Picnic Table in the Sun

Chapter 15 from A Different Universe by Robert Laughlin.

We scientists tend to think of art, history, and so forth as interesting but too complex to be professionally useful to us, while the humanists tend to think of physics, chemistry, and so forth as interesting but too simple to be professionally useful to them.

Humanists have a strange practice of organizing discussions around words rather than things – the exact opposite of how it works in physical science – presumably because their business is understanding how people work rather than understanding how machines work.

In the book the context around the next definitions is rather ironic.

Emergence means complex organizational structure growing out of simple rules. Emergence means stable inevitability in the way certain things are. Emergence means unpredictability, in the sense of small events causing great and qualitative changes in larger ones. Emergence means the fundamental impossibility of control. Emergence is a law of nature to which humans are subservient.


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