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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality

7. Systems History: Personal and Planetary Individuation

Manrique, Pedro, et al. Generalized Gelation Theory Describes Human Online Aggregation in Support of Extremism. arXiv:1712.06000. We note this latest entry by the University of Miami, Florida physicist group including Neil Johnson as an example of current abilities to link and root even such aberrant behaviors in natural nonlinear phenomena. Upon reflection, these studies and others (Turchin, et al) attest to a mathematical realm, heretofore unbeknownst, not quantified, long suspected, which seems to underlie, impel, and constrain our daily lives and polities for better or worse. Search arXiv for more recent papers such as Universality and Correlations in Individuals Wandering through an Online Extremist Space (1706.06627), and Multiscale Dynamical Network Mechanism Underlying Aging from Birth to Death (1706.00667, Zheng).

Though many aggregation theories exist for physical, chemical and biological systems, they do not account for the significant heterogeneity found, for example, in populations of living objects. This is unfortunate since understanding how heterogeneous individuals come together in support of an extremist cause, for example, represents an urgent societal problem. Here we develop such a theory and show that the intrinsic population heterogeneity can significantly delay the gel transition point and change the gel's growth rate. We apply our theory to examine how humans aggregate online in support of a particular extremist cause. We show that the theory provides an accurate description of the online extremist support for ISIS (so-called Islamic State) which started in late 2014. (1712.06000 Abstract)

The 'out of the blue' nature of recent terror attacks and the diversity of apparent motives, highlight the importance of understanding the online trajectories that individuals follow prior to developing high levels of extremist support. Here we show that the physics of stochastic walks, with and without temporal correlation, provides a unifying description of these online trajectories. Our unique dataset comprising all users of a global social media site, reveals universal characteristics in individuals' online lifetimes. Our accompanying theory generates analytical and numerical solutions that describe the characteristics shown by individuals that go on to develop high levels of extremist support, and those that do not. The existence of these temporal and also many-body correlations suggests that existing physics machinery can be used to quantify and perhaps mitigate the risk of future events. (1706.06627 Abstract)

Mathews, Freya. Moral Ambiguities in the Politics of Climate Change. Nanda, Ved, ed. Climate Change and Environmental Ethics. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2011. Two decades after her visionary The Ecological Self, (search) the Australian ecophilosopher continues to meld “anthropocentric and biocentric” options in a viable, creative synthesis. Along with the quotes, she advises a “bio-synergy,” a “relational inter-functionality” of persons and planet, little self and Big self, as each engaged in a deep process of psychic individuation.

I would like to propose two ways – both holistic, but differently so – in which “nature” under its global aspect might be conceived. The first such way in which nature might be conceived is as a self-realizing or autopoetic system, defined not in terms of the elements that contingently constitute it, but in terms of its ends as an entity in its own right, which is to say, in terms of its status as an end-for-itself, and its disposition to navigate circumstances in such a way as to preserve its own identity as a living system through time and change. (48)

The second way in which nature under its global aspect might be (holistically) conceived is as a self-realizing or autopoietic system, yes, but one which is defined not merely in terms of its ends – the end of self-preservation – but also in terms of its specific pattern of organization, its pattern of self-structuration. The moral significance of nature under its global aspect, from this point of view, lies as much in this pattern of self-structuration as in its status as an end-for-itself. In protecting it, we would not only preserve its physical continuity through time and change, but its particular organizational integrity as well. (48-49)

In conclusion, I have argued that the way forward for bio-inclusive environmentalism in the era of climate change is not merely biophysical, in the Gaian-type sense, involving the engineering of the physical conditions requisite for life on the planet; not merely biomimetic, in some sense replicating, in our technologies, the patterns of organization characteristic of life; but bio-synergistic, in the sense of entering into active partnership with actual ecosystems to ensure both the regulation of the climate system and the sustainable provision of our own needs. (61)

McNeill, John R. and William H. The Human Web. New York: Norton, 2003. Son and father historians offer a succinct, birds-eye view of five millennia in terms of an increasing, thickening network of interactions, which now reaches global proportions. As a reflection, it is unsettling to recall the Tigris and Euphrates rivers as the original cradle of civilization where some 5,000 years later violent carnage rages. We publicly seem not a wit wiser.

In a succinct conclusion, William H. first notes the new evolutionary theory of life as the repetition of the same symbiotic pattern as bacteria formed into cells, cells into organisms and organisms into societies. He goes on to say that for a million years, the basic hominid group was 50 to 100 members. By these lights, the next stage ought to be founded on intentional, cellular ‘primary communities’ of similar size rather than sprawling cities.

