Bible on the living systems we see around us in today's world. Years ago, a reviewer described Miller's theory as "fundamental yet capable of elaboration in great detail." No one has explained it better.

Here Miller lays out 19 processes which every living system needs to perform in order to compete and survive; eight processes for information, nine processes for matter and energy, and two processes for both. Miller also sees that there are billions and billions of different kinds of living systems in the world from microscopic cells to international organizations. So, he has categorized them into seven levels from the simplest and tiniest to the most complex and largest. And, he frequently makes interesting comparisons across these different levels.

Miller weaves volumes of information about the life sciences into his theory, particularly the biology of evolution. The concept of "emergence" appears to be its bedrock. New characteristics emerge as living systems become more complex, miraculously it would seem. In that sense, the book appears to be a detailed proof of Aristotle's famous conclusion that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts."

Many readers of this book have described it as a reference book, which it is. But, that description sells the book too short. Miller's prose is graceful and readable. I would say this book is enjoyable and well worth reading even if you have only enough time to read one chapter.

Two interesting companions to Living Systems would be Kevin Kelly's Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and Economic Order and also Ruppert Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance: The Habits of Nature. It might be said that Living Systems is a sequel to Alfred North Whitehead's famous book Process and Reality.
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Format: Paperback
Don't let the size of this book stop you from exploring it. The author has designed the book so it (slowly) reveals itself, working from basic concepts of how dynamic systems work through levels of biological and social complexity. It is a brilliant work, a must for anyone involved in any sort of analytical work. It is one of the most important books of the 20th century and, if attention is paid, will be an important guidebook to the 21st.
To see more of Miller's work and its implications, see the web site Principia Cybernetica.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is perhaps the most elaborate statement of general living systems theory yet to be written. Not recommended for those not well versed in both systems terminology and biological concepts. However, if you are adept in these areas, you will be rewarded with incredible insights.
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