An Autonomous Agent

exploring the noosphere

Category: history (Page 1 of 16)

Order Out of Chaos – Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers

A little bit of quantum physics, chemistry, biology and philosophy all rolled up into one important book. Order Out of Chaos (La Nouvelle Alliance as originally published in French) by Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers is a paradigm changing book. The first parts of the book are an excellent overview on the historical development of science – the evolution of dynamics and the discovery of thermodynamics and their relationship is particularly fascinating.

Once the reader gets to the later parts, it becomes somewhat abstract and the reader may not be able to get through it without a background in chemistry and physics. Chapter Nine, when the phrase “Order Out of Chaos” is developed, is difficult. Despite this, it is much more accessible than a scientific paper on the subject. It may take two or three reads to fully absorb the ideas presented. Overall it is one of my favorite reads.

Some important conclusions from the book:

  • The arrow of time objectively exists and it arises from non-equilibrium and irreversibility at the microscopic level.
  • The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics can be understood as a selection principal. It operates as a negative on allowable initial conditions, in other words it restricts systems with certain initial conditions from existing.
  • Time travel to the past is not allowed by thermodynamics because time reversal requires infinite information concerning the initial conditions of the system, an impossibility to an observer in the universe. This implies that information is closely connected to irreversibility and time.
  • Thermodynamics can be expressed from dynamics through the idea of correlations and internal-time operators. Thus, dynamics has been extended once again (general relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos theory).
  • The universe as a whole is in a non-equilibrium state and it is an irreversible process with pockets of reversible dynamics.
  • In general, one of the goals of the authors is to make dynamics and thermodynamics consistent with each other.

The Dancing Wu Li Masters – Gary Zukav

Gary Zukav’s book, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, simply describes (without math) quantum physics and relativity since their inception at the beginning of the 20th century. Zukav skillfully presents the paradoxes and questions posed and asked by some of the smartest people in history including Einstein, Bohr, Born, Heisenberg, von Neumann, Feynman, etc… He carefully elucidates the evolution of the answers to these paradoxes and questions.

There are numerous analogies with eastern cosmologies which may help readers understand the wild results and conclusions of modern physics. The book is perfect for those without a strong background in the quantitative sciences who wish to understand what quantum physics reveals about the universe. Although dated, (1979) it is inspirational and should get readers excited about reading more up to date books.

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government – David Talbot

I ordered The Devil’s Chessboard, by David Talbot, and let it collect dust for many months. What a mistake! It must be one of the most eye-opening books about covert power structures in America. Thanks to the writing style and organization, it was hard to put the book down. It should be a must read for any serious student of the time period 1950-1970. In some ways it nicely interweaves with the final chapters of Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope which was published in 1964 without knowledge of the many facts publicly released and discovered since Quigley’s publication. Indeed, consider this: in 1927 Allen Dulles became the 2nd director of the Council on Foreign Relations and from 1933 to 1944 he was the Council’s secretary. The are too many astounding observations to write them all here. Do yourself a favor and read the book.
Many reviewers claim that JFK and the Unspeakable is a slightly better book regarding the JFK assassination; however, it seems the overall consensus is that The Devil’s Chessboard is the best book on Allen Welsh Dulles, John Foster Dulles, James Jesus Angleton and the early history of the CIA.

The Great War for Civilisation – Robert Fisk

The Great War for Civilisation by Robert Fisk provides a comprehensive account of events in the Middle East in the 2nd half of the 20th century. The book, despite being 1000+ pages, is easily readable thanks to Fisk’s incredible stories of adventure, harrowing near death experiences, and interviews with interesting people. Fisk interviewed and reported on some of the areas most notorious figures such as Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, among others. This is the book to read to have a proper introduction and realistic, albeit with a Western perspective, understanding of historical events in the Middle East.

Tragedy and Hope – Carroll Quigley

Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley narrates and analyzes world history from the late 1800’s to 1964. Throughout Quigley’s narration he mentions details of individual people who welded enormous power and influence over events; it would be naive to suggest that they were “all powerful” – some of the time they successfully shaped history while at other times they failed. It is simply the nature of the hierarchical system of organization of society which encourages and allows such influence.

I would agree with G. Edward Griffin that conspiracy is an important force in the formation of history and is critical to understanding why events progress in various ways. However, we must be careful with attributing full power of determination to such forces. We should qualify with Bismarck’s comment that: “The statesman’s task is to hear God’s footsteps marching through history, and to try and catch on to His coattails as He marches past.”

It is humorous that most people on the far right recommend Quigley when he mentions several times in the book that he despises them and their motives. For instance on page 1244:

The second most numerous group in the United States is the petty bourgeoisie, including millions of persons who regard themselves as middle class and are under all the middle-class anxieties and pressures, but often earn less money than unionized laborers. As a results of these things, they are often very insecure, envious, filled with hatreds, and are generally the chief recruits for any Radical Right, Fascist, or hate campaigns against any group that is different or which refuses to conform to middle-class values. … They form the major portion of the Republican Party’s supporters in the towns of America, as they did for the Nazis in Germany…

This attitude is reflected in various forms throughout the book. On the other hand, Quigley greatly supports conservatism of an interesting type; on page 1232 he says:

… we might say that the whole recent controversy between conservatism and liberalism is utterly wrongheaded and ignorant. Since the true role of conservatism must be to conserve the tradition of our society, and since that tradition is a liberal tradition, the two should be closely allied in their aim at common goals.

He reflects on the underlying power relationships and how they function when he continues: “So long as liberals and conservatives have as their primary goals to defend interests and to belabor each other for partisan reasons, they cannot do this.” The traditions of society cannot be conserved because the power held by special interests opposes unification.

Far right people are the first to tell you about grand conspiracies like the Trilateral Commission or the Round Table groups as mentioned by Quigley. In fact, it was from a clip of Alex Jones that I learned about Quigley’s book. In my own experience both the far right and far left maintain ridiculous and unrealistic outlooks and understandings of power.

The Western Tradition, which Quigley mentions extensively, exists in his mind, if not in the real world, as a basis for all the progress and success of the people who self-identify as “Western.” He states on page 1229 that Western Traditions consist of six core fundamental ideologies:

  1. There is a truth, a reality.
  2. No person, group, or organization has the whole picture of the truth.
  3. Every person of goodwill has some aspect of the truth, some vision of it from the angle of his own experience.
  4. Through discussion, the aspects of the truth held by many can be pooled and arranged to form a consensus closer to the truth than any of the sources that contributed to it.
  5. This consensus is a temporary approximation of the truth, which is no sooner made than new experiences and additional information make it possible for it to be reformulated in a closer approximation of the truth by continued discussion.
  6. Thus Western man’s picture of the truth advances, by successive approximations, closer and closer to the whole truth without ever reaching it.

However, Quigley is no idealist, and his thoughts help to provide a realistic understanding of the nature of power in the hierarchies which control and function on various levels in nation-states. And he does this through a narration and analysis of “history in our time.”

Page 1 of 16

Become a Friend of GNOME [ GNU Link] kde-user

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén