Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life
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About the Author
Predrag B. Slijepčevic is a senior lecturer in the Department of Life Sciences at Brunel University London. He is bio-scientist interested in the philosophy of biology. In particular, Predrag investigates how biological systems, from bacteria to animals and beyond, perceive and process environmental stimuli (that is, biological information) and how this processing, which is a form of natural learning, affects the organism-environment interactions. He aims to identify those elements in the organization of biological systems that lead to forms of natural epistemology, or biological intelligence, that might qualify those systems as cognitive agents. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals across all areas of this book. Biocivilisations is his first book.
Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental thinker and activist, a leader in the International Forum on Globalisation, and of the Slow Food Movement. Director of Navdanya and of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, and a tireless crusader for farmers', peasants', and women's rights, she is the author and editor of a score of influential books, among them Oneness vs. the 1%; Making Peace with the Earth; Soil Not Oil; Globalization's New Wars; Seed Sovereignty, Food Security: Women in the Vanguard; and Who Really Feeds the World?
Shiva is the recipient of over twenty international awards, including the Right Livelihood Award (1993); the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic (1998); the Horizon 3000 Award (Austria, 2001); the John Lennon-Yoko Ono Grant for Peace (2008); the Save the World Award (2009); the Sydney Peace Prize (2010); the Calgary Peace Prize (2011); and the Thomas Merton Award (2011). She was the Fukuoka Grand Prize Laureate in 2012.
"Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, and as fascinating as it is informative, thoughtful, and thought-provoking, "Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life" will have a very special appeal and relevance to readers with an interest in bacteriology, microbiology, evolution, nature and ecology."
Midwest Book Review
"Constructed with care, [Slijepčevic's] arguments integrate hundreds of examples from the natural world . . . The prose is solid, impassioned, and informed. . . . [and] by defying entrenched and arrogant assumptions about human superiority, the book shows that people have much to learn from creatures like ants and bacteria."
'A prodigious synthesis and a great, ambitious and informative book dovetailing multiple fields in its effort - largely successful I think - to light a match - and then blow on the fires of the coming "Copernican biological revolution."'
'In Biocivilisations, Predrag Slijepčevic tells stories about animals that create art, insects that do battlefield surgery, trees that perform scientific research, bacteria that create intelligent networks, and whole ecosystems that are organized with an efficiency that surpasses any human supply chain. Maybe you thought humans were the crown of creation. Maybe we humans have to learn humility and respect for the biosphere that birthed us. Maybe our future depends on it.'
Josh Mitteldorf, PhD, coauthor of Cracking the Aging Code
'Predrag Slijepčevic's Biocivilisations: A New Look at the Science of Life offers a powerful and welcome synthesis of what we ought by now to be happy to call Gaian science. It brings together crucial developments in biological systems thinking - such as symbiogenesis, epigenetics, biosemiotics, Gaia theory and autopoiesis - under a comprehensive vision founded on the cosmological longevity and cognitive acumen of the bacterial microcosm and its planetary offspring: multicellular life in all of its forms and alliances. Biocivilisations vigorously dismantles modern strains of scientific and cultural anthropocentrism and their current avatars peddling the futurist delusions of Singularity buffs and AI transhumanists. Slijepčevic's presentation of these crucial and heady matters is properly technical but consistently readable and deeply documented. His approach to science participates in a poetic spirit he perceives everywhere in a terrestrial biosphere that has risen for over four billion years to collective, eventually cross-kingdom consortia such as the 'Wood Wide Web' revealed by the new forest ecology. The environmental constructions of such biocivilisations long precede the human elaboration of its own technosphere. I highly recommend Slijepčevic's Biocivilisations for those who would like to get effectively up to speed on the most cogent contemporary challenges to the physicalist-mechanistic technoscientific mainstream.'
Bruce Clarke, Paul Whitfield Horn Distinguished Professor of Literature and Science, Texas Tech University, Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology
'Biocivilizations is an unusually thought-provoking and ambitious book. It challenges the reader to abandon several centuries of assumptions about how to describe the living world in purely physical and mechanistic terms, a world governed by an evolutionary process that places human beings at the apex.'
Dr. James A. Shapiro, author of Evolution: A View from the 21st Century
'Sentience, cognition and intelligence are emerging as inherent faculties of all life which has evolved on the Earth. Most of these living systems are much older than humanity and obviously are well integrated to support life. In Biocivilisations, Predrag Slijepčevic makes clear that the sentient life is essential for the habitability of our planet and that humans should step down from the so-called crown of evolution model in order to appreciate our true position within the complex network of life. Only then will our civilization improve its rather doomed prospects for survival.'
Dr Frantisek Baluska, Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Bonn
'Read this book if you would like to understand the intelligence of living systems. Civilisation did not just start with Homo sapiens. Life cannot be reduced to pure mechanism.'
Dr Denis Noble, Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology, University of Oxford; Fellow of the Royal Society; 2022 Lomonosov Grand Gold Medal laureate