Complexity and Emergence II: Visions of Cosmic Order, from Particles to People

2:30 pm on Saturday, May 20th, 2017

Past Event

What principles of order underlie the ascent of complexity, from the simplest particles of physics heralding the birth of the universe, through biological forms, to the achievements of civilization? Has a recurrent theme of combination and integration led to multiple fundamental levels from quarks to culture? What do we learn from the ongoing creative process in the sophistication that has arisen in this journey of the universe? Can we trace back human culture and consciousness through a series relationships and things that were innovative at their time of emergence? Our roundtable will explore these and other visions of cosmic order.


William Grassie is an interdisciplinary scholar, academic entrepreneur, social activist, and author. Grassie received a B.A. in political science from Middlebury College and then worked for ten years on nuclear disarmament, citizen diplomacy, community organizing, and sustainability issues in Washington, D.C, Jerusalem, Philadelphia, and West Berlin. He completed a Ph.D. in Religion from Temple University, where… read more »

David Grinspoon is an astrobiologist and prize-winning author. He is a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. His research focuses on climate evolution on Earth-like planets and potential conditions for life elsewhere in the universe. He is involved with several interplanetary spacecraft missions for NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency…. read more »

Tim Maudlin

Professor of Philosophy, New York University

Tim Maudlin is Professor of Philosophy at New York University. He received his B. A. in Physics and Philosophy from Yale and his Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh. His work centers on the interpretation of physical theory: how the mathematical structures used in physics may be understood as… read more »

Ilya Tëmkin

Professor of Biology, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and Research Associate, National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution)

Ilya Tëmkin is an interdisciplinary scientist who studies how evolution works in nature and in human culture in the general framework of the hierarchy theory. An expert on bivalve mollusks, he analyzes the relative roles that ecology, history, and individual development play in diversification and the evolution of organic form. As a specialist on the… read more »

Tyler Volk is professor of biology and environmental studies at New York University. In his just-released book, Quarks to Culture: How We Came to Be (Columbia University Press, May, 2017) Volk explores a rhythm within what he calls the “grand sequence,” which has progressed as a series of levels of sizes and innovations from elementary… read more »

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