Unifying Principles of Evolution

August 1, 1981

In the light of the emerging self-organization paradigm, principles may be found which unify the description of evolution in two important dimensions: (1) across the hierarchy of evolutionary dynamics from ontogeny through phylogeny to anagenesis (the evolution of new levels of evolutionary dynamics), and (2) across domains of reality from the physical (cosmic) through the biological (sociobiological, ecological) to the sociocultural domain. Ten such principles, partly containing each other, are tentatively proposed here: Non-equilibrium, spontaneous symmetry breaking, self-reference, self-transcendence, irreversibility, metastability (complementarity of stochastic and deterministic factors), epigenealogical process (cognition and memory), autonomy, symbiosis, and indeterminacy (openness). Examples are provided which are suggestive of the applicability and unifying quality of these principles along the two dimensions.

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Erich Jantsch


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