A Bibliography for Historical Materialism

By Haines Brown brownh@hartford-hwp.com 1991, 1994, 2000

Note of 2 October 2006: In updating the markup for this article, I had a chance to reflect upon it. I would alter many judgements and often cite different authorities. In particular, I would remove the material that seems only intuitively rather than explicitly relevant to the subject. Although a major revision seems to me obviously necessary, I no longer have the time for such an ambitious project nor access to academic resources. However, I neglected the important work by David Bakhurst, Consciousness and Revolution in Soviet Philosophy; From the Bolsheviks to Evald Ilyenkov (Cambridge, 1991).

This bibliography for Marxist-Leninist historiography was written in 1991 and then updated in 1994 in connection with a paper, “The Contradiction of World History.” Its theme was the remarkable convergence between the emerging outlook of natural science in the twentieth century and Marxism-Leninism; that is why some works cited here are not explicitly Marxist-Leninist.

Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, I confess I am less sanguine, for I appreciate more the social constraints that impinge on intellectual life. So my little bibliographic effort now strikes me as a bit quaint. Nevertheless, I went to some effort to relocate it in the recesses of my hard disk and here make it more accessible. I do so even though I can not venture to update the content because of a lack of time, resources, and interest. It should be noted, however, that at points I would now change emphasis.

Nevertheless, this compilation might have some utility. First, I have the feeling it may to some extent be unique, for I have never come across a comparable effort to gather citations to general works that present historical materialism as a science. This might give my little bibliography some retrospective interest as a reflection of one aspect of intellectual life in the 20th century. It also might offer a useful benchmark for a philosophical study of the relation of historical materialism and science were anyone so inclined. While it is entirely possible this compilation will somehow also become a tool in class struggle in the 21st century, my sense of how historical processes work makes me doubt it.

General surveys

Popular handbooks of Marxism-Leninism have a reputation for skimming over problems and parroting antiquated formulas. Nevertheless, if we treat them as popular summaries of the current state of a science rather than as position papers in the context of academic debate, they usefully reveal the starting assumptions and the social purposes behind Marxist-Leninist social science.

Similar in character, but nevertheless worth comparing, are the Soviet works of A. P. Sheptulin, Marxist Leninist Philosophy (Moscow, 1978); I. Yurkovets, The Philosophy of Dialectical Materialism (Moscow, 1984); and, despite his subsequent veering off course, Alexander Spirkin, Dialectical Materialism (Moscow, 1983). Because “Western Marxism” has arguably moved away from an explicitly working-class perspective, there is little comparable written in West European languages that is current. However, three older brief sketches continue to have some use: Kevin Waddington, Outlines of Marxist Philosophy (London, 1974); Georges Politzer, Elementary Principles of Philosophy (New York, 1976); and Maurice Cornforth, Dialectical Materialism: An Introduction (New York, 1955). Of importance for many points is the collective work, The Future of Society: A Critique of Modern Bourgeois Philosophical and Socio-Political Conceptions (Moscow, 1973).

Perhaps the best brief introduction to the general character of working-class historiographic theory is the series of three studies by Ernst Engelberg brought together in his Theorie, Empirie, und Methode (Berlin, 1980): “Betrachtungen über Gegenstand und Ziel der Geschichtswissenschaft,” pp. 1–33; “Über Theorie und Methode in Geschichtswissenschaft,” pp. 35–58; and “Ereignis, Struktur und Entwicklung in der Geschichte,” pp. 59–99. Still of considerable interest is V. Lenin, “What the ‘Friends of the People Are,” chapter I (in his Collected Works, vol. I [New York, 1960], pp. 133–200). Perry Anderson offers a brief discussion of a radical historiography in the discussion, “Agendas for Radical History,” which appeared in Radical History Review, 36 (1986), 32–37.

For a working-class perspective on world history specifically, see Jean-Jacques Goblot, “Développements ‘locaux’ et histoire ‘mondiale,’” in Antoine Pelletier and Jean-Jacques Goblot, Materialisme historique et histoire des civilisations (Paris, 1973), pp. 104–107; and Günter Katsch, “Darstellungen zur Weltgeschichte,” Unbewältigte Vergangenheit, edited by Gerhard Lozek et al. (Berlin, 1970), pp. 303–309. These may be considered traditional and “orthodox,” although the present writer does not find that as troublesome as bourgeois historians often do. These works can be usefully supplemented by M. Ia. Gefter and V. L. Mal'kov, “A Reply to an American Scholar,” The Soviet Review, 8 (no. 2, 1967), 59–99.

History as Process

For the historic fact conceived as a potential having two dimensions so that it can be represented as a process in thought, of some help is M. A. Barg, “The Historic Fact: Structure, Form, Content,” Soviet Studies in History, 16 (Summer, 1977), 3–47, which is excellent. For a philosophical discussion of change in time as an essential dimension of things, see Sean Sayers, “Contradiction and Dialectic,” Science and Society, 55 (1991), 84–91. [Some of my own work written subsequent to this bibliography should be added here, for I believe it carries the process perspective forward in a useful way].

Readers familiar with current discussions in the philosophy of science will recognize the influence here of scientific realism. For reality conceived as a field of potent objects at work and a useful introduction to scientific realism, see Romano Harré and Edward H. Madden, Causal Powers: A Theory of Natural Necessity (Totowa, 1975). Difficult to read and problematic at points, but nevertheless valuable for a discussion of causal explanation in open systems, is Roy Bhaskar, A Realist Theory of Science (Atlantic Highlands, 1978). Helpful for our conception of theory is Fritz Rohrlich and Larry Hardin, “Established Theories,” Philosophy of Science, 50 (1983), 603–617, and, in terms of social science, Christopher Lloyd, Explanation in Social History (New York, 1986), is good on many points.

Sociology of Historic Consciousness

Historical materialism engages what be broadly called the “sociology of knowledge,” for which there is an enormous literature of varying quality and usefulness. A standard treatment of the subjective aspect of historiography in terms of intellectual history is Adam Schaff, History and Truth (Oxford, 1976); and useful for the US intellectual context is Linda Gordon, “Comments on ‘That Noble Dream,‣” American Historical Review, 96 (1991), 683–687.

An identification of ideology with class consciousness is, with the exception of a probabilistic element, common in traditional sociology. For a general introduction to ideology, see Jorge Larrain, The Concept of Ideology (Athens,1979). Larrain would probably classify a Marxist-Leninist notion of ideology as a “base-superstructure”; model, but one must look beyond such simplistic categories.

Of value is Nicholas Abercrombie et al., The Dominant Ideology Thesis (Boston, 1980), for the objective basis of ideology; and S. Barry Barnes and Donald Mackenzie, “On the Role of Interests in Scientific Change,” Sociological Review, monograph no. 27 (1979), pp. 49–66. Basic is Gerhard Brendler, “Zur Rolle der Parteilichkeit im Erkenntnisprozeß des Historikers,” in Probleme der marxistischen Geschichtswissenschaft, edited by Ernst Engelberg (Köln, 1972), pp. 103–119. However, there are also searching criticisms, for which see Tom Bottomore's, “Class Structure and Social Consciousness,” in István Mészáros, editor, Aspects of History and Class Consciousness (London, 1971), pp. 49–64.

The Centrality of Class

Marx inherited from Rousseau and the Encyclopædists a notion of class in terms of social conflict, and he also insisted the definition of class derives from peoples' relation to the forces of production. This has been seen as ambivalent, but probably not inevitably so.

A valuable discussion of the class-based nature of historiography is that of Célina Bobinska, Historiker und historische Wahrheit: Zu Erkenntnis-theoretischen Problemen der Geschichtswissenschaft (Berlin, 1967), Pt. II. Useful points are developed by Gareth Stedman Jones, “From Historical Sociology to Theoretical History,” in R. S. Neal, editor, History and Class (New York, 1984), pp. 73–85; and by John Hoffman, “The Problem of the Ruling Class in Classical Marxist Theory: Some Conceptual Preliminaries,” Science and Society, 50 (1986), 342–363.

The literature on socialist internationalism is not very satisfactory because of the confusion of possible meanings of internationalism. For example, A. Azad, “What Proletarian Internationalism Means to Africa,” African Communist, 70 (1980), 51–70, argues against a defeatism in the face of difficulty by pointing out how internationalism remains an important force in the world. Eric Hobsbawm, “Some Reflections on ‘The Breakup of Britain,’” New Left Review, (no. 105, 1977), 3–23, offers an excellent analysis of the relation of nationalism and internationalism. For the relation of internationalism and world historiography, see Stefan Doernberg, “Proletarischer Internationalismus und Geschichtswissenschaft,” Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, 17 (1969), 87–91.

For the subjective element in scientific knowledge, see V. A. Lektorsky, “The Dialectic of Subject and Object and Some Problems of the Methodology of Science,” in Philosophy in the USSR: Problems of Dialectical Materialism (Moscow, 1977), pp. 100–112; Eftichios Bitsakis, “For an Evolutionary Epistemology,” Science and Society, 51 (1987–88), 389–413; Ludovico Geymonat, “Neopositivist Methodology and Dialectical Materialism,” Science and Society, 37 (1973), 178–194; and Nikolai N. Semyenov, “On Intuition versus Dialectical Logic,” Science and Nature, 1 (1978), 26–44. None of these is easy reading, but all are worth close attention.

Questions of Ontology

For the twentieth-century scientific conception of the world that is alien to the experience of daily life, see Hans Freistadt, “The Crisis in Physics,” Science and Society,17 (1953), 211–237; and also Fritz Rohrlich,From Paradox to Reality: Our New Basic Concepts of the Physical World (New York, 1987). Another approach to the issue of how our conception of the past is constrained by the present is discussed by George Gale, “The Anthropic Principle,” Scientific American, 245 (Dec.1981), 154–171.

The incompatibility of seeing things as open-ended processes and traditional philosophy has given rise to considerable debate, such as is present in the “dialectics of nature” controversy. However, since the sciences have long confronted such processes, the difficulty is more one for capitalist philosophy than for scientific socialism. For a brief popular discussion of matter defined as process, see for example, John D. Bernal, “Dialectical Materialism,” in his The Freedom of Necessity (London, 1949), pp. 365–387. For the dialectics of nature, Christine Glucksmann, “Hegel et le marxisme,” La Nouvelle Critique, Avril 1970, 25–35, is solid. Part of an extended debate that produced more smoke than fire is John Hoffman's “Debate on the Dialectics of Nature, I: The Natural-Historical Foundation of Our Outlook,” Marxism Today, January 1977, pp. 11–18.


Essential is a definition of causality that is both probabilistic and objective, which are basic to systems that are open in both space and time. The explanation of probabilistic causality as being the result of a causal relation to an indefinite environment is close to that of Patrick C. Suppes, Probabilistic Metaphysics (New York, 1984) [More simply, I believe that it naturally arises from causally-related processes].

A readable general orientation is David Bohm, Causality and Chance in Modern Physics (third ed., Philadelphia, 1984), although Bohm is ambivalent at points. Also basic is Wesley Salmon, Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World (Princeton, 1984), as well as the Harré and Madden book and the Sayers article mentioned above. These should be supplemented with Michael Scriven, “Explanation and Prediction in Evolutionary Theory,” Science, 130 (28 August 1959), 477–482; Nancy Cartwright, “The Truth Doesn't Explain Much,” American Philosophical Quarterly, 17 (1980), 159–163, for some of the basic conditions of a probabilistic causality; B. M. Kedrov, “On Determinism,” Soviet Studies in Philosophy, 7 (no. 4, 1969), 46–53, which, despite dryness, offers valuable points concerning causality and probability; V. I. Kuptsov and M. P. Terekhov, “The Concept of Determinism in Marxist Philosophy,” Soviet Studies in Philosophy, 9 (1970–71), 278–292, for a clear useful survey of competing views; Heinz Hörz et al., “Causality and Law,” Science and Nature, 3 (1980), 4–13, for probabilistic causality; and W. A. Suchting, “Marx, Popper and ‘Historicism,’” Inquiry,15 (1972), 235–266, for a defense of possibilistic determinism in historiography.

