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Degrees Of Freedom: Living In Dynamic Boundaries Paperback – 31 Jan 1997

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Paperback, 31 Jan 1997
£25.16 £46.60
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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Imperial College Press; New edition edition (31 Jan. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1860941028
  • ISBN-13: 978-1860941023
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,356,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Slowly, a new genre of writing is emerging that recognises both partnership and competition as crucial to understanding evolution ... Degrees of Freedom is a fascinating new addition to this debate ... Rayner has elegantly shown that, in much of the microbial world at least, DNA takes a back seat to environmental context. He wants to apply these same principles to the behaviour of more familiar communities such as ant colonies and plant roots and even, more contentiously, to ourselves. Already his ideas, which have been dubbed 'eco-Darwinism', have intrigued evolutionists. Now this accessible book brings his challenging perspective into the public areas." New Scientist, 1997 "Dr Rayner explains with virtuosity the extraordinary properties of the fungi of the woodland floor and relates this to a range of other phenomena, such as how humans learn." SGM Quarterly, Nov 1997 "For such a concise book ... well-referenced and indexed, it is extraordinarily wide in scope." The Ecologist, Jan/Feb 1998 "Highly recommended for biologists of all disciplines." Choice, 1998


Drawing on insights emerging from studies of the cellular networks formed by fungi, this book describes the fundamental indeterminacy that enables life forms to thrive in and create inconstant circumstances. It explains how indeterminacy arises from counteraction between associative and dissociative processes at the reactive interface between living systems and their surroundings. It stresses the relevance of these processes to understanding the "dynamic contexts" within which living systems of all kinds - including human societies - explore for, use up, conserve and recycle sources of energy. By focussing on dynamic boundaries, the book counterbalances the view that living systems are "assembled" entirely from building-block-like units - individuals and genes - that can "freely" be sifted, as opposed to "channelled", by natural selection. It also shows how the versatility that enables life forms to proliferate in rich environments, whilst minimizing losses in restrictive environments, depends on capacities for error and cooperation within a fluid, non-hierarchical power structure.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
Jake Keenan
5.0 out of 5 stars"Broad sweep of biological patterns"
22 April 2012 - Published on Amazon.com
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5.0 out of 5 starstries to solve the individual/collective societal problems by seeing the ecological viewpoint of life.
28 November 2017 - Published on Amazon.com

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