To the Metaparadigm of Evolution

скачать Автор: Romanchuk, Aleksey A. - подписаться на статьи автора
Журнал: Social Evolution & History. Volume 12, Number 1 / March 2013 - подписаться на статьи журнала

The almanac Evolution has as its starting point the following idea: ‘The currently globalizing world needs global knowledge’ (Grinin, Korotayev, Carneiro, and Spier 2011b: 9). It is obviously true, as we really need an evolutionary metaparadigm. We have ‘to develop an inclusive view of the Cosmos, Earth, life and humanity by erasing boundaries between disciplines’ (Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011b: 5; emphasis in the original).

Otherwise we will repeat the mistake of the blind-folded ‘wise­men’ of Indian parable who attempted to describe the elephant that they were asked to feel – each of them touching different parts of the animal. And, in fact there is only a rather limited number of studies that analyze the evolution of abiotic, biological, and social systems as a single process. Even fewer studies seek to systematize the general characteristics, laws, and mechanisms of evolu­tionary dynamics in order to allow a comparative analysis of different evolving systems and evolutionary forms (Grin­in, Korotayev, Carneiro, and Spier 2011b: 7).

Thus, the goal of the almanac is to fill this distressing gap. That is why it makes the emergence of the almanac Evolution a desirable and important event for the biologists and historians, sociologists and astrophysicists, anthropologists and geneticists. Well, the enu­meration would take too much space.

In the present brief review we will try to have a glance at the already published volumes. The first volume focuses on the comparative studies in biological, social and cosmic evolution, while the second one deals mainly with study of the evolutionary process­es from the Big History perspective.The contributions to the volumes can be divided into several groups. The first group consists of the articles concentrated on cos­mic evolution and Big History.

In his huge article Fred Spier gives an outline of the history of the Universe from the Big Bang to the post-industrial society as a process of ‘interplay between energy levels and energy flows’ (Spi­er 2011b: 61). This approach allowed him to get a very capacious explanatory scheme, which could be used for cosmic evolution as well as for biological and cultural. His contribution to the second volume of the almanac supplements the first outline and considers how to define Big History research, including an overview of the types of research that could profitably be undertaken (Spier 2011a: 26). G. Siegfried Kutter gives a personal perspective on the history of the Universe. It is partially based on the writing the college-level text The Universe and Life, ‘which – according to the founders of Big History – influenced the creation of this multidisciplinary field’ (Kutter 2011: 101).

A number of papers (especially in the second volume) continue and develop the analysis of Big History school of thought and the analysis of its interaction with the society. David Christian deals with an interesting question: How the ‘Big History Project’ was launched (Christian 2011: 23). Barry H. Rodrigue shows that Big History course is extremely important for changing the educational paradigm in the USA. In the American universities international studies still ‘are often taught in an old-fashioned style of “us” ver­sus “them”’ (Rodrigue 2011: 75).

This is evidently the major issue, and Big History course could help us to cope with the situation.

A number of authors deal with some urgent issues of cosmic evo­lution, at the same time looking for correlations with social or bio­logical evolution.

Obviously, we see that there are a lot of interesting parallels be­tween stellar and social evolution. And ‘…it may help stiffen the sinews of those anthropologists who have come to doubt the validity of the evolutionary approach in their own field’ (Carneiro 2011: 79). It is also important to mention his ideas about stages ‘Now, it has become fashionable for some ethnologists and archaeologists who proclaim themselves friendly to evolution to assert that they are not interested in stages, but only in process, as if that were a sign of greater intellectual maturity. Wrong! Stages … designate important way sta­tions along a path that many societies are following’ (Ibid.: 70).

Astrophysicist Eric J. Chaisson shows that ‘if big historians are to make headway, indeed to be accepted by traditional historians, they ought to ground their research agenda on empirical facts and tested ideas, where possible, and to focus their subject matter on the role of humanity in the one and only Universe we know’ (Chaisson 2011: 39).

The correlation between mega-evolution and Big History is dis­cussed in another paper. The author also compares more thoroughly the Western tradition, which ‘emphasizes the idea of equilibrium, and thus reduce cosmic, biological and social evolution to mass-en­ergy processes’ and the Russian one of Big History. In which, however, ‘sustainable non-equilibrium patterns are used’ (Nazaretyan 2011: 83). I suppose that such comparisons are very important and useful because otherwise some important ideas and approaches could be lost for many years (see Golubovsky 2000; Flegr 2002; Liu 2010).

