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The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture [Paperback]

Mark C. Taylor
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2003
We live in a moment of unprecedented complexity, an era in which change and information can move faster than our ability to comprehend them. With The Moment of Complexity, Mark C. Taylor offers a map for the unfamiliar terrain opening in our midst, unfolding an original philosophy for our time through a remarkable synthesis of science and culture.

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From the Inside Flap

We live in a moment of unprecedented complexity, an era in which change and information can move faster than our ability to comprehend them. With The Moment of Complexity, Mark C. Taylor offers a map for the unfamiliar terrain opening in our midst, unfolding an original philosophy for our time through a remarkable synthesis of science and culture.

About the Author

Mark C. Taylor is professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion at Columbia University. His most recent book is After God, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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At pivotal moments throughout history, technological innovation triggers massive social and cultural transformation. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Unlike Richard Lightburn below, who, after acknowledging that he knows relatively nothing about chaos, catastrophe, and complexity theory, goes on to assert that Mark Taylor "has it all wrong", "is...naive and superficial", and speaks "gibberish", I am going to give you a hint of what's really in these pages, as the other reviewers seem keen on doing.
I won't go overboard, but to call this book "shallow" is absurd. Mark Taylor explores the intersection of chaos/catastrophe/complexity theory (which he ably distinguishes between, with rave reviews to that effect from two of the main proponents of these theories), critical theory (which Richard Lightweight clearly is not patient enough to digest), architecture (fascinating inclusion based upon grids evolving to networks), and networking theory.
The chapter on architecture alone, if tackled with due respect and patience, and willing to tease out the details and nuance that Taylor is drawing, is worth the price of the book alone, and that's the first chapter after the introduction. The next chapter on critical theory is even more challenging, and definitely the point where an eager reader seeking to learn about chaos, complexity, and networking theory is going to wonder what the hell is wrong with this book.
Perhaps if such a reader went back to the introduction, he would gratefully realize that these first two difficult chapters are not necessary to or a prerequisite for the next several chapters which go into, depth and detail, the fascinating theories he's seeking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Theory of Everything May 7 2002
Format:Hardcover
Mark C. Taylor is among those very rare writers and thinkers who are able to take many disparate disciplines of knowledge and perform a synthesis which creates wisdom. With "The Moment of Complexity" he does this and more. The book is not a technical treatise on a specific field, not a presentation of new scientific findings; it's not even one of those futurist manifestos that all those former Wired Magazine journalists churn out so frequently. Rather, "Complexity" is what I would call a "theory of everything" book.
With this book it's evident that Taylor has been thinking about certain heady concepts for at least all of his adult life. Indeed, I've also read an earlier work of his, "Hiding," that touches on some of the same ideas. But with Complexity he has honed his thinking and added even more contributing topics, all zeroing in to our current turbulent moment of history.
It's difficult to describe briefly what this theory of everything entails, as you might expect with most theories of everything. Taylor's is personal and professional, and it's been developing since the 1960s. It includes a sometimes dizzying array of topics and references to other thinkers, including artificial life, chaos theory, information theory, evolution, semiotics, cultural studies, Derrida, Foucault, Baudrillard, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Lamarck, the history of the modern university, cybernetics, emergent phenomena, fashion, intellectual property... and more!
Taylor somehow manages to weave a coherent and compelling tapestry out of all these threads, with results I can only describe as profound and inspirational.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Complex complexity March 17 2004
Format:Paperback
A short time ago, I went on a buying spree of complexity titles. This is the worst one I have read. If you want to understand complexity, avoid this book. Even if some parts (or rather paragraphs) are interesting, most of it is composed of quote after quote of other texts, and mixtures of things that have nothing to do with each other, such as emergence and the self-portraits of Chuck Close.
Really, if you want to understand complexity, or network culture, or emergence, stick to the classics.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Wince April 16 2002
Format:Hardcover
I originally picked up this book because I am interested in Complexity. It isn't about complexity, in spite of its title -- it's an instance of 'Critical Theory.' I'm not a big fan of "Critical Theory," and this book won't make me one (it this is good critical theory, I'll have none of it, thanks).
The discussion of "Catastrophes," "Chaos," and "Complexity" in the introduction was enough to make me wince: I don't know much about any of them, but enough to know that Taylor has it wrong -- or, if not wrong, is at least naive and superficial, so superficial that Taylor seems to know only that Complexity is 'hot,' and has piled some gibberish around it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A clear, insightful, and commanding authority Jan. 24 2002
Format:Hardcover
An absolutely brilliant writer with a command of his resources. As well as being able to guide the reader through complicated histories and concepts, the book is completely engrossing and a delight to read.
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