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Order Out of Chaos Paperback – March 1, 1984


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (March 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553343637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553343632
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 88 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 23, 1996
Format: Hardcover
Prigogine argues persuasively that he has reconciled classical
dynamics with the human conviction that the future cannot be
predicted from a knowledge of initial conditions and differential equations alone.
He draws the reader through his own intellectual odyssey from
classical thermodynamics, through linear nonequilibrium thermodynamics, and finally
to his holy grail of nonlinear nonequilibrium thermodynamics. I suspect he has
identified the quantitative tools that will connect the Human Genome Project to a functional
understanding of cell biology and physiology. Tools capable of dealing with complexity.</br>

If you are a scientist who has followed these disciplines from afar, and who has
wished for a succinct summary that does not shrink from rigor, then acquire this book.
You will chuckle at the constant barbs directed across the English Channel, and you will
learn wonderful things about thermodynamics and thermokinetics.

So few scientific books reveal the authors' insights. Instead, they teem with facts and formulas.
Prigogine and Stengers have bedded physics with philosophy as if they were matchmakers for
an illicit tryst. You will find yourself whispering, "Aha!"
And you will, as I have, wear out your pen with underlining.

I loved Carl Sagan's "Demon Haunted World", but Sagan was speaking to everyman.
Prigogine and Stengers are speaking to scientists in fields outside their own.
They believe they have seen the light, and they want you to see it too. Give them the chance to convince you.
You will not be disappointed.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By John C. Landon on May 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
This work is one of the classics of the breakthrough period of chaos theory, complex systems, and self-organization theories. Mixing two modes and two cultures it stretches its bow between the nitty-gritty details of dissipative systems, and the history of the relations of the human and natural sciences, from the age of the emergence of thermodynamics to the present. The book has something now routinely filtered from discussion, the early critiques of the Newtonian mindset as it was starting to become dominant. The material on the history of the two cultures would seem to fall on deaf ears these days, and gives the book at depth not often seen in works of this type. Very much worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
Prigogine describes his ideas of how order emerged from a ground of chaos and how the processes of entropy can lead a system open to its environment to evolve greater complexity. He also gives an exposition of the relevance of science to society. Prigogine's Nobel prize-winning models of dissipative structures are difficult to understand but persistent effort will reward the reader. His theories are as applicable to the evolution and expansion of consciousness as to the emergence of life on earth from a relatively simple environment.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 20, 1997
Format: Paperback
The whole problem with writing about a book, and especially this one, is that one has to cut a long story short. A story long enough to encompass a fair amount of scientific history - elaborated, if not referenced exhaustively. Not that it is meant to be. Prigogine's journey does not offer to take you by the hand for a guided tour of order, complexity and self-organisation. Rather, it keeps to the spirit of Toffler's introduction, (Was it coincidental that it was the other way round?!) where he talks about the wonderful art of scientific dissection. Order out of chaos, however, is a difficult read for the anyone who has been initiated into the scientific non-fiction. For those who expect the book to be a popular account of concepts in complexity and self-organisation, the intense style and the depth of detail can be exhausting. Like Penrose in the Emperor's New Mind, Prigogine's style is uncompromising. Toffler's introduction is fitting, if only in parts. The book does not offer explanations. Rather, Prigogine prefers to illumate his readers with his keen philosophical bent. It is here that the book triumphs. The effort that has gone into integrating the ideas in the book, the subtle nuances reflecting Prigogine's own views is truly commendable. But then, one should be fairly conversant with the loopholes that science finds itself in. The description of the behaviour of complex systems warrants some mention. The idea of switching between reality and mathematical description does not gel with the rest of the narrative in parts - specially when chemistry is the running example. Well, Prigogine wasn't writing the book with the intention of it being self-contained - and he makes no bones about it.Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By U Dream on January 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The book is not an easy read. I found it quite disorganized (chaotic, if you will), and only by going through it a second time--indexing all the text that I highlighted--did I find order emerging. I wonder if some important nuances were lost in the translation into English. The book was helpful however in understanding the themata that has determined the form scientific development has taken: From Newtonian dynamics as the universal, deterministic fundamental level of description to equilibrium thermodynamics with the arrow of time toward heat death, to Relativistic physics with the important role of the observer, to quantum mechanics with randomness and indeterminacy, to non-equilibrium thermodynamics with irreversibility and dissipative structures as the crucible of creation of order from chaos. The book counters the New Age trend to ground human existence in quantum physics. Biology, let alone consciousness, though it is consistent with microphysics,can not be deduced from it. It's scale alone takes it out of the planck domain. The objects of study of physics are simple compared to the complexity of living systems. Even chemistry, characterized by irreversible process, is not reducible to physics:(pg. 136-137). Biochemistry with auto-catalytic and cross-catalytic processes creates far-from-equilibrium steady states that by virtue of being unstable, are therfore sensitive to the boundary conditions in which they exist, and therefore confer adaptability to changing environmental conditions. Crash goes the reductionistic freight train! Complexity theory is the foundational science of biology, and should be for medicine if it is to be redeemed from it's current abandonment of healing for pharmacologic symptom suppression.
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