The article by Alexander Mirkovic (his main purpose is ‘to analyze the Big History in the context of resurgent religious fun­damentalism in the Anglo-American world’ [Mirkovic 2011: 51]) shows that this ‘loss of ideas’ is a very real danger for modern sci­ence. Nowadays, ‘While we were promised the triumph of the lib­eral ideas and ideals, what actually happened … was the reactionary backlash…’ (Ibid.: 50). This situation really interferes with science: ‘…suddenly politicians wanted to force scientists to treat creationism and intelligent design as legitimate scientific theories’ (Ibid.: 51).

Well, the ideology impedes progress of science in Western socie­ties not less than in non-Western. Here the contemporary biological anthropology can serve a good example (Balanovskaya and Bal­anovsky 2007: 38–47). Mirkovic tries to understand the causes of this ‘reactionary backlash’ and how Big History helps to overcome these troubles.

Tom Gehrels, basing on Chandrasekhar's cosmic-mass equation (and equation of Planck), proves that our universe is a member of a quantized system of universes, the ‘Chandra Multiverse’ (Gehrels 2011: 123). I think this hypothesis is extremely efficient. Though, it is possible that a new reading of some works by A. A. Fridman (cited in Fok 1963: 355) could make it even more efficient.

In order to bridge the gap between the techniques used by his-to­rians and those used by geologists and paleontologists, a work-shop was held in August, 2010 (Alvarez et al. 2011: 145). The concepts and techniques of ‘reading Earth and life history from rocks’ that had been demonstrated at the workshop were summarized in the ar­ticle.

David Hookes (2011) analyzes the evolution of information sys­tems from the Big Bang to the era of globalization.

However, I think the core part of the almanac is constituted by the articles, devoted to analysis of connections and comparisons be­tween biological and social forms of evolution.

Graeme D. Snooks indicated his aim as ‘constructing a general theory of life’. He points that ‘certainly the task is difficult, but, I hope to demonstrate, it is not impossible… many complexity theo­rists have attempted to develop a theory that can explain systems of both an inanimate and animate kind. I will suggest that separate dynamic theories are needed for this purpose’ (Snooks 2011: 85).

In his contribution Edmundas Lekevičius continues the discus­sion of the issue of ‘general theory of life's evolution’.

He points out that ‘during the past decade, strong nihilistic trends, far stronger than before, appeared in evolutionary biology… To describe that situation I could find no better word than “crisis”’ (Lekevičius 2011: 118–119). That is why he thinks that ‘if we want to have a more profound evolutionary theory which better corre­sponds to the present-day achievements, we must revert to Darwin's original premises and reassess them not only from the viewpoint of genetics but also from that of ecology’ (Ibid.: 101).

I should mention here, that the ‘ecosystem theory of evolution’ was also developed by Valentin Krasilov (1989). I believe that this theory could play a significant role in the forthcoming synthesis of a ‘more profound theory’. Even more efficient for this synthesis would be the epigenetic theories of evolution (Shishkin 1988; Grod­nitsky 2002). Besides, we have to remember that some interesting and important observations and theoretical grounds were made long ago (Shmalhausen 1968: 116, 305–315; Alekseyev 1984: 70).

I would like to cite also Lekevičius' following conclusion ‘to sum up, traditional approach emphasizes selection units and cares about what is selected, whereas I propose taking interest in what is making selection. … competition is not necessary for the process of selection: it might be even more intense in the case of cooperation’ (Lekevičius 2011: 118).

The last sentence could be considered as a bridge to Zhanna Reznikova's article devoted to ‘the paradox of altruism’. A large number of data is considered in this article. It leads the author to the convincing conclusion, that ‘altruistic behaviour in animal so­cieties is based, to a greater or lesser extent, on the division of roles between individuals in dependence of their behavioural, cognitive and social specialisation... We can assume that cooperation that is based on reciprocal altruism requires more advanced cognitive skills than altruism towards kin because reciprocity demands remember­ing and discounting levels of cooperativeness among individuals’ (Reznikova 2011: 154).

The conception of ‘social aromorphoses’ and their comparison with biological ones is considered in a large article by Leonid Gri­nin, Alexander Markov, and Andrey Korotayev. They present the idea that ‘it appears possible to speak about a single rule of aro­morphosis (biological and social) in macroevolution that may be rendered as follows: in course of macroevolutionary process from time to time one may observe within particular groups of systems such potentially significant changes (innovations) that turn out ul­timately (but not immediately) to secure a radical qualitative reor­ganization of large groups of (biological or social) organisms…’ (Grinin, Markov, and Korotayev 2011: 173).

