Springer, Dordrecht


329 Pages

ISBN 978-90-481-4090-9

Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
vol. 130

Understanding origins

contemporary views on the origin of life, mind and society

Edited by

Francisco Varela , Jean-Pierre Dupuy

The main intention of this book is to bring together contributions from biology, cognitive science, and the humanities for a joint exploration of some of the main contemporary notions dealing with the understanding of origins in life,mind and society. The question of origin is inseparable from a web of hypotheses that both shape and explain us. Although origin invites examination, it always seems to elude our grasp. Notions have always been produced to interpret the genesis of life, mind, andthe social order, and these notions have all remained unstable in the face of theoretical and empirical challenges. In any given period, the central ideas on origin have had a mutual resonance frequently overlooked by specialists engaged in theirown particular fields. As a consequence, this book should be of interest to a wide audi­ ence. In particular, for all those engaged in the social sciences and the philosophy of science, it is unique document, since bridges to the natural sciences in a mutually illuminating way are hard to find. Whether as a primary source or as inspirational reading, we feel this book has a place in every library. The material comes from an international meeting held in September 13-16, 1987 at Stanford University, organized by F. Varela and J.-P. Dupuy at the request of the Program of Interdisciplinary Research of Stanford University. We are grateful to Rene Girard, the Program Director, for making it possible with the help of the Mellon Foundation.

Publication details

Full citation:

Varela, F. , Dupuy, J.-P. (eds) (1992). Understanding origins: contemporary views on the origin of life, mind and society, Springer, Dordrecht.

Table of Contents

Understanding origins

Dupuy Jean-Pierre; Varela Francisco


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Girard René


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Supplement to apocalypse

McKenna Andrew J.


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Girard and the origin of culture

Livingston Paisley


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The origin of money

Orléan André


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Primitive money, modern money

Goux Jean-Joseph


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Origins of order in evolution

Kauffman Stuart A.


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Optimization in question

Dupré John


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The evolution of generic forms

Goodwin Brian C.


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Whence perceptual meaning?

Varela Francisco


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The original and the copy

Eco Umberto


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