This book offers a study of the three evolutions in a circle (cosmos, life, and knowledge) with the aim of discussing human social behavior, a metaphor of the general behavior of nature (from which man derives) within the fluctuating equilibrium between the opposite tendencies to cohesion and shredding; a circularity revealing an indefinite and probably never conclusive run-up of human beings to the knowledge of nature; an analysis that demonstrates any theoretical/practical impossibility to formulate absolute certainties, since it depicts a situation in which man finds himself hovering between a rational way of living and the contradictory modus operandi of mythos. All that, within a society where the powerful communication and transportation technologies give rise to conflicts and fragmentations, where anyone’s will to self-distinguishing is enhanced by highlighting any small difference and obscuring any large similarity. The main difference between this book and existing ones stems from its interdisciplinary nature, particularly because it establishes a close connection between three, apparently so different disciplines—cosmology, life sciences, and sociology—compared with respect to their increasing complexity laws, giving rise to always more chaotic configurations.
Table of Contents
Part 1: Law, Chance, and Evolution. 1. The Evolution of the Universe. 1.1 From Lemaître’s predictions to Hubble’s observations. 1.2 From the Big Bang to particles. 1.3 From thermonuclear fusion to neutron stars. Pulsars, black holes, and the future of the Universe. 2. The Origins of Life and Its Evolution on the Earth. 2.1 The anthropic principle. 2.2 Nature’s constants and the conditions for the existence of life. 2.3 The physical-climatic conditions on Earth. 2.4 The epochs of life’s evolution on Earth. 2.5 Looking for "sufficient" conditions. 2.6 What if matter were engraved with life? 3. The Evolution of the Cognitive Experience. 3.1 Mythos and archetype. 3.2 The "nuclear conscience". 3.3 From Mythos to Logos: the "extended conscience". 3.4 Two cerebral hemispheres, two logics. 3.5 A mixing of unpredictable results in the "project" of the living. 3.6 The mental models of reality: filters, ambiguities, contradictions. Part 2: Within Society between Mythos and Logos. 4. Human Societies and the Social Models of Reality. 4.1 The pathway of human societies. 4.2 Democracy and migrations. 4.3 Stereotypes, prejudices, and the "common sense". 4.4 Specialization and fragmentation, self-referencing, and radicalism. 5. The Conflict between Faith and Science. 5.1 God’s idea and the gaps of knowledge. 5.2 Monotheisms face-to-face. 5.3 The opinion of a theologian. 5.4 From a necessary dialogue to a possible super-religion. 6. The Search for Equilibrium. 6.1 Antinomies’ tension and control. 6.2 Tolerance as the first objective. Part 3: Integrative and Final Considerations. 7. Between Dream and Reality. 7.1 The unity of culture. 7.2 The myth of unity and the theory of everything. 7.3 Constraints posed by the flow of time. 7.4 Utopias: consoling fantasies? 8. About the General Meaning of "Myth". 8.1 The positive role of myth along the development of sciences. 8.2 Rationality and myth in music, architecture, and literature. 8.3 Myth-reason in Hermann Hesse and Luigi Pirandello. 9. Where Is Evolution Bringing Us To? 9.1 The open society and the mindful pluralism. 9.2 The future human society: a superorganism or a Babel Tower? 9.3 A possible future for human beings.
Rosolino Buccheri, retired research director in astrophysics and cosmic physics, National Research Council (CNR), Italy, was the leader of the Palermo CNR group for the European Space Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration international space missions in high-energy astrophysics. Among the most important results of the group were (i) the discovery of pulsed gamma radiation from the Crab Nebula and Vela pulsars and (ii) the discovery of the first superfast binary pulsar, PSR1953+29, from the Arecibo Radio Observatory (Puerto Rico). Dr. Buccheri was director of the Instituto di Fisica Cosmica e Applicazioni dell’Informatica (four times between 1985 and 1990) and the Area della Ricerca (1989–2000), both CNR. He was also visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik, Germany; Cornell University, USA; the University of Potchefstroom, South Africa; Nottingham University, Great Britain; and the Astronomical Institute of Tatranska Lomniça, Slovakia. In addition, he was a scientific referee of the international journals Astronomy and Astrophysics, Astrophysical Journal, and Experimental Astrophysics and has co-directed international conferences on astrophysics and the nature of time. He has published 6 books in Italian, authored more than 200 scientific publications in international journals, and co-authored the book L’idea del Tempo with Margherita Hack and Pippo Battaglia.