The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex

The Emergence of Everything: How the World Became Complex

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By (author) Harold J. Morowitz

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 229mm x 18mm | 295g
  • Publication date: 13 May 2004
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195173317
  • ISBN 13: 9780195173314
  • Sales rank: 386,019

Product description

When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts-indeed, so great that the sum far transcends the parts and represents something utterly new and different-we call that phenomenon emergence. When the chemicals diffusing in the primordial waters came together to form the first living cell, that was emergence. When the activities of the neurons in the brain result in mind, that too is emergence. In The Emergence of Everything, one of the leading scientists involved in the study of complexity, Harold J. Morowitz, takes us on a sweeping tour of the universe, a tour with 28 stops, each one highlighting a particularly important moment of emergence. For instance, Morowitz illuminates the emergence of the stars, the birth of the elements and of the periodic table, and the appearance of solar systems and planets. We look at the emergence of living cells, animals, vertebrates, reptiles, and mammals, leading to the great apes and the appearance of humanity. He also examines tool making, the evolution of language, the invention of agriculture and technology, and the birth of cities. And as he offers these insights into the evolutionary unfolding of our universe, our solar system, and life itself, Morowitz also seeks out the nature of God in the emergent universe, the God posited by Spinoza, Bruno, and Einstein, a God Morowitz argues we can know through a study of the laws of nature. Written by one of our wisest scientists, The Emergence of Everything offers a fascinating new way to look at the universe and the natural world, and it makes an important contribution to the dialogue between science and religion.

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Author information

Harold J. Morowitz is Clarence Robinson Professor of Biology and Natural Philosophy at George Mason University and the former Director of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, in Fairfax, Virginia. A leading figure in the study of complexity, he was Editor-in-Chief of the journal Complexity and is co-chair of the science board of the Santa Fe Institute. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Discover, The Washington Post, The Sciences, and Psychology Today.

Review quote

"Closely reasoned and rich in scientific and philosophical background."-Scientific American "For more than two decades Harold Morowitz has been honored as a creative and persuasive leader in origin-of-life research. Now, with The Emergence of Everything, he expands his horizon in a stunningly original and provocative book. With encyclopedic knowledge, gentle humor, lucid style and sweeping vision, Morowitz tackles the grandest questions at the interface of science and religion, and he makes a compelling case for the inexorable rise in universal complexity, from the Big Bang to galaxies to life, and perhaps beyond."-Dr. Robert Hazen, Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington "Harold Morowitz has the rare ability to provide a general audience with both the excitement and the insights of science, without stinting either facts or theory. In The Emergence of Everything, Morowitz manages a tour de force, building a ladder of 28 rungs climbing from the beginnings of the universe to the advent of consciousness. At each level, he shows how the phenomena of that level emerge from building blocks provided by the previous level. This emergence, the mysterious phenomenon wherein the whole is more than the sum of its parts, is a central concept in studies of complex systems, which Stephen Hawking calls 'the science of the 21st century.' Morowitz's ladder is a worthy climb-there is no better book for developing a detailed understanding of emergence."-John Holland, author of Emergence: From Chaos to Order "This is a brilliant book. Morowitz has provided the first state-of-the-art overview of the theory of emergence across the scientific disciplines. Neither too detailed nor too abstract, his 28 stages of emergence trace the history of the universe from the Big Bang through the appearance of culture, philosophy and spirituality. No other work has laid out the core case for emergence-and hence against the ultimacy of reductionism-across the whole spectrum of science. This introduction to emergence theory should guide philosophers of science and anthropologists, theologians and metaphysicians, as they reflect on the nature of Homo sapiens and our place in the cosmos."-Philip Clayton, Visiting Professor, Harvard University