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Order Out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  441 ratings  ·  33 reviews

Belgian philosopher Isabelle Stengers and Ilya Prigogine, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1977 for his work on the thermodynamics of non-equilibrium systems, make their ideas accessible to a wide audience in this book, which has engendered massive debate in Europe and America. Stengers and Prigogine show how the two great themes of classic science, order and chaos, which coex

Paperback, 1st edition Bantam New Age Books, 349 pages
Published April 1984 by Bantam Books (first published 1984)
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Blaine Well, I'm not a trained scientist and had a tough time reading it back in the late 1980s even though it was written for the layperson without math, ph…moreWell, I'm not a trained scientist and had a tough time reading it back in the late 1980s even though it was written for the layperson without math, physics, and chemistry technicalities. BUT, there's a lot of very important history and philosophy of science questions addressed in it, specifically how Newtonian science and the world of modern physics both continue to believe in the unreality of time, irreversibility, and their role in evolution. Prigogine's ideas are so important that I advise sticking it out and doing everything you can to understand as much as you can for they really amount to a new vision of science, one that is much more human, one that re-enchants the disenchantment of traditional science. Make no mistake, the traditional science worldview still reigns today (2017) but the self-organizing, complex systems view is in direct competition with it. You might say Prigogine is to Einstein what Einstein was to Newton... a whole new paradigm of thought. (less)

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Chris Fellows
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed with this book. The first few chapters, on the history of science, were most enjoyable, and I appreciated the clarity Prigogine and Stengers brought to the distinction between traditional physics as the science of reversible processes and chemistry as the science of irreversible processes. (I should declare my bias here at the outset: I am a physical chemist, and by training and inclination I regard reversible processes as no more than useful mathematical fictions. All real pr ...more
Mengsen Zhang
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I came across this book when browsing the library shelves for a little project on Prigogine's Brusselator model related to nonlinear chemical reactions. The reward certainly exceeded my expectation. Prigogine has been an important figure in the study of dissipative structures and far from equilibrium systems, e.g. biological systems, and social systems etc.. When one consider the behavior of those complex systems, time can no longer be treated as (paradoxically) static as in classical dynamics. ...more
Joe Raimondo
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book rearranged my brain cells in terms of thinking about emrgent propoerties.
Alex Lee
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it
The authors' enthusiasm comes out quite strongly. Congruent with their Kantian world view, they combine disparate fields of study in order to assemble "noumena causa" by which order can be achieved regardless of expression... this is a search for the pure logic of material relations found through the a priori field of mathematics. Thus this book jumps onto the bandwagon of the 20th century in order to disassemble time in order to bring order. This order must be of a symmetrical nature since equi ...more
Oct 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This book simply changed everything for me... It opened me to the world of chaos theory and made me understand that every biological system (in essence every 'open system' in a classical physics sense) is a chaotic system... Wow, to be able to see and analyze everything as a chaotic very much insight...
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Blew my mind. Conceptually somewhat difficult, but once it all clicked - it hit me hard.
Ben McFarland
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's often said that an author really writes only one book, over and over again in different ways. This has never been more true than for Ilya Prigogine. I have read three of his books over the past few months, and each is making the same points in different ways. The most useful distinction is audience: From Being to Becoming (the earliest) is for chemists and physicists; The End of Certainty (the most recent) is for the sci-curious at a popular science level; and Order Out of Chaos is for the ...more
En las leyes del caos nos encontramos frente a la exposición extendida de la teoría de estructuras disipativas que le valió el Nobel. Ahora si, Prigogine desenfunda adecuadamente su filo científico para plasmar su visión acerca de la irreversibilidad y las rupturas de simetría temporal en procesos químicos conocidos.

Nos encontraremos en esta obra conceptos físico-matemáticos potentes y muy relevantes como el desplazamiento de Berouilli, el operador de Perron-Frobenius y las divergencias de Poin
Nathan Titus
The first third of this book wasn´t about science so much as the hisory of science. It felt like a very drawn out introduction. After that, the book became highly technical, explaining almost everything in terms of equations. That may not be much of a complaint in a science book, but that was just a symptom. The book failed to anwser, or even to adress, the question of what it means to your non-scientist everyman. One gets the disticnt impression reading this book that nothing they are talking a ...more
Apr 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: people capable of understanding math
Sometimes, I was like, "Whoa! This is really interesting and provocative! Quantum uncertainty really should make us rethink our notions of objectivity and determinism!" But a lot of the time, I was more like, "I don't understand all these variables and functions, thus I have no actual idea why microscopic chaos creates order. But I believe you, Ilya, really I do." Anyway, the failing is mine, but so is the rating.
Matt Mayevsky
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-and-math
At times very difficult and challenging book. There are patterns and references to physics and physical chemistry, which usually repel humanists. But do not be afraid. Even if you do not understand everything, the book will sharpen your appetite for knowledge. A must read for anyone seriously interested in science and forecasting.
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it

All description implies a choice of the measurement device, a choice of the question asked. In this sense, the answer, the result of the measurement, does not give us access to a given reality. We have to decide which measurement we are going to perform and which question our experiments will ask the system.

