Robert Rosen: Essays on Life Itself (1999)

15 July 2015, dusan

“In this collection of twenty-two essays, Rosen takes to task the central objective of the natural sciences, calling into question the attempt to create objectivity in a subjective world. The book opens with an exploration of the interaction between biology and physics, unpacking Schrödinger´s famous text What Is Life? and revealing the shortcomings of the notion that artificial intelligence can truly replicate life.

He also refutes the thesis that mathematical models of reality can be reflected entirely in algorithms, that is, are of a purely syntactical character. He argues that it is the noncomputable, nonformalizable nature of biology that makes organisms complex, and that these systems are generic, whereas those systems described by reductionistic reasoning are simple and rare.

An intriguing enigma links all of the essays: ‘How can science explain the unpredictable?’”

Publisher Columbia University Press, 1999
Complexity in Ecological Systems series
ISBN 023110510X, 9780231105101
x+360 pages

Reviews: Bruce J. West (Quarterly Review of Biology, 2001), Donald C. Mikulecky (c1999).

Publisher
WorldCat

PDF

Marga Bijvoet: Art as Inquiry: Toward New Collaborations Between Art, Science, and Technology (1997) [EN, DE]

16 April 2015, dusan

Art as Inquiry is a pioneering yet under-recognized monographic study of art in the 1960s and early 1970s; Despite the subtitle, Bijvoet’s artistic concerns are not exclusively focused on science and technology, but rather with the “‘moving out’ into nature or the environment and the “moving ‘into technology’”: twin tendencies that, in her mind, stand out amidst the pluralism of 1960s art. She claims that these movements not only broke “the boundaries of art and … the commercial art world structure” but more importantly that environmental artists and tech artists both sought out and engaged in collaborations in which the artist “entered into a new relationship with the environment, space, public arena, onto the terrain of other sciences.”” (Edward A. Shanken)

Publisher Peter Lang, 1997
ISBN 0820433829, 9780820433820
x+283 pages

Review: Alan Dorin (2006).

WorldCat (EN)

Art as Inquiry (English, 1997, HTML, at Internet Archive)
Kunst-Forschung (German, n.d., HTML, at Internet Archive)

Nicholas Gaskill, A. J. Nocek (eds.): The Lure of Whitehead (2014)

27 March 2015, dusan

“Once largely ignored, the speculative philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead has assumed a new prominence in contemporary theory across the humanities and social sciences. Philosophers and artists, literary critics and social theorists, anthropologists and computer scientists have embraced Whitehead’s thought, extending it through inquiries into the nature of life, the problem of consciousness, and the ontology of objects, as well as into experiments in education and digital media.

The Lure of Whitehead offers readers not only a comprehensive introduction to Whitehead’s philosophy but also a demonstration of how his work advances our emerging understanding of life in the posthuman epoch.”

Contributors: Jeffrey A. Bell, Nathan Brown, Peter Canning, Didier Debaise, Roland Faber, Michael Halewood, Graham Harman, Bruno Latour, Erin Manning, Steven Meyer, Luciana Parisi, Keith Robinson, Isabelle Stengers, James Williams.

Publisher University of Minnesota Press, 2014
ISBN 9780816679959
ix+427 pages

Review: Ronny Desmet (Constructivist Foundations, 2015).

Publisher
WorldCat

PDF, PDF
ARG

More on Whitehead.

Jacques Monod: Chance and Necessity (1970–) [FR, EN, DE, RO, IT]

8 March 2015, dusan

In this classic book, Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod interprets the processes of evolution to show that life is only the result of natural processes by “pure chance”. The basic tenet of this book is that systems in nature with molecular biology, such as enzymatic biofeedback loops can be explained without having to invoke final causality. (from Wikipedia)

Publisher Seuil, Paris, 1970
197 pages

English edition
Translated by Austryn Wainhouse
Publisher Vintage, 1971
199 pages

Reviews and commentaries: Bernard Strauss & Erica Aronson (Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 1972), R.J. Hernstein (Commentary, 1972), F. Eugene Yates & Arthur S. Iberall (Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 1973), Danny Yee (1994), Oren Harman (LA Review of Books, 2014).

Le Hasard et la Nécessité (French, 1970, 7 MB)
Chance and Necessity (English, trans. Austryn Wainhouse, 1971, 29 MB, no OCR)
Zufall und Notwendigkeit (German, trans. Friedrich Griese, 1977)
Hazard si necesitate (Romanian, trans. Sergiu Sararu, 1991, 15 MB)
Il caso e la necessità (Italian, 1997, 7 MB)

Common Knowledge 17(1): Comparative Relativism: Symposium on an Impossibility, I-IV (2011)

6 March 2015, dusan

A journal section based on the conference “Comparative Relativism” held in September 2009 at the IT University of Copenhagen.

The aim of this publication “is to place in unlikely conjunction the two terms ‘comparison’ and ‘relativism’. On the one hand, comparison, in the most general sense, involves the investigation of discrete contexts to elucidate their similarities and differences. Comparative methods have been widely used in many social science disciplines, including history, linguistics, sociology, and anthropology. On the other hand, relativism, as a tendency, stance, or working method in social anthropology, and more recently in science and technology studies (STS), usually involves the assumption that contexts exhibit, or may exhibit, radically different, incomparable, or incommensurable traits.”

Based on this paradoxical premise, “comparative relativism is understood by some to imply that relativism comes in various kinds and that these have multiple uses, functions, and effects, varying widely in different personal, historical, and institutional contexts; moreover, that those contexts can be compared and contrasted to good purpose…On the other hand, comparative relativism is taken by other[s] to imply and encourage a ‘comparison of comparisons’, in order to relativize what different peoples—say, Western academics and Amerindian shamans—compare things “for’.” (from the Introduction)

“In other words, comparative relativism can ask both what knowledge or truth is being imagined relative to and whether comparison always operates in the “same” way—or with the same grounds or purposes (e.g., shoring up the categories of culture, nature, morality) wherever we find it.” (from Helmreich 2012)

With contributions by Casper Bruun Jensen, Barbara Herrnstein Smith, G. E. R. Lloyd, Martin Holbraad, Andreas Roepstorff, Isabelle Stengers, Helen Verran, Steven D. Brown, Brit Ross Winthereik, Marilyn Strathern, Bruce Kapferer, Annemarie Mol, Morten Axel Pedersen, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Matei Candea, Debbora Battaglia, and Roy Wagner.

Publisher Duke University Press, Winter 2011
ISBN 0961-754x
165 pages

Publisher

PDF (4 MB)

See also
Casper Bruun Jensen, Bifurcations: Comparative Relativism, Conexões Parciais, 2012, 21 pp.
Stefan Helmreich, Extraterrestrial Relativism, Anthropological Quarterly, 2012, 15 pp.

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