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Critical mass : how one thing leads to another

Author: Philip Ball
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st American edView 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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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Philip Ball
ISBN: 0374281254 9780374281250
OCLC Number: 53288031
Description: 520 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: Introduction : political arithmetick --
Raising Leviathan : the brutish world of Thomas Hobbes --
Lesser forces : the mechanical philosophy of matter --
The law of large numbers : regularities from randomness --
The grand ah-whoom : why some things happen all at once --
On growth and form : the emergence of shape and organization --
The march of reason : chance and necessity in collective motion --
On the road : the inexorable dynamics of traffic --
Rhythms of the marketplace : the shaky hidden hand of economics --
Agents of fortune : why interaction matters to the economy --
Uncommon proportions : critical states and the power of the straight line --
The work of many hands : the growth of firms --
Join the club : alliances in business and politics --
Multitudes in the valley of decision : collective influence and social change --
The colonization of culture : globalization, diversity, and synthetic societies --
Small worlds : networks that bring us together --
Weaving the web : the shape of cyberspace --
Order in Eden : learning to cooperate --
Pavlov's victory : is reciprocity good for us? --
Toward Utopia? : heaven, hell, and social planning --
Epilogue: Curtain call.
Responsibility: Philip Ball.
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Abstract:

"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."--Jacket.

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