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).



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)

Alfred Gell: Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory (1998)

14 September 2014, dusan

“Alfred Gell puts forward an anthropological theory of visual art seen as a form of instrumental action: the making of things as a means of influencing the thoughts and actions of others. He argues that existing anthropological and aesthetic theories take an overwhelmingly passive point of view, and questions the criteria that accord art status only to a certain class of objects and not to others. The anthropology of art is here reformulated as the anthropology of a category of action: Gell shows how art objects embody complex intentionalities and mediate social agency. He explores the psychology of patterns and perceptions, art and personhood, the control of knowledge, and the interpretation of meaning, drawing upon a diversity of artistic traditions-European, Indian, Polynesian, Melanesian, and Australian.”

With a Foreword by Nicholas Thomas
Publisher Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998
ISBN 0198280149, 9780198280149
272 pages
via mrcds

Reviews: Michèle Coquet (L’Homme, 2001, FR), Ross Bowden (Oceania, 2004).
Commentary: Robert Layton (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2003).


PDF (68 MB, updated on 2015-3-28)
EPUB (4 MB, added on 2014-9-14 via Marcell)