Also relevant for aspects of probabilistic causality are James P. Crutchfield, et al., “Chaos,” Scientific American, 255 (no.6, 1986), pp. 46–57, for emergence; Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial (Cambridge, 1981), a classic study of open systems; Satosi Watanabe, “Time and the Probabilistic View of the World,” in J. T. Fraser, editor, The Voices of Time (Amherst, 1981), which is very suggestive for the relation of struggle and entropy among other things.

For biology, see Mae-wan Ho and P. T. Saunders, editors, Beyond Neo-Darwinism: An Introduction to the New Evolutionary Paradigm (London, 1984), for causality in biological evolution; Norwood R. Hanson, “The Genetic Fallacy Revisited,” American Philosophical Quarterly, 4 (1967),101–113, which raises the problem of genetic explanation (which can be resolved by use of the notion of contradiction); and Elliott Sober and Richard Lewontin, “Artifact, Cause and Genetic Selection,” Philosophy of Science, 49 (1982), 157–180, for wider implications of causality in Darwinian evolution.

The Primacy of Matter

Examples of brief popular discussions of the primacy of matter by noteworthy scientists are: John B. S. Haldane, “Why am I a Materialist?,” in his Adventures of a Biologist (New York, 1940); and Albert Einstein, “Why Socialism?,” in Introduction to Socialism, edited by Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy (New York, 1968), pp. 11–19. Of great value is the brief introduction of S. T. Melukhin, “The Dialectical-Materialist Conception of Matter,” in Philosophy in the USSR (Moscow, 1977), pp. 43–70; A. G. Spirkin, “The Concrete,” in Great Soviet Encyclopedia, vol. 13 (New York, 1976), pg. 61; and V. S. Barashenkov and D. I. Blokhintsev, “Lenin's Idea of the Inexhaustibility of Matter in Modern Physics,” in M. E. Omelyanovsky, editor, Lenin and Modern Natural Science (Moscow, 1978), pp. 187–204.

A sharp critique of the current trend by capitalist philosophers to abandon science is offered by D. C. Stove, Popper and After: Four Modern Irrationalists (New York, 1982). That the relation of irrationalism and capitalism should not be seen in an immediate or simplistic way is illustrated by Sergei Kapitza, “Antiscience Trends in the U.S.S.R.,” Scientific American, 265 (August, 1991), 32–38. I am sympathetic in a general way to Sebastino Timpanaro's important critique of seeing reality in terms of abstractions, “Considerations on Materialism,” in his On Materialism (London, 1975), ch. 1, pp. 29–54.


Our conceptual system and our experience of the world are dialectically related, but it seems best (both for reasons of one's social class and because of the arguments in support of scientific realism) to start with the latter, with both social experience and our experience of the natural world.

We could begin with any of a number of natural realms, but the one that is most universal and is also experienced in daily life is perhaps thermodynamics. Probably the best general introduction, with a focus on entropy, is P. W. Atkins, The Second Law (New York, 1984). Also helpful is Freeman J. Dyson, “What is Heat?” Scientific American, 191 (September, 1954), 58–63. More advanced are the discussions of the conceptual framework of thermodynamics by Hans A. Buchdahl, The Concepts of Classical Thermodynamics (New York, 1966); and the very useful little book by Ilya Prigogine, Introduction to Thermodynamics of Irreversible Processes (3rd.ed., New York, 1968). Also suggestive is Adolf Grünbaum, “Time and Entropy,” American Scientist 43 (1955), 550–572.

