VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality
2. Complex Local to Global Network Biosocieties
Pluess, Michael, ed. Genetics of Psychological Well-Being: The Role of Heritability and Genetics in Positive Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. This novel collection, edited by a Queen Mary University psychologist, opens with a chapter about “salutogenetics,” a word coined for an approach that focuses on supportive factors for human health and well-being, rather than those that cause disease, wellness instead of pathogenesis. Once again, from another take, a singular universe to human expanse and juncture of participatory transformation is proffered.
This landmark book summarizes the state of knowledge regarding heritability and molecular genetics in positive psychology. Divided into four parts, it starts by exploring the basics of genetics and associated research methodology, providing the reader with the knowledge required to understand the empirical work presented throughout the volume. The second part of the book focuses on heritability estimates of the most important positive psychology concepts based on quantitative behavioural genetics studies. In the third section of the book, results from more recent molecular genetics studies are presented including candidate gene, gene-environment interaction, as well as genome-wide association studies. The fourth and final part of the book discusses more overarching questions regarding the roles of genes and environment in the development of well-being as well as a review and discussion of the current state of knowledge and future direction in this new field of inquiry.
Rainie, Lee and Barry Wellman. Networked: The New Social Operating System. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012. Due by May, a former managing editor of U.S. News and World Report, and a University of Toronto sociologist coin a quite 21st century phrase: “networked individualism.”
Daily life is connected life, its rhythms driven by endless email pings and responses, the chimes and beeps of continually arriving text messages, tweets and retweets, Facebook updates, pictures and videos to post and discuss. In Networked, Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman show how the large, loosely knit social circles of networked individuals expand opportunities for learning, problem solving, decision making, and personal interaction. The new social operating system of “networked individualism” liberates us from the restrictions of tightly knit groups; it also requires us to develop networking skills and strategies, work on maintaining ties, and balance multiple overlapping networks. Rainie and Wellman outline the “triple revolution” that has brought on this transformation: the rise of social networking, the capacity of the Internet to empower individuals, and the always-on connectivity of mobile devices. Drawing on extensive evidence, they examine how the move to networked individualism has expanded personal relationships beyond households and neighborhoods; transformed work into less hierarchical, more team-driven enterprises; encouraged individuals to create and share content; and changed the way people obtain information.
Rakoczy, Hannes. Collective Intentionality and the Roots of Human Societal Life. Roska-Hardy, Louise and Eva Neumann-Held, eds. Learning from Animals?. East Sussex, UK: Psychology Press, 2009. In a volume to “examine the nature of human uniqueness,” a Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology researcher cites a prime difference as the rise of purpose-oriented societal fabric. One wonders however might it ever be intentionally imbued with an obvious Me and We reciprocity?
The upshot of these two studies is that the rudiments of second-order intentionality that develop in human ontogeny at around 1 year are probably not so uniquely human after all; our common cognitive primate heritage runs deeper that previously thought. (110) What is uniquely human, however, and a likely foundation of specifically human forms of life is the ability, developing from the second year in human ontogeny, to enter into collective (or “We”) intentionality. (110)
Read, Dwight. A Multitrajectory, Competition Model of Emergent Complexity in Human Social Organization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. 99/7251, 2002. The theories of agent-based complex adaptive systems are employed to reveal a consistent, discernible social dynamic throughout human history.
The repeated pattern of emergent human organization at a societal level going from small-scale, egalitarian decentralized societies to complex, stratified and centralized societies is well-documented in the archaeological record of past societies. (7251)
Richerson, Peter and Robert Boyd. Not By Genes Alone. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005. Some two decades after their groundbreaking 1985 work Culture and the Evolutionary Process, a comprehensive review and update of how human societies can be joined with and founded upon Darwinian genetic and selective features. Richerson’s website contains additional resources in this regard. By these advances, the fields of cultural, behavioral and anthropological studies can gain a common basis, whereby to paraphrase Dobzhansky, “Nothing about culture makes sense except in the light of evolution.”
Riddihough, Guy, et al. Human Conflict: Winning the Peace. Science. 336/819, 2012. An introduction to a special issue by anthropologists, behavioral scientists, and social philosophers who consider in 21st century retrospect primate, hominid, and human proclivities for either constant war or harmonious accord. In “The Antiquity of Empathy” Frans de Waal tries to right an over-emphasis on competition, while Christopher Boehm’s “Ancestral Hierarchy and Conflict” reviews fighting or its absence within chimpanzee, bonobo, and human groupings - always by males, sometimes mitigated by females. “The Group Self” by Leiden University psychologist Naomi Ellemers notes how allegiances can influence both clashes or concord. A prominent essay “Life Without War” by “peace, mediation, and conflict researcher” Douglas Fry, Abo Akademi University, Finland, contends that local and global amity is innately possible. As Yoko Ono’s renowned quote from our home page avers, “Let’s visualize all the people living in peace. Let’s carry the clearest vision of a peaceful world. And do it with a spirit of fun and joy. War is over if you want it.”
