Fwd: Evolutionís Arrow (book announcement)

From: Jef Allbright (jef@jefallbright.net)
Date: Wed Feb 25 2004 - 12:31:43 MST

I thought this might be of interest and pertinent to recent discussions
on this group.

- Jef

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [evol-psych] Evolutionís Arrow (book announcement)
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 05:40:57 -0000
From: John Stewart <jes999@tpg.com.au>
To: evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com

Evolution's Arrow was previously published in book form only in
Australia. It is now available internationally as follows:

Evolution's Arrow: the direction of evolution and the future of
By John Stewart (author)
Paperback: 360 pages; Dimensions (in inches): 0.80 x 9.00 x 6.00
Publisher: Chapman Press; (May 2000) ISBN: 0646394975

The graduates of any Evolution 1 - 01 course are likely to parrot
with unblinking certainty that evolution has no overall direction and
is not headed anywhere. But they are wrong. Evolution's Arrow
demonstrates that evolution is directional and progressive, and that
this has major consequences for humanity. Without resort to
teleology, the book shows that evolution moves in the direction of
producing cooperative organisations of greater scale and
evolvability - evolution has organised molecular processes into
cells, cells into organisms, and organisms into societies.
The book founds this position on a new theory of the evolution of
cooperation. It shows that self-interest at the level of genes does
not prevent cooperation from increasing as evolution unfolds.
Evolution progresses by discovering ways to build cooperative
organisations out of self-interested individuals.

Evolution's Arrow argues that `management' and
`governance' are keys to explaining the evolution of
cooperation. The book shows how management can organise cooperative
organisations of self-interested components. Management can be
external (eg. proteins managed by RNA, and human societies managed by
rulers or government) or can be internal and distributed (eg. insect
societies managed by genes reproduced in each individual insect,
multicellular organisms managed by genes reproduced in each cell,
human tribes managed by inculcated beliefs reproduced in each tribal

The book also argues that evolution itself has evolved. Evolution
has progressively improved the ability of evolutionary mechanisms to
discover effective adaptations. And it has discovered new and better
mechanisms. The book looks at the evolution of pre-genetic, genetic,
cultural, and supra-individual evolutionary mechanisms. And it shows
that the genetic mechanism is not entirely blind and random.

Evolution's Arrow uses this understanding of the direction of
evolution to identify the next great steps in the evolution of life
on earth - the steps that humanity must take if we are to continue to
be successful in evolutionary terms. A key step for humanity is to
increase the scale and evolvability of its societies, eventually
forming a unified and cooperative society on the scale of the
planet. Another step is for humans to transform themselves
psychologically to become self-evolving organisms - organisms that
are able to escape their biological and cultural past by adapting in
whatever directions are necessary to achieve future evolutionary

Francis Heylighen's article in Complexity ("Evolutionary
transitions: how do levels of complexity emerge?", Complexity
6(1), 53-57) favourably reviews Evolution's Arrow along with five
other books concerned with the evolution of new levels of
complexity. The review identifies how the theory of the evolution of
cooperation developed in Evolution's Arrow goes beyond the approach
taken by Maynard Smith and Szathmary in their work on the major
evolutionary transitions. A copy of the article is at:

Human Nature Review http://human-nature.com
Evolutionary Psychology http://human-nature.com/ep
Human Nature Daily Review http://human-nature.com/nibbs
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