To sum up, they ‘believe that, on the one hand, the emergence of perspective morphological forms, institutions, relationships is ac­counted for by internal characteristics of biological and social or­ganisms; however, on the other hand, this could be regarded as a result of the presence of a sufficient number of other forms whose evolutionary “successes” and “failures” have paved way for the emergence of a “successful” version’ (Grinin, Markov, and Koro­tayev 2011: 200).

They elaborate on this conception in another article, which sug­gests biological and social phases of Big History, paying special attention to the similarities and differences of evolutionary principles and mechanisms ‘at various levels and in various aspects’ (Ibid.: 160).

The next group of articles deals mainly with social evolution.

The alternatives and variations of social evolution (Bondarenko et al. 2011), evolution of nested networks in the prehistoric U.S. Southwest (Chase-Dunn 2011), conceptions of a global brain (Hey­lighen 2011), and post-singular evolution and civilizations (Panov 2011) are discussed.

The last group is formed by essays on Big History. These con­tributions present some experiences of practical application of Big History course in different spheres and situations.

A web-designer describes the background to the writing of the children's book (Gronek 2011). The geologist tells us about ‘ten of the most striking features of Earth's history’ (Hughes 2011: 233). A Montessori teacher says, ‘the teacher does not have to know all the answers – she or he knows the ways to find an answer! And the child is not questioning the teacher, but questions time and space’ (Werkhoven 2011: 250).

A particular combination of art and geology is a feature of life experience of Paula Metallo. The objective of her article is ‘to ex­press in what ways Art can be a means of describing pattern and encourage openness to stretching the brain to comprehend intercon­nectivity’ (Metallo 2011: 256). A poet who considers ‘Big History and bioregions’ is present in this company as well (Lawless 2011). The architect aims at demonstrating the usefulness of studying small-scale subjects such as Tiananmen from a Big History per­spective (Quaedackers 2011). And a time visualization tool called ‘ChronoZoom’ and how it could be used in the study of Big His­tory is a subject-matter of the next essay (Saekow 2011). And finally an essay of a caseworker should be mentioned, he is par­ticularly interested in the functionality of public organizations, through which we, humans, contract to govern ourselves (Tierney 2011: 287).

Thus, I think that the goal of almanac is achieved. The synthesis of metaparadigm of evolution has started.


* For more information about the Almanac, see p. 160 of the present issue of Social Evolution & History.


Alexeyev, V. P.

1984. Formation of the Mankind. Moscow: Politizdat. InRussian (Алексеев, В. П. Становление человечества. М.: Политиздат).

Alvarez, W., Montanari, A., and Shimabukuro, D.

2011. Ex Libro Lapidum Historia Mundi: Reading History Written in Rocks. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 145–157.

Balanovskaya, E. V., Balanovsky, O. P.

2007. The Russian Genofond on the Russian Plain. Moscow: Luch. InRussian (Балановская Е. В., Балановский О. П. Русский генофонд на Русской равнине. М.: Луч).

Bondarenko, D., Grinin, L., and Korotayev, A.

2011. Social Evolution: Alternatives and Variations (Introduction). In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 212–250.

Carneiro R.

2011. Stellar Evolution and Social Evolution: A Study in Parallel Processes. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 66–83.

Chaisson, E.

2011. Cosmic Evolution – More Than Big History by Another Name. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 37–48.

Chase-Dunn, Ch.

2011. Evolution of Nested Networks in the Prehistoric U.S. Southwest: A Comparative World-Systems Approach. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 251–273.

Christian, D.

2011. The Evolution of Big History: A Short Introduction. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 20–25.

Flegr, J.

2002. Was Lysenko [partly] Right? Michurinist Biology in the View of Modern Plant Physiology and Genetics. Rivista di Biologia / Biology Forum 95 (2): 259–272.

Fok, V. A.

1963. А. А. Friedmann Works on Einstein's Gravitational Theory. Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk LXXX(3): 353–356. In Russian (Фок, В. А. Работы А. А. Фридмана по теории тяготения Эйнштейна. УспехифизическихнаукLXXX(3): 353–356).

Gehrels, T.

2011. The Chandra Multiverse. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 121–144.

Golubovsky, M. D.

2000. The age of Genetics: Evolution of Ideas and Notions. Saint Petersburg: Borei-Art. In Russian (Голубовский М. Д. Векгенетики: эволюцияидейипонятий. СПб.: Борей-Арт).

Grinin, L. E., Carneiro, R. L., Korotayev, A. V., and Spier, F.

