prebiotic era – the first billion years of Earth history – and the time
after civilization began share the odd status of being evolutionary but
not biological. The former is theoretically outside the bounds of life
as a replicator while the latter lies somewhere between a successful
escape from the process or a muddled appendage. Both situations are a
loss of theoretical purchase.
They each have an opportunity to be reconfigured so as to be
contributors to a stronger conception of evolution. Origin of life
studies, which have grown substantially over the last several decades,
now offer a wealth of insights into prebiotic chemistry. Significantly,
a new field, systems chemistry, aims “to ascertain the roots of
biological complexity” (De la Escosura et al 2015p20) while moving
beyond “the ‘security zones’ of solution-phase and solid-state
chemistry” to address “processes that take place in soft matter, on
surfaces and at interfaces” (p14). This same spirit to use prebiotic
roots to discover new chemistries is a view that evolutionary theory
should also embrace. These chemical processes that are the fast-moving
future of systems chemistry are not just new chemistries but are, at
least potentially, new evolutionary principles. A review of the field
will attempt to sketch the possibilities and the potential principles.
While the prebiotic earth had an environment without an organism, human
evolution focuses on one species, while massive evolution occurred in
the environment. The degree and speed in which the biosphere is evolving
as networked urban civilization can seem to dwarf the ape-to-human
transition. To judge by the nightly news, evolution happened in the past
or when a new virus appears, and issues around the future such as of
robotics, nanotechnology, or even biotech hardly involve evolutionary
theory. Of the theoretical work to bridge from the arrival of Homo
sapiens to our world today such as cultural evolution (Richerson & Boyd
2005; Acerbi & Mesoudi 2015) the emphasis on developmental plasticity
and learning transmission are important but still do not explain
developments up to the present and are also not clearly accepted as part
of evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory then explains the past but
not the present or the future; human evolution allows the interpretation
of a victory, not a place in nature. The possibility then is to reverse
the direction of explanation. The modern human and the environment of
the Anthropocene can be used to glean processes that might strengthen
evolutionary theory. There are new clusters of ideas – one around the
distributed cognition of humans and the other around the “anthropogenic”
environment – that highlight processes unique to this evolutionary era.
Following the above threads leads to promising as well as radical
conclusions. Here below is the logic of the argument:
· Evolutionary theory has issues.
· Origin of life studies are overly focused on the first cell while
ignoring 1 billion years of environmental processes.
· Human evolutionary studies are weak while modern life, the modern
environment, contemporary society, and current concepts of the human
each dwarfs the ape-to-human trajectory.
· Both fields are unique enough to be able to offer insights to
· Prebiotic studies including systems chemistry already yield a trove of
insights from environmental diversification through chemical selection.
· Charting the unique aspects of human evolution yields a cluster of
processes from environmental phenomenon and new trends in cognitive
science, linguistics, and material culture studies that deserve
attention for their evolutionary dynamics.
· From these human era processes an hypothesis is offered that gives a
joint behavioral and environmentally reinforcing strong path and that
focuses the unique processes.
· The processes of both eras have facets in common including a reliance
on complex systems and selective processes for systems.
· The possibility is for expanded evolutionary theory, not extended or
replaced, that adds a radical developmental component.
· Such an expanded evolutionary theory does, however, challenge the
philosophical foundations of Modernism in terms of the subject-object
basics, and a reformulation looks more promising than problematic.
· Issues in the excluded two eras are interlinked with each other and
with the issues of evolutionary theory, and these are mutually tied to
deep philosophical assumptions.
Issues in evolutionary theory
Despite unrivaled success, the issues of the Modern Synthesis in
mainline evolutionary theory are not insubstantial. They include:
evo-devo (West-Eberhard 2003; Newman 2011; Moczek et al 2015), niche
construction theory (Laland et al 2008; Scott-Phillips et al 2013),
systems biology (Palsson 2006; Westerhoff et al 2009), widespread
epigenesis (Jablonka & Lamb 2014), symbiogenesis (Kozo-Polyansky et al
2010), major transition theory (Szathmary & Smith 1995), inherent
self-organization (Camazine et al 2001), Phanerozoic earth system
(Butterfield 2011), and synergistic selection (Corning & Szathmary
2015). Some critics say that these dictate an extension of the theory (Pigliucci
& Mueller 2010, Laland et al 2015) and others that a replacement is
required (Noble 2015).
Evo-devo and niche construction have the odd aspect that they in some
ways allow the organism to modify the further evolution of its species
(West-Eberhard 2003; Laland et al 2008; Moczek et al 2015).
Symbiogenesis is the process of having organisms of two or more species
merge to form a new, combined species – an extreme form of symbiosis
that has happened at least a few significant times (Kozo-Polyansky et al
2010). That organisms might be made up of fundamental principles of
organization has resurfaced in a strong way (Camazine et al 2001; Newman
2011). The theory of evolutionary convergence reinforces this logical
priority of organization (McGhee 2011; Morris 2009). The issue of major
transitions highlights that there remains no theoretical explanation for
macroevolution or larger trends within evolution when the record shows
obvious discontinuities (McShea & Simpson 2011). Synergistic selection
describes the general process of “’payoffs’ associated with various
synergistic effects in a given context” (Corning & Szathmary, 2015p48).
And the Phanerozoic systems describe how the rise of multicellulars
created a “biological environment” such that diversity was a product of
a large, coevolutionary, trophic network (Butterfield, 2007p45). Summing
up, one critic laments that researchers on these various issues are
isolated and unable “to escape the vortex of Darwinism” (Reid 2007p422).
Further aggravating the theoretical drift, the concepts of organism and
species are losing definition. A literature review by Clarke and Okasha
(2013) reveal that the concepts of organism and of species are defined
in many, non-overlapping ways. Individuality has been controversial from
complex organisms with very different life cycles (Nyhart & Lidgard
2011) to the major transitions that involve jumps to a new group level
of individual (Szathmary & Smith 1995; Calcott & Sterelny 2011; Michod
2011). Smith (2013p193) has it “that the nature of the living state
cannot be conflated with the nature of individuality or with properties
of individuals....” For species Koonin, can state: “... the species
concept does not apply to prokaryotes and is of dubious validity for
unicellular eukaryotes as well” (Koonin 2009p474).
Origin of life studies – from challenge to source for evolutionary
In origin of life studies a new phase is now discernible as a shift to
the prebiotic processes themselves. The studies are astonishing in
number and depth. There are the new fields of astrobiology, synthetic
chemistry, and systems chemistry. The details have taken center stage.
Reflective of this new phase is the following:
“This view conceives the initial stages of the prebiotic earth as a huge
flow reactor containing an amazingly complex set of small molecules of
different types, eventually establishing a wide variety of possible
interactions among each other. Provided that there is an overall flow of
matter and energy across such a supersystem, therefore sustaining
far-from-equilibrium dynamics, this complex set could explore an
immensely large number of possible reaction pathways.” (Ruiz-Mirazo et
As this trend continues to grow and shed new light on novel chemistries
and the abiotic world, the question highlighted here is on whether and
how this will be used to strengthen evolutionary theory. Some chemists
recognize this new frontier and have already named it as “chemical
evolution” (Lehn 2013; Williams & Da Silva 2006). Another candidate name
that underlines the inherent contradiction in our view of evolution is
the seemingly oxymoronic “prebiotic evolution.”
It is possible now to discern trends from the perspective of origin of
life studies that are candidates for potential new evolutionary
principles. Five potential principles are presented. It is worth
emphasizing the obvious that all of these are processes of the
I: Systems theory as applicable in prebiotic chemistry Systems concepts
are now a strong leg of current research in biology and, as noted, in
chemistry. Systems biological ideas have mushroomed in biology and now
flooded into origin of life studies (Kaneko 2011; Ruiz-Mirazo et al
2014). The birth of systems chemistry includes not just prebiotic
chemistry but also new chemistries (Von Kiedrowski et al 2010; Lehn
2013; De la Escosura et al 2015). If complex systems theory has focused
more on dynamics and systems biology has focused more on reaction rate
matrices among molecular types, the more challenging phenomena lie in
networks that are location dependent (Lucas et al 2011), supramolecular
effects of weaker bonds than covalent ones (Ruiz-Mirazo et al 2014),
auto-organization among molecular types, condensed and soft matter
effects (Egel 2014), simultaneous shifts of equilibrium collections (Li
et al 2013), the chemistry of surfaces, novel boundary effects to
equilibrium by any of these, and the integration of many partial system
models. Similarly with systems biology the suggestion has been made that
“biological and cognitive systems hide not only more complexity than
physical systems, but rather different forms of it” (Moreno et al
2011p314). The new tools are remarkable, and the new levels of detail
contemplated are no less so. Systems theory is promising to take us
closer than ever to the gap between non-living matter and living matter,
between physics and biology.
In taking systems theory as a likely significant process of the
prebiotic world and knowing that the subject is still weakly charted, a
very inclusive definition will be taken. On the lower limit it should
include simple energy flows as even just one edge in a network. And
since this is a consideration of systems theory as foundational to
biology where the difficulties of the individual organism have been
mentioned, the case is made to not necessarily conflate systems concepts
II: The formation of local, unique environments define key processes
Prebiotic studies make clear that specific environments were undergoing
specific processes. While biology has usually treated the environment or
an organism’s niche as the assumed background necessary to support life,
origin of life studies invert the relationship since there are only
environments becoming more compatible to what could come later. There
are at least one billion years where figure and ground must be reversed.
