Christmas Reading/Shopping List

I was recently asked for a complexity sciences reading list. These are the books that have had the most significant effect on my own thinking.

  1. Adams, Fred. Origins of Existence
  2. Argyros, Alexander. A Blessed Rage For Order
  3. Beck, Don and Christopher Cowan. Spiral Dynamics
  4. Bertalanffy, Ludwig von. General System Theory
  5. Boulding, Kenneth E. The World as a Total System
  6. Campbell, Jeremy. Grammatical Man
  7. Casti, John. Complexification
  8. Chaisson, Eric. Epic of Evolution. New York: Columbia University Press. 2006
  9. DePryck, Koen. Knowledge, Evolution, and Paradox
  10. Fraser, J. T. Time, Conflict, and Human Values
  11. Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science
  12. Hayek F. A. Individualism and Economic Order
  13. Holland, John. H. Hidden Order
  14. Kauffman, Stuart. At Home in the Universe
  15. Kauffman, Stuart Investigations
  16. Kauffman, Stuart The Origins of Order
  17. Kauffman, Stuart. Reinventing the Sacred
  18. Kessler, M. A. and B. T. Werner. “Self-Organization of Sorted Patterned Ground” Science 17 January 2003
  19. Laughlin, Robert B. A Different Universe
  20. Lovelock, James. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
  21. Mandelbrot, Benoit B. The Fractal Geometry of Nature
  22. Prigogine, Ilya. The End of Certainty
  23. Prigogine, Ilya. From Being to Becoming
  24. Prigogine, Ilya & Isabelle Stengers. Order Out of Chaos
  25. Ridley, Matt. The Evolution of Everything
  26. Sabelli, Héctor. Bios
  27. Turner, Frederick. Beauty
  28. Turner, Frederick. The Culture of Hope
  29. Turner, Frederick. Epic: Form, Content, and History
  30. Turner, Frederick. Natural Classicism
  31. Turner, Frederick. Natural Religion
  32. Waldrop, M. Mitchell. Complexity
  33. Wilson, E. O. Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
  34. Wolfram, Stephen. A New Kind of Science
  35. Wright, Robert. Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny

These 35 books by 26 authors hardly exhaust the books I’ve read on complexity and related theories (information theory, game theory, chaos, self-organization, network theory, etc.), nor does it exhaust the major influences on the evolution of my thinking (an overlapping, but different list). I could also make lists of great books about time, about beauty, and about the brain. Perhaps I will, if people are interested.

While I strongly recommend all of these books, I most strongly recommend Fred Adams’ Origins of Existence for its description of how entropy creates asteroids; Robert Wright’s Nonzero for its challenge of how you regularly think; Beck and Cowan’s Spiral Dynamics for its model of psychosocial evolution that maps very well on J.T. Fraser’s umwelt theory of time as he developed in all his books, and which is adapted with modification by Frederick Turner and Alex Argyros. And read about the self-organizing rocks in Antarctica. It’s a great visual of self-organization at a macro-level.

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