The Complementary Nature

The Complementary Nature

By J. A. Scott Kelso and David A. Engstrom

A Bradford Book

Hardcover $7.75 S £6.95
Paperback $32.00 S £25.00

Overview

Author(s)

Praise

Summary

Why do we divide our world into contraries? Why do we perceive and interpret so many of life's contraries as mutually exclusive, either/or dichotomies such as individual~collective, self~other, body~mind, nature~nurture, cooperation~competition? Throughout history, many have recognized that truth may well lie in between such polar opposites. In The Complementary Nature, Scott Kelso and David Engstrøm contend that ubiquitous contraries are complementary and propose a comprehensive, empirically based scientific theory of how the polarized world and the world in between can be reconciled. They nominate the tilde, or squiggle (~), as the symbolic punctuation for reconciled complementary pairs.

Experiments show that the human brain is capable of displaying two apparently contradictory, mutually exclusive behaviors at the same time. Coordination dynamics—a mathematically expressed theory that reconciles the scientific language of "states" with the novel dynamical language of "tendencies"—attests to the complementary nature inherent in human brains and behavior. It may explain, Kelso and Engstrøm argue, why we (and nature) appear to partition things, events, and ideas into pairs. Kelso and Engstrøm's account is not just metaphorical; the reconciliations they describe are grounded in the principles and mathematical language of the theory of coordination dynamics. The Complementary Nature provides a clear-cut methodology for this evolving theory of brain and behavior that can also be applied to areas and developments outside the neurosciences, hence aiding reconciliations within and between disparate fields.

Hardcover

Out of Print ISBN: 9780262112918 344 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 99 illus.

Paperback

$32.00 S | £25.00 ISBN: 9780262612227 344 pp. | 7 in x 9 in 99 illus.

Endorsements

  • The Complementary Nature is a genuinely fascinating, provocative, and unique book. It rises to the challenge of describing how either/or thinking obscures the in-between dynamic realities that constitute life itself and in turn how these realities rest on complementary rather than oppositional pairs. In the process, it breaks new ground and opens fresh terrain for future research by illuminating ways in which the science of coordination dynamics—from the study of brains to the study of behavior—offers new paths for understanding the nature of human nature.

    Maxine Sheets-Johnstone

    author of The Primacy of Movement

  • To date, Bohr's generalized complementarity principle has been no more than an epistemological stance with little to say to the scientist expressing a normal interest in predicting natural phenomena. In their book, Kelso and Engstrøm show how the principle can advance scientific prediction and, in turn, how science—especially the science of coordinating—can develop the principle. Scientists and philosophers alike will find much to ponder and debate in the pages of this book, a book that I'm sure Niels Bohr would have found deeply satisfying.

    M. T. Turvey

    Trustees' Distinguished Professor, University of Connecticut, and Senior Research Scientist, Haskins Laboratories

  • The Complementary Nature is a genuinely fascinating, provocative, and unique book. It rises to the challenge of describing how either/or thinking obscures the in-between dynamic realities that constitute life itself and in turn how these realities rest on complementary rather than oppositional pairs. In the process, it breaks new ground and opens fresh terrain for future research by illuminating ways in which the science of coordination dynamics—from the study of brains to the study of behavior—offers new paths for understanding the nature of human nature.

    Maxine Sheets-Johnstone

    author of The Primacy of Movement