Williams and co-authors da Silva and Rickaby in several works (1999,
2006, 2012) have extended this reversal. They have made a cogent
argument that the evolution of the environment is a larger phenomenon in
which life is a component (Williams 2011). Williams & Rickaby (2012p3)
have it that “... as well as the Darwinian random search ... there was
and is a systematic larger-scale evolution dependent upon the
opportunities which the large-scale evolving chemical element
environment provided. It is, we believe, this strong and faster
environmental development, in a given chemical direction, that guided
the way to today’s organisms in a systematic, overall much slower,
The roots of such a process extend easily into planetary formation where
prior processes have given a certain distribution of elements,
molecules, disequilibrium, and energy flows (Williams & Rickaby 2012;
Maruyama et al 2013; Hazen 2012) along with some selection such as when
certain elements have escaped the atmosphere (e.g., some H2 and He) or
when others are formed into gradients (e.g., Fe to the core and H2O to
the surface, granite above basalt).
The key and controversial role of the environment to life extends into
evolutionary theory. Although usually only given the status of
background or supporting circumstances, evolutionary success is
predicated on conforming to it (Lewontin 2000p44). There is a second
perspective that shows the environment to be the senior partner in its
relationship to life. It is generally agreed that life is an open system
powered within environmental energy fluxes; this limit frames the
environment as the more active partner. While used most often as an
all-encompassing concept as in the environment, the concept is also used
within an organism as in the environment of the heart, a developing cell
amongst other cells in an embryo, or the products of one reaction in a
cell as the precursors (i.e., environment) for another pathway. The
opportunity is that origin of life studies are already a study of
III: Chemical diversity Most all origin of life studies either assume a
chemical species-rich environment or endeavor to show how a locally
diverse group of starter compounds could arise. Ever since the Miller-Urey
experiment (1959), the ability of prebiotic conditions to form more
complex compounds has been clear. Vulcanism, lightning, uV radiation,
and hydration-dehydration cycles are energy sources that have been
invoked to drive these formations. The questions have remained about the
quantity of C1 compounds pulled into larger compounds and especially the
ability to form polymers of these. There are now seen to be plausible
mechanisms for both of these (Wächtershäuser 2012). The position here is
less that precursors could be produced and more that diversity was
produced or even that diversity was selected in conditions of simple
energy flows interacting with very simple compounds. The production of
diversity is itself an important process, not part of the background
assumptions of luck.
A first step of this sketch then is that energy flows interacted with
matter to produce/select more diverse matter (Szostak 2011). The depth
of the conservation of energy principle shows up as kinetic stability or
stationary states as the continual energy flows lead to ever more
pockets of temporarily stabilized energy (Morowitz 1968; Pascal & Pross
2014; Williams & da Silva 1999). The Earth near surface environment is
riddled with small, temporary energetic stepping stones that are the
molecular species. And the energetic flows and transitions along the
temporary kinetic stability steps combined with catalytic effects and
with low energy stabilizations between them result in patterns of
linkages by types of molecules (Mazurie et al 2010; Braakman & Smith
2013). The result is networks by types of molecules in energy exchange,
conversion pathways, catalysis, or affinity relationships under
disequilibrium conditions of continuous energy flow.
For example, Wächtershäuser (2012) assumes a set of “nutrients” such as
CO, HCN, COS, and N2. Diversification continues as “low-molecular-weight
organic compounds” form “from C1-compounds by transition metal
catalysis” (p82). This is driven by energy from “volcanic-hydrothermal
fluids” coming into contact with cooler water. As some of the products
happened to be catalysts or ligands to metals to increase their
catalysis, the diversification continued (p82). His main interest is in
showing the plausibility of chemical pathways to all classes of
molecules seen in primitive life. In making this trace, his steps show a
large interdependence of energy flows and specific environments to
create more diversity. He speaks of this diversifying metabolism as a
“chemical garden” (p87). For Egel (2014) the diversification of matter
phase leans on the now conventional collection of volcanism, sunlight,
and hydration-dehydration cycles with mineral catalysis. But his
preference is for the environmental combination that might be found at
terrestrial hydrothermal vents where “[r]eactive polyphosphates,
transition metals and other necessary compounds, too, are readily
available” (p93). For Damer & Deamer (2015p874) enriched environments
derived from volcanism, from the infall with comets, or from
IV: Formation of aggregates from diversity Another trend to highlight is
that there were material aggregations, or concentrations, including
those of diverse matter (Hansma 2014). Aggregations of matter do imply
energy driving their movement together, but this will be kept distinct
from the trend of selection to keep a group of component types together
(next section). As a distinguishing example, membranes formed by polar
reactions of fatty acids or lipids in water are aggregations while any
selective effect that these might have on keeping enclosed molecules
together would be considered selection for a whole. The former
(aggregation) is selection to be together while the latter is selection
to stay together under dynamic conditions. Aggregates are a collective
environmental form that are shaped by unique energy flows such as
erosion (Maruyama et al 2013), weathering (Williams & Rickaby 2012),
gravitational gradients (Mulkidjanian et al 2012), supramolecular
bonding (He et al 2015), hydrophobic or hydrophillic forces (Keating
2012), phase of matter properties (Egel 2014), even thermodynamic
fluctuations (Brogioli 2011), and physical topography of substrates such
as pore spaces (Egel 2014) among others. Selection here is for affinity
and not for stabilizing the whole. And the energy drivers are not enough
for covalent bond formation but by weaker intermolecular forces.
Wächtershäuser (2012) posits an accumulation of lipids on mineral
surfaces “with the effect of surface lipophilization.” This corresponds
to aggregation. Egel (2014) takes up a colloid microsphere as the route
to life and a mechanism of aggregation. Colloids are a soft phase of
matter formed by cooperative aggregation, in this case by “soft organic
compounds” (p93). These congealed by “adsorptive forces” with a
“consequential phase separation” in water. Such a step of energy to
aggregation was a “fundamental principle in biogenic evolution” (P93).
Further aggregation occurs when the colloidal microspheres pull in metal
ions, small organics, proteins, and oligonucleotides (p94-5). In
emphasizing aggregation, he speaks of new, derived properties when the
varying hydrophobic-hydrophilic contrasting properties of proteins have
both new catalytic as well as structural properties (p98). This diverse
aggregation led to more diversification through enhanced catalytic
properties and condensation reactions for polymers protected from
hydrolysis (p99). Local cohesion occurred because of “intermolecular fit
in structurally stabilized configurations” (p99) to select
preferentially partnering molecules.
Damer & Deamer (2015) emphasize the aggregation and selection for
cohesion phases in their biofilms at hydrothermal pools scenario. A
diverse chemical environment is posited to have collected at the surface
of terrestrial thermal pools. Precipitation would cause these to wash
into the pools in an aggregation step. Further aggregation is assumed to
occur from assumed lipids in the chemical mix both by amphiphillic
forces and by drying on pool edges (p875).
V: Chemical selection The literature is full of references to selection
of chemical types. Melendez-Hevia et al (2008p508) explain it as “...
the appearance of the minimal material necessary for natural selection
to work could not be produced by natural selection itself, but by a
previous selection that we shall call ‘chemical selection.’” Here are
some examples. Kaneko (2011) speaks of the removal of a minority species
of molecule in a hierarchy of catalysts; Egel (2014) speaks of a
supramolecular fit among small peptides to increase stability; the
discussion about selection for enantioenrichment has found potential
mechanisms (Ruiz-Mirazo 2014p307); “spatial confinement, mediated
diffusion” could always be effecting the local composition (De la
Escosura et al 2015p18); and uV light selects for more stable polymers (Mulkidjanian
& Galperin 2007). Wächtershäuser (2012) claims selfish catalytic paths
will weaken overall metabolism which is a “selective force for
multi-catalytic ligand effects” (p84). He speaks of a dual feedback
possibility for a catalyst where precursors are favored in a way that
amplifies the whole (p84). Damer & Deamer (2015) emphasize the selection
of molecular types in their vesicular aggregations for polymers that
stabilize the membranes as unstable vesicles will tend to collapse and
disperse in the hydrated phase. New polymers would then be produced in
each dehydrated phase by condensation so that production alternates with
selection for stable wholes (p878). Other reactions occur in the vesicle
contents which are also selected by their contribution for stability
including contributions to the right permeability, catalysis, and
feedback control (p880-1).
The focus here for chemical selection will be within previously formed
aggregates and in the context of selection with other chemical types or
for the stability of some whole. Within such aggregates not at local
equilibrium there can be new forms of energy flow and ephemeral systems
– catalysis, equilibrium adjustments among combinatorial collections (He
et al 2015; Norris 2014), supramolecular favoring of products, common
binding sites as in preferred side chains, vesicle formation, vesicle
stabilization by other compounds, selective permeability of vesicles,
feed forward catalysis (Wächtershäuser 2012), production of precursors
to restore equilibrium from driven reactions (Shapiro 2006),
auto-organization, and autocatalysis. Such flows then define new
environments, wholes where collections select preferentially for
collective cohesion. They compare to what has been called “synergistic
selection” by Corning & Szathmary (2015). These collections with
cohesive selection have system properties – flows of production,
aggregation, and selective cohesion – that are comparable to protocells.
