Monday, January 02, 2006

2006: The Dangerous Ideas

First, I'd like to wish readers a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

"The mandate of Edge Foundation is to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society."

At the start of every year, the Edge poses an annual question, and asks some of the foremost contemporary thinkers to share their thoughts on it. This year, the question is "What is your dangerous idea?".

"Here you will find indications of a new natural philosophy, founded on the realization of the import of complexity, of evolution. Very complex systems — whether organisms, brains, the biosphere, or the universe itself — were not constructed by design; all have evolved. There is a new set of metaphors to describe ourselves, our minds, the universe, and all of the things we know in it."

Contributors to this collection of essays include Philip Anderson, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Freeman Dyson, Danny Hillis, Brian Goodwin, Steven Pinker, Douglas Rushkoff and Craig Venter. Of particular personal interest are the essays by Lynn Margulis (our sensory capabilities have evolved as a result of interactions between social bacteria) and Robert Shapiro (we shall understand the origin of life within the next 5 years).

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