Thursday, September 15, 2016

Walker, Matter Over Mind

Elaine Walker has written a book that most people will both learn from and argue with. Which makes it a worthwhile read. Matter Over Mind: Cosmos, Chaos, and Curiosity (Dog Ear Publishing, 2016) is a grand tour, guided primarily by chaos theory, through the cosmos, consciousness, society, morality, longevity, and curiosity.

She contrasts two paradigms, abstract thought and nature, which she sometimes describes mathematically as Euclidean geometry and chaos theory. Although she recognizes the necessity of abstract thought, she wants to restrain it. You can see where she is going with these pairings: “chaos theory and Euclidean geometry, truth and superstition, evolution and creationism, freedom and bureaucracy, a libertarian society and a totalitarian regime, equal opportunity and forced equality, individuality and mandated behavior.” You may not opt for the first alternative in every case even though you probably would not embrace the second. You may want an alternative that lies somewhere in between. But Walker doesn’t deal in nuance or compromise. She extends her model as far as she can. And sometimes it sheds light on old problems.

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