I. Our Earthuman Edition: A 21st Century, PhiloSophia, eLibrary of eCosmos, PediaPedia Resource
B. An Earthropo to Ecosmo Sapience Finds a Phenomenal, Independent. UniVerse to WumanVerse
Georgiev, Georgi, et al, eds. Evolution, Development and Complexity: Multiscale Models of Complex Adaptive Systems. International: Springer, 2019. As the quote says, this is an eclectic collection from a satellite day at the main Cancun complexity conference, Google key words. Chapters include Universal Darwinism and the Origins of Order by John O. Campbell and Michael Price (search), Life, Intelligence and the Selection of Universes by Rudiger Vaas, A Multi-Scale View of the Emergent Complexity of Life by Casper Hesp, et al, Complexity, Development and Evolution in Morphogenetic Collective Systems by Hiroki Sayama and Applying Evolutionary Meta-Strategies to Human Problems by Valerie Gremillion.
This book explores the universe and its subsystems from the three lenses of evolutionary (contingent), developmental (predictable), and complex (adaptive) processes at all scales. It draws from the academic disciplines of complexity science, physical science, information and computer science, theoretical and evo-devo biology, cosmology, astrobiology, evolutionary theory, developmental theory, and philosophy. The chapters come from a Satellite Meeting, "Evolution, Development and Complexity" (EDC) hosted at the Conference on Complex Systems, in Cancun, 2017. This book explores many issues within the field of EDC such as the interaction of evolutionary stochasticity and developmental determinism in biological systems and what they might teach us about these twin processes in other complex systems.
The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative.
The 2010 bestseller The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow touts a final, deep down “M string theory,” and closes with this epitaph: “Human beings are mere collections of the fundamental particles of nature.” One might also cite Marcelo Geisler’s 2010 A Tear at the Edge of Creation, and other works that dash any plan and hope. The scientific revolution of past centuries by particulate reduction alone, totally male, abandons its project in abject failure.
As far as we know, or can determine at this point in our global knowledge capabilities, the earth is the only-born child of her kind in the cosmos. In spite of our common biological ancestry with other mammals, we humans appear to be the most biologically suitable species to play an active role in earth’s nurturing care. Yet the imbalance that has arisen from the over-extension of the egoistic aspects of mental-rational consciousness has led to the polar opposite of care for our only planetary home. The imminent possibility of a major planetary catastrophe, and a climate increasingly inhospitable for human habitation—already correlated with mass extinction of species—demands an urgent reframing of human relationships with nature and the cosmos. (189)
Gingerich, Owen. God’s Universe. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. The emeritus Harvard astronomer and author finds the appearance of conscience and responsibility within an evolutionary cosmos to imply its comprehensibility and purpose. A thoughtful work but as often the case, more concerned with Creator than this earthly creation. The extended, apropos quote is from the publisher’s website.
We live in a universe with a very long history, a vast cosmos where things are being worked out over unimaginably long ages. Stars and galaxies have formed, and elements come forth from great stellar cauldrons. The necessary elements are present, the environment is fit for life, and slowly life forms have populated the earth. Are the creative forces purposeful, and in fact divine?
Gissis, Snait, et al, ed.
Landscapes of Collectivity in the Life Sciences.
Cambridge: MIT Press,
A volume in the Vienna Series in Theoretical Biology which draws upon prior workshops and studies to identify a natural propensity for creaturely and human entities to mutually abide within cooperative and communicative groupings. Contributors such as Joan Roughgarden, James Griesemer, Deborah Gordon, Albert Tauber, Scott Gilbert, Eva Jablonka, Richard Michod, Eugene Rosenberg, Ehud Meron, and Elizabeth Lloyd gather evidence from many corners about this iconic formation. A 21st century biology ought to be, it is said, more concerned with relationships than isolate individuals. An exemplar is the holobiont (search) model of organisms, and people, newly seen as composite, symbiotic macro and micro-biological selves. Another portal is the social immune system (Tauber), as are self-organizing vegetation patterns (Meron). A salient paper may be Individuality and the Major Evolutionary Transitions by Erik Hanschen, et al (search) which engages this popular scale.
