Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter by Terrence W. Deacon

mkesten's review against another edition

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This was one of the hardest books I've ever read largely because it presupposes an indepth knowledge of mechanics, chemistry, genetics, biology and physics. Much of it flew right over my head.

It deserves four stars if for nothing else, its impenetrability.

Sarcasm aside, the mystery and the glory of the quest is worthwhile.

Deacon seeks nothing less than to fill the scientific vacancy between mind and matter. A lot of pages in this book are filled with the historical blind alleys that thought has taken us in the quest....too many pages, in my opinion.

Logic and physics tell us that life is impossible, that entropy will drain the universe of thought and meaning. We know, of course, that this isn't entirely true. That there must be something else at work because life exists. What exactly that something else is forms the storyline of this book. It's not an anthropomorphic creature. It's not little green men from space.

Deacon never tries to answers the why question. He creates a framework for the how based on what we do know about how the universe operates, and it is obviously more than the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The key is in the title to the book..."emergence". Matter organizes itself. It doesn't need little green men. Life may have come about in an accident, but the pillars of thought exist in the same realm as biology and mechanics. Perturbance, motion, activity create the same powers in mind as in geology or anything else.

And that's about as far as I got.

quasar728's review against another edition

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challenging informative reflective slow-paced