Roger Lewin
Collier Books
Published Date

This book was recommended to me by Dr. Paul Lewis of Silver Spring, Maryland. I had read another book entitled “Complexity” and was happy to find another on this fascinating topic. I was very excited when first introduced to the topic of Chaos theory by Dr. Bruce Wolff when he brought the book Chaos by Glieck to my attention in one of his Skeffington Symposium papers just over 10 years ago. That book gave me insight into quite a number of aspects of what it means to be a clinician and a behavioral optometrist. Complexity theory takes off from there. It deals with many things and many levels. Significant for me has been the concepts and ideas of self-organizing systems. Create a system that is highly complex, just enough to go past some critical level of complexity and voila it begins to become almost alive. It begins to evolve into an organized system responding to the environment and altering its behavior in almost living ways. I have found many of the concepts applicable to my understanding of the development of the brain and the human nervous system as well as the “software” or “wetware” that is developed as a result of development.

Lewin’s style is excellent and I found him easy to read. Dr. Lewis found most insightful the discussion early on, on the concept of “emergence”. We talk of vision as an emergent. Lewin talks of emergent global structures as being order which arising out of a complex dynamical system. The emphasize that often by studying only the components one would be hard pressed to see that what would emerge is that which does indeed emerge. If you knew all about the functions of the subsets of all the components that go into vision would vision be what you would predict would emerge if you didn’t already know that this thing we call vision existed?