Humanity in a Creative Universe. Stuart A. Kauffman. Oxford University Press.

Humanity in a Creative Universe Book Cover Humanity in a Creative Universe
Stuart A. Kauffman
Oxford University Press
March 1, 2016

In the hard sciences, which can often feel out of grasp for many lay readers, there are “great thinkers” who go far beyond the equations, formulas, and research. Great minds such as Stuart A. Kauffman think about the functions and nature of the universe, the implications of our living existence, and other impossibly fascinating, yet difficult questions. He has dedicated his lifetime to researching “complex systems” at prestigious institutions and now writes his treatise on the most complex systems of all, the creative universe, the limits of scientific laws, and the role of the mind.

Grounded in his rigorous training and research background, Kauffman is interdisciplinary in every sense of the word, sorting through the major questions and theories in biology, physics, and philosophy. Best known for his philosophy of evolutionary biology, Kauffman coined the term “UNpretestability” to call into question whether science can ever accurately and precisely predict the future development of biological features in organisms that cannot even be prestated. If not, he argues, no laws will entail biological evolution. As evidenced by the title’s mention of creativity, the book stunningly argues that our preoccupation to explain all things with scientific law has deadened our creative nature. In this fascinating book, Kauffman concludes that the development of life on earth is not governed by law, because no theory could ever fully account for the unpretestable emergence of new functional variations of evolution. This book reframes our view of reality, challenges the next generations of great thinkers, and will be discussed for years to come.

Stuart A. Kauffman is an American theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher who studies the origin of life on Earth. Kauffman graduated from Dartmouth in 1960, was awarded the BA (Hons) by Oxford University (where he was a Marshall Scholar) in 1963, and completed a medical degree (MD) at the University of California, San Francisco in 1968. After completing his residency in Emergency Medicine, Kauffman held appointments at the University of Chicago 1969-1973, National Cancer Institute 1973-1975, then at the University of Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1995, where he served as Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Kauffman held the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship from 1987-1992.