The Synergism Hypothesis: On the Concept of Synergy and It’s Role in the Evolution of Complex Systems

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.

Thermoeconomics: Beyond the Second Law

Physicist Erwin Schrodinger’s What is Life? (1945) has inspired many subsequent efforts to explain biological evolution, especially the evolution of complex systems, in terms of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the concepts of “entropy” and “negative entropy.” However, the problems associated with this paradigm are manifold. Some of these problems will be highlighted in the first part of this paper, and some of the theories that have been derived from it will be briefly critiqued.

The Re-emergence of “Emergence”: A Venerable Concept in Search of a Theory

“Emergence” is a concept with a venerable history and an ambiguous standing in evolutionary theory. This paper briefly recounts the history of the term and details some of its current usages. The reductionist approach to explaining complexity has entailed a search for underlying “laws of emergence.” Another alternative is the “Synergism Hypothesis,” which focuses on the “economics” – the functional effects produced by emergent wholes and their selective consequences.