Book Review:The Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler

Rating:5/5

One sentence: A book that gives in-depth explanations of how order arises in natural and artificial systems, how creativity works and how the ghost (a human mind) in the machine (a human body) makes mankind unique.

This book completely demolishes the theory of Behaviorism which was dominant at the time of its writing. That part is not so relevant anymore because mainstream psychology has already moved on from the reductionistic Behaviorism. It gives insights into the many characteristics of open hierarchical systems which permeate all life and human systems. The meaning of language depends on the context, which depends on the wider context, in an ever-expanding frame of reference.  I find it fascinating how bits and pieces of information are now connected in ways that I never imagined previously.

The insights into evolution I found very interesting. I have not come across some of the concepts that he explains in normal evolution textbooks, but it may just be that I do not have the necessary expertise. Especially the draw-back-and-leap method of avoiding dead ends. This also ties in with a lot of processes that Steve Pavlina discovered in work on personal development. More implications for the development of organisms, knowledge and humor I am still discovering.

Some of what he says mesh perfectly with some of what I have learned about game theory in the books Non-zero, Bionomics etc. Regarding creativity, I can understand now better why the principles for creativity that James Clear laid out work.

As to be expected there are quite a few archaic and technical terms that are not in common use any longer. Some of the Cold-War-era references I only half-understood. I found this book to be a great read, and highly recommended. I definitely want to read his other book on creativity.

To happiness, and beyond!

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One thought on “Book Review:The Ghost in the Machine by Arthur Koestler

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