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Book Of The Year: The Return Of Teleology

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Headlined to H4 3/21/13

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Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter
(image by Terrence Deacon)

Deacon's Incomplete Nature, might have been titled Aristotle's Revenge. While the book's subtitle is 'How Mind Emerged From Matter', it's a far more ambitious - and complicated - attempt to show how goal-directed processes, including the origin of life and mind, can arise from purely physical processes. Deacon is a Professor of biological anthropology. Deacon begins by exposing the inadequacy of reductionistic explanations of consciousness and purpose as mere by-products of an impersonal natural order. He is equally unsatisfied with dualism and the argument that mind and purpose can only be explained by an appeal to the transcendent. For Deacon, the answer has to lie in a closer look at self-organizing processes and how the origins of life and consciousness are rooted in the constrains that bind and shape these processes as they build from the simplest self-assembly of molecules up to...

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