Steps to a prebiotic conception of evolution
The above trends in origin of life studies are neither complete nor
constitutive of a theory of an evolutionary process for the prebiotic
Earth. They are meant rather to validate that early Earth chemical
studies are extensive even without reference to the first cell and that
potential principles can already be discerned. It is already well
understood that energy-driven networks were increasing local chemical
diversity. In that context for one billion years it is obviously local
environments that are the seat of evolutionary dynamics. That complex
systems concepts, although up to now developed around less heterogeneous
components, will be required is more and more promising given the
systems biological experimental success along with the wide theoretical
support. The aggregation of diverse components and the selection of
components with these aggregations are widely reported processes of the
environment that deserve to be highlighted in looking for the building
blocks for a chemical evolution before the “Darwinian threshold” (Woese
2004p182). To recap, the positive trends as potential building blocks
towards a theory of prebiotic evolution are:
1. Environmental dynamics (consisting of:)
2. Energy flows and networks of chemical type interactions (which
3. Chemical diversity (allowing diverse chemical-energy flows to:)
4. Aggregations of diversity (which are stabilized with:)
5. Selection within aggregates (where all the above are potentially
6. Complex systems concepts
It will be further claimed that these identified trends have relevance
to the issues in evolutionary theory, but first a similar taking stock
of the issues and unique processes of the other bookend to mainstream
evolution, human evolution, offers a second, complementary window.
Human evolution – the discontinuity perspective
The position taken here is that evolutionary theory has successfully
described a continuity for human evolution but has not been able to
describe the discontinuity. To bring home the discontinuity of human
evolution, consider the mental image of a graph that uses the y-axis to
show the maximum population of human permanent settlements over time.
Even if cave-dwelling humans were permanent, their numbers hardly
differed from zero so that settlements of 102 or so that came at about
12,000 BCE (Mithen 2003) might register on a curve that hits 105 around
600 BCE before bouncing up to 106 a few times between Rome and 1800 CE
until London hits 2x106 million in 1850 as the curve then grows steeply
to over 2.5 107 today (wikipedia.org – “list of largest cities
throughout history”). These will leave “fossil” records that endure long
past the present. Their growth curve is in stark contrast to the genetic
difference of 2% to chimpanzees that can be used as a proxy since the
last common ancestor, some 6 to 7 million years ago. Taking cities as a
phenomenon of evolutionary significance is a reminder that the
ape-to-human transition can only be part of the story. The steep curve
of human aggregations since the start of the Neolithic is also another
indication that the cultural evolution process by itself fails to
explain the late acceleration.
There are other indicators of this enormous discontinuity. Consider the
discontinuities from the environmental effects of the arrival of humans.
The issue is summed up by Ellis: “Even with a population of seven
billion, Homo sapiens is not an entirely novel force of nature. But
human systems are” (Ellis, 2011p1012). He estimates that over half of
the terrestrial biosphere has shifted from biomes to “densely settled
and cropland anthromes, together with rangelands developed in woodlands”
so that the ecologies have been significantly transformed (Ellis,
2011p1021). Humans and our domestic animals now represent 97% of the
biomass of all terrestrial vertebrates (Smil 2002p187). Our material
“metabolism” is enormous; there are, for example, 104 substances
produced at over 104 kg per year (Baccini & Brunner, 2012p54). Machines
dwarf the weight and carbon intake of humans; against 100 Mt of
dry-weight biomass for humans, cars alone are 10 times this (Smil
2002p269). For the majority of us the local environments are highly
structured with buildings, stores, roads, and infrastructure networks
such as water supply. Technology and electronics now show their own
dynamics (Arthur 2009).
The discontinuity of the human environment with what preceded it is
enormous and unparalleled in speed. Rather than continuing to try to
stretch Darwinism into modern life, the opportunity, as with the
prebiotic, is to look for other continuities of biology into the
civilized epoch to check if there are other relevant processes.
Processes potentially significant to human phase of evolution
In contrast to the prebiotic era where, until recently, relevant
processes were unknown, the human era is awash with unique processes
that, however, are not now linked to evolution or only weakly linked to
evolution. Among those weakly linked to evolution, as drivers, are
cooperation (Boyd & Richerson 2009; Sterelny et al 2013, Tomasello
2009), niche construction (Laland & O’Brien 2010), material culture and
material agency (Tilley et al 2006), and language especially its newly
highlighted attributes (Enfield 2013). Among those hardly linked to
evolutionary theory are domestication of other species (Young 2016), the
planning faculty (Aunger & Curtis 2016), the new 4E cognitive sciences
that include extended, embedded, embodied, and enactive mind (Stotz
2014), institutions and social niche construction (Gerson 2014), joint
behaviors (Butterfill & Sebanz 2011), shared agency (Bratman 2014), and
the unique interactive behaviors of humans (Enfield & Levinson 2006).
These potential evolutionary factors within the human evolution phase
are unique, and, at least in some cases, merit consideration as
There are also new studies which give a different view of humans. From
Darwin’s day the rational individual (then, the rational gentleman) is
today a facile trap for thinking about the destination of human
evolution. The distributed view of mind from cognitive science and the
concept of shared agency are trends that reveal how far the scientific
view of the human has changed in less than a century and that need to be
in view alongside the radically changed environment to prevent dropping
back to the intelligent ape default.
I. 4E cognitive science Cognitive science shows very marked change. The
simple characterization is that mind and cognition have broken out of
the brain as the body, our actions, and the environment are now deemed
intrinsic aspects of mind. Embodied mind emphasizes how the body and
brain work as a whole system and that motor control and perception
evolved together (Streeck et al 2011; Kiverstein & Miller 2015). The
enactive view sees mind as the result of the coupling of an
organism-system to its environment so that all information “is
context-dependent and agent-relative” (Thompson, E. 2007p51). Extended
mind (Clark, A. 2008) and ecological psychology (Reed 1996) are two
strands of cognitive science that are showing that cognition is spread
into the objects of the environment. Clark states that “body- and
world-involving cycles are best understood, or so I shall argue, as
quite literally extending the machinery of mind out into the world–as
building extended cognitive circuits that are themselves the minimal
material bases for important aspects of human thought and reason”
(Clark, A. 2008p-xxvi). These new fields are growing quickly, and
continue to strengthen the picture of mind as a distributed phenomenon.
While consensus has not yet emerged, the rich diversity of studies
already reveal cognition as far from being locked in a brain and somehow
very distributed outside it.
II. Shared agency The concept of agency is another area that has been
reworked to give it shared, extended, and partial dimensions. Some
philosophers (Bratman 2014) see agency as shared with others. Some
archaeologists (Jones & Boivin 2010; Olsen 2010) agree that some
situations require us to extend agency to the things among events with
people in what is usually called material agency. Malafouris (2013p17)
has: “[m]aterial engagement is the synergistic process by which, out of
brains, bodies, and things, mind emerges.” Material culture studies
similarly see that “persons make and use things and that the things make
persons” (Tilley et al 2006p4). In environmental policy studies
(Connolly 2011; Pickering 2008) one speaks of distributed agency where
material objects can influence events. In ecological psychology the
concept of affordance (feature of the environment relative to an
organism that facilitates, affords, or allows it to use it in a behavior
– Chemero 2009) has sometimes been construed as not just affording a
behavior but of prompting a behavior. “[A]ffordances can be considered
as enhancing the prior probability P(A) of certain actions in the mere
presence of objects” (Pezzulo 2012p110). A useful concept of agency in
light of these views of its distribution is that of ecological control
that does not micromanage but that shepherds “a variety of nonbiological
problem-solving resources spread throughout our social and technological
surround” (Clark, A. 2007p102).
The above frame for human evolution – its discontinuity, the need to
consider new processes as relevant, and the distributedly cognizing
human agent as destination – makes a reappraisal of evolutionary
processes in this unique era plausible. To continue to look strongly at
paleontology while largely ignoring present “evolution” not just in
theory but within the social discourse outside science is a risky
limitation of focus. Other processes particular to the human era will
now be examined.
III. Joint behaviors Two processes are taken as significant. The first
is the research around the concept of joint behaviors. They include
cooperation but are a much larger set of behaviors. The point of view
adopted here is that not only are different types of joint behaviors
very widespread and include cooperation but that they better explain
developmental capabilities in children as well as a plausible
evolutionary pathway and that they better demonstrate the complex
systems aspects of all behaviors than cooperation with its strategic
There has been greater attention to widespread cooperation in humans (Tomasello
2009; Sterelny et al 2013), but the concept is controversial largely
because of the free-rider evolutionary issue. The critique here is that
cooperation is framed under an assumption of the primacy of
individuality in a game theoretic manner while behaviors evolved in
elaborate social and learning contexts with often minimal payoffs
(Fantasia et al 2014; Ross 2013). Here is a sample of joint activities
that are less than cooperation in the sense of carrying either
commitment or involving the full complement of mindreading capabilities.
