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Critical mass : how one thing leads to another : being an enquiry into the interplay of chance and necessity in the way that human culture, customs, institutions, cooperation and conflict arise

Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: London : Heinemann, 2004.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
"Critical mass asks the question, Why is society the way it is? How does it emerge from a morass of individual interactions? Are there laws of nature that guide human affairs? Is anything inevitable about the ways humans behave and organize themselves, or do we have complete freedom in creating our societies? In short, just how, in human affairs, does one thing lead to another?" "In searching for answers, the  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Ball, Philip, 1962-
Critical mass.
London : Heinemann, 2004
(OCoLC)654742904
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Philip Ball
ISBN: 0434011355 9780434011353
OCLC Number: 54426973
Description: xii, 644 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Introduction : political arithmetick --
1. Raising Leviathan : the brutish world of Thomas Hobbes --
2. Lesser forces : the mechanical philosophy of matter --
3. The law of large numbers : regularities from randomness --
4. The grand ah-whoom : why some things happen all at once --
5. On growth and form : the emergence of shape and organization --
6. The march of reason : chance and necessity in collective motion --
7. On the road : the inexorable dynamics of traffic --
8. Rhythms of the marketplace : the shaky hidden hand of economics --
9. Agents of fortune : why interaction matters to the economy --
10. Uncommon proportions : critical states and the power of the straight line --
11. The work of many hands : the growth of firms --
12. Join the club : alliances in business and politics --
13. Multitudes in the valley of decision : collective influence and social change --
14. The colonization of culture : globalization, diversity, and synthetic societies --
15. Small worlds : networks that bring us together --
16. Weaving the web : the shape of cyberspace --
17. Order in Eden : learning in cooperate --
18. Pavlov's victory : is reciprocity good for us? --
19. Toward utopia? : heaven, hell, and social planning --
Epilogue : curtain call.
Responsibility: Philip Ball.

Abstract:

An exploration of the age-old question: are there any "laws of nature" that guide human affairs? Is there anything inevitable about the ways humans behave and organize themselves? Have we complete  Read more...

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   schema:reviewBody ""Critical mass asks the question, Why is society the way it is? How does it emerge from a morass of individual interactions? Are there laws of nature that guide human affairs? Is anything inevitable about the ways humans behave and organize themselves, or do we have complete freedom in creating our societies? In short, just how, in human affairs, does one thing lead to another?" "In searching for answers, the science writer Philip Ball argues that we can enlist help from a seemingly unlikely source: physics. The first person to think this way was the seventeenth-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes. His approach, described in Leviathan, was based not on utopian wishful thinking, but rather on Galileo's mechanics; it was an attempt to construct a moral and political theory from scientific first principles. Although his solution - absolute monarchy - is unappealing today, Hobbes sparked a new way of thinking about human behavior in looking for the "scientific" rules of society. Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Auguste Comte, and John Stuart Mill pursued this same idea from different political perspectives."--BOOK JACKET." ;
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