In Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change that Shape Life, Coen presents evolution, development, learning and culture as transformational processes that share seven fundamental principles. To start with it felt strange to read about familiar concepts in terms of Coen’s seven principles, but I liked how it made me think about the processes in a different way. I enjoyed Coen’s explanations of his processes and the diagrams were clear and very useful. However, while it was clear why it can be useful to think about evolution, development and learning using a set of shared principles, I wasn’t quite so convinced of the relevance of thinking about cultural transformations in the same terms as the biological processes. With famous works of art featuring in many of Coen’s explanations throughout the book, the book is an unusual, but quite interesting mix of science, philosophy and art.
All in all, I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in evolution, development and learning. To get the most out of the diagrams in the book I would suggest reading a print copy as I found referring to diagrams on my kindle a bit cumbersome. For a more in depth review follow this link.