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Living Systems Hardcover – Jan 1 1978


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1102 pages
  • Publisher: Mcgraw-Hill (Tx) (January 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0070420157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0070420151
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 19.8 x 5.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 Kg
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,800,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
It's Like Aristotle Said Feb. 24 2005
By W. T. Louderback - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is the Bible on the living systems we see around us in today's world. Years ago, a reviewer described Miller's theory as "fundamental yet capable of elaboration in great detail." No one has explained it better.

Here Miller lays out 19 processes which every living system needs to perform in order to compete and survive; eight processes for information, nine processes for matter and energy, and two processes for both. Miller also sees that there are billions and billions of different kinds of living systems in the world from microscopic cells to international organizations. So, he has categorized them into seven levels from the simplest and tiniest to the most complex and largest. And, he frequently makes interesting comparisons across these different levels.

Miller weaves volumes of information about the life sciences into his theory, particularly the biology of evolution. The concept of "emergence" appears to be its bedrock. New characteristics emerge as living systems become more complex, miraculously it would seem. In that sense, the book appears to be a detailed proof of Aristotle's famous conclusion that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts."

Many readers of this book have described it as a reference book, which it is. But, that description sells the book too short. Miller's prose is graceful and readable. I would say this book is enjoyable and well worth reading even if you have only enough time to read one chapter.

Two interesting companions to Living Systems would be Kevin Kelly's Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and Economic Order and also Ruppert Sheldrake's Morphic Resonance: The Habits of Nature. It might be said that Living Systems is a sequel to Alfred North Whitehead's famous book Process and Reality.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Theory of Everything Aug. 27 2000
By David Dix - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Don't let the size of this book stop you from exploring it. The author has designed the book so it (slowly) reveals itself, working from basic concepts of how dynamic systems work through levels of biological and social complexity. It is a brilliant work, a must for anyone involved in any sort of analytical work. It is one of the most important books of the 20th century and, if attention is paid, will be an important guidebook to the 21st.
To see more of Miller's work and its implications, see the web site Principia Cybernetica.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Amazing Sept. 5 1999
By circles@jps.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is perhaps the most elaborate statement of general living systems theory yet to be written. Not recommended for those not well versed in both systems terminology and biological concepts. However, if you are adept in these areas, you will be rewarded with incredible insights.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A good introduction to systems throry at the largest levels. Aug. 30 2000
By J. Michael Showalter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although reading such a long book in its entirety seems at first measure a daunting task (and one that few people's academic credentials hold up to....), readers daring enough to try are pretty well rewarded across the whole of this book. This book is an introduction to systems theory (i.e. that the result of a conglomeration of small scale processes can be seen to accumulate into larger, predictable processes at macro levels, similar to how a person who makes individual knots can end up with a rug...) that straddles the mark from physics to political economy (which is running far indeed!!!)
This is a really big book besides having a lot of pages, and I have a hunch that not too many people are going to buy it outside of researchers or university librarians. But, I suppose, if you're either of these (though if one were going to research they'd probably look to a sucession of smaller books, no?) I'd buy this book.... your collection would be enriched through having it....
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
simplifying the whole thing July 15 2000
By Gabriel Solis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Despite this is a book with an enormous and difficult text, since the very first chapter it enlightens the most basic message: that sciences, and knowledge, can be integrated, in a sort of unified theory, the "general theory of living systems", as the author puts it. And it does; since I began to understand the hole thing, it really makes me easier to think, and to view the world, like somekind of natural phylosophy, or organic phylosophy. It's really helpfull. (My email is galfroid@hotmail.com)


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