Re: Evolution's Direction

Michael John Evans (g8726246@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Mon, 31 Jan 1994 22:54:29 -0500

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Mike Evans, Anthropology &/ Heather Young-Leslie, Anthropology
McMaster University, Hamilton /or: York University, North York,
Ontario. (905) 525 9140 x23907 Ontario Canada (416) 736 5261
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Heather Here:
On Fri, 28 Jan 1994, Bob Graber wrote:

> Biological and cultural evolution do reveal a clear directional
> development. Biologically, early forms were all relatively simple, but
> more complex forms evolved from, and then alongside, simpler ones.
> Average complexity, then, has increased greatly due to the addition of
> more complex forms. Socially, too, all early societies (autonomous
> political units) were small, alongside which larger societies have
> subsequently evolved (and now have swallowed up the small ones--a
> process that has no close parallel biologically).
He goes on to say:
> The ability to use energy was the ultimate selective advantage, perhaps.
> This speculation, at any rate, makes cultural evolution's trajectory
> of increasing energy use entirely comprehensible--a continuation of
> biological evolution in a new form, but in the same old direction:
> increasing energy use.
Perhaps I'm misreading what you're writing, but are you not
suggesting that the evolutionary complexity evident in biological forms
is mimicked or analogous to the changes evident in societies which become
larger and larger ? Are you not suggesting that size and complexity go
hand in hand? I would ask then how it is you define complexity: it seems
very clear that with societal enlargement, or social and cultural
evolution we see loss of variability and diversity, and a reduction in
the actual complexity of societal, cultural, and biological forms.
witness the loss of several species to the global gene pool,
extinction of languages in the linguistic pool, homogenization of cultural
practices and social expectations, & reductions in the possibilities of
managing populations (ie with the development of the police state, self
censorship, material and information transportation, for examples).
Depending upon how we define complexity, it seems we can show an inverse
ratio between energy use and complexity. Perhaps a continuation of the
same old direction, but not quite the simple relationship of
evolution--> complexity.