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From Electrons to Elephants and Elections

Exploring the Role of Content and Context

  • Explains the multifaceted dialectic at hand

  • Shows how it shapes the foundations of science, our thought, and the very reality itself

  • Addresses the important tension between content and context and important issues pertaining to emergence

Part of the book series: The Frontiers Collection (FRONTCOLL)

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eBook USD 84.99
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  • ISBN: 978-3-030-92192-7
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Hardcover Book USD 109.99
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Table of contents (45 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxx
  2. Mathematics/Theoretical Physics

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 257-257
    2. Contents, Contexts, and Basics of Contextuality

      • Ehtibar N. Dzhafarov
      Pages 259-286

About this book

This highly interdisciplinary book, covering more than six fields, from philosophy and sciences all the way up to the humanities and with contributions from eminent authors, addresses the interplay between content and context, reductionism and holism and their meeting point: the notion of emergence. Much of today’s science is reductionist (bottom-up); in other words, behaviour on one level is explained by reducing it to components on a lower level. Chemistry is reduced to atoms, ecosystems are explained in terms of DNA and proteins, etc. This approach fails quickly since we can’t cannot extrapolate to the properties of atoms solely from Schrödinger's equation, nor figure out protein folding from an amino acid sequence or obtain the phenotype of an organism from its genotype. An alternative approach to this is holism (top-down). Consider an ecosystem or an organism as a whole: seek patterns on the same scale. Model a galaxy not as 400 billion-point masses (stars) but as an object in its own right with its own properties (spiral, elliptic). Or a hurricane as a structured form of moist air and water vapour. Reductionism is largely about content, whereas holistic models are more attuned to context. Reductionism (content) and holism (context) are not opposing philosophies — in fact, they work best in tandem. Join us on a journey to understand the multifaceted dialectic concerning this duo and how they shape the foundations of sciences and humanities, our thoughts and, the very nature of reality itself.

Keywords

  • Reductionism and Emergence
  • Emergentism
  • Holism
  • levels of descriptions
  • Contextuality
  • Top-down versus bottom up analysis
  • Emergence of complexity
  • nonlinearity and emergence
  • effective theories
  • evolution of complex systems

Editors and Affiliations

  • Einstein Forum, Potsdam, Germany

    Shyam Wuppuluri

  • Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK

    Ian Stewart

About the editors

Shyam Wuppuluri is the recipient of the 2020 Albert-Einstein Fellowship at Caputh and is an elected fellow of The Royal Society of Arts. He teaches at Mumbai and has a long standing interest in foundations of sciences and philosophy. As a lead editor, he has published several highly interdisciplinary volumes on various themes including "The Map and the Territory: Exploring the Foundations of Science, Thought and Reality" and "Space, Time and the Limits of Human Understanding".

Ian Stewart FRS is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and author or coauthor of over 200 research papers on pattern formation, chaos, network dynamics, and biomathematics. He has been a Fellow of The Royal Society since 2001, and has served on Council, its governing body. He has five honorary doctorates. He has published more than 120 books including "Singularities and Groups in Bifurcation Theory", "The Symmetry Perspective", popular mathematics books "Why Beauty is Truth", "Calculating the Cosmos", "Significant Figures", "What’s the Use?", and the four-volume series "The Science of Discworld" with the late Sir Terry Pratchett and Jack Cohen. His awards include the Royal Society’s Faraday Medal, the Gold Medal of the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications, the Zeeman Medal (IMA and London Mathematical Society), the Lewis Thomas Prize (Rockefeller University), and the Euler Book Prize (Mathematical Association of America).

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

eBook USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-92192-7
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)