What scholars are saying about this book:
Behavior and Culture in One Dimension provides an engaging, highly readable exploration of the foundational role of one-dimensional patterns or “sequences” in the origin and evolution of complex systems on earth, among them, living systems. These one-dimensional sequences (including, for example, RNA, DNA, linguistic sequences, computer code) serve to organize, harness, and control (three-dimensional) physical systems so that the systems exhibit functional, organized activity at larger spatiotemporal scales including ecologically relevant scales. The book should attract a variety of readerships including popular science readers and students of evolution, ecological science, and language. For language scholars, such as myself, it offers a unique, persuasive, and impactful perspective on the kind of thing that language is, offering valuable insight on how language use in the world (written as well as spoken) can do the work it does. I highly recommend this book.
—Carol A. Fowler
Former President and Director of Research, Haskins Laboratories
Over the past 60 years Howard Pattee proposed foundational ideas for understanding the nature of life. With spectacular clarity and force his former student Dennis Waters examines and extends Pattee’s work to produce a vibrant framework for thinking how the physical/biological world constructs life itself. Get ready to think and then think again. This book is true scholarship in its finest form.
Director, SAGE Center for the Study of Mind
University of California, Santa Barbara
Behavior and Culture in One Dimension pursues the bold and intriguing claim that DNA, language, and computer code are not simply metaphorical allies. Waters builds the case that systems of linear sequences have properties in common that allow them to constrain activity in three dimensions. He’s after a universal organizing principle that is independent of the embodiment of the sequence—human language, animal communication, behavior by parasites, bacteria, and civilizations are all in his sights. The neglect of language has long been seen by cognitive science as the Achilles heel of ecological psychology. An approach to language that respects the ecological emphasis on natural law is sorely needed and that is very much what Waters provides.
Professor & Director Emerita, Center for the Ecological Study of Perception & Action
University of Connecticut
Dennis Waters’ Behavior and Culture in One Dimension explores the implications of a deceptively simple idea—the concept of a sequence—and shows how much of the complexity of the biological and human world is dependent on it. With DNA at one end of his account and written language at the other, he shows how the constraints embodied in a linear sequence of molecules or typographic characters has played midwife to the emergence of complex life and human civilization.
Professor, University of California, Berkeley