An aspect in the literature on the continuum between individual and
cooperative behaviors is coaction (Wegner & Sparrow 2007). Coaction is
defined as “when one agent’s action is influenced by or occurs in the
context of another agent’s actionBand together they do something that is
not fully attributable to either one alone....” (Wegner & Sparrow
2007p18-9). And there is interactionism in cognitive science where
“encounters are not reducible to attributes of the individual mind,
because it is the interactive unit that behaves in a certain way, and
the cause of this behaviour is captured by the collective dynamics
themselves” (Gallotti & Frith 2013p161). There is the notion of “plural
activity” where many agents happen to be involved in the same goal such
as multiple ants’ stinging the same fly that results in a kill (Butterfill
2012). And there is the idea of “distributive active coordination” as
when individual garbage men are working independently to tackle a large
group of bins (Abramova & Slors 2015).
Studies of joint actions reveal systems dynamics. Marsh et al
(2009p1219) describe how in joint action or joint perception two people
can become a temporary “perception action system with new capabilities
... [and] ... with a reality of its own ... [so that] ... our actions
serve to impact and define the social unit of which we are a part, and
in turn our actions are constrained and channeled by participation in
this relationship or group.” Much of the current research on joint
behaviors among humans has come from ecological psychology where joint
affordances are contrasted with affordances. Joint affordances are
recognized as the ways that an object allows two people to use it from
respective positions (Costantini & Sinigaglia 2011). Initial experiments
such as with lifting different sized objects by two people indicate that
modern humans have very clear senses of joint affordances (Marsh et al
2009; Davis et al 2010). Similarly, Pezzulo and Dindo (2011p626) have it
that: “... the agent-environment dynamics and the agent-agent dynamics
are part of the problem-solving strategy ... [so that] ... two agents
are coupled at the level of cognitive variables as well as at the
physical level of interaction.” Research extends to the kinematics of
joint tasks including for monkeys where actions have been shown to be
less variable, more discernible and “selecting movement trajectories
that allow a faster disambiguation of an action from alternative ones” (Visco-Comandini
et al 2015p116).
Joint behaviors especially of the casually interactive kind offer more
plausible evolutionary scenarios. This is especially true of great apes
where behaviors with elaborate sequences coexisted with intense social
dynamics. Byrne highlights the complex behaviors of great apes as
helping them survive when monkeys have many advantages in the same niche
(viz. monkeys can eat unripe fruit): “gorillas, and to a lesser extent
chimpanzees, use elaborate, multistage routines to deal with plant
defenses; orangutans use complex, indirect routes to reach defended
arboreal food, and sometimes make tools to gain access to bees’ nests or
defended plant food” (Byrne 2006p493-4). Because great apes live in
groups with intense social relationships, an assumption is that these
behaviors could easily be entangled and mutually reinforcing. Food
sharing after hunts among chimpanzees is not cooperative but “is
motivated by undefined social factors...” (Tuttle 2014p312). The complex
reinforcement of the social and the instrumental show up in that
“measures of cognitive skill in primates are correlated across multiple
domains (e.g. behavioural innovation, social learning, tool use and
extractive foraging)...” (Seyfarth & Cheney 2015p19). And, on the
developmental side young children are seen to engage in joint behaviors
such as tidying up toys with a caregiver at a much younger age than they
acquire the mindreading type capabilities that are presumably developed
during these casual joint behaviors (Butterfill 2012). Both
evolutionarily and developmentally joint behaviors are more plausibly
prior to the mindreading capabilities presumed to be required for
cooperation or even idealized rationality.
The picture of joint behaviors that is emerging is of a very wide
category of behaviors that allows a clearer path to evolvability and
that shows complex systems characteristics. There are other behaviors
that can be claimed to be joint and that help reveal the ubiquity of the
phenomenon. Most of our behaviors are de facto joint. Basic sociality
requires some minimal coordination. Today, observing customs, using
language even if lying, watching the same movie, adhering to
architectural spaces, being considerate, or buying and selling even if
cheating all involve acting jointly with the actions of others. Even the
direct 4F behaviors (fight, flee, feed, f...) show elaborations. Another
instance of joint behavior that will be included here is what can be
called constrained joint behavior as for example when drivers on a
freeway appear to cooperate by traffic lanes and mutual avoidance. It
also includes dominance behaviors to force someone to do something (Butterfill
2012p45). And it should be enlarged to include joint behaviors that are
the result of a niche construction by one individual that elicits a new
behavior by a second. Joint behaviors are thus widening arcs of social
behaviors including material or structural intermediaries. It is
predominantly seen in cotemporal behaviors where individuals are
reacting with some degree of improvisation. As such it demands a
“participation structure, which itself presupposes a distinction between
being copresent but not in interaction versus copresent and
participating” (Levinson (2006p52). But the concept here is enlarged to
include joint behaviors that are not cotemporal as when one behavior
follows another but is linked. For example, the case in economics where,
say, a button-maker in one country sells buttons to a shirt-maker in
another country who sells to a wholesaler in a third country, etc. shows
a chain of jointness that has solo activity, joint behaviors, and
cooperation interspersed and interlinked along action sequences. With
this widening of the concept of joint behaviors to include many more
behaviors that do not carry the cooperative flavor of “joint” and that
can be linked across time or via material intermediaries, the label
“coordinated behaviors” will be used.
IV. Niche construction / material culture effects The second process
selected here as relevant to the human evolution phase is niche
construction. Usually this phenomenon is presented as influencing
evolutionary selection (Odling-Smee et al 2003), but here it is
suggested that it is significant as influencing both developmental
trajectories of individuals as well as individual behaviors that result
in de facto joint behaviors between the constructor and the reacting
agent. In this context it is aligned with the concepts of material
agency in archaeology (Malafouris 2013) and material culture studies
(Tilley et al 2006) that were discussed above under shared agency. That
niche construction is widespread among many animals has been amply
documented (Odling-Smee et al 2003p51). That niche construction can
strongly effect development is also supported: “cultural niche
construction probably has more profound consequences than gene-based
niche construction” (Laland & O’Brien 2010p310). That the structural
modifications in the environment by humans beggars the name ‘niche
construction’ is clear. A mere glance around almost wherever one finds
oneself attests to the heavy structuration of our environments. An urban
view can hardly find a structure, a terrain, or a species that has not
selectively been brought into the local environment. In this case the
environment ceases to be the environment in the sense of external. The
human environment, that which surrounds us, is that which we have
prepared cumulatively and which we prepare constantly and transiently.
It should be emphasized that here niche construction is envisaged in an
extended capacity where it becomes an effect on behaviors including
contemporaneous behaviors. This brings it towards the concepts of
material culture studies. In this field it can be said: “Central here is
an understanding of both things and theories as simultaneously events
and effects rather than as passive objects, active subjects, or caught
up somehow in the spectral webs of networks, meshworks, or dialectical
relations” (Hicks 2010p30). Below, a more full examination of the
conceptual importance of what will be called extended niche construction
beyond its evolutionary ties will be undertaken.
An hypothesis for human evolution and other significant processes
These two processes, coordinated (joint) behaviors and niche
construction for behaviors, allow an hypothesis. It is that coordinated
behaviors and selected objects formed coordinated behavioral systems
reinforcing to both. A social species with elaborate and instrumental
behaviors acquired ever more overlapping or joint behaviors and used
structures in the environment to anchor and effect these. Both the
common ground and the constructed items increased in tandem with the
coordinated behaviors. Both improved results as well as increased
learning were the payoffs. These interlocking systems between agents and
objects in diverse groupings and over time are conjectured to show
complex system dynamics and to select for new interactively sensitive
behaviors such as higher levels of intentionality. Hutchins voices a
similar view: “What evolves, however, is not the brain alone, but the
system of brains, bodies, and shared environments in interaction”
(Hutchins 2006p393). A key new behavior selected in these new systems is
language that is neither on the agent side nor the object side but is
behavior-niche construction simultaneously and that is explicated as a
corollary. The behavioral systems here are neither an individual nor
groups ready for group selection but emergent mixes like the notion of
“ephemeral emergent” from sociology (Sawyer 2005p210). The active
conception of the environment is similar to the investigations of
geographers for “the constitution of lived space” (Hicks & Beaudry
2010p3; also Stallins 2012). It could be called multibehavioral
To unpack further and defend this hypothesis five other significant
processes of the human era will now be discussed. The logical direction
of support – either causing or resulting from – is often unclear, but a
strong compatibility indicating linkage is clear. These next five
processes of the human era are: unique interactive behaviors, increased
planning behaviors, complex system dynamics within coordinated
behaviors, cognitive niche construction, and institutions or social
V. Special interaction behaviors Another significant trend includes the
elaborate interaction skills that people demonstrate. These include:
teaching (Danchin et al 2008p710), imitation, theory of mind or
mind-reading of another’s intentions, Gricean intentions or intentions
that drive behaviors whose sole function is to have an effect by virtue
of having their intentions recognized (Levinson 2006p54), turn taking
with interaction repair (Levinson 2006p54), role reversal imitation (Tomasello
2003p19), joint attention (Tomasello 2008p159), perspectival cognitive
representations (Moll & Tomasello 2007), normativity, objects with
social functions (Searle 2010), and reasoning to convince others (Tomasello
The richness of these capabilities or of what Enfield and Levinson
(2006p399) call “the interaction engine” is remarkable (Pezzulo 2012).
