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Nonzero (the Logic of Human Destiny)

Wright, Robert

1.639 valoraciones por Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679442529 / ISBN 13: 9780679442523
Editorial: Pantheon Books, 2000
Usado Condición: Very Good Encuadernación de tapa dura
Librería: Bookworm Bookstore (HARRISBURG, PA, Estados Unidos de America)

Librería en AbeBooks desde: 15 de octubre de 1998

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Descripción

Stated first edition. 435 pp. the volume sets out to define the history of life from humanity's past and attempts to challenge the conventioal view that evolution and humanity are aimless. The author questions a number of prominent thinkers (Berlin, Popper, Gould, Dawkins and others) and argues that this scientific appraisal of humanity's three billion year past can give new spiritual meaning to the present and even offer political guidance for the future. N° de ref. de la librería 38135

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Detalles bibliográficos

Título: Nonzero (the Logic of Human Destiny)

Editorial: Pantheon Books

Año de publicación: 2000

Encuadernación: Hard Cover

Condición del libro:Very Good

Condición de la sobrecubierta: Very Good

Edición: 1st Edition

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Sinopsis:

At the beginning of Nonzero, Robert Wright sets out to "define the arrow of the history of life, from the primordial soup to the World Wide Web." Twenty-two chapters later, after a sweeping and vivid narrative of the human past, he has succeeded — and has mounted a powerful challenge to the conventional view that evolution and human history are aimless.

Ingeniously employing game theory — the logic of "zero-sum" and "non-zero-sum" games — Wright isolates the impetus behind life's basic direction: the impetus that, via biological evolution, created complex, intelligent animals and then, via cultural evolution, pushed the human species toward deeper and vaster social complexity. In this view, the coming of today's interdependent global society was "in the cards" — not quite inevitable, perhaps, but, as Wright puts it, "so probable as to inspire wonder." So probable, indeed, as to invite speculation about higher purpose, especially in light of "the phase of history that seems to lie immediately ahead: a social, political, and even moral culmination of sorts."

In a work of vast erudition and pungent wit, Wright takes on some of the past century's most prominent thinkers, including Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, Stephen Jay Gould, and Richard Dawkins. He finds evidence for his position in unexpected corners, from native American hunter-gatherer societies and Polynesian chiefdoms to medieval Islamic commerce and precocious Chinese technology; from conflicts of interest among a cell's genes to discord at the World Trade Organization.

Wright argues that a coolly scientific appraisal of humanity's three-billion-year past can give new spiritual meaning to the present and even offer political guidance for the future. Nonzero will change the way people think about the human prospect.

Review:

Nonzero, from New Republic writer Robert Wright, is a difficult and important book--well worth reading--addressing the controversial question of purpose in evolution. Using language suggesting that natural selection is a designer's tool, Wright inevitably draws the conclusion that evolution is goal-oriented (or at least moves toward inevitable ends independently of environmental or contingent variables).

The underlying reason that non-zero-sum games wind up being played well is the same in biological evolution as in cultural evolution. Whether you are a bunch of genes or a bunch of memes, if you're all in the same boat you'll tend to perish unless you are conducive to productive coordination.... Genetic evolution thus tends to create smoothly integrated organisms, and cultural evolution tends to create smoothly integrated groups of organisms.

Admittedly, it's as hard to think clearly about natural selection as it is to think about God, but that makes it just as important to acknowledge our biases and try to exclude them from our conclusions. It is this that makes Nonzero potentially unsatisfying to the scientifically literate. Time after time we've seen thinkers try to find in biological evolution a "drive toward complexity" that might explain all sorts of other phenomena from economics to spirituality. Some authors, like Teilhard de Chardin, have much to offer the careful reader who takes pains to read metaphorically. Others--legions of cranks--provide nothing but opaque diatribes culminating in often-bizarre assertions proven to nobody but the author. Wright is much closer to de Chardin along this axis; his anthropological scholarship is particularly noteworthy, and his grasp of world history is excellent. Unfortunately, he has the advocate's willingness to blind himself to disagreeable facts and to muddle over concepts whose clarity would be poisonous to his positions: try to pin him down on what he means by complexity, for example. Still, his thesis that human cultures are historically striving for cooperative, nonzero-sum situations is heartening and compelling; even though it's not supported by biology, it's not knocked down, either. If the reader can work around the undefined assumptions, Wright's charm and obvious interest in planetary survival make Nonzero a worthy read. If the first chapter's title--"The Ladder of Cultural Evolution"--makes you cringe, the last one--"You Call This a God?"--will make you smile. --Rob Lightner

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The Bookworm Bookstore is one of twenty-five Specialty Shops featured on the Second Level of the West Shore Farmer`s Market located at 900 Market Street, Lemoyne, Pennsylvania (2 miles west of the State Capitol in Harrisburg across the Market Street Bridge). The hours are Tuesday and Saturday 9AM-2PM and Friday 9AM-4PM which coincide with the Farm Market hours.(We will also open by appointment) The shop offers a wide variety of subjects generally found in an out-of-print bookstore and also conducts appraisals as well as paperback trading and search services. Within the store there is an inventory between 15,000 and 20,000 volumes as well as hundreds of beautifully matted prints suitable for framing. The Bookworm Bookstore also maintains on-line offerings numbering over 12,000 titles in 100 catalogues.

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