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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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V. Life's Corporeal Evolution Encodes and Organizes Itself: An EarthWinian Genesis Synthesis

Gontier, Nathalie. Testing the “(Neo-) Darwinian” Principles against Reticulate Evolution. Information. 11/7, 2020. The University of Lisbon evolutionary epistemologist has been at the conceptual forefront (search) of a 2010s revision of life’s developmental emergence. This paper continues her 2015 edited Reticulate Evolution volume by noting exemplary network topologies in symbiosis, lateral gene transfer, adaptive fitness, infective (viral) heredity, organismic mobility, species affordances, hybridization and more. A distinct approach of reticulate studies is proposed as an overdue phase of interconnective linkages between all the prior parts. In regard, an inclusion and endorsement of symbiotic mutual unions in their role as a prime evolutionary property is achieved. A history of symbiogenesis from the 1900s to the work of Lynn Margulis to current holobiont models braces the claim. See also Towards a Dynamic Interaction Network of Life to Unify and Expand the Evolutionary Theory by Eric Bapteste and Philip Huneman in BMC Biology (16/56, 2018) for another confirmation.

Variation, adaptation, heredity and fitness, constraints and affordances, speciation, and extinction form the building blocks of the (Neo-)Darwinian research program. Several of these aspects have been called “Darwinian principles.” However, we will here describe the important role played by reticulate evolutionary mechanisms and processes in also bringing about these phenomena. Reticulate mechanisms and processes include symbiosis, symbiogenesis, lateral gene transfer, infective heredity mediated by genetic and organismal mobility, and hybridization. Because “Darwinian principles” are brought about by both vertical and reticulate processes, they should contribute to a more pluralistic theory of evolution, one that surpasses the Modern and Neo-Darwinian Synthesis. Instead, these general principles of evolution need to be understood as common goods that come about through interactions between different units and levels of evolutionary hierarchies, and they are exherent rather than inherent properties of individuals. (Abstract excerpt)

Reticulate: the formation of a net or web- work topology, or the presence of net structures such as veins of a leaf, or a nervous system.

Nathalie Gontier: I’m a philosopher of evolutionary sciences, with special interest in the nature and scope of evolutionary explanations, how they evolved within the overall genealogy of thought; how they are applied within the biological, sociocultural and linguistic sciences; and how they are depicted in hierarchical diagrams such as cycles, timelines, trees and networks.

Gontier, Nathalie and Michael Bradie. Evolutionary Epistemology: Two Research Avenues, Three Schools and a Single, Shared Agenda. Journal for General Philosophy of Science.. 52/2, 2021. University of Lisbon and Bowling Green State University, Ohio scholars edit this latest survey of philosophical endeavors about how to get a read and bead on life’s long developmental course that brought us to such ruminations. Among entries are Cognitive Niche Construction and Extragenetic Information: A Sense of Purposefulness in Evolution by Lorenzo Magnani, Jierarchies, Networks and Causality by N. Gontier, United in Diversity: An Organic Overview of Non-Adaptationist Evolutionary Epistemology by Marta Facoetti, and Principles of Information Processing and natural Learning in Biological Systems by Predrag Slijepcevidic.

This special issue is devoted to the impact and ramifications of current research in evolutionary epistemology, an inter- and multi- disciplinary areas that can be sorted into two inclusive research avenues. One approach is an expansive study of the appropriate comprehension of life’s evolution (see below). The other program, by turns, considers the evolution of epistemology. Since its 1990s origins, EE has adopted three schools of thought: adaptationist, non-adaptationist, and applied EE. Although diverse in outlook, these several versions share and advance similar agendas about how knowledge evolves and relates to the world. (Excerpt)

Biosphere as the Communicative Network The final task is to put all categories of biological systems in the context of the biosphere. Heinz von Foerster argued that information is a purely relational concept that can be actualized only when related to cognitive systems. If we accept his dictum and assume that the biosphere is the supersystem that accommodates all seven categories of biological systems, it becomes the network of communicative interactions between them. The totality of all communicative interactions in the biosphere may be termed the “interactome” as the distributed network of biological information that holds organism–environment altogether. (Predrag S., 240-241)

The term “Epistemology comes from the Greek “episteme” and “logos”. Episteme means knowledge and understanding while logos translates as account or reason. In all historic these historic cases (Plato to B. Russell), epistemology seeks to comprehend one or another kind of cognitive success. (Stanford Encyclopedia)

Goodwin, Brian. Beyond the Darwinian Paradigm. Ruse, Michael and Joseph Travis, eds. Evolution: the First Four Billion Years. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. In an anniversary volume to celebrate natural selection, an alternative view is included which if fully appreciated would impact and worry all the other chapters. As noted more in Current Vistas, Goodwin broaches an inherent mathematical generativity that Darwin could not have known, (although he did hold to Romantic sensibilities), which antecedes later external impacts. Which one might note changes everything one might note such as what kind of universe – moribund machine or quickening gestation – and defines our epochal shift work to sort this out.

On the basis of the examples presented and the general principles that govern nonlinear dynamics, I shall argue that the processes involved have the consequences that some forms are possible, while others are not. Understanding the origins of the forms that define different species therefore requires that we understand the dynamic processes that generate them, which are not those of natural selection. (300)

Goodwin, Brian. How the Leopard Changed Its Spots. New York: Scribner’s, 1994. From this British structural biologist, an innovative case for a “science of qualities” which can support a “lawful” organic evolution of morphological complexity along with a measure of altruistic behavior.

Gottlieb, Gilbert. Developmental-Behavioral Initiation of Evolutionary Change. Psychological Review. 109/2, 2002. Rather than natural selection alone, the behavior of an organism, which influences its developmental genetics, is the leading edge of evolution.