No single theoretical language articulating the variables to which a well defined value can be attributed can exhaust the physical content of a system. Various possible languages and
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was an ordeal to finish. It was very difficult. Partly because it invokes a lot of chemistry and thermodynamics, which are two topics that I'm ignorant on.

The topic is chaos, or rather chaos theory. This is the perspective of Soviet/European side as opposed to American approaches a la Feigenbaum It aims to go very deep to the heart of our conceptions of the universe and how it works. I can't claim that I understood or appreciate all of it. But the project was huge.
Leo W.
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
A period piece. Much overblown in positioning self-organization and dynamic chaos in the pantheon of human understanding. Didn't buy his arguments of entropy as a selection rule (on initial conditions). Several fine points, though. Especially liked his clarity of some aspects of the mathematics undergirding quantum mechanics.
Vasile Visotchi
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Miau 🐾
Alan Chan
Apr 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Yeah, I always know I came from chaos.
Juan Tomás
Nov 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No sé muy bien para qué público habría de ser este libro, pero en mi caso fue ameno, accesible, instructivo y alentador. Entiendo que para muchos no vaya a ser así.
Chris S
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's a challenging but possible read without some kind of undergraduate-level scientific background, but it explains certain technical concepts with a kind of clarity and efficiency you wouldn't find in most textbooks. The sections where Prigogine and Stengers lay out their hypothesis could have been elaborated more, and I feel that certain logical jumps have been made that many readers won't be prepared for. Nevertheless, an interesting, mostly well-written book on the relationship between scie ...more
Ricardo Acuña
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Hay diversas perspectivas desde las cuales se puede apreciar este libro. A mi me pareció extraordinaria la perspectiva epistemológica. Las "leyes de la naturaleza" de la dinámica clásica asociadas al determinismo a la reversibilidad del tiempo, son modelos que son válidos dentro de un conjunto limitado de sucesos.. Los nuevos modelos que plantea Prigogine de las "leyes del caos", aportan una explicación más amplia que abarca y extiende la dinámica clásica y explican la irreversibilidad del tiemp ...more
Karl Zachry
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's been a long time since I read this book. I should probably go back and read it again. My recollection was that it was quite technical, but this was the first book on chaos theory I ever read and have ever since been fascinated with it. For the first time it seem there is a science that explains social interactions. I clearly saw bifurcation points in my work place.
Do to the scientific nature of it, I recall it was hard to read and I really had to concentrate. But frankly this was one of the
Jan 08, 2015 marked it as to-read
The metaphorical and practical implications of self-organization are staggering, perhaps even more so than those of quantum mechanics. I first became aware of self-organization sixteen years ago when, just out of college, a friend handed me Order out of Chaos by Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers. This book blew my mind. Amid numerous examples of self-organization in chemical systems, the book gave me my first glimpse of the Mandelbrot Set, an extraordinarily complicated fractal generated by a ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
HOw do the termites know how to build their
5 foot high nests?
Uses Chemical Thermodynamics to explore how evolution
could possibly occur.
Posits the idea that the 2nd law of thermodynamics,
is more basic than quantum mechanics, ie that QM
is based on 2nd law, not the other way.
Read this with How Nature Works by Per Bak
Rodrigo Segura Moreno
Compendia las leyes y genera una visión un tanto intuitiva sobre los sistemas caóticos. Lamentablemente, al menos la versión que tengo, no da seña alguna al lector de algunos "requisitos previos" para entender a mejor manera el libro.

La aproximación que intenta hacer Ilya para introducir el tema, es suave pero, rápidamente se torna en exigente. A mi parecer, no es una de sus mejores obras.
Feb 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Some of this made sense.
Harry Kessels
Mar 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nature, systems
systematic approach to analysis of organic and anorganic systems. recommended if you're interested in chaos theory and biological systems dynamics from a research perspective
Jerry Balzano
Jan 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
A classic. Worth reading and re-reading (even though I gave it only 4 stars ... it's really closer to 4.5).
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Mi é vagamente chiaro in termini assoluti, ma non mi fate domande specifiche e soprattutto non fate riferimento a nessuna delle equazioni piene di lettere greche.
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
A must read.
Jul 04, 2009 added it
recommended by my physics guru, interested to see whether it's new agey fluff or something substantial
May 29, 2011 marked it as to-read
dude i didn finish this book. it's a friggin textbook. but it's cool. read it.
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Ilya, Viscount Prigogine (Russian: Илья́ Рома́нович Приго́жин, Ilya Romanovich Prigozhin) was a Russian-born naturalized Belgian physical chemist and Nobel Laureate noted for his work on dissipative structures, complex systems, and irreversibility.

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