Books and Reviews


At Home in the Universe

Synopsis Kaufman, a MacArthur Fellow and visionary pioneer of the science of complexity, offers a brilliant account of a new scientifc revolution that rivals Darwin's theory of importance. The book illuminates this new paradigm as it weaves together the excitement of discovery and a fertile mix of ideas. Provides stunning insights into the origin of life, the development of embryos and more. This book examines the question: "why is there order in nature? . . . Mr Kauffman argues {that} much order in the natural world arises spontaneously." (Economist) Index.

Essay by Excerpts of Reviews and Commentary

At Home in the Universe Excerpts of Reviews

From The Publisher:
A major scientific revolution has begun, a new paradigm that rivals Darwin’s theory in importance. At its heart is the discovery of the order that lies deep within the most complex of systems, from the origin of life, to the workings of giant corporations, to the rise and fall of great civilizations. And more than anyone else, this revolution is the work of one man, Stuart Kauffman, a MacArthur Fellow and visionary pioneer of the new science of complexity. Now, in At Home in the Universe, Kauffman brilliantly weaves together the excitement of intellectual discovery and a fertile mix of insights to give the general reader a fascinating look at this new science – and at the forces for order that lie at the edge of chaos.

From Eileen Boris – The Economist:
One of the pioneers of complexity theory is Stuart Kauffman, who lays outits rudiments in an accessible way with this challenging and audacious book. . . . Mr Kauffman likes mathematical models of proteins, genes, cells, speciesand even ecosystems. He uses the networks of algebraic logic to show how surprisingly intricate order can arise from the repeated application of a few simple rules. . . . The snag with this approach is that it is not clear how the principles of self–organisation and natural selection work together. . . . Few real–life biologists will choose to abandon their wellies or microscopes in favour of Mr Kauffman’s networks, bytes and buzzwords. It would pay, however, to take him seriously. For in science, so Karl Popper tells us, truth is transient.

From Booknews:
According to MacArthur fellow Kauffman (Santa Fe Institute), “[T]he order of the biological world…is not merely tinkered, but arises naturally and spontaneously because of underlying principles of self– organization.” These principles may be employed to analyze all manner of highly–involved patterns, from molecular biology, the rise and fall of corporations, to the intricate workings of government. Kauffman outlines the characteristics and potential uses of complexity, simply delineating its meaning for the future of scientific thought. For general readers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

From John Horgan – The New York Times Book Review:
{The author is} a full–time resident of the Santa Fe Institute and one ofthe most charismatic of the complexologists. ‘At Home in the Universe’ is a condensed, passionately written version of Mr. Kauffman’s 709–page magnum opus, ‘The Origins of Order’ (1993). For decades, Mr. Kauffman has been performing computer simulations of abstract, interacting ‘agents,’ which can represent everything from molecules and genes to whole organisms and companies. He alsoforesees practical consequences stemming from his work. His simulations, hesuggest, may serve as a guide for managers of large, complicated systems, like the United States.

From Brian Goodwin – New Scientist:
In August 1966, the eminent biologist C.H. Waddington organised the firstof a series of meetings to discuss theoretical biology. . . . Waddington had never been satisfied that genes and natural selection were sufficient to explain evolution. He felt that deeper forces were at work, something to do with the dynamics of organisms and their evolution that would provide a glimpse of an underlying order in living nature, and which would allow us to articulate our deep affinities with natural process. . . . Nearly thirty years later, Kauffman has written At Home in the Universe, a book that articulates significant aspects of Waddington’s intuition. Its scope is enormous and the conceptual versatility displayed is dazzling.

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