Enfield & Levinson (2006p3) have it that “human social interaction
exhibits striking properties not found elsewhere in the animal world.”
They go on: “human social life is intricately structured through the
attribution of actions, motives, intentions, and beliefs to fellow
interactants” (p3). They link most of the above unique capabilities
backwards to joint actions or cooperation while linking it forwards to
language. While these evolved capacities are compatible with the
existing paradigm of traits of well adapted individuals, an appreciation
of the pervasiveness of joint, coordinated, or simultaneously
overlapping behaviors makes the origin of these capabilities with these
coordinated behaviors much more likely.
VI. Planning A further process is planning or the ability to have
behaviors that extend over time and are often unique (Bratman 2014;
Aunger & Curtis 2016; Stutz 2014). Tomasello (2014p9) holds that
thinking is simulation and selection of options before behavior. Aunger
& Curtis (2016p68) also hold planning as an internal type of selection.
Roots of planning can be seen in the ability of great apes to delay
gratification for small rewards in the present for greater rewards later
(Tomasello 2014p24). The supposition here is that planning or extended
behaviors facilitate more opportunities for local, immediate niche
construction (i.e., preparation) as well as the involvement of others
where all would be mutually reinforced.
VII. Behaviors as complex systems The hypothesis takes the position that
the joint behavioral system should be approached from complex systems
dynamics at many levels – cognitive-perceptual, between people, with
objects, and in the dynamics between objects themselves. The assumption
is that behavior is itself a complex system (Nolfi et al 2008; Thompson,
T. 2007; Calvin & Jirsa 2010; see also discussion below on complex
systems). Indicative of this line of thinking is the following: “In the
dynamical systems (DS) approach to adaptive behavior and cognition,
agents and their environments are viewed as tightly coupled DS. ... the
nervous system, body, and environment are not three independent
components engaged in a synchronic interaction; rather, natural
adaptation is the ongoing result of a global, self-organizing process” (Monebelli
et al. 2008p182).
Whether complex systems are the appropriate description of coordinated
behaviors awaits continued studies. But for now research such as that by
Anderson et al (2012) does indicate 1/f scaling, bifurcations, and
interpersonal synchrony (also: Kelso 1995, 2012; Jordan 2008; Szary et
al 2015), all taken to be suggestive of dynamic systems. Only complex
system dynamics at the scale of behaviors and coordinated behaviors
could allow the large human-environment behavioral systems envisaged in
VIII. Cognitive niche construction Niche construction is usually
considered instrumentally as in what actions does it allow. Now,
however, it is also being considered for its role in shaping the
cognitive environment. For the extended mind view environmental
resources such as a notebook extend the mind (Clark & Chalmers 1998);
for Sterelny (2010) these more often allow the mind to scaffold itself
upon these resources especially when they are not just personal
resources. Hutchins (1995, 2006, 2014) has repeatedly explored the theme
of cognitive resources in the environment and their relation to
coordinated or cooperative behaviors.
Focusing on cognitive niche construction such as labeling or as a
personal notebook, however, probably understates its ubiquity. Simple
reflection on personal use of expectancies that one has on objects and
their placement whether by self or other show that the environment is
constantly mined for possibilities and probabilities of interaction by
self, other, or groups whether they are prepared such as the notebook
(Clark & Chalmers. 1998), culturally chosen as a queue (Hutchins
2014p39), or inadvertent as the locations of removed clothes on the
floor. These questions are explored phenomenally in material culture
studies, and it raises a question of whether there should be an analogue
for theory of mind for objects. The point here is that niche
constructedness for behaviors is not just instrumental, nor joint, nor
cognitive, but also personal and idiosyncratic.
IX. Social niche construction Moreover, niche construction can be built
from social arrangements including institutions. “Social niche
construction” is the modification of the niche that includes the
“interactions with other organisms in their social groups. It
constitutes the resources (e.g. food), services (e.g. grooming), and
other outputs (e.g. threats) provided by organisms for each other” (Odling-Smee
& Laland 2009p106). Social life is an “interrelated aspect of a
generated niche” (MacKinnon & Fuentes 2012p77). Similarly, social
institutions are considered a form of cultural evolution where
conventions maintain a socially constructed niche (Gerson 2014; Powers
et al 2016.). Or, the “dynamically reproducing sociocultural system”
itself is taken to be the “dynamically reproducing” unit of analysis
from a dynamic systems perspective (Iddo et al 2014p321). An interesting
extension of this way of thinking is that human selves are taken to be
niche constructions, necessary for “simultaneously stabilizing and
intermediating the micro-scale dynamics of the distributed individual
mind/brain and the macro-scale dynamics of society and culture” (Ross
2007p13; see also Stutz 2014p4).
Extended niche construction
The above treatment of niche construction that bends its original intent
as an evolutionary process leaves it with an ambiguous definition. To
conceive of it developmentally and behaviorally but especially as
integral to a coordinated behavior-niche constructed environment
requires some clarification. The classic examples for niche construction
come from the animal kingdom, but the standard reference – Odling-Smee
et al 2003 – includes bacteria, fungi and plants (p51). Since the
effects from these latter are especially long term (e.g., the
oxygenation of the planet), they lend themselves easily to the
evolutionary perspective. To consider niche construction
developmentally, much less behaviorally, is to primarily be able to
consider effects on animal behaviors that are from social learning but
that have not yet passed into genetic control. Here it is niche
construction’s effects on current behaviors that is of interest. For
example, blades manufactured by early hominin that might be found around
a campsite are usually considered prompts for social learning or
cultural evolution but are here considered in the context of emerging
joint behaviors. This is the small difference between leaving blades on
the ground to help teach a child or to prompt someone that they should
go hunting. To speak of niche construction for behavioral modification
is to pass into an even faster time frame.
It is also to enter the slippery discussion of causality and agency. At
present this can only be conceptualized as action and accomplishment
(the niche construction and the niche constructed) where the result is a
new existent. When the action is under genetic control the etiology is
not a danger to determinism, but when it passes to the momentary, it
enters the free will zone of deterministic exception. Pearl (2000p337)
notes that causality, although frequently discussed in science, has no
legitimate place within science. His best use for the concept is
conceptually convenient as an “intervention.” To strengthen the concept
of niche construction, two steps are proposed: 1) that the effects of
organisms in the environment can have effects at many different
posterior time scales, and 2) that action and accomplishment, especially
in the human domain, should be recast as bifurcation and niche
construction (and repeat). The former then brings niche construction
into effects of much shorter time scales (e.g., agriculture is at least
as much environmental preparation for this year’s crop as it is seed
planting and selection where the traditional view has emphasized agency
and evolutionary effects over niche construction) while the latter keeps
it in the safer logical realm of complex systems rather than letting it
slip dangerously towards dualistic accounting (i.e., the twin fantasies
that agency arises de novo and that human creations endow the
environment with new boundary conditions for the next deterministic
calculation). Odling-Smee et al (2003) were very inclusive for the
activity of niche construction as every modification was included even
simply changing locations (p41). The extension here is to make every
effect, not just evolutionary ones, included. And it is to bring it down
to ever shorter time frames so that the everyday, careless language of
human deeds and accomplishments is not smuggled in at some point along
human evolution. This, however, makes the case for systems thinking for
behaviors with niche construction more necessary.
Since niche construction is extended to fast time frames and to fast
effects as in behavioral effects, it should probably have a new name.
There is extended niche construction. But “extended” and “niche” both
miss the speed of the phenomenon. Substitutes for “niche” such as
context or world both import dualistic tones. “Hyperfast stigmergy” is a
possibility (Camazine et al 2001p23). So is “behavioral niche
construction.” For now, extended or fast niche construction will be
Fast niche construction for behaviors then is envisaged not just as the
biological recognition of how environmental effects should be extended
from the evolutionary perspective but also of a replacement for the
corrupt philosophical practices of using agency and human creations – a
new beginning (Pearl 2000p337) and a new creation (Fox Keller
2005p1073). Instead, continual behaviors with continual new
environmental boundary conditions occur alongside continual synapse
modifications of the internal environment in loops that do not
contradict causal continuity.
