The Synergism Hypothesis: A Theory of Progressive Evolution

© McGraw-Hill, 1983.


Synergism Hypothesis Book CoverThis book represents a major theoretical synthesis between the life sciences and the social sciences. Peter Corning shows that the selective advantages arising from various kids of cooperation – from single-celled creatures to wolf packs to modern nation-states – are the cause of the directional aspect of evolutionary history, that is, the progressive emergence of more complex, hierarchically organized systems in the biological, cultural, and political realms.
The Synergism Hypothesis spans a vast intellectual and scientific territory and speaks to the central concerns of evolutionary biology, sociobiology, anthropology, psychology, economics, sociology, and political science. It is an extraordinary contribution, which should influence all future discussions of why we behave the way we do.

“This is a remarkable book, first of scholarship, and also of ideas. The scholarship is almost overwhelming … It certainly stands out as a remarkable achievement, even though it is one that is almost impossible to review because of its richness and complexity … My view (of evolution) supplements rather than contradicts the Corning hypothesis, with which I find myself in substantial agreement. Corning’s book is an important contribution to (a multi-disciplinary) synthesis, and one hopes it will be widely read and taken very seriously.”

– Kenneth Boulding, 
Review of Science Digest

“The basic thesis is sound … and Corning’s erudition lends great solidity to the work. “

Michael T. Ghiselin,
California Academy of Sciences

“A brilliant work … a masterful as well as innovative synthesis … enormous theoretical as well as pragmatic implications.”

William Reckmeyer,
Former President,
American Society for Cybernetics

“A New Synthesism bringing together an awesome knowledge of biological processes … A major achievement.”

Roger Masters,
Dartmouth College

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  1. Introduction: Quo Vadimus?
  2. The Evolutionary Framework
  3. A General Theoary of Progressive Evolution
  4. The Interactional Paradigm
  5. A General Theory of Sociocultural Evolution
  6. A General Theory of Politics
  7. Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Index

For more information, please contact Peter Corning.

Category: Publications