In this book, after discussing the fundamental problems of current science and other philosophic concepts, beginning with controversies between Heraclitus and Parmenides, Ilya Prigogine launches into a message of great hope: the future has not been determined. Contrary to globalisation and the apparent contemporary mass culture society, individual behaviour is beginning to increasingly become the key factor which governs the evolution of both the world and society as a whole. It is a message that challenges existing widespread views, implicitly or explicitly, through mass communication; moreover the importance of the individual's actions implies a reflection of each person on the responsibilities that each one assumes when taking or acting upon a decision. This responsibility is associated with the freedom of thought as well as a critical analysis of fashions, customs, preconceived ideas, and ideologies, externally imposed: exactly contrary to the ideas of those who wish us to be "perfect consumers" in a world dominated only by monetary wealth.Challenging this drive towards the elimination of freedom of thought in the individual is now imperative if we are to save man and his planet from catastrophe, which seems to be ever imminent and (unfortunately) irreversible.This last book of Ilya Prigogine provides a small, disputable, but nonetheless valuable contribution towards that end.
Ilya Prigogine was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977 for his contributions to non-equilibrium thermodynamics, particularly the theory of dissipative structures. He was born in Moscow, Russia in 1917. He had both his undergraduate and graduate education in chemistry at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles. He is Regental Professor and Ashbel Smith Professor of Physics and Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1967, he founded the Center for Statistical Mechanics, later renamed the Ilya Prigogine Center for Studies in Statistical Mechanics and Complex Systems. Since 1959, he has been the director of the International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry in Brussels, Belgium. He has received 53 honorary degrees. In 1989, Prigogine was awarded the title of Viscount by the King of Belgium. He is a member of 64 national and professional organisations, among which are the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The most recent of Prigogine's many international activities are Special Advisor to the European Community in Brussels, and Honorary Member of the World Commission of Culture and Development of UNESCO, chaired by Perez de Cuellar.