Archive for July, 2010

Evolution

21/07/2010

We know from biology that evolution is a process of selection, like natural or sexual selection, by which living organisms tend to improve their capacity to survive and/or reproduce. We also know from biology that this process is a consequence of the successful transmission of genes. Evolution is not about the survival of the individual, but the survival of genes. And the genes that survive are the ones who carry the information that allows them to successfully transmit themselves.

Evolution and complexity

We know evolution mainly from biology, but evolution is in the end a physical process. And like all physical process, it is related with the stability of systems. In the case of evolution, it is related with the stability of genes. Evolution happens because it increases the continuance of genes. And a change that increases the continuance of genes is a change that takes genes into states of higher stability.

Genes are self-duplicating complex systems that increases their stability as a consequence of an evolutionary process.

Complexity is the reason for which evolution is possible. Particles, atoms and minerals don’t evolve because they are simple systems, therefore they have more rigid dynamics (see Complexity). It is only complex systems, like living organisms, that have a flexible dynamics that allows evolution to happen.

Unlike development, evolution might or might not be related with an increase in complexity. For example, species might evolve into different breeds, varieties or types with no increase in complexity.

And just like development, evolution is not an inevitable process. Things don’t tend to evolve ‘naturally’. Things, by nature, tend to remain in the most stable states. Things only evolve when changes in the system increases its stability. That is, when changes in the organism improves the continuance of genes.

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Development

20/07/2010

Development is a term used to describe many particular processes, like cognitive development, moral development, social development, etc. But so far we have no description of the process itself. We sustain that development is universal natural occurrence. That is, it is a process that is common to all systems. Not all systems develop of course: molecules and atoms don’t develop. But for those that do, like organisms, neural networks or societies, the process is the same.

We define development as the process by which systems increase their complexity. That is, systems develop when they expand their differentiation and integration of their constituting parts (see Complexity).

In other words, development is a gradual and continuous process of growing complexity.

With a growing complexity development bring to systems several characteristics:

When systems develop they tend to become more stable. With an increase in complexity, systems become more flexible, adaptable and autonomous, which are often related with higher stability (see Complexity).

In a developmental process, higher states of complexity grow from previous lower states. And as a consequence, the dynamics of higher states tend to be subordinated to the dynamics of lower states.

The intensity of development also diminishes in time. And this is because in nature everything tends to remain in states of minimal variation.  The higher the development and the more stable the system becomes, the lower the tendency towards further development. As a consequence, higher states of development are more rare than lower states of development.

Development can sometimes be described in terms of stages. Developmental stages are qualitative distinct dynamic states. And given that development is a continuous process, there is no skipping of developmental stages.

Another important characteristic of development is that it is not an inevitable process. Systems don’t develop ‘naturally’. Systems by nature tend to remain in stable states. Systems only develop when given necessary conditions for development are met.

The opposite process to development, regression, is related with a decrease of differentiation and/or integration and a decline into simplicity. Simplicity in turn, is related which dynamic rigidity, dependency and instability.

Examples of developmental processes:

Social development

Moral development