Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System Hardcover – November 26, 1999
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Juarrero's lively text skillfully applies the kinds of causal analyses required in non-equilibrium, complex systems theory to the problems of action theory."
—Stanley N. Salthe, Biological Sciences, Binghamton University
About the Author
Alicia Juarrero is Professor of Philosophy at Prince George's Community College, Maryland. She is a member of the National Council on the Humanities, the governing board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
In Chapter 9, central to her claim that constraints are the only real causes in a complex world, she jumps from a very small set of samples to the general - valid deduction ? It feels as if she was saying complex = complex. As if the complexity of dissipative structures were sufficient to deduce "similar" complexity in human brains, sufficient to use the lessons of the former to explain the later. The claim does appear plausible but there is no proof.
Juarrero does explicitly say that she does not try to explain consciousness (p.172), but the reader is left with the feeling that this is exactly what she is aiming at. And this project clearly fails - John Searle would agree with me. After a second reading the book leaves me with the impression that Juarrero's understanding does matter, that researchers in the field will value it. It's a book I have difficulties to just put away, and even more difficulties to understand. The stars indicate my hope that it finds the readers it deserves.
Basically, I think this book is a good idea, but poorly executed. Juarrero makes an interesting conncetion between problems in action theory, the branch of philosophy having to do with human action and its place in the world, and information theory. And it is an interesting project to solve some of these traditional problems using modern neuroscience and dynamical systems theory. So I laud the attempt.
But no matter how interesting the project, a book has to sink or swim with the details, and Juarrero gets many of them wrong. She misinterprets Donald Davidson's theory of actions as causes, uses mathematical terms such as bifurcation in non-standard ways, and gets the laws of thermodynamics plain wrong. The casual reader may be impressed with her expansive technical vocabulary, but ultimately it detracts from the interesting ideas in the book. Read through the first 200 pages, and you'll realize that the most contentious issues in dynamical systems theory are not even discussed; indeed, Juarrero takes too much of the science for granted.
And so, while it's an interesting topic, the book could have used a lot more research and done a lot more "connecting the dots" for readers. If you're after some other books on causality, I would suggest instead Judea Pearl's new book _Causality_. If you are interested in dynamical systems theory, I would read the later works of Andy Clark (such as _Being There_) or some of the papers published by Chris Eliasmith (available on the web).
Hope this helps :) --BNT