Physics envy is the belief of many scientists that their work would be more respectable if it emulated the reductionism and predictability of physics. In A World Beyond Physics, Stuart Kauffman demonstrates that this belief is a delusion. He shows convincingly that the laws of physics cannot account for the diversity and complexity of living systems.
Kauffman's main thesis is that biological development is not causal but enabling. One stage of evolution enables the next stage, but does not directly cause it to happen.
Much of Kauffman's argument is devoted to the issues involved in the origins of life. Where many commentators consider the origin of life to be an event, Kauffman shows that it is a process involving many steps with many issues to be resolved at each step. Each step is made possible by what went before, but is not determined by it. The outcome is unprestatable at each step, unlike physical change, which is completely determined.
Kauffman's ideas are consistent with what we observe in nature, a world of enormous biological diversity and abundance. As Kauffman says, "If you're not sure what I'm talking about, look out the window". The good news that Kauffman brings, is that if we want to understand the biological world, our world, then algorithms are not sufficient and miracles are not necessary.
- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press USA; 1 edition (15 May 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0190871334
- ISBN-13: 978-0190871338
- Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 2 x 14.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 299 g
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- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)