For dissipation creating structures, see for example James S. Walker and Chester A. Vause, “Reappearing Phases,” Scientific American, 256 (May 1987), 98–105; Grégoire Nicolis and Ilya Prigogine, Exploring Complexity: An Introduction (New York, 1989).

The following works are useful examples of emergent order in the inorganic world. For order in terms of the physics of solids, see André Guinier, The Structure of Matter: From the Blue Sky to Liquid Crystals (London, 1984). In thermodynamic terms, see for crystal formation, John Hallett, “How Snow Crystals Grow,” American Scientist, 72 (1984), 582–589; more technically, D. E. Williams, “Crystal Packing of Molecules,” Science, 147 (1965), 605–606; James H. Aubert, et al., “Aqueous Foams,” Scientific American, 254 (May 1986), 74–82; and Kerry A. Emanuel, “Toward a General Theory of Hurricanes,” American Scientist, 76 (1988), 371–379.

Systems Theory

Developing a conceptual framework and a suitable terminology is a major task in itself. Apropos have been discussions of systems theory and hierarchy theory, and the mathematics of chaos, to which could be added information theory and ergotic theory, which we ignore here. The literature is enormous and not always cogent or accessible.

One of the better general discussions and surveys of systems theory is that of Igor Blauberg, Systems Theory: Philosophical and Methodological Problems (Moscow, 1977).

For levels and hierarchy theory, one can begin with the collection of studies edited by Lancelot Law Whyte and Albert G. Wilson, Hierarchical Structures (New York, 1969), and the one edited by Howard Hunt Pattee, Hierarchy Theory: The Challenge of Complex Systems (New York, 1973). Both collections are worth reading, although they are ultimately disappointing. Retaining their value are three classic studies: Herbert A. Simon's “The Architecture of Complexity,” in his collection cited above; Joseph Needham, Integrative Levels: A Revaluation of the Idea of Progress (Oxford, 1937), which is reprinted in his Time the Refreshing River (London, 1944) and again in his Moulds of Understanding (New York, 1976); and Laszlo Tisza, “The Conceptual Structure of Physics,” Reviews of Modern Physics, 35 (1963), 151–185, reprinted in his Generalized Thermodynamics (Cambridge, 1966). An excellent discussion of representing physical reality in terms of levels is Weinberg's lecture in Richard P. Feynman and Steven Weinberg, Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics (New York, 1987).

Attention has more recently shifted to non-linear systems. For the relation of mathematics and reality, one might read Richard Courant, “Mathematics in the Modern World,” Scientific American, 211 (September, 1964), 40–49. A useful brief introduction to the history and philosophical implications of the study of irreversible chaotic processes is contained in Ivar Ekeland, Mathematics and the Unexpected (Chicago, 1988). A brief introduction for the more technically inclined is the collection edited by Arun V. Holden, Chaos (Princeton, 1986); useful also is David Campbell, “An Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics,” in Daniel L. Stein, editor, Lectures in the Sciences of Complexity (Menlo Park, 1989), pp. 3–105. For those intimidated by mathematics, an excellent introduction to chaos is James P. Crutchfield et al., “Chaos,” Scientific American, 255 (No. 6, 1986), 46–57; which should be coupled with Harmke Kamminga, “What is this Thing Called Chaos?” New Left Review, (no. 181,1990), 49–58. Also helpful are Gloria B. Lubkin, “Period-Doubling Route to Chaos Shows Universality,” Physics Today, 34 (March 1981), 17–19; and David Ruelle, “Strange Attractors,” Mathematical Intelligencer, 2 (1980), 126–137.

One would expect that more recent discussions in the context of particular sciences would be more rewarding than the more mathematical abstract treatments, but without a clear sense of class perspective, there are often mutual incomprehension and fruitless debates.

