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The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture [Paperback]

by Mark C. Taylor
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 1, 2003 0226791181 978-0226791180
We live in a moment of unprecedented complexity, an era in which change and information can move faster than our ability to comprehend them. With The Moment of Complexity, Mark C. Taylor offers a map for the unfamiliar terrain opening in our midst, unfolding an original philosophy for our time through a remarkable synthesis of science and culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

We live in a moment of unprecedented complexity, an era in which change and information can move faster than our ability to comprehend them. With The Moment of Complexity, Mark C. Taylor offers a map for the unfamiliar terrain opening in our midst, unfolding an original philosophy for our time through a remarkable synthesis of science and culture.

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent book is After God, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226791181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226791180
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #798,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theory of Everything May 7, 2002
Format:Hardcover
Mark C. Taylor is among those very rare writers and thinkers who are able to take many disparate disciplines of knowledge and perform a synthesis which creates wisdom. With "The Moment of Complexity" he does this and more. The book is not a technical treatise on a specific field, not a presentation of new scientific findings; it's not even one of those futurist manifestos that all those former Wired Magazine journalists churn out so frequently. Rather, "Complexity" is what I would call a "theory of everything" book.
With this book it's evident that Taylor has been thinking about certain heady concepts for at least all of his adult life. Indeed, I've also read an earlier work of his, "Hiding," that touches on some of the same ideas. But with Complexity he has honed his thinking and added even more contributing topics, all zeroing in to our current turbulent moment of history.
It's difficult to describe briefly what this theory of everything entails, as you might expect with most theories of everything. Taylor's is personal and professional, and it's been developing since the 1960s. It includes a sometimes dizzying array of topics and references to other thinkers, including artificial life, chaos theory, information theory, evolution, semiotics, cultural studies, Derrida, Foucault, Baudrillard, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Lamarck, the history of the modern university, cybernetics, emergent phenomena, fashion, intellectual property... and more!
Taylor somehow manages to weave a coherent and compelling tapestry out of all these threads, with results I can only describe as profound and inspirational.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Unlike Richard Lightburn below, who, after acknowledging that he knows relatively nothing about chaos, catastrophe, and complexity theory, goes on to assert that Mark Taylor "has it all wrong", "is...naive and superficial", and speaks "gibberish", I am going to give you a hint of what's really in these pages, as the other reviewers seem keen on doing.
I won't go overboard, but to call this book "shallow" is absurd. Mark Taylor explores the intersection of chaos/catastrophe/complexity theory (which he ably distinguishes between, with rave reviews to that effect from two of the main proponents of these theories), critical theory (which Richard Lightweight clearly is not patient enough to digest), architecture (fascinating inclusion based upon grids evolving to networks), and networking theory.
The chapter on architecture alone, if tackled with due respect and patience, and willing to tease out the details and nuance that Taylor is drawing, is worth the price of the book alone, and that's the first chapter after the introduction. The next chapter on critical theory is even more challenging, and definitely the point where an eager reader seeking to learn about chaos, complexity, and networking theory is going to wonder what the hell is wrong with this book.
Perhaps if such a reader went back to the introduction, he would gratefully realize that these first two difficult chapters are not necessary to or a prerequisite for the next several chapters which go into, depth and detail, the fascinating theories he's seeking.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep but Clear February 27, 2006
Format:Paperback
I'm finding this to be very clear but not on a simple level. Subject matter is repeated from various angles so as to gradually build up more and more comprehensive logic and visualization of the theories and concepts. Author clarifies the differences between chaos and complexity, and shows how complexity exists in the physical and the social realms. I'm reading this book in conjunction with others, namely The Quantum Brain, by Jeffrey Santinover, and Symmetry and the Beautiful Universe, by Leon M. Lederman and Christopher T. Hill, and these books support and overlap each other.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing and panoramic tapestry of insights April 28, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you want to take a long and deep look at the dynamics that are at play in these most chaotic times of ours, read Mark Taylor's The Moment of Complexity.

He has delicately taken threads from such an array of fields as art and architecture, literature and science, philosophy and education; then, he proceeds to weave them into an intriguing and panoramic tapestry of insights-the lucidity of which makes one giddy and, at times, even dizzy.

I would predict that with this book, Mark Taylor joins that select group of thinkers (Alfred North Whitehead, Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, etc) who have periodically synthesized present cultural and scientific knowledge into a lucid and stimulating vision-one that is accessible to a large and diverse audience.

This book is THAT important and crucially relevant to all who want to deliberately participate in the 'moment of complexity' that is upon us.
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