Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life
I really wanted to like this book, because I really wanted to understand this book. But I didn’t. I tried, and I have a lot of background with the concepts – information theory and such. But, damn, this book is out there.
It’s very ambitious. It starts off talking about mainstream information theory, which I stuck with pretty well. Then it takes a hard turn into evolutionary theory, and tries to relate the ideas of information theory to DNA. He started losing me here.
The third section is about grammar (hence the title), and about how the development of grammar and language mirrors information theory and evolution (man…I think, anyway). Then, finally, the last section talks about how humans interpret concepts, and differences between the right brain and left brain.
I barely hung in there. In fact, I just kept reading because I wanted to finish it. I can’t saw I got much out of the last two-thirds of the book. I read a lot of reviews and commentaries, and all they did was confirm what I must have missed.
I give it three stars, mainly for its reputation and its ambition. But be forewarned that this book is pretty deep. I’d probably need to read it a couple times, with a group, and a notebook handy, to really grok the entire thing.
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