Book Review: Reinventing the Sacred, by Stuart A. Kauffman.

Gershenson, C. (2009). Book Review: "Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion". Stuart A. Kauffman. Artificial Life 15(4):485-487

Excerpts: One of the main goals of this book is to demonstrate the inadequacy of reductionism in contemporary science. It does not negate its explanatory and predictive powers. It notes its limits, exploring several phenomena that are not predictable due to their complex nature. Thus, Kauffman argues, a shift in science is required if we want to understand these complex phenomena.


People might disagree with the answers that Kauffman puts forward. However, in my opinion the greatest contribution of this book, as with Platoʼs works, lies in the questions asked. It points out clearly which problems are currently relevant for science and society, even those that people are not aware of. Different tentative or partial solutions can be debated. However, the most difficult part is to start the discussion, and that is precisely what this book achieves.


I do not see the phenomena Kauffman discusses (evolution, economy, mind) as being “beyond science” just because they are not predictable. In a chaotic system, a future state might also be a “mystery.” However, its consideration is entirely scientific. Indeed, a change in the prevailing scientific assumptions must be made to explore these phenomena, but they can—and must—be studied within science. What we need to give up is the belief that phenomena are completely predictable.


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