Basic References for my Project
January 27, 2011 Leave a comment
1. Wolfram S. A New Kind of Science. Wolfram Media; 2002:1192.
A classic. Wolfram employs a new mode of scientific methodology, starting first with identifying the domain of study (in this case cellular automata), then scanning the domain for interesting phenomena.
2. Brooks DR, Wiley EO. Evolution as Entropy (2nd. Ed.). University of Chicago Press; 1988.
An interesting attempt to define evolution in terms of entropy. While they fail and were unpersuasive to the field, this attempt is a neglected and necessary field of study in basic science.
3. Cowan G, Pines D, Meltzer D. Complexity: metaphors, models, and reality. (Cowan GA, Pines D, Meltzer D, eds.). Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA; 1994.
Conference proceedings from the Santa Fe institute. These guys live and breathe complexity, chaos, nonlinear dynamics, etc. Complex Adaptive Systems as they use the term is an important touchstone for neosentience.
4. Gould SJ. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Harvard University Press; 2002:65-101.
Gould’s masterwork, completed the year before he died. Gould’s inimitable and idiosyncratic style is stamped throughout this book. THe first half is an excellent history of evolutionary theory as viewed through its literature (but with plenty of historical/biographical context). The second half is Gould’s positive formulation of his own evolutionary theory, punctuated equilibrium. I have not read the book cover-to-cover (it is 1200 pages), but I have read it episodically for the past 5 years. The breadth of Gould’s thought is monumental. His definition of Darwinian individuality in the construction of his theory of hierarchical selection is of particular interest to neosentience studies. The ’emergent’ qualities of life are not immaterial, and natural selection/evolution seems the most likely engine/architect of them. Hierarchical selection and the ‘different rules’ hypothesis as agent of change are both relevant as well.
5. Collins R. Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton University Press; 2004.
This is one of the clearest statements of sociological theory, and Collins’ Interation Ritual Theory is one of the most powerful theories of human behavior I’ve encountered. Taken together, these facts make this a book that can induce deep intellectual and personal realizations. Collins’ basic thesis is that human activity follow regular patterns (Interaction Rituals) that are more or less self-propigating and effective in generating emotional energy. From this thesis he is able to develop coherent and insightful explanations of sexual fetishes, mob behaviors, political activity and, most excitingly in my estimation, intellectual change. See below book for a tour de force of his theory’s power and scope.
An interesting aspect of Collins’ work is that it’s grounded on micro-sociology, or the close observation of actual events in an ethnographic manner. Evidence for Ritual Entrainment (a primary conduit of emotional energy production during face to face interaction) is provided by examination of the rhythms of crowd reactions to political speech (i.e. before the crowd could have possibly heard what was said). This robustness at the micro-level holds potential for guiding the development of ‘culture’, ‘individuality’, ‘intelligence’ within a neosentient system.
6. Collins R. The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change. Harvard University Press; 2000:1098.
As mentioned above this is a magisterial account of the development of philosophy and foundational thought in nearly every culture over the past 2500 years or so. I highly recommend reading interaction ritual chains first. The book’s premise is not self-evident, and should be confronted earnestly. Once/if you are satisfied with the utility of Collins’ approach, the book is perhaps the quickest and most insightful orientation to obscure schools of philosophy you’ll find.