The separateness and connection of individuals is perhaps the central question of human life: What, exactly, is my individuality? To what degree is it unique? To what degree can it be shared, and how? To the many philosophical and literary speculations about these topics over time, modern science has added the curious twist of quantum theory, which requires that the elementary particles of which everything consists have no individuality at all. All aspects of chemistry depend on this lack of individuality, as do many branches of physics. From where, then, does our individuality come?
The nature/nurture debate is not dead. Dichotomous views of development still underlie many fundamental debates in the biological and social sciences. Developmental systems theory (DST) offers a new conceptual framework with which to resolve such debates. DST views ontogeny as contingent cycles of interaction among a varied set of developmental resources, no one of which controls the process. These factors include DNA, cellular and organismic structure, and social and ecological interactions.
Connectionist approaches, Andy Clark argues, are driving cognitive science toward a radical reconception of its explanatory endeavor. At the heart of this reconception lies a shift toward a new and more deeply developmental vision of the mind - a vision that has important implications for the philosophical and psychological understanding of the nature of concepts, of mental causation, and of representational change.
One influential view of science focuses on the credibility that scientists attach to alternative theories and on the evolution of these credibilities under the impact of data. Interpreting credibility as probability leads to the Bayesian analysis of inquiry, which has helped us to understand diverse aspects of scientific practice. Eric Martin and Daniel N. Osherson take as their starting point a different set of intuitions about the variables to be retained in a model of inquiry.
The psychologist William James observed that "a native talent for perceiving analogies is ... the leading fact in genius of every order." The centrality and the ubiquity of analogy in creative thought have been noted again and again by scientists, artists, and writers, and understanding and modeling analogical thought have emerged as two of the most important challenges for cognitive science.
The last decade saw the arrival of a new player in the creation/evolution debate—the intelligent design creationism (IDC) movement, whose strategy is to act as "the wedge" to overturn Darwinism and scientific naturalism. This anthology of writings by prominent creationists and their critics focuses on what is novel about the new movement. It serves as a companion to Robert Pennock's Tower of Babel, in which he criticizes the wedge movement, as well as other new varieties of creationism.
Wonders and the Order of Nature is about the ways in which European naturalists from the High Middle Ages through the Enlightenment used wonder and wonders, the passion and its objects, to envision themselves and the natural world. Monsters, gems that shone in the dark, petrifying springs, celestial apparitions—these were the marvels that adorned romances, puzzled philosophers, lured collectors, and frightened the devout.
Nature has secrets, and it is the desire to uncover them that motivates the scientific quest. But what makes these "secrets" secret? Is it that they are beyond human ken? that they concern divine matters? And if they are accessible to human seeking, why do they seem so carefully hidden? Such questions are at the heart of Peter Pesic's enlightening effort to uncover the meaning of modern science.