Many researchers and scholars in the life sciences have become critical of the traditional focus on the individual. This volume counters such methodological individualism by exploring recent, influential work that utilizes notions of collectivity, sociality, rich interactions, and emergent phenomena to explain persistent issues in the life sciences. The contributors offer historical, philosophical, and biological perspectives to describe collective phenomena seen in insects, the immune system, communication, and human society, with examples from cooperative transport in the longhorn crazy ant to the evolution of autobiographical memory. A comprehensive look at the Holobiont notion (a multi-species collective of host and diverse microorganisms) and the hologenome theory (holobiont and its hologenome are a unit of adaption) runs through the essays.
Gleiser, Marcelo. A Tear at the Edge of Creation: A Radical New Vision for Life in an Imperfect Universe. New York: Free Press, 2010. A citation only because it so extols the Ptolemaic despair. The cover has a paper rip across a starry sky but Tear could just as well be one we might shed. For it is the worst in a spate of books that conclude our epochal human scientific and philosophical quest has come up naught. The search for an integral unity at the cosmic depths of matter is a chimera, an unrealizable dream, and we had better to learn to accept it. We must admit for a fact “there is no hidden code of nature.” In this death sentence of 21st century physical science, human persons are accidents of an insensate, entropic universe, freakishly alone in celestial space. But be brave because this gives us a “humanocentric” reality for it defines our task to protect life on earth against the sterile cosmic void. Now our website purpose is to document a grand Copernican alternative via an emergent mindkind of a parental universe to human genesis.
Goerner, Sally. After the Clockwork Universe. Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1998. We are in the midst of a revolution from the Newtonian machine model to a self-developing webwork vision within the mind of humankind. By this perspective, people are integral participants in a Learning Universe as it tries to articulate and understand itself. Furthermore, an appreciation of how ubiquitous dynamic systems organize, repeat and emerge can guide a humane sustainable culture.
The web view is sweet, but complex. It paints a breathtaking vision of cosmic evolution and a world ecosystem struggling to be One. It anticipates much that is happening today and gives it a new frame. The World Wide Web, for example, is being described as a budding nervous system for a planetary mind. If billions of minds all over the world can learn to work together for a greater good, than we may stand a chance…. (292)
Goerner, Sally, et al.
The New Science of Sustainability: Building a Foundation for Great Change.
Chapel Hill, NC: Triangle Center for Complex Systems,
For some time, living systems theorist and co-founder of the Integral Science Institute in Chapel Hill, Sally Goerner (search) has been advocating a cosmic Copernican revolution from an unworkable machine scheme to a holistic, organically dynamic, humane worldview. Along with co-authors Virginia Polytechnic Institute urban planner Robert Dyck, and Dorothy Lageroos, a Northland College professor of governance, by this genesis genre several unique concepts are entered. At the outset, a dead to alive cosmos change is imperative if we are ever to save our selves and biosphere. With this in place, an evolutionary emergence of cognitive faculties can then be allowed, in essence a grand “collaborative learning process.” If an incarnate animate nature is thus admitted, its fractal self-organization can be seen via a nested sequence from cosmos to cells to cities. As a result, greater guidance accrues for an intentional recreation of human social presence as a local and global viable, intelligent, sane organism.
Evolution is a universal, self-organizing process of growth and co-development whose patterns are seen from the origins of matter to the latest cycles of civilization. It is not the chance outcome of random mutations acting on selfish genes. Life is a naturally integrated, mind-body learning system – not an accident. Civilization is an organic learning ecosystem that adapts by changing its collective mind. (21)
Goldfein, Mark and Alexei Ivanov. Applied Natural Science: Environmental Issues and Global Perspectives. Oakville, Ontario: Apple Academic Press, 2016. In the tradition of Vladimir Vernadsky, senior Russian biogeochemists at Saratov State University appear to abide in a parallel universe on the other side of the planet. The first 200 pages set aside a determinist Newtonian mechanics for a nonlinear self-organizing and developing cosmos. Although the west originated many of these theories, the huge difference is that a greater, self-existing genesis is assumed of which life and humanity are an intended phenomenon. For most of the United States and Europe, such a natural philosophy, an actual procreative nature to philosophize about, is not permitted. In its stead a blind cosmic chaos bereft of purpose remains, we peoples are not written in. The authors press on to view human beings, via information and reason, as an aware cognizance by which to self-affirm and co-create, akin to J. A. Wheeler’s participatory universe (see also Alexei Nesteruk). Based on this integral science of biochemospheric ecologies, the second half advises practical programs of environmental remediation for regional and global scales.
