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Synergistic Selection

How Cooperation Has Shaped Evolution and the Rise of Humankind

Peter Corning

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Naturwissenschaften, Medizin, Informatik, Technik / Naturwissenschaften allgemein


-->"Nothing about the evolution of biological complexity makes sense except in the light of synergy." Peter Corning's new book is being hailed as a major contribution to what is perhaps the greatest shift in our understanding of evolution since The Origin of Species. It's a tour de force that takes us on a synergy-guided tour of the history of life. As Corning puts it, "life on Earth has been a synergistic phenomenon from the get go." Corning also shows how synergy has been a key to human evolution, including the rise of complex modern societies. "Cooperation may have been the vehicle, but synergy was the driver." As we now face a tipping point and another major transition in evolution, Corning offers us a synergy-based road-map to the future. "One of the great take-home lessons from the epic of evolution is that cooperation produces synergy, and synergy is the way forward. The arc of evolution bends toward synergy." -->Contents: Explaining ComplexityA New View of EvolutionHow Cooperation Trumps CompetitionEvolution as a "Combination of Labor"A Tale of Two TheoriesThe Major Transitions in EvolutionThe Self-Made Man I: Australopithecine EntrepreneursThe Self-Made Man II: From erectus to Homo sapiensThe Rise of Complex SocietiesThe Next Major Transition --> -->Readership: Undergraduate, graduate students and the general public interested in general science, general life sciences, evolutionary biology, human biology/anthropology/primatology, and public policy. -->Keywords:Synergy;Cooperation;Complexity;Evolution;Natural Selection;Human Evolution;Major Transitions in Evolution;Cultural Evolution;Multi-Level SelectionReview:"This magnificent book reveals the critical role of synergy in evolution and in all of biology, including especially in humankind. Synergy is fundamental in so many areas of science and knowledge. And in his final chapter, on how to change our current dysfunctional course as a species and avoid the destruction of our planet, Peter Corning offers us a unique and hopeful new vision."Anthony Trewavas, FRSEmeritus Professor, Institute of Molecular Plant Science, University of Edinburgh and author of Plant Behaviour and Intelligence"Peter Corning's approach is wise and he is astonishingly well read. The scope of his excellent book is broad and ambitious, running from the origins of life to modern economics in human societies. Many of his examples are described in clear and fascinating detail ... He writes extremely well and I read every word with great pleasure and interest ... I am full of admiration and strongly recommend it."Sir Patrick Bateson, FRSEmeritus Professor of Biology, Cambridge Universitypresident of the Zoological Society of London and the author of (among others) Behaviour, Development and Evolution "This is an important book. It offers a solution to a problem that has been central to evolutionary biology for half a century, with implications that reach down to the foundations of evolutionary theory. Corning argues that the huge and disproportionate advantages that arise when labor is combined could account for the rise of ever higher levels of organization in the history of life. The book is also well written, a pleasure to read."Daniel W McSheaProfessor of Biology, Duke University and co-author of Biology's First Law "Peter Corning's book is a marvelous addition to the growing literature about the emerging alternative to gene-centric neo-Darwinism in evolutionary biology. We would not exist were it not for the cooperative behaviour of living organisms, from microorganisms to the largest mammals and trees. The progressive evolution of multiple levels of organisation in living systems has harnessed blind chance. This book tells you how (and why) this occurred."Denis Noble, CBE, FRS, FRCP, FMedSciBurden Sanderson Chair of Cardiovascular Physiology, Oxford University, Emeritus, and author of (among others) The Music of Life "Evolution is the story of the development of complex organic and social systems. The key to understanding this complexity, Peter Corning shows, is synergy — fitness-enhancing cooperation among heterogeneous parts. Synergistic Selection draws on the broad history of evolutionary thinking and is buttressed by contemporary empirical evidence. It is an eloquent refutation of the standard story of 'selfish genes.' While abounding in biological detail, Synergistic Selection is easily accessible to a lay audience."Herbert GintisExternal Professor, Santa Fe Institute and co-author of (among others) A Cooperative Species "Peter Corning's new book presents a grand view of evolution and highlights the role of synergy in the accelerating complexity of our modern world. From this vantage point, he is able to cast new light on some of the major challenges of our century — from economic inequality and political governance to climate change."Geoffrey HodgsonResearch Professor of Business Studies, University of Hertfordshireeditor-in-chief of the Journal of Institutional Economics and author of (among others) Conceptualizing Capitalism "Peter Corning has once again given us a book that not only expertly summarizes the current state of the art in evolutionary biology, it also points the way to a compelling new understanding of how we arrived at our place in the natural world."John M GowdyProfessor of Economics and Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and co-author of Paradise for Sale "Synergistic Selection is an important contribution to our understanding of evolution ... An essential read at the intersection of science, inspiration, and sustainability."Michael Dowdauthor of Thank God for Evolution and host of "The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness" "A brilliant, timely, and much needed contribution."David Kortenco-founder & Board Chair of YES! Magazine and author of When Corporations Rule the World"In his new book Synergistic Selection, Peter Corning explains in an elegant and detailed way the rise of complexity in living systems over time and the major transitions in evolution. The book moves beyond neo-Darwinism and challenges the traditional selectionist approach, focusing on the role of additional evolutionary mechanisms associated with functional synergies and the emergence of evolutionary novelties."Professor Francisco CarrapiçoUniversity of Lisbon, Portugal "In this wide-ranging and intelligent book, Peter Corning presents a grand view of the evolution of complexity, eloquently arguing that it is based on the cumulative combination of the effects of cooperation — on synergies among systems. He provides an inclusive synthesis of evolutionary theory, re-interpreting classical views of Darwinian and Lamarckian evolution in terms of evolving synergetic interactions, and offers a new way of thinking about the major transitions in evolution and about human evolution. Brave, well-written, and based on more than thirty years of deep reflection, Corning's vision stretches onto the future of our planet and our species and suggests new ways of anticipating and facing them."Professor Eva JablonkaTel-Aviv University and co-author of (among others) Evolution in Four Dimensions Key Features:It is an in-depth treatment of a still little-known Darwinian theory of complexity in living systems that is focused on the causal role of synergy in evolutionThe book also highlights the important causal role of behavior in evolution, and it offers a new theory about human evolution called the Self-Made Man Scenario

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