Top critical review
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Some good bits but don't be misled by the title.
on 24 May 2012
Judging by the reviews already submitted, this seems to be a book you either love or hate, perhaps depending on whether your background is in physics or philosophy. Paul Davies's chapter is the highlight for me, where he explores the consequences for the laws of physics of a universe containing a finite amount of information, which implies that we cannot, even in principle, express the real numbers. Seth Lloyds contribution also left me wanting more.
Our best science writers excel at expressing complex ideas in simple language, but you won't find any Feymann or Dawkins in this book. There are regular interesting snippets but the general standard of the writing (or writers) is very poor, with far too many "aren't I clever" chapters, whose aim appears to be specifically not to communicate with the reader.
If you have spent long enough studying philosophy then you may be able to cope with mouthfulls such as "hermeneutic" and "proto-endosemiotic" without an encyclopeidia to hand; you may even be happy to dwell on whether "the unique constellation of general aspects of a phenomenon makes up its uniqueness"; but there can be no excuse for this:
"Following Bickard, I would suggest that the normativity that defines representational error is an emergent property of the relationship of the Shannon-Boltzmann referential relationship with respect to the organisation of the non-equilibrium processes that interpret it".
So if the title of this book suggests to you that it is about maths, physics and computation then it isn't. It should be filed somewhere in the metaphysics, theology, philosophy or religion section. Good luck.