We must begin with the problem of how to define politics. Unfortunately, there has never been a consensus even on how this important social phenomenon should be characterized, much less how to explain it.
Many lessons can be drawn from the numerous “what ifs” that contributed to this historic disaster.
Our everyday lives are subject to tidal influences…This year’s fad is often next year’s “remainder” or “close-out” sale item. Although we like to think that science is free from such “extraneous” influences, of course this is not so. Thomas Kuhn, in his celebrated volume on The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1972) argued that science is very much influenced by the tidal effects associated with different “paradigms”.
Although its role is often unappreciated, synergy can be considered one of the core concepts of the systems sciences. Indeed, synergy is a ubiquitous phenomenon in nature and human societies alike. Here I will briefly discuss one aspect of the relationship between the two.
Synergy has played a key causal role in the evolution of complexity, from the very origins of life to the evolution of humankind and complex societies. This also applies to social behavior, including the use of collective violence for various purposes: predation, defense against predators, the acquisition of needed resources and the defense of these resources against other groups and species. In nature and humankind alike, collective violence is, by and large, an evolved, synergy-driven instrumentality.
From the perspective of the growing theoretical and research literature in the biological sciences on the “progressive” evolution of complex living systems over time, as well as the science of cybernetics (communications and control processes), politics in human societies represents a variation, and elaboration, on a major evolutionary theme. Political processes have played an indispensable functional role in goal-oriented cooperative systems at all “levels” of biological organization, including the evolution of humankind.
Here I briefly explore the case for a paradigm shift in evolutionary theory to focus on the economics and the role of functional synergy as a distinct class of causal influences.
Times have changed and the theory proposed in my 1983 book has had a complex journey. Herein lies some lessons about the culture and politics of science.
Cooperative interactions in nature that produce positive functional consequences, however they may arise, can become “units” of selection that differentially favor the survival and reproduction of the “parts” (and their genes). In other words, it is the proximate advantages (the payoffs) associated with various synergistic interactions (in relation to the particular organism’s needs) that constitute the underlying cause of the evolution of cooperative relationships, and complex organization, in nature.
Nature’s Magic presents a bold new vision of the evolutionary process – from the Big Bang to the 21st century. Synergy of various kinds is not only a ubiquitous aspect of the natural world but it has also been a wellspring of creativity and the “driver” of the broad evolutionary trend toward increased complexity, in nature and in human societies alike.