R. V. O'Neill et al, A Hierarchical Concept of Ecosystems (Princeton, 1986), is useful, but insufficiently critical. Somewhat better are discussions in biology: Stanley N. Salthe, Evolving Hierarchical Systems: Their Structure and Representation (New York, 1985); and useful at points is Robert E. Ulanowicz, Growth and Development (New York, 1986). More focused studies which are of value are P. W. Anderson, “More is Different: Broken Symmetry and the Hierarchical Structure of Science,” Science, 77 (1972), 393–396; and Albert E. Blumberg,  Science and Dialectics: A Preface to a Re-Examination,” Science and Society, 22 (1958), 306–329. In addition, especially helpful for the concept of mediation, are John Platt, “Theorems on Boundaries in Hierarchical Systems,” in the book edited by Lancelot Whyte et al, cited above; Wesley Salmon, Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of the World (Princeton, 1984); and Heinz von Foerster, “Molecular Bionics,” in his Observing Systems (Seaside, 1981), pp. 72–90. A useful critical perspective on the theory of levels is offered by Niles Eldredge, “Information, Economics, and Evolution,” Annual Review of Ecological Systematics, 17 (1986), 351–369.


It is hard in good conscience to recommend reading on the concept of contradiction because the subject tends to be rather dry and frustrating. Part of this is because it raises questions hard to reconcile: a critical evaluation of its history as an idea, from Hegel, Marx, etc.; whether it is essential to or hostile to dialectical materialism; whether it is an ontology, epistemology, or methodology; whether it is philosophy, and if so what is its relation to formal logic and the philosophy of science; or is it simply the logic implied by twentieth century science?

For a general discussion of contradictions, basic are some works cited above (especially Melukhin, 1977; Sheptulin 1978; and Waddington 1974, ch.3). Worth consulting is Erwin Marquit, Philip Moran, and W. H. Truitt, editors, Dialectical Contradictions: Contemporary Marxist Discussions (Minneapolis, 1982), which touches many bases; John Mepham and Ruben David-Hillel, editors, Dialectics and Method (Atlantic Highlands, 1979), which tends to be philosophical; and especially the articles of Alexander G. Spirkin in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (New York, 1976): “The Concrete,”  Dialectical Materialism,” “Quality,” and “Contradiction.”

Given the history of physics in the earlier half of the twentieth century, it is not surprising it stimulated a discussion of dialectical materialism and of contradictions in particular. Useful are Victor F. Weisskopf, “Quality and Quantity in Quantum Physics,” Daedalus, 88 (1959), 592–605; Albert E. Blumberg, “Science and Dialectics: A Preface to a Re-Examination,” Science and Society, 22 (1958), 306–329; Leon Rosenfeld, “Unphilosophical Considerations on Causality in Physics,” in Perspectives on Quantum Theory, edited by Wolfgang Yourgrau and Alwyn van der Merme (Cambridge, 1971), pp. 219–235; and John B. S. Haldane, “Quantum Mechanics as a Basis for Philosophy,” Philosophy of Science, 1 (1934), 78–98, which is interesting both as a biologist's perspective on physics, but also as a reflection of the progressive origins of that journal. Also of some use is a more recent textbook by Heinz Hörz et al, Philosophical Problems in Physical Science (Minneapolis, 1980); and Erwin Marquit, “Stability and Development in Physical Science,” in Marxism, Science, and the Movment of History, edited by Alan R. Burger et al., (Amsterdam, 1980), pp. 77–104.

The so-called crisis in physics naturally stimulated speculation in the philosophy of science. I still find merit in the great classic, Friedrich Engels' The Dialectics of Nature (New York, 1940), especially when read in light of John D. Bernal, “Engels' ‘Dialectics of Nature,’” in his The Freedom of Necessity (London, 1949), 359–365. Of use is Errol E. Harris, Hypothesis and Perception: The Roots of Scientific Method (New York, 1970). Excellent is V. I. Kuptsov and M. P. Terekhov, “The Concept of Determinism in Marxist Philosophy,” Soviet Studies in Philosophy, 9 (1970–71), 278–292.

