Aromorphoses in Biological and Social Evolution: Some General Rules for Biological and Social Forms of Macroevolution

Social Evolution and History 8 (2) (2009)
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The comparison between biological and social macroevolution is a very important (though insufficiently studied) subject whose analysis renders new significant possibilities to comprehend the processes, trends, mechanisms, and peculiarities of each of the two types of macroevolution. Of course, there are a few rather important (and very understandable) differences between them; however, it appears possible to identify a number of fundamental similarities. One may single out at least three fundamental sets of factors determining those similarities. First of all, those similarities stem from the fact that in both cases we are dealing with very complex non-equilibrium (but rather stable) systems whose principles of functioning and evolution are described by the General Systems' Theory, as well as by a number of cybernetic principles and laws. Secondly, in both cases we do not deal with isolated systems; in both cases we deal with a complex interaction between systems of organic systems and external environment, whereas the reaction of systems to external challenges can be described in terms of certain general principles (that, however, express themselves rather differently within the biological reality, on the one hand, and within the social reality, on the other). Thirdly, it is necessary to mention a direct ‘genetic’ link between the two types of macroevolution and their mutual influence. It is important to emphasize that the very similarity of the principles and regularities of the two types of macroevolution does not imply their identity. Rather significant similarities are frequently accompanied by enormous differences. For example, genomes of the chimpanzees and the humans are very similar – with differences constituting just a few per cent; however, there are enormous differences with respect to intellectual and social differences of the chimpanzees and the humans hidden behind the apparently ‘insignificant’ difference between the two genomes. Thus, in certain respects it appears reasonable to consider the biological and social macroevolution as a single macroevolutionary process. This implies the necessity to comprehend the general laws and regularities that describe this process, though their manifestations may display significant variations depending on properties of a concrete evolving entity (biological, or social one). An important notion that may contribute to the improvement of the operationalization level as regards the comparison between the two types of macroevolution is the one that we suggested some time ago – the social aromorphosis (that was developed as a counterpart to the notion of biological aromorphosis well established within Russian evolutionary biology). We regard social aromorphosis as a rare qualitative macrochange that increases in a very significant way complexity, adaptability, and mutual influence of the social systems, that opens new possibilities for social macrodevelopment. In our paper we discuss a number of regularities that describe biological and social macroevolution and that employ the notions of social and biological aromorphosis such as ones of the module evolution (or the evolutionary ‘block assemblage’), ‘payment for arogenic progress’ etc.



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Leonid Grinin
National Research University Higher School of Economics

Citations of this work

Economic Cycles, Crises, and the Global Periphery.Leonid Grinin, Arno Tausch & Andrey Korotayev (eds.) - 2016 - Switzerland: Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
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A Continuum of Mindfulness.Daniel Dennett & Ryan McKay - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):353-354.

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