Issue Date: September 8, 2008
Theory Of Mind
I AM AMUSED to note that letter writers have responded according to their preconceptions about Stuart Kauffman's book "Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion," based on Ivan Amato's editorial, yet none of them claims to have read the book (C&EN, June 2, page 5). I can report that Amato did motivate me to purchase and read the book, and it is wonderful.
I admit my own preconceptions are congruent with Kauffman's thesis that complex systems including the biosphere, life, and mind are not reducible to physics. My belief is intuitive, but Kauffman offers physical and mathematical models to support the existence of nonreducible emergent processes. Ultimately, these are testable.
Kauffman offers a theory of mind that even he admits is more likely wrong than right, but at least it has some basis in scientific principles. This is all a joy to read. It is in the spirit of our exploratory and inquisitive profession. I join Amato in recommending it highly.
Arthur J. Cooper
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