A corollary for language as fast behavioral niche construction
Language, with syntax and huge lexicons, is a unique capability of
humans. It has had a troubled status philosophically as possibly a third
type of being as signs, intermediate between objectivity and
subjectivity. Studies of language evolution have blossomed recently with
much promise (Tomasello 2008; Fitch 2010). What is not clarified is the
nature of language. The range of current suggestions about what language
is is striking. Consider this cursory list: it is always illocutionary
but not always descriptive (Hurford 2007p171); it is pragmatically
infused in contexts (Clark, H. 1996; Streck et al 2011); it is described
as niche construction (Aunger 2009; Cowley 2004; Sinha 2015); it is tied
to cooperation (Tomasello 2008) or coordination in joint activities (Knoblich
& Sebanz 2008; Pezzulo 2012); it can modify cognitive sense of space (Gianelli
et al 2013); it appears to be tied to behaviors even for abstract
cognitives (Borghi & Riggio 2009p117; Stout & Chaminade 2009; Anderson
et al 2012p720); it can be studied separately as languaging the activity
(Uryu et al 2014), or as system of word meanings which are derived
either from cognitive resources (Pinker 2007), learned scaffolded
regularities (Goldberg 2006), or within complex system dynamics (Ellis
et al 2009); it reputedly is tied to local ecology (Nash & Muhlhausler
2014); it carries civility or a ritual function to maintain society as
well as meaning or an instrumental function (Anderson 1990 – cited in
Nash & Muhlhausler 2014; Carey 1989p18); in extended mind theory it is
treated as a “coordination dynamics” where words anchor the complex
dynamics across mind and environment (Clark, A. 2008p53; Fusaroli et al
2014); similarly in ecological psychology it has been proclaimed as an
“adapting affordance” to accentuate a given affordance (Bardone
2011p93); it can be seen as a public simulation similar to thinking
simulation (Tomasello 2014p9); and it can act as social contracts as in
the naming of “husband” (Deacon 1997p400, Searle 2010p16).
As linguistics goes through its own reappraisal, what is suggested here
is that the seemingly conflicting views from utterance to dynamics to
cooperation to niche construction to social stability are very
compatible with the coordinated behavior-niche construction system
hypothesis. The corollary is that language is coordination by
fast-changing niche construction by sounds that are selected for
syntactical compatibility. Like the suite of interaction behaviors
(above) language emerged in the joint behavioral environment as a fast
niche construction. With language, behavior and niche construction are
in very fast interplay. And with it reality is modified. With language,
“...reality is brought into existence, is produced, by communication...”
(Carey 1989p25). It is modified physically (sound waves), and it is
modified probabilistically as added reinforcement patterns. This
corollary extends to other sign systems such as writing (Logan 2006) and
to computers where other types of niche constructions become quickly
employed in setting the boundary conditions for other behaviors
including our own. And it extends to information as fast and selected
niche construction to effect behaviors.
To make this clear, consider this example. Person A says to person B
“you can get water over at the fountain” (with a gesture to a direction
possibly). Now the fountain as a niche construction is already an
affordance eliciting behaviors. But with this utterance person B is
given an enhanced affordance of the fountain, or a doubly niche
constructed affordance. And, possible joint behaviors between the two
people could be enhanced as other intentions by A for saying it and
other intentions by B in accepting or rejecting the utterance can travel
on this construction.
The hypothesis of multibehavioral niche construction – a summary
By attempting to show 1) how evolutionary thinking through the
replicator dynamics of Darwin does not measure up to the human
phenomenon, 2) how there are many unique processes that could engender a
distinctive dynamic for the human phase, and 3) how a particular
hypothesis sketches a potential dynamic, the intent is to show the
contours of this dynamic. It should be remembered that collective,
trans-individual conceptions of humans have been rumored from antiquity
(Tu 1998) to recently (Stock 1993). Explicating the extent of
coordinated behaviors and of the massively and coordinatedly constructed
nature of the environment gives mechanisms for extended systems. This is
not to reify the coordinated behavior niche construction systems into
any closed category, be it group in group selection, superorganism,
social system, etc. It is to invoke the study of emergent and ephemeral
system effects among humans and world.
The current extension of evolutionary theory into human evolution,
cultural evolution, does chart a unique course. “[S]ocial foraging and
intergenerational social learning” keeps bands of early humans as
successful foragers able to “support the life spans and expensive
metabolisms that make extensive intergenerational learning possible” (Sterelny
2012a, p14). The connection to the genetic route is that
“[d]evelopmental plasticity and ecological versatility were at a premium
in the habitats in which early Homo evolved” (Anton et al
2014p1236828-10). But this does not go far enough to account for the
phenomenon of civilization. And, it obscures the conceptual chasm in the
modern reader between a prior, instinctual frame for behavior in animals
and the frame of humans as thinking, learning doers.
The hypothesis, in emphasizing the large and gradual evolution of
coordinated behaviors in many forms from the social such as grooming
(Dunbar 2014) into the varieties of instrumental behaviors such as with
tools but involving others, foregrounds a large class of behaviors that
were the incessant cradle of the other attributes – cooperation,
intergenerational learning, mindreading, language, etc. The subtleties
of coordinated behaviors were the environment for early humans as they
are the background for us today as individuals and within groups. And
this matrix of coordinating behaviors also pulled the physical
environment into the consensuality of common ground as joint behaviors
demanded that a recursive awareness of I-know-that-you-know that some
object can be used in such and such a way. This is the concept of common
ground (Clark, H. 1996; Gibbs 2006p172; Tomasello 2008p75) but without
its becoming a consensual closure (Jones 2016). We couple cognitively
and enlarge the circle of structures that reinforce that coupling. Then
the demands of coordination pushed consensuality into normativity as the
environment took on expectations for the behaviors of others. And within
this growth of coordination and stabilization of the environment to the
group, niche construction was increasingly done and used for
coordination. Paths, labels, tools, and shelters became active
reinforcements to the normative expectations or learning facilitations
It was this dynamic back and forth that fostered more elaborate
coordinating behaviors and a more consensual and selected environment.
It is the depth of the subtleties of coordinating behaviors and the
extent of the environmental appropriation for behavioral stabilizations
that powered human evolution. Out of the former came cooperation,
Machiavellian intelligence, thinking as persuasiveness, mindreading, and
language. Out of the latter came the cumulative niche construction that
tipped to permanent settlements and then to an industrially continuous
maintenance and selection of the human built environment. There was
never an individual, intelligent or not; we were always distributed. And
there was never a given environment waiting for the light to come on; we
were constantly building our expectations with it with others to know
An hypothesized coordinated behavior-niche construction complex systems
approach to behavioral groups offers much room for emergent and
ephemeral system dynamics between the traditional options of
individualism and the often hazarded exaggerations of cohesive human
societies. Shifting the frame from individuals to coordinated behaviors
as systems requires a word about invoking a hope in complex systems to
approach human behaviors with the environment. While the excitement of
complex systems theory is evident and the case for its foundational
nature has been made (Bunge 2003; Bickhard 2011; Thalos 2011) and the
call for its application both to systems chemistry as well as to the
behavioral patterns among humans and with the environment, the challenge
is that there are few agreements about what is meant by systems theory.
It is the productivity of many strands of research with differing models
in different areas of biology that mitigates the lack of unity. The
reductionist side is anchored by the relatively simple and well
understood complex systems models (self-organization, emergence,
self-organized criticality, phase transitions, networks, non-linearity,
circular causality, multistationarity, etc.) where the components are
mainly homogenous while interacting nonlinearly and complexly (Strogatz
1994) or where the component diversity is low such as in the now famous
B-Z reaction (Nicolis & Nicolis 2012). To speak of the ability of
systems theory to be able to address basic and deep ideas in biology is
to look at the current diversity of successes while speaking of a
frontier of promise (Voit 2013p399). It is also to acknowledge that it
has a wider basis than its predecessor competitors – classification and
molecular biology. For the hypothesis of the joint behavioral niche
construction of emergent complex systems, it is to acknowledge that the
target suggests such dynamics that certainly offers more promise than
the default, antiquated, agonistic metaphysics.
Steps to an evolution proper to the human era
To recap, the trends as potential building aspects of evolutionary
dynamics particular to human evolution, in addition to social learning
traditions (cultural evolution), are:
1. Coordinated and joint behaviors (and)
2. Sustained, cumulative niche construction effecting behaviors (leading
to 3 - 9)
3. Distributed cognition across the self-object-other boundaries
4. Shared agency and material agency
5. Interactive suite of special coordination behaviors
6. Planning (that is likely selected, pre-niche constructed,
multi-stepped, and joint)
7. Evidence of complex system dynamics for social and environmental
8. Cognitive niche construction
9. Social or institutional niche construction
where all of the above offer reinforcement and selection to the others
at evolutionary, developmental, and behavioral scales. Language can be
added to this list if including all its newly explored facets. These
processes are put forward both to widen the discussion around human
evolution and to support the particular hypothesis and corollary.
The above discussion on the human era attempts to show the discontinuity
of human evolution and the unique processes that characterize it. The
hypothesis attempts to shape these unique processes into a whole
concept. Each of these points is offered under the premise that
evolutionary theory is stuck, particularly at its extremes, and it is
offered under the hope of finding a better dialogue between science and
the humanities than a simple partitioning of past and present. This
entails that the hypothesis is defended as applicable to the disciplines
of the present, including philosophy, just as it attempted to use the
present to expand evolutionary theory. The hypothesis will be followed
below into its challenges with philosophical presuppositions.
