[extropy-chat] Fw: Live Chat With Robert Wright

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Thu Feb 12 20:54:55 UTC 2004

This may be very interesting.  I've found Robert Wright's books to be very
influential on my thinking and highly recommended.

- Jef

ISCID wrote:
> Live Chat With Robert Wright
> Thursday February 12th
> 9pm Eastern
> http://www.iscid.org/robert-wright.php
> Robert Wright, a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania,
> is the author of _Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny_ and _The Moral
> Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life_, both published by
> Vintage Books. The _Moral Animal_ was named by the New York Times
> Book Review as one of the 12 best books of 1994 and has been
> published in 12 languages. _Nonzero_ was named a New York Times Book
> Review Notable Book for 2000 and has been published in nine
> languages. Wright's first book, _Three Scientists and Their Gods:
> Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information_, was published in 1988
> and was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. Wright is
> a contributing editor at The New Republic, Time magazine, and Slate.
> He has also written for the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, and the
> New York Times Magazine. He previously worked at The Sciences
> magazine, where his column "The Information Age" won the National
> Magazine Award for Essay and Criticism.
> In his book _Nonzero_ Wright sets out to "define the arrow of the
> history of life, from the primordial ooze to the World Wide Web."
> Twenty two chapters later, after a sweeping and vivid narrative of
> the human past, he has succeeded- -and has mounted a powerful
> challenge to the conventional view that evolution and human history
> are aimless.
> Ingeniously employing game theory-the logic of "zero-sum" and
> "non-zero-sum" games-Wright isolates the impetus behind life's basic
> direction: the impetus that, via biological evolution, created
> complex, intelligent animals; and then, via cultural evolution,
> pushed the human species toward deeper and vaster social complexity.
> In this view, the coming of today's interdependent global society was
> "in the cards"-not quite inevitable, perhaps, but, as Wright puts it,
> "so probable as to inspire wonder." So probable, indeed, as to invite
> speculation about higher purpose-especially in light of "the phase of
> history that seems to lie immediately ahead: a social, political, and
> even moral culmination of sorts."
> In a work of vast erudition and pungent wit, Wright takes on some of
> the past century's most prominent thinkers, including Isaiah Berlin,
> Karl Popper, Stephen Jay Gould, and Richard Dawkins. He finds
> evidence for his position in unexpected corners, from native American
> hunter-gatherer societies and Polynesian chiefdoms to Medieval
> Islamic commerce and precocious Chinese technology; from conflicts of
> interest among a cell's genes to discord at the World Trade
> Organization.
> Wright argues that a coolly scientific appraisal of humanity's
> three-billion- year past can give new spiritual meaning to the
> present and even offer political guidance for the future.
> _______________________________________________
> ISCID Newsletter
> International Society for Complexity, Information and Design
> http://www.iscid.org

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