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Simplistic theories of evolution

Simplistic theories of evolution

Simplistic models of evolution are around for quite a few centuries. The allow to explain evolution the natural way and therefore they constitute a great leap forward compared to the former creationist views of divine genesis.

Simplistic theories of evolution had their prime in the middle of the 19th century. It was a period of dramatic progress and almost undisturbed growth in many fields economy, technology, culture, and education. It was the public realization that social progress happens rapidly and naturally without being controlled or even ordered that stimulated scientists to develop theories about progress in other fields.

Simplistic evolution concepts

Actually only one of the theories developed that time bears the name evolutionary theory. That is the theory of natural selection ascribed to Darwin[Error: Wrong macro arguments: "10703" for macro 'ref' (maybe wrong macro tag syntax?)] and probably developed by Wallace[Error: Wrong macro arguments: "2071" for macro 'ref' (maybe wrong macro tag syntax?)] in the first place. The longstanding knowledge employed by breeders for thousands of years that the physical reappearance of a species can be changed by controlling its propagation, artificial selection. Evolutionary biologist from that time on consider environmental factors as exerting the same type of control and called that phenomenon natural selection to underscore that this control was exerted by nature's invisible hand.

The invisible hand is the core concept of Adam Smith's description of how the Wealth of Nations originates[Error: Wrong macro arguments: "2646" for macro 'ref' (maybe wrong macro tag syntax?)] . As with evolutionary biology, the competition among produces created a climate that stimulates further innovation and economic growth. Innovation and mass production result in improving living conditions and increasing wealth of a nation in general.

For the acquisition of wealth in knowledge a similar mechanism was suggested by Morton, the trial-and-error principle. In his book Animal Life and Intelligence he describes this form of learning as “trial and practice (incomplete instinct)”[Error: Wrong macro arguments: "10751 page=\u201d423\u201d" for macro 'ref' (maybe wrong macro tag syntax?)] . The term trial-and error probably was coined later on. The Perceptron later applied the same principle to machine learning [Error: Wrong macro arguments: "10754" for macro 'ref' (maybe wrong macro tag syntax?)] .

An other luminary of that time found less acceptance in recent times. Herbert Spencer introduced the principle of automatic social progress into social science[Error: Wrong macro arguments: "10241" for macro 'ref' (maybe wrong macro tag syntax?)] . Social organisms, so his terminology describing organizations, face the same type of competition as biological organisms or economic enterprises and by that very mechanism advance. This idea was not only widely ignored by sociologists but even fiercely combated and discredited. Social progress through social competition is better avoided.

Nevertheless, his theory found some revival recently in Wilson's theory of group selection. Probably in order to avoid risking all his funding he carefully insulates his theory from competition and automatism, such as the invisible hand, providing the government enough confidence to not challanges their top-down attitude of control of social evolution.

Finally, Max has to be mentioned. However, he has been mostly hailed for his mistakes and less for his achievement and contributions. Marx introduced valuable abstractions such as capital, the main player in economic competition, and the subdivision of social masses into competing classes. The repoduction cycle is an other important tool to describe self regulation of economic growth. He also tried to generalize the principles of evolution. The term he proposed for generalized evolution in nature society and thinking was dialectics. Unfortunately this twerm nowdays is only used in philosophical literature. I also prefer evolution if not resticted to biological evolution.

Marx came from Germany, and although he moved to London his thinking still influenced by guilibility. A guilibility that is so typical of Germany and that includes that all measures by any authority are justified just because they are authority. This type of guilibility is called 'Obrigkeitsgläubigkeit' or 'Untertanengeist' in German. Only for the latter I found a proper translation 'subservient spirit' or 'servile spirit'.


Their disadvantage is that they only work only for a certain subset of evolutionary problems, namely the starting points of evolution when complexity is not an issue yet.

The concept of biological evolution introduced by Wallace and Darwin in that simplistic way works only for bacteria in a Petri dish. Higher organisms merely adapt by that mechanism. New species evolve only by more complex mechanisms.

Next, the capitalism of free competition is over. Production as well as consumption is monopolized which has favorable and less favorable effects. On one hand it hinders competition. On the other hand it allows investment in expensive but groundbreaking research and development.

Machine leaning has been improved over the last decades. The trial-and-error becomes ever more effective using more data and improved algorithms. However, it has not yet crossed the border into machine creativity.

Finally, group selection is plausible among tribes and maybe slave states. Warfare resulted in the survival of the better social group. Nowadays in modern societies, social progress is not driven by warfare any more.

All these simplistic evolutionary concepts have the following regulatory structure in common.

General concept of simplistic evolution

The graph below shows the general structure of all these simplistic concepts of evolution mentioned above.

G start start create create start:s->create:n test test create:s->test:n failed failed test:s->failed:n failed:e->create:e yes stop stop failed:s->stop:n no

And in an even more abstract form.

G start start create create start:s->create:n test test create:s->test:n stop stop test:s->stop:n no

This is not so different from a fauceir. In a next step of generalization we have translate create and test into subroutines that consist of exactly the same fauceirs.

G start start create create start:s->create:n test test create:s->test:n failed failed test:s->failed:n failed:e->create:e yes stop stop failed:s->stop:n no

Finally we will show that also edges are such fauceirs.

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Tags: Theory

Categories: History


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