Besides attempting to reconcile evolutionary theory to two ignored eras
of evolution, a goal is to show that these two eras offer processes that
potentially not just extend the Modern Synthesis but expand it. Many non
replicator dynamics are seen in both phases – auto-organization, growing
complex systems, dynamics with and within the environment, selection for
stability within emerging wholes, unique structures, energy fluxes. From
a distance the picture is of energy flows, material structures selected
for stability interdependence, and complex system dynamics – or, systems
and “systemized” matter. This latter refers to catalytic and convertible
pairs in proximity in flow-probable exchange in chemistry and to
instrumental-usage or consumable-consume pairs in given behavioral
networks. In fact for classical evolution an unstated consequence is
that the environment contains selected species, i.e., selection is an
environmental effect. When, as in the two bookended eras, organismal
coherence is less the dominating dynamic, then the more subtle aspects
of systems, environments that are not yet habitats, organization for
emerging selves, and selection aspects that define new wholes are easier
These same observed processes on the surface are pertinent to issues
still roiling current evolutionary theory (see above). Many of the
issues in the main phase of evolutionary theory today touch on the
inadequacy of a unidirectional dependence on the environment while both
the prebiotic phase and the human era show strong dynamics with and
within the environment. In criticizing the Modern Synthesis, Noble
emphasizes system-environment mutuality as “the interaction between DNA
sequences, environment and phenotype as occurring through biological
networks. The causation occurs in both directions between all three
influences on the network” (Noble 2015p8). Evo-devo would fall under
this systems-environment mutual causality where development (system)
modifies either internal or external environment to be followed by back
effects to itself where selection then follows these biases. At another
level the issues of major transitions for changes in the level of the
individual or of symbiogenesis are given the right theoretical direction
from the twin notions that aggregations allow new system flows which
then can have selective effects for wholes that persist with elements
that foster that integrity. This is the type of process that must be in
place between any switch of genetic selection from an individual to a
And both the prebiotic and the human eras shift the evolutionary
question from the continuity/modification of life forms to the origin of
form itself. This brings the evolution question to its philosophical
roots. The biologist Lewontin frames it well. “By making organisms the
objects of force whose subjects were the internal heritable factors and
the external environment, ... Mendel and Darwin brought biology at last
into conformity with the epistemological meta-structure that already
characterized physics since Newton and chemistry since Lavoisier” (Lewontin
2001p59-60). This statement at least raises a doubt of whether any
improvement of evolutionary theory can be made without approaching the
assumptions implicit in that philosophical frame at the origin of
evolutionary theory. It should not be a surprise now that the hypothesis
raised here does challenge that “meta-structure.”
There are two interrelated challenges here. For biology the above
explorations challenge two old tacit assumptions – one, to study the
organism while leaving aside the question of the nature of life, and
two, the simplification to study the organism in relative isolation from
its environment. For philosophy there are also two challenges. The
concept of self as a niche construction for others (Ross 2007p13) while
acting as a manager of the local ecology of intermingled cognitive
resources (Clark, A. 2007p102) is a long way from the idealized
individual. And the concept from the hypothesis of a
coordinated-behavioral niche constructing system is a long way from our
basic sense of reality as the given objective commons as the starting
point for all. Whether these are challenges, opportunities, or
contradictions, the issues show how biology and philosophy are locked
with each other’s mutual assumptions ... and potential blind spots.
The hypothesis is a specific claim about the nature of the world of
humans that is compatible with current evolutionary theory while
offering a stable alternative to a discredited Modernism. The processes
of both the prebiotic and human phases are highlighted as steps to a
potential future evolutionary theory that answers its current issues,
that addresses evolution well beyond the preferred zone of
multicellulars, and that incorporates the origin of life itself rather
than species differentiation only.
Thus, to turn now to philosophical issues raised by the hypothesis is
not only to defend the hypothesis in itself but also to show that an
expansion of evolutionary theory such as called for here requires
addressing the foundational – philosophical – assumptions of biology and
science. This is more of a blessing in disguise since our age’s
foundational philosophy, Modernism, has been under such heavy attack for
so long that many have forgotten about it or have ignored philosophy as
hopeless. Even as the sciences had unparalleled success, the logical
structure of Modernism or dualism (the infamous matter vs. mind, or in
this case individual vs. environment) has been repeatedly,
devastatingly, but futilely critiqued from Vico to Nietzsche up to the
present (Nagel 2012; Koons & Bealer 2010; Eisenstein 2007). Not
atypical, one qualified observer put it: “The kind of scientific realism
we have inherited from the seventeenth century has not lost all its
prestige even yet, but it has saddled us with a disastrous picture of
the world. It is high time we looked for a different picture” (Putnam
1996p15). Nagel is at least as clear: “the mind-body problem is not just
a local problem, having to do with the relation between mind, brain, and
behavior in living animal organisms, but ... it invades our
understanding of the entire cosmos and its history” (Nagel 2012p3).
The hypothesis would replace faulty Modernism’s separation of individual
observer from the clearly spread out material environment with a picture
now emerging of a structuredly material environment in reciprocal
exchange with distributedly cognizing individuals linked in jointly
behaving ephemeral systems. The degree of interlocking is empirical; the
denial of intercausality is illogical, contra evidence, and inexcusable.
The myriad facets of niche construction adumbrated above show the rich
degrees of our investments in building and of reading our environments.
An unpacking of niche construction’s role in behavior opens a path to
clearly map the interactivity of people and environment formerly covered
with fill-in concepts such as independent agency, semiotics, and the
hubris of our created works.
A summary of the hypothesis and corollary from a philosophical point of
view is now given. The hypothesis takes reality not to be a separate
sphere from the person but a sphere that is heavily structured by past
living processes from selection to niche construction (from both long
and short term inputs and from self). And, it is far from an arbitrarily
structured material world. This structuration is evolutionary,
historical, self-generated, and coordinated with others. A person is
also not separate but is in growing reciprocal exchange with these
structures (cf. Merleau-Ponty 1962). A person is also in growing
reciprocal exchange with others so that there is coupling of behaviors
and growing coordinated coupling with all structures of the surround
(common ground). We couple cognitively and enlarge the circle of
structures that reinforce that coupling. Reality then is not just the
clearly mappable material but also the accumulated, structured boundary
conditions from all time scales as well as the cognitive and interactive
probabilities held between individuals and structures. Further, this
coupling between people and between people and structures (objects,
species, architecture) is actively being created, maintained, and
destroyed. It is our primary activity. Here, the corollary of language
enters as the ongoing, fast coupling by niche construction. It is not a
symbolic substitution for the real object but a further, constructed
reinforcement to our behavior with it.
The connection to complex systems theory needs to be made. A simple
philosophical concept of systems is that it is a collection not
reducible to an aggregate as something not effected by rearrangement of
parts (Wimsatt 2008; Wan 2011) or to anything that fails “linear
superposition” (Bishop 2011p128). In saying that humans are part of a
coordinated behavioral niche constructing system, the hypothesis is
claiming the people and the environment are coupled in nonlinear
dynamics. This point makes an interesting tie back to the prebiotic
phase. In noting that evidence suggests that prebiotic aggregates in
energy exchange tend to select components relative to their stability,
one can discern a transition point between aggregates and systems. Human
evolution reveals how one species in the biosphere has become ever less
an aggregate and ever more pockets of systems.
The issue of an environment with or without values is not either-or.
Objectivism, compared to the hypothesis with the niche constructed and
held-in-common for coordinated use environment, fits as a finer
selection for consistency. That is, objectivism is a fine-grained
cognitive niche construction. The richly valued and constructed common
ground of earlier humans was held together by strong totems of cultural
adhesion including the blessing of consistent truth. This pull towards
cohesion of the whole pushed into the rigorous consistency at the birth
of science: “Greek formalization of logic probably would not have been
sufficient on its own. Without a strong religious impulsion towards a
single orderly world, and the consequent avoidance of opportunist,
manipulative incoherence, the cognitive miracle would probably not have
occurred” (Gellner 1992p96). In doing so the mantle of truth ceded
partially to the practice of objectivity – “Whereas truth is absolute
and does not come in degrees, objectivity only comes in degrees” (Gaukroger,
2012p66). But, “in the 17th century, objectivity replaced truth in the
role of cognitive guidance. If truth guided argument by showing where
arguments should end, objectivity took the opposite route, constraining
how arguments should begin and proceed” (Gaukroger, 2012p59). Both truth
and objectivity were selection processes for the wholes of cultural
knowledge, and both happened in rich seas of personal habits,
preferences, and idiosyncracies. The objective cohesion of science is a
method to initiate explorations and not a claimant to absoluteness nor
to containing all the rich knowledge relationships of cognizers as
developing complex systems. And it is a uniquely powerful selection
system, employing very cunning niche constructions in experimental
This frame situates the hypothesis as describing the individual values,
opinions, aesthetics, misconceptions, plans, hopes, strategies, etc.
that were pushed aside at the dawn of Modernism such as in Bacon’s
(1620) getting rid of the “idols.” And it situates it relative to the
recent wave of social construction trying to recognize the interactive
nature of certain kinds (Hacking 2000p123). But the emphasis is on the
physical constructions in the environment whose provenance is not in
doubt and which effect our behaviors, perceptions, and social relations
so strongly. The hypothesis is not an epistemological claim but an
ontological one as the world is structured by biology and as organisms
extend their behavioral coordination into the environment. The
hypothesis then is a candidate for Putnam’s (1996) call above for “a
different picture,” a new foundation.
