Synergy in Evolution and the Fate of Humankind
© Cambridge University Press, 2003.
"Two are better than one, because they have good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up. Also, if two lie down together, they will
keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Click here to read the prologue in .pdf format
The thesis of this book, in brief, is that synergy -- a vaguely familiar term to
many of us -- is actually one of the major organizing principles of the natural world.
It has been a wellspring of creativity in evolution and has played
central role in the evolution of complexity, from the subject-matter of physics
and chemistry to human societies. The "Synergism Hypothesis" asserts that
synergy is not simply a class of interesting and ubiquitous effects; it has also been
a major causal agency in evolution. Synergistic functional effects of various kinds
have been a necessary, if not sufficient, requisite for the evolution of cooperation
and complexity at all levels of biological organization. It is a unifying theory of complexity.
This theory is not as radical or revolutionary as it sounds. It is fully consistent with Darwin's theory,
and with the canons ofphysics, chemistry, the biological sciences and the social sciences.
It is also compatible with "symbiogenesis," "multilevel selection theory" and other
recent formulations that are concerned with cooperative relationships in nature. In
effect, the Synergism Hypothesis involves a different perspective, a different
way of viewing the same phenomena. It is quintessentially an economic (or "bioeconomic") theory of
complexity -- a functional theory, as distinct from gene-centered theories, or
postulates of self-organization and emergent "laws" of complexity, or
even theories of historical contingencies (a "drunkard's walk").
Moreover, this theory is testable and lends itself to falsifiable
Natures Magic provides a brief survey of the many different kinds of synergy
in nature and develops the case for the Synergism Hypothesis in some detail. The theory
is then applied specifically to the evolution of humankind and complex human
To read the Praises of Natures Magic click here .pdf
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Prologue: The New Evolutionary Paradigm
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What is Synergy? - The Causal Role of Synergy - Synergy in Evolution - The Synergistic Ape - The Perils of Prediction
- The "Enchanted Loom"
A Golden Tapestry of Synergies Technology as Synergy Synergies R Us The Varieties of Synergy: Synergies of Scale
Threshold Effects Phase Transitions Gestalt Effects
Functional Complementarities Emergent Phenomena Augmentation or Facilitation
Environmental Conditioning Risk- and Cost-Sharing A Combination of Labor Information-Sharing
Convergent (Historical) Effects Synergy is Everywhere
- The Magic Castle
The Big Whoosh Enter Synergy The Synergy in Gravity Fusion and Synergy Chemistry as Synergy
The Anthropic Principle Architectonics in Cosmic Evolution The Wizardry of Nature Catch 22 and the Synergy of RNA -
The Evidence From Stromatolytes Symbiosis as a form of Synergy Eukaryotes are Us Symbiogenesis
The Economics of Symbiosis Multicellular Synergy Cambrian Synergy Social Synergy
Synergy in Ecosystems An Oasis of Synergy Synergy in the Biosphere Good Gaia! The Whole Shebang
- Black Magic
Negative Synergy is Not an Oxymoron Dysergy in Cyberspace Threshold Effects Negative Social Synergy
The Titanic Effect Synergy Minus One Synergy Goes to War Y2K: A Close Call
The Paradox of Dependency Devolution as a Loss of Synergy A Biblical Example The Rise and Fall of Rome Pox Romana
The Lessons of History High and Low Synergy Negative Synergy in Nature
- The Synergism Hypothesis
Why Not Synergy? The Vicissitudes of Synergy The Ideological Debate About Evolution A Favorable Tide?
Where is Natural Selection? The Causes of Evolution - The Synergism Hypothesis Synergy and the Evolution of Complexity
The Selfish Genome Seeing With New Eyes Growing Support for This Theory The Economics of Synergy
Cooperation Versus Competition Testing for Synergy Neo-Darwinism Compared Egoistic Cooperation
Game Theory Revisited Other Problems Synergistic Selection A Stalking Horse Turning the Necker Cube -
Weighing the Synergism Hypothesis Consider the Alternatives
Holistic Darwinism: The New Evolutionary Paradigm
- The "Sorcerer's Apprentice"
Lamarcks Vision Organic Selection The Pacemaker of Evolution Legendary Learners
The Sentient Symphony Tool Using Synergy Lamarcks Ghost Evolution on Purpose
Chance, Necessity and Teleonomy Downward Causation Selfish Memes? - Feedback [Sic] Neo-Lamarckian Selection
A Two-Way Street Neo-Lamarckian Selection and Human Evolution
- Conjuring Human Evolution: The Synergistic Ape
A Wealth of Scenarios The Killer Ape Food Sharing The Nuclear Family
The Synergism Hypothesis and Human Evolution What was the Context? Primate Pre-adaptations Australopithecine Synergy
A Division of Labor Tools and Synergy Hard Evidence for Soft Technologies The Social Triad
Homo Intermedius A Technological Revolution A Neo-Lamarckian Process A Hotbed of Synergy
Culture, Language and Synergy Homo Symbolicus Language as a Prime Mover? Language as an Invention
Alternative Paths to Modern Humans The Synergistic Package Prehistoric Warfare?
An Illustration: The Rise of the Zulu Nation Occams Razor Revisited The Synergistic Species
- Conjuring Our Past: Does Cultural Evolution Have an "Arrow"?
An Ancient Idea The Age of Spencer A Passel of Prime Movers The Social Conflict School
Technological Determinism What is Technology? Sunflower Oil The Automobile Revolution
Technology and The Synergism Hypothesis Down With Prime Movers! A Trajectory Without an Arrow
Synergy in Cultural Evolution Synergy in Settlements The Agricultural Revolution
Synergy in Chiefdomships and States The Paradox of Dependency Upward and Onward?
- The Science of History
Pythagoras and The Music of the Spheres The Neo-Pythagoreans The Quest for Laws of History The Law of Evolution?
Order for Free? The Law of Higglety Pigglety Is the Science of History an Oxymoron?
Molecular Computers Simple Models and the Hierarchy of Nature
The Causal Role of Synergy in Evolution Architectonics and the Evolution of Complexity An Unfinished Symphony
- Conjuring the Future: What Can We Predict?
The Logic of Synergy The Logic of Failure The Perils of Prediction
So What Can We Predict? Cassandra Meets Pollyanna Synergy and the Fate of Humankind
Tying up the Loose Threads The Sorcerers Apprentice Revisited
For more information, please contact Peter Corning (firstname.lastname@example.org).