2011a (eds.). Evolution: Cosmic, Biological, and Social. Volgograd: Uchitel.

2011b. Evolutionary Megaparadigms: Potential, Problems, Perspectives. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 5–29.

Grinin, L. E., Korotayev, A. V., and Markov, A. V.

2011. Biological and Social Phases of Big History Similarities and Differences of Evolutionary Principles and Mechanisms. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 158–198.

Grinin, L. E., Korotayev, A. V., and Rodrigue, B. H.

2011a (eds.). Evolution: A Big History Perspective. Volgograd: Uchitel.

2011b. Evolution and Big History: From Multiverse to Galactic Civilizations. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 5–19.

Grinin, L. E., Markov, A. V., and Korotayev, A. V.

2011. Biological and Social Aromorphoses: A Comparison between Two Forms of Macroevolution. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 162–211.

Grodnitskii, D. L.

2002. Two Theories of Biological Evolution. Saratov: Nauchnaya kniga. In Russian (Гродницкий, Д. Л. Дветеориибиологическойэволюции. Саратов: Научная книга).

Gronek, E.

2011. And Then There Was You…: A Children's Story of Science and Emotion. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 253–255.

Heylighen, F.

2011. Conceptions of a Global Brain: An Historical Review. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 274–289.

Hookes, D.

2011. The Evolution of Information Systems: From the Big Bang to the Era of Globalization. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 199–211.

Hughes, N.

2011. The Change We can Believe in: Ten Facts about the Evolution of the Earth-Life System and their Relevance to Current Global Environmental Change. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 232–238.

Krasilov, V. A.

1986. Unsolved Problems of Evolution Theory. Vladivostok: DVNTS AN SSSR. In Russian (Красилов, В. А. Нерешенныепроблемытеорииэволюции. Владивосток: ДВНЦ АН СССР).

Kutter, G.

2011. Big History: A Personal Perspective. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 101–120.

Lawless, G.

2011. Big History and Bioregions. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 264–268.

Lekevičius, E.

2011. Ecological Darwinism or Preliminary Answers to Some Crucial though Seldom Asked Questions. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 101–121.

Liu Yongsheng

2010. Lysenko's Contribution to the Science. In Ovchinnikov, N. V. (ed.), The Academician Trofim Denisovich Lysenko (pp. 202–209). Moscow: Luch. In Russian (Лю Йоншень. Вклад Лысенко в науку. Академик Трофим Денисович Лысенко / Ред. Н. В. Овчинников, с. 202–209. М.: Луч).

Metallo, P.

2011. Brain Stretching: Art and Big History. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 253–263.

Mirkovic, A.

2011. Big History and the End of History. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 49–70.

Nazaretyan A.

2011. Mega-Evolution and Big History. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 82–100.

Panov, A.

2011. Post-singular Evolution and Post-singular Civilizations. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 212–231.

Quaedackers, E.

2011. A Little Big History of Tiananmen. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 269–280.

Reznikova, Zh.

2011. Evolutionary and Behavioural Aspects of Altruism in Animal Communities: Is There Room for Intelligence? In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 122–161.

Rodrigue, B.

2011. The Evolution of Macro-History in the United States. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 71–81.

Saekow, R.

2011. From Concept to Reality: Developing a Zoomable Timeline for Big History. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 281–286.

Shishkin, M. A.

1988. Evolution as an Epigenetic Process. In Menner, V. V., and Makridin, V. P. (eds.), Modern Paleontology (pp. 142–169). Moscow: Nedra. InRussian (Шишкин, М. А. Эволюция как эпигенетический процесс. Современная палеонтология / Ред. В. В. Меннер, В. П. Макридин, с. 142–169. М.: Недра).

Schmalhausen, I. I.

1968. Factors of Evolution: The Theory of Stabilizing Selection. Moscow: Nauka. In Russian (Шмальгаузен И. И. Факторыэволюции: теориястабилизирующегоотбора. М.: Наука).

Snooks, G. D.

2011. Constructing a General Theory of Life: The Dynamics of Human and Non-human Systems. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 84–100.

Spier, F.

2011a. Big History Research: A First Outline. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 26–36.

2011b. How Big History Works: Energy Flows and the Rise and Demise of Complexity. In Grinin, Carneiro, Korotayev, and Spier 2011a: 30–65.

Tierney, J.

2011. Two Themes Inherent in Big History. In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 287–293.

Werkhoven, J.

2011. Once upon a Time… There was a Story to be Told… In Grinin, Korotayev, and Rodrigue 2011a: 239–252.