The central argument of this book is that throughout their history humans used symbols to create webs that communicated agreed-upon meanings and so, as time went by, sustained cooperation and conflict among larger and larger groups of people. (323)

McNeill, William H. Passing Strange: The Convergence of Evolutionary Science with Scientific History. History and Theory. 40/1, 2001. The emertius University of Chicago historian and author proposes a novel integration of historical studies with an evolutionary cosmology arising from the physical, biological and complexity sciences. See also McNeill’s earlier paper “History and the Scientific Worldview.” History and Theory. 37/1, 1998.

Cosmic history, natural history, and human history have come together, willy nilly, into a single fabric. In short, a historical worldview of enormous scope and grandeur has engulfed the no less grand, but now parochial, Newtonian world machine. Moreover, it elevates human behavior into a significant part of the cosmic process, as the seventeenth-century worldview never managed to do. (5)

Modelski, George, et al, eds. Globalization as Evolutionary Process. London: Routledge, 2008. Proceedings of an International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis conference, held in Laxenburg, Austria, April 2006. Not yet seen, chapters such as “Is Globalization Self-organizing?” by Joachim Rennstich, and “From Ephemeralization and Stigmergy to the Global Brain” by Francis Heylighen, intrigue.

Morin, Edgar. Complex Thinking for a Complex World. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMGucd5vjfY&feature=relmfu. An extraordinary video posted October 27, 2012 on Complexity Digest by the esteemed 91 year old French philosopher and pioneer advocate of reconceiving a better, more viable earthwide culture and civilization by way of rightly understanding nature’s innately dynamic systems character.

Our world is at crisis. Global challenges abound. However, they have a "dark" and a "bright" side. The dark side is the imminent danger of the breakdown of interdependent societies with the perspective of extermination of civilized human life. The bright side marks a possible entrance to a new stage of evolution of humanity, to the self-organization of a humane world society. Cybernetics, systems research, the sciences of complexity -- all of them have the potential to endow the subjects of history with guidance and a means for mastering the current transformation.

Naccache, Albert. A Brief History of Evolution. History and Theory. 38/4, 1999. The author suggests that the emergence of earth life proceeds by “eight nested modes of evolution…from blue-green algae to our societies.” This scale then forms a framework for the rise of intensifying mental capacities lately reaching an “extrasomatic social memory.”

Nazaretyan, Akop. Evolution of Non-Violence: Studies in Big History, Self-Organization and Historical Psychology. Online: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010. The author is a psychologist, cultural anthropologist and philosopher at M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University, International University, and a Senior Researcher at the (Russian) Institute for Oriental Studies. Nazaretyan will present “The Mid 21st Century Puzzle: On the Cosmic Perspective of Mind” at the Global Future 2045 Congress in New York City, June 2013. We include as an example of a visionary non-Western perspective within our composite, bilateral worldwide witness.

This book is a collection of papers (2005-2010) focused on various subjects, but related by a single research issue: developing life, culture and mind as the stages in the evolution of Metagalaxy. Megatrends and mechanisms of evolution are explored in the context of an advanced self-organization model (synergetics; complexity theory). The author pays special attention to the evolution of technologies, violence and non-violence: the papers reveal system dependence between growing instrumental might and the perfection of cultural aggression-sublimation throughout human history. The pattern is illustrated by case studies and verification procedures demonstrating its both destructive and constructive attributes. The results of the retrospective research are used to trace probable scenarios of the global civilization's future and the conditions for its sustainable development. (Publisher)

Neumann, Erich. The Origins and History of Consciousness. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1971. Insights from Jungian psychology into megahistory as an analogous cycle of psychic individuation that is understandable through archetypal mythic symbols. As a consequence, the great mission of humankind is the heroic achievement of a whole person.

Patomaki, Heikki and Manfred Steger. Social Imaginaries and Big History: Towards a New Planetary Consciousness? Futures. In Press, October, 2010. University of Helsinki and Globalism Research Centre, RMIT University, Melbourne, political scientists claim the age of nations is now past, if we would not perish, an imperative need is for a common, worldwide sense of an integrally united humankind. This shift is brought into clear relief by the “big history” expanse which sets all temporal human cultures into a cosmic and earthly evolution frame.

Preiser-Kapeller, Johannes. The “Complexities and Networks in the Medieval Mediterrean and the Near East” Project. arXiv:1606.03433. We cite this contribution by an Austrian Academy of Sciences systems historian as an example how these 21st century mathematical sciences can indeed apply to and quantify the seemingly chaotic course of human affairs. A long bibliography provides coverage for the task.

Russell, Edmund. Evolutionary History: Prospectus for a New Field. Environmental History. 8/2, 2003. An essay on the consideration of historical events and phenomena such as agricultural and technological practices or disease vectors as the result of the same forces that occur in biological evolution. This view would take into account how the course of history is impacted by ecological, genetic and selective forces. By this expanded perspective human civilization can be situated in and connected with the rise of Earth life.

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