More recently, the philosophy of biology has revived, and I recommend the overview of Garland E. Allen, “Dialectical Materialism in Modern Biology,” Science and Nature, 3 (1980), 43–57 and Rózsa H. Varró, “Contradiction within Living Systems,” Science and Nature, 6 (1983), 30–41. Most discussions of contradiction are philosophical, and these are often not very helpful. A valuable survey of many issues is contained in P. N. Fedoseyev et al., Philosophy in the USSR: Problems of Dialectical Materialism (Moscow, 1977); quite useful is T. I. Oizerman, “On the Marxist Conception of an Adequate Philosophical System,” Soviet Studies in Philosophy, 14 (1976), 50–71; interesting is Sean Sayers, “Contradiction and Dialectic,” Science and Society, 55 (1991), 84–91; and important is Adam Schaff,  Marxist Dialectics and the Principle of Contradiction,” The Journal of Philosophy, 57 (1960), 241–250.


With a claim to universality, cosmology proves particularly instructive for a notion of historical materialism. The field is blessed with quite a few excellent well-written popular introductions. Among those concerned with cosmic origins is John Gribben, In Search of the Big Bang: Quantum Physics and Cosmology (New York, 1986), and Jonathan J. Halliwell, “Quantum Cosmology and the Creation of the Universe,” Scientific American, 265 (December, 1991), 76–85; somewhat more advanced is I. D. Novikov, Evolution of the Universe (New York, 1983), which is less up to date, but offers valuable perspectives. Also valuable is Victor F. Weisskopf, “The Origin of the Universe,” American Scientist, 71 (1983), 473–480.

One of the most fundamental issues is symmetry and symmetry-breaking. An excellent general introduction to symmetry is L. Tarasov, This Amazingly Symmetrical World (Moscow, 1986); also excellent, with a focus on cosmic origins is Heinz R. Pagels, Perfect Symmetry: The Search for the Beginning of Time (New York, 1985); and the still valuable older classic, P. C. W. Davies, The Physics of Time Asymmetry (Berkeley, 1974). For the thermodynamic side, see for example, Freeman J. Dyson, “Energy in the Universe,” Scientific American 225 (September 1971), 50–59; and Steven Frautschi, “Entropy in an Expanding Universe,”Science, 217 (1982), 593–599.

Quantum mechanics and quantum field theory are central to our conception of the cosmos, although their implications are still hotly debated. For the broad implications of the new physics, Fritz Rohrlich, From Paradox to Reality: Our New Basic Concepts of the Physical World (New York, 1987) is useful. A very nice elementary introduction to quantum mechanics is J. C. Polkinghorne, The Quantum World (Princeton, 1984); for the tendency of experiments to validate a reality that is impossible in terms of our conception of the world of daily life, see for example, Abner Shimony, “The Reality of the Quantum World,” Scientific American, 258 (January 1988), 46–.

Conceiving things as contradictions, as potentials uniting being and becoming, is clearly implied by quantum mechanics. See for example: Weisskopf (1959) cited above; Niels Bohr, “Causality and Complementarity,” Philosophy of Science, 4 (1937), 289–298; V. S. Barashenkov and D. I. Blokhintsev, “Lenin's Idea of the Inexhaustibility of Matter in Modern Physics,” in Lenin and Modern Natural Science, edited by M. E. Omelyanovsky (Moscow, 1978), pp. 187–204; and J. T. Fraser, “Quantum Theory: The Rules of the Prototemporal World,” in his The Genesis and Evolution of Time (Brighton, 1982), pp. 62–78.

At a deep and more universal level, we turn to quantum field theory and quantum electrodynamics. Illuminating examples are Richard P. Feynman, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter (Princeton, 1985); Gerard't Hooft, “Guage Theories of the Forces between Elementary Particles,” Scientific American, 242 (June 1980), 104–138; Martinus J. G. Vetman, “The Higgs Boson,” Scientific American, 255 (November, 1986), 76–84; and for emergent order, Abdus Salam, “Unification of the Forces,” in The Nature of Matter, edited by J. H. Mulvey (Oxford, 1981), 104–125.