- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (November 21, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195111303
- ISBN-13: 978-0195111309
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.9 x 5.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 66 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity Reprint Edition
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The best treatment I have yet encountered about how order emerges naturally -- and possibly even necessarily -- out of chaos. Profoundly important, and considerably more informed than better-known pop-science treatments of chaos theory. Very highly recommended.
"Courageous....I guarantee that any reader whose imagination has survived an academic education--or has never been exposed to one--will learn a lot, and be changed forever."--Ian Stewart, Nature
"A new and far-reaching theory of order in the universe, introduced by a pioneer in that theory's development."--The Washington Post Book World
"Kauffman has done more than anyone else to supply the key missing piece of the propensity for self-organization that can join the random and the deterministic forces of evolution into a satisfactory theory of life's order."--Stephen Jay Gould, author of The Panda's Thumb
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So, what's the problem? It's the writing. Kauffman can't seem to decide if he is writing a book of philosophy or a book of science. He spends an inordinate amount of space discussing the philosophical implications of his ideas, often before he has even presented the ideas - let alone the experimental or theoretical support. As a book of exposition of science, "At Home in the Universe" is almost inexcusably poor. He presents a complex idea accompanied by a complex diagram which he explains. Often, however, he fails to explain the nature of the experiment or research that generated the diagram. He doesn't describe experimental or theoretical support for these ideas. The paucity of descriptions of the science behind these powerful ideas is doubly galling in the presence of repetitive presentation of inappropriate philosophical analysis. Many times in the course of this book I had to throw up my hands in frustration, wishing for exposition of the experiments hinted at in the diagrams - and being given long range cultural and religious context in its stead. For God's sake, let me put the context together for myself! But please give me the evidence.
In conclusion, this book ultimately teases. If you have any interest in emergence or complexity theory you will need to read this - the ideas are that profound. However, having read it, you will have to look elsewhere for empirical or theoretical support for the powerful ideas presented here.
The author's conviction to both his argument and the science of complex systems is evident throughout the book. If you are coming to this book without much background in complex adaptive systems, you will not be short-changed here. In fact, Kauffman provides extremely rich examples with numerous simple diagrams to educate the reader as he builds his case. Considering the book was published some 7 years ago, I was surprised to see the concept of gene networks given so much attention in the text. Seeing how the latest trend in genomics research is looking at genes and proteins as a regulatory network and attempting to identify specific disease pathways, the science in this book is extremely relevant.