Gould, Stephen Jay. The Paradox of the Visibly Irrelevant. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Volume 879, 1999. The late Harvard paleontologist and author suggests a more appropriate fractal view of evolution as an egalitarian nest of scales, rather than as a reduction to one “superior” level.

Gregorcic, Andrej and Igor Jerman. On the Structure of Theoretical Evolutionary Space in Relation to Biological Laws. Rivista di Biologia/Biology Forum. 102/3, 2010. This journal published by Tilgher Genova began in 1919 as a home for more holistic views of evolving life that is open to and allows an inherent, spontaneous lawfulness. Here University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, scientists contribute to an imminent, overdue, reconception of life’s sequential ascent in terms and as a result of nonlinear, self-organizing network dynamics. Consider Di Bernardo from the same journal, also Goldenfeld and Woese, and a host of others whiom increasingly presage this epochal shift from an aimless selection alone to an intrinsic genesis synthesis.

According to neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, the dominant causal role in biological evolution is played by historical contingencies, both at the level of spontaneous variation and at the level of limited environmental resources. The natural selection, as well as evolution based on it, are thus supposed to be of essentially historical nature. The omnipresence of biological convergences challenges this view. We propose that law-like universal constraints on internal organismic organization as well as on their environment, originating from universal characteristics of nonlinear and complex dynamical systems, may confer some of the observed regularity and repeatability of evolutionary patterns. (323)

Gregory, T. Ryan. Macroevolution, Hierarchy Theory, and the C-value Enigma. Paleobiology. 30/2, 2004. A long-standing lack of correspondence between the total eukaryotic DNA content and its amount of active haploid genes, known as C-value, with an organism’s complexity is said to be resolved by a multi-scale model of evolution. By this view, population genetics joins with paleontology because relative genome size exemplifies hierarchy in action. The author’s website www.genomesize.com contains a comprehensive database of animal haploid genome size (C-values in picograms) for nearly 4,000 species.

To put it bluntly, the origin of integrated genomes, and therefore of cellular life itself, may be owed to the operation of hierarchical selection during the earliest stages of evolution on the Earth. (188)

Gregory, T. Ryan, ed. The Evolution of the Genome. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004. A “post-genomic era” brings significant new understandings of what genes (genotypes) are and how they interact with developing and adult organisms (phenotypes). This 700 page book offers a comprehensive coverage of these findings and issues. In a conclusion, Gregory imagines a further evolutionary synthesis that is truly integral because it assimilates previously isolated micro and macro realms.

A central theme of this volume is that genomes represent a distinct and legitimate level of biological organization, with their own inherent properties and unique evolutionary histories. (vii)

Hall, Brian. Descent with Modification: The Unity Underlying Homology and Homoplasy as Seen Through an Analysis of Development and Evolution. Biological Reviews. 78/3, 2003. Clarifications and advances in this collaborative project to achieve a new synthesis of ontogeny and phylogeny. The article is also an entry to Hall’s major writings in the evo-devo field of reuniting embryology and evolution.

Homology is similarity because of common descent and ancestry, homoplasy is similarity arrived at via independent evolution. However, given that there is but one tree of life, all organisms, and therefore all features of organisms, share some degree of relationship and similarity one to another. (409)

Hall, Brian. Evolutionary Developmental Biology: Past, Present, and Future. Evolution: Education and Outreach. 5/2, 2012. The Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, biologist has been a leading advocate of this once and future Evo-Devo endeavor. As the article explains, while in the later 19th century, and ages before, life’s earthly course was tacitly a sequential gestation, at the start of the 20th century, embryology and evolution parted ways into separate domains. This disconnect is now realized as detrimental to evolutionary theory, and in the past decade or so, drawing on vastly more knowledge, a robust reunion is underway. As a result, life’s nested, recurrent emergence can be truly appreciated an embryonic maturation, might we even be at planetary term.

Evolutionary developmental biology (evo–devo) is that part of biology concerned with how changes in embryonic development during single generations relate to the evolutionary changes that occur between generations. Charles Darwin argued for the importance of development (embryology) in understanding evolution. After the discovery in 1900 of Mendel’s research on genetics, however, any relationship between development and evolution was either regarded as unimportant for understanding the process(es) of evolution or as a black box into which it was hard to see. Research over the past two decades has opened that black box, revealing how studies in evo–devo highlight the mechanisms that link genes (the genotype) with structures (the phenotype). This is vitally important because genes do not make structures. Developmental processes make structures using road maps provided by genes, but using many other signals as well—physical forces such as mechanical stimulation, temperature of the environment, and interaction with chemical products produced by other species. (Abstract)

Not only do genes not make structures (the phenotype), but new properties and mechanisms emerge during embryonic development: genes are regulated differentially in different cells and places; aggregations of similar cells provide the cellular resources (modules) from which tissues and organs arise; modules and populations of differently differentiated cells interact to set development along particular tracks; and organisms interact with their environment and create their niche in that environment. (Abstract)

Hall, Brian and Wendy Olson, eds. Keywords and Concepts in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003. A 1992 Harvard Press work covered the core definitions of Evolutionary Biology (Evelyn Fox Keller and Elisabeth Lloyd, eds.). This present work considers the reconvergence of embryological ontogeny and evolutionary phylogeny, aka “evo-devo.” Fifty or so topics include Atavism, Developmental Systems Theory, Epigenesis and Epigenetics, Homology and Homoplasy, Segmentation. But as a review in Evolution by Ehab Abouheif (58/12, 2004) notes, the book in fact challenges the neo-Darwinian tenet that gene mutation and recombination alone drives evolution. Many other factors such as environmental influences, topological constraints, self-organization, modularity, and developmental processes are seen in effect as organisms develop from genotype to phenotype.

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