On Norbert Wiener’s God & Golem, Inc.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Ethics, Evolution, Magic, Poetry & Prose, Religion, Science, War, Violence & Terrorism

While read­ing Annalee Newitz’ intriguing blog post on io9 about the his­tory of the word cyber, I came across the name Norbert Wiener (not Weiner — get it straight, you Eng­lish­ers) who had intro­duced the term Cyber­net­ics as “the study of con­trol and com­mu­nic­a­tion in machines and liv­ing beings”. His other works include the book God and Golem, Inc.: A Com­ment on Cer­tain Points Where Cyber­net­ics Impinges on Reli­gion, and that title imme­di­ately caught my eye. Stud­ies of the inter­ac­tion between sci­ence, tech­no­logy, and reli­gion always interest me a lot, as do Golems and Jew­ish folk­lore, so Wiener had sold it to me eas­ily.

Some possible principles of cultural evolution

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Evolution, Science

Fol­low­ing is a brief essay on some prin­ciples of evo­lution that could be use­ful in ana­lysing the spread of ideas, con­cepts, and ideo­logical com­plexes in human cul­ture. While there will be many prac­tical diffe­rences between evo­lution in bio­logical entit­ies and cul­tural ones, some gen­eral prin­ciples of evo­lution may per­haps apply to both.

Two recent books on biological, cultural, and spiritual evolution

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Evolution, Poetry & Prose, Religion, Science

Over the past few years, I’ve be­come more and more con­vinced that the concept of evo­lution is not only a power­ful ex­plan­ation of chan­ges and pat­terns in the bio­logic­al world, but also, by exten­sion, of changes and pat­terns in human cul­ture, or the world of ideas. If the sur­vival of (spe­cies of) organ­isms ulti­mately depends on their abil­ity to adapt to ever-chan­ging en­viron­ments, then the same might very well be true of ideas and con­cepts, and I believe it is a fruit­ful line of study to pur­sue this idea.