• emergence, generation
  • Cognition
  • extended evolutionary synthesis
  • cell-based evolution
  • systems biology


Symbiotic Earth: How Lynn Margulis Rocked the Boat and Started a Scientific Revolution. Documentary, 2017.

Gilbert, Scott F., Jan Sapp, and Alfred I. Tauber. ‘A Symbiotic View of Life: We Have Never Been Individuals’. The Quarterly Review of Biology 87, no. 4 (2012): 325–41. https://doi.org/10/gfz64k.

Notions of Evolution

For an overview

Dawkins, Richard, and Yan Wong. The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life. 2nd ed. 2004. Reprint, New York: Mariner Books, 2016.

For a recent update

Quammen, David. The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Jablonka, Eva. “Information: Its Interpretation, Its Inheritance, and Its Sharing.” Philosophy of Science 69, no. 4 (2002): 578–605. https://doi.org/10/cwmsjs.

Jablonka, Eva, Marion J. Lamb, and Anna Zeligowski. Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life. Revised. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014.

On humans, see the note on Human Evolution.

Evolution is not a gradual accumulations of features but rather a series of shift in a critical state system. Like adding grains of sand to the pile and sometimes setting off small or large avalanches.

Bak, Per. How Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized Criticality. New York: Springer, 1996.

Nail, Thomas. Theory of the Earth. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2021.

Cf. with the punctuated equilibrium theory.

Gould, Stephen Jay. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Cambridge, MaA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.

What Evolves?

Dawkins and modern synthesis = genes.

Bateson = organism + the environment the relationship between which is knowledge-based or mind-like.

Corning = living systems.

Corning, Peter A. ‘A Systems Theory of Biological Evolution’. Biosystems 214 (2022): 104630. https://doi.org/10/gsf5zb.

Nonliving and Interconnected Evolution

“Just as evolution is largely ecology writ large, so the organism seems to be ecology writ small. Clearly work needs to be done in this area, but perhaps individual organisms can be understood as spatially and temporally condensed versions of ecological processes.”

“Even before natural selection, the second law ‘selects’, from the kinetic, thermodynamic, and chemical options available, those systems best able to reduce gradients under given constraints.”

Schneider, Eric D., and Dorion Sagan. Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics, and Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.

For a review of this, see: Cool is not enough | Nature. The conclusion there is that the key ideas are no sufficiently supported. The second law of thermodynamics is necessary but not sufficient.

Life relies on the ability of matter to store information and to implement functional relationships, which allow organisms to maintain their form and execute purposeful behaviours that enhance their survival. Such complex order depends on the rules by which matter interacts.