Biological and Social Aromorphoses: A Comparison between Two Forms of Macroevolution
We maintain that the most important similarities between the two types of evolution stem from the following points.
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.
In the first part of this article we survey general similarities and differences between biological and social macroevolution. In the second (and main) part, we consider a concrete mathematical model capable of describing important features of both biological and social macroevolution. In mathematical models of historical macrodynamics, a hyperbolic pattern of world population growth arises from non-linear, second-order positive feedback between demographic growth and technological development. This is more or less identical with the working of the collective learning mechanism. Based on diverse paleontological data and an analogy with macrosociological models, we suggest that the hyperbolic character of biodiversity growth can be similarly accounted for by non-linear, second-order positive feedback between diversity growth and the complexity of community structure, suggesting the presence within the biosphere of a certain analogue of the collective learning mechanism. We discuss how such positive feedback mechanisms can be modelled mathematically.
Comparison of biological and social macro-evolution is a very important issue, but it has been studied insufficiently. Yet, analysis suggests new promising possibilities to deepen our understanding of the course, trends, mechanisms and peculiarities of the biological and social phases of Big History. This article analyzes similarities and differences between two phases of Big History at various levels and in various aspects. It compares biological and social organisms, mechanisms of evolutionary selection, transitions to qualitatively new states, processes of key information transmission, and fixation of acquired characteristics. It also considers a number of pre-adaptations that contributed to the transformation of Big History's biological phase into its social phase and analyzes some lines of such a transformation.