In recent years, evolutionary theorists have come to recognize that the reductionist, individualist, gene-centered approach to evolution cannot sufficiently account for the emergence of complex biological systems over time. Peter A. Corning has been at the forefront of a new generation of complexity theorists who have been working to reshape the foundations of evolutionary theory. Well known for his Synergism Hypothesis—a theory of complexity in evolution that assigns a key causal role to various forms of functional synergy—Corning puts this theory into a much broader framework in Holistic Darwinism, addressing many of the issues and concepts associated with the evolution of complex systems. Corning's paradigm embraces and integrates many related theoretical developments of recent years, from multilevel selection theory to niche construction theory, gene-culture coevolution theory, and theories of self-organization. Offering new approaches to thermodynamics, information theory, and economic analysis, Corning suggests how all of these domains can be brought firmly within what he characterizes as a post–neo-Darwinian evolutionary synthesis.
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Peter A. Corning is director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems. He is the author of The Synergism Hypothesis and Nature's Magic, among other books.
“Corning’s book is a masterpiece of synthesizing the most far-reaching facts and theories of evolutionary biology (and many other fields) and applying them with finesse to a variety of social phenomena. This book is a challenging and path-breaking contribution.”
(John Gowdy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
“This is an exceptionally ambitious and important book that proposes to change the way most of us have thought about ‘Darwinism’ and evolutionary processes. Corning achieves this goal in many ways, but most effectively by integrating both his own diverse work in recent years and citation of just about everyone who has played a major role in scholarly dialogue on evolutionary biology and behavior over the last generation.”
(Roger D. Masters, Dartmouth College)
“An extraordinary tour-de-force.”
(Anthony Trewavas FRS, FRSE, Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh)
"Seen as an exploration of the economy of nature and as a challenge to Neo-Darwinism, Holistic Darwinism articulates an alternative that is both broadly convincing and attractive. The collaborative dimension of evolutionary processes has suffered from a poor conceptualization and I see Holistic Darwinism as an important step forward in getting it right." (Max Boiset E:CO)
"There is clearly a vast amount of challenging and valuable material here and this will certainly be a standard text among biologists, sociologists and economists. It is clearly and entertainingly written, without any mathematics but with precise and careful reasoning." (Alex Andrew Kybernetes)
"[A] fascinating book on evolution, in which [Corning] uses synergy, cybernetics, and the bioeconomics of complex systems as his organizing principless." (Mike Knight PsycCritiques)
"All [of the chapters] are important building blocks in setting up the theoretical structure of this new paradigm. A very illuminating read!" (Biology Digest)
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