Darwinism: The First Modern Complexity Theory
Darwin postulated that evolution emerges from interactions between the Nature of the Organism and the Nature of the Conditions, the Nature of the Organism being by far the more important. He also postulated that these interactions produce evolutionary diversity that was self-organized and functionally fit to the environment, yet fundamentally historically contingent. Evolution was embodied in two metaphors - the Tree of Life and the Tangled Bank. Darwinism did not conform to the norms of Newtonian science, simple theories based on one or a few laws, so advocates of evolution began “fixing” Darwinism. Many view Neo-Darwinism as the solution to Darwin’s inability to theorize properly. However, Neo-Darwinism is based on Spencer’s, rather than Darwin’s, views about fitness, and Hegel’s, rather than Hume’s, views about the nature of history. As well, the recent “discovery” of complexity by physicists has led to criticism of neo-Darwinism as not being capable of explaining all the complexity of life. The solution lies in re-discovering Darwinism, and recognizing that it was the first modern complexity theory. As the world’s best-studied complex system, biology should lead the way in developing physical theory, as Boltzmann suggested in a public lecture in Leipzig in 1905.
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