An emerging evolutionary perspective suggests that nature and human nature are less “red in tooth and claw” than generally acknowledged by a competition-based view of the biological world. War is not always present in human societies. Peace systems, defined as groups of neighboring societies that do not make war on each other, exist on different continents. A comparison of three peace systems—the Upper Xingu River basin tribes of Brazil, the Iroquois Confederacy of upper New York State, and the European Union —highlight six features hypothesized to be important in the creation and maintenance of intersocietal peace: (i) an overarching social identity, (ii) interconnections among subgroups, (iii) interdependence, (iv) nonwarring values, (v) symbolism and ceremonies that reinforce peace, and (vi) superordinate institutions for conflict management. The existence of peace systems demonstrates that it is possible to create social systems free of war. (Douglas Fry, 879)
Rubin, Paul. Darwinian Politics: The Evolutionary Origin of Freedom. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. An Emory University economist sketches an evolutionary basis for altruistic, political and religious mores, as is underway for psychological behaviors, along with recommendations for how we might do better.
Sanchez, Angel and Jose Cuesta. Altruism may Arise from Individual Selection. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 235/2, 2005. A theoretical difficulty has been to explain the human tendency to cooperate in large groups with non-kin which appears to offer little benefit to the individual. This study describes an agent-based model of evolutionary game theory to show how personal fairness and selection can indeed result in an altruistic strong reciprocity.
Sawyer, R. Keith. Social Emergence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. A Washington University psychologist articulates a novel conceptual basis by which to appreciate societies as complex dynamic systems. This is a “third wave” of social science after Talcott Parsons’ structural functionalism and general systems theory. In this regard, a thorough survey of the course of sociology from Comte to Durkheim to the present day, along with how social orders emerge from individual interactive agents. In the final chapter an “Emergence Paradigm” is proposed to synthesize and transcend the Structure and Interaction schools. One of the best works on the active presence of universal complex adaptive systems in human societies.
Schaller, Mark, et al, eds. Evolution and Social Psychology. New York: Psychology Press, 2006. Ranging broadly, the essay seek to broach and reconceive human cognitive, behavioral and cultural mores within an evolutionary setting.
Schlapfer, Markus, et al. The Universal Visitation Law of Human Mobility. Nature. 593/522, 2021. Nine Senseable City Lab, MIT researchers along with Geoffrey West, SFI are able to distill the presence of common mathematics that underlie people on the go. Once again, an occasion is found whence our daily lives, as yet unawares, hold to and trace well-trod paths. As the case for epidemics, it is said that if these patterns can be known and respectfully availed, then much better societies could become possible.
Human mobility impacts many aspects of a city from its spatial structure to its response to an epidemic, social interactions, innovations and productivity. However, our quantitative understanding of individual and aggregate movements remains incomplete. Here we cite a simple, robust scaling law that captures the temporal and spatial basis of large-scale mobility data from diverse cities around the globe. Accordingly, the number of visitors to any location decreases as the inverse square of their frequency and travel distance. We show that the spatial-temporal flows to different locations give rise to distinct clusters that follow Zipf’s law. (Abstract excerpt)
Schweitzer, Frank. Group Relations, Resilience and the I Ching. arXiv:2204.09330. The ETH Zurich veteran systems theorist (search) provides an insightful contrast and meld of this Chinese wisdom tradition with 21st century agent-based models as a way to gain modern social understandings and beneficial coherence. Thus these ancient yin/yang gender balance teachings could inform and guide better interactions, relations, heterogeneity, resilience, changes. It can also be read as a book of wisdom revealing the laws of life to which we must all attune ourselves if we are to live in peace and harmony.
We evaluate the robustness and adaptivity of social groups with heterogeneous agents that are characterized by their binary state, their ability to change this state, and their preferred relations to other agents. To define group structures, we operationalize the hexagrams of the I Ching. The relations and properties of agents are used to quantify their influence according to the social impact theory. From these influence values we derive a weighted stability measure for triads involving three agents, which is based on the weighted balance theory. A stochastic approach determines the probabilities to find robust and adaptive groups. The discussion focuses on the generalization of our approach. (Abstract)
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