Universal evolutionism should focus on common invariant trends and regularities of development, which manifest themselves at different levels of matter organization. The concept should be underlain by the idea of the universality of the evolution of various structural levels, identifying the universals of evolving structures. This approach to universal evolutionism uses the concepts and methods of synergetics as an interdisciplinary research field to establish laws of self-organizing systems as the spontaneous emergence of complex ordered structures. (31)
Goodenough, Ursula. The Sacred Depths of Nature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. A cell biologist, Goodenough conveys in her “religious naturalism” a scientific epiphany of belief in an ultimately providential and nurturing evolutionary creation.
Goodwin, Brian. Nature’s Due: Healing Our Fragmented Culture. Edinburgh: Floris Books, 2007. As appreciated by anthropologist Arturo Escobar (search), Brian Goodwin (1931-2009) is a holistic biologist, complexity theorist, and wise elder of an alternative natural mindfulness in the West. He had a long career of teaching and writing in the U.K. at Sussex University and the Open University, also as scholar in residence at Schumacher College in Devon. Along with Escobar, he calls for setting aside the material machine model, now in terminal bankruptcy, and in its stead a new nature founded on viable webworks of complex, sustainable relationships. With a nod to Francisco Varela, by these lights an “autopoietic,” self-making cosmos is revealed, which human compassion and creativity can maintain and enhance. With chapters such as Love and Gravity, Evolution with Meaning, and Living the Great Work, surely sagacious guidance for these fraught times.
There is an apparent paradox within this movement towards a new mythos and culture: the focus of the Great Work is on local action that realizes a collective, cooperative vision, but this action is based on universal principles of coherent behaviour that we learn from observation of nature. The paradox is resolved by recognizing that the principles apply to the process whereby coherence arises, not to some abstract, transcendental or ideal features of the state towards which we are moving. (161)
Goodwin, Brian. The Organism Itself as the Emergent Meaning. http://www.edge.org/q2009/q09_4.html#goodwin. The Schumacher College biologist, in his response to the Edge salon 2009 Question: What Will Change Everything?, sagely glimpses an imminent shift to a creative, innate evolutionary dynamics that is deeply linguistic in kind. Only when such an animate nature is fully witnessed can we learn to live sustainably on the planet. But this is a rare posting among the some 150 answers, almost all men (20:1), that might imagine a nascent genesis universe. See also Scott Sampson’s response for one other apt vision. A companion Brian Goodwin citation can be found in Emergent Genetic Information.
I anticipate that biology will go through a transforming revelation/revolution that is like the revolution that happened in physics with the development of quantum mechanics nearly 100 years ago. In biology this will involve the realization that to make sense of the complexity of gene activity in development, the prevailing model of local mechanical causality will have to be abandoned. In its place we will have a model of interactive relationships within gene transcription networks that is like the pattern of interactions between words in a language, where ambiguity is essential to the creation of emergent meaning that is sensitive to cultural history and to context.
Gordon, Natalie and Richard. Embryogenesis Explained. Singapore: World Scientific, 2016. The University of Manitoba philosophical embryologists gift us with a 750 page tome of their lifetime studies and luminous findings. The illustrated volume offers a grand tour of cosmic, biological, genetic, and organismic developmental science. But as the quotes allude, the authors do not hold to the usual denials that the course of evolutionary life and we human beings are nothing but random happenstance. Along with their discovery of differentiation waves, the essential theme is to conceive an “embryo physics” so as to designate and affirm life’s oviparous or viviparous gestation in a conducive cosmos. Richard Gordon has often collaborated with the Moscow State University biologist Lev Beloussov, see herein his companion 2016 work Morphomechanics of Development.
The problem of embryogenesis is literally that of “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” All life on Earth seems to trace back to a common origin, in an ultimate sense. We therefore make the assumption that the explanation for the origin of life lies in pre-life physics, and furthermore that we may speak of an embryo physics that somehow creates each organism and will check if our present understanding of physics is up to the task. Some of us will always prefer the finger of God stirring a primordial pool no matter what physics tells us. For those who prefer explanations without God, we will offer suggestions on how physics might adapt and grow to embrace the whole organism. (xii)