Theology and life
While situating the hypothesis in relation to philosophy, it is
worthwhile to position its relevance to the other large frame –
theology. Many religions have a process view of the world. The Western
religious tradition at the birth of science did not. During the Middle
Ages it had shifted. “At the outset of the sixteenth century, the
dominant scholastic view of God was not esse but an ens – not the
incomprehensible act of to-be, but a highest being among other beings”
(Gregory, 2012p38). God had shifted from a process to an entity. At the
dawn of science there had been an earlier philosophical trinity of
nature, humans, and god; but modernism dissolved god by moving
previously divine attributes to matter and to humans (Gillespie 2008).
It was “the gradual transference of divine attributes to human beings
(an infinite human will), the natural world (universal mechanical
causality), social forces (the general will, the hidden hand), and
history (the idea of progress, dialectical development, the cunning of
reason)” (Gillespie 2008p273). With this development biology took up its
subject matter as the organism only such as Descartes’ work on the
mechanics of the organism (Grene & Depew 2004p38) whereas in the older
tradition since Aristotle there had also been a search for the principle
of life itself (Thacker 2010p90). This other search for the principles
of life was conflated with the search for god especially through the
Middle Ages (Thacker 2010p102). Thus, Descartes’ work on the organism as
entity was consonant with the theology of the times that saw god
shifting from esse to ens, an increasingly remote entity.
With these trends, two aspects of god – as process and as life
principle(s) – were left stranded as science plowed ahead in the twin
spheres of human and matter or organism and environment. And the god of
ens retreated to the private sphere (Gregory 2012p172) and to debates in
mechanistic terms of who-what-when. What this paints is a gap in
theology. Divinity in process and in life principles is open terrain.
These directions would restore divine notions from ens (entity) back to
esse (being as process). A god as entity shares with physics and final
theories a transcendent and removed divinity (Smolin 1997p199) while the
frontier of process as divinity is open to the radical possibility of
complex systems theory that comes with its fundamental aspect of
multiplicity (Nicolis & Nicolis 2012p3). The relevance here is that life
principles and process philosophy are open domains. Should the
possibility that this territory be rejuvenated in theology and should
biology recapture the principles of life aspects of the field, then
these two fields would find themselves as allies rather than as
In presenting this wide-angled view, a major hope is to show that
diverse research agendas are deeply constrained by their
interdependencies. Each major section – the possibility of prebiotic
evolution, the possibility of approaching human evolution as a unique
phase, the hypothesis of multibehavioral niche construction complex
systems for humans, language as a consummate example of behavioral fast
niche construction, and support for an expanded view of evolution – and
the frames of philosophy and theology are supportive or limiting to the
others. For clarity a summary is given:
· In the prebiotic and human eras there are processes that indicate
unique evolutionary dynamics and that are similar.
· This opening calls for continued investigation of unique evolutionary
dynamics in the prebiotic phase while warranting such an investigation
in the human phase.
· Taking the ubiquitous coordinated behaviors of humans and their
prolific niche construction as key processes allows an hypothesis that
these individually and mutually formed reinforcement dynamics that led
to elaborate interactional skills, heavily constructed environments, and
· These simultaneous behaviors-constructions include fast constructions
(languaging, the activity) and selected constructions to effect very
specific behaviors (language as lexicon, texts, and other developed sign
· The hypothesis assumes and supports the recent view of a person as a
distributed cognizer and an agency manager.
· The hypothesis challenges reality as only objectivity with a
structured, selected, interactively commonized, persons-invested,
dynamic material environment that allows refined selections such as
· The above argument shows that evolutionary biology can benefit by
expanding its range and that its assumptions are mutually restricted
with modern philosophy.
Ideas often stand or fall together – contrary to the scientific hope
that independent facts can be built up additively (Gellner 1988p63) but
now part of Kuhn’s (1970) concept of paradigm shifts, itself a complex
systems indicator by power law distribution of changes. The view of
Modernism that formed the initial foundational stones of the scientific
era still holds a lot of biological views together. Whether those views
continue to hold should not be left to not asking questions outside the
Modernist frame. Neither the organism nor the interactively and
cognitively sanitized environment are preordained categories.
That prebiotic chemistry is already finding so many new insights of
evolutionary chemistry is certainly cause for optimism and openness to
evolution without the organism. That human evolution is apparently more
unique than even evident 150 years ago at the time of The Origin of
Species also warrants exploring questions beyond the species model. The
hypothesis presented is both a model to confirm the evolutionary
uniqueness of the human phenomenon and a serious attempt to capture
researchable and explorable principles that are not constrained by the
overly used and patently limited individual vs. environment frame of
Modernism. The view of language is a corollary to this hypothesis.
Humans, reality, and language become key aspects of one living system.
And all of these points can be part of the deliberation to extend,
replace, or, as argued here, expand evolutionary theory.
Abramova, Ekaterina & M. Slors.
2015. “Social cognition in simple action coordination: A case for direct
perception.” Consciousness and Cognition. 36: 519-531.
Acerbi, Alberto & A. Mesoudi. 2015. “If we are all cultural Darwinians
what’s the fuss about? Clarifying recent disagreements in the field of
cultural evolution.” Biol Philos. 30:481-503.
Anderson, B. 1990. "Language, fantasy, revolution in Java, 1900-1945."
Prisma. 50: 25-39.
Anderson, Michael, M. Richardson & A. Chemero. 2012. "Eroding the
Boundaries of Cognition: Implications of Embodiment." Topics in
Cognitive Science. 4: 717-30.
Anton, Susan, R. Potts & L. Aiello. 2014. “Evolution of early Homo: An
integrated biological perspective.” Science. Vol. 345. Issue 6192.
Arthur, W. Brian. 2009. The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How it
Evolves. Free Press.
Aunger, Robert. 2009. “Human Communication as Niche Construction.” From
Shennan, S., Editor. Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution.
University of California Press. Pp. 33-43.
Aunger, Robert & V. Curtis. 2016. Gaining Control: How Human Behavior
Evolved. Oxford UP.
Baccini, Peter & P. Brunner. 2012. Metabolism of the Anthroposphere:
Analysis, Evaluation, Design – second edition. MIT Press.
Bacon, Francis. 1620. Novum Organum: Book I. From 1955. Selected Writing
of Francis Bacon. Random House Modern Library.
Bardone, Emanuele. 2011. Seeking Chances: From Biased Rationality to
Distributed Cognition. Springer.
Bickhard, Mark. 2011. “Systems and Process Metaphysics.” Pp. 91-104.
From Hooker, C., D. Gabbay, P. Thagard & J. Woods, Eds. Philosophy of
Complex Systems. Volume 10 of Handbook of the Philosophy of Science.
Bishop, Robert. 2011. “Metaphysical and Epistemological Issues in
Complex Systems.” Pp. 105-136. From Hooker, C., D. Gabbay, P. Thagard &
J. Woods, Eds. Philosophy of Complex Systems. Volume 10 of Handbook of
the Philosophy of Science. Elsevier.
Borghi, Anna & Lucia Riggio. 2009. “Sentence comprehension and
simulation of object temporary, canonical and stable affordances.” Brain
Research. 1253. Pp. 117 128.
Boyd, Robert & P. Richerson. 2009. “Culture and the evolution of human
cooperation.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: B. 364,
Braakman, Rogier & Eric Smith. 2013. “The compositional and evolutionary
logic of metabolism.” Physical Biology. 10:011001. Pp. 1-62.
Bratman, Michael. 2014. Shared Agency: A Planning Theory of Acting
Together. Oxford UP.
Brogioli, Doriano. 2011. "Marginal stability in chemical systems and its
relevance in the origin of life." Physical Review E. 84, 031931.
Bunge, Mario. 2003. Emergence and Convergence: Qualitative Novelty and
the Unity of Knowledge. University of Toronto Press.
Burling, Robbins. 2005. The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved. Oxford
Butterfield, Nicholas. 2007. “Macroevolution and macroecology through
deep time.” Palaeontology. Vol. 50, Part 1, pp. 41-55.
Butterfield, Nicholas. 2011. “Animals and the invention of the
Phanerozoic Earth system.” Trends in Ecology and Evolution. Pp. 81-7.
Butterfill, Stephen. 2012. “Joint Action and Development.” The
Philosophical Quarterly. V. 62. No. 246. Pp. 23-47.
Butterfill, Stephen & N. Sebanz. 2011. “Editorial: Joint Action: What is
Shared?” Rev Phil Psych. 2:137-146.
Byrne, Richard. 2006. “Parsing Behavior: A Mundane Origin for an
Extraordinary Ability?” Pp. 478 505. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson.
Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Byrne, Richard & L. Bates. 2010. “Primate Social Cognition: Uniquely
Primate, Uniquely Social, or Just Unique?” Neuron. 65: 815-30.
Calcott, Brett & K. Sterelny, Eds. 2011. The Major Transitions In
Evolution Revisited. MIT Press.
Calvin, Sarah & V. Jirsa. 2010. “Perspectives on the Dynamic Nature of
Coupling in Human Coordination.” Pp. 91-114. Huys, Raoul & V.K. Jirsa (Eds).
Nonlinear Dynamics in Human Behavior. Springer.
Camazine, S., Deneubourg, Franks, Sneyd, Theraula, & Bonabeau. 2001.
Self-Organization in Biological Systems. Princeton University Press.
Carey, James. 1989. Communication As Culture: Essays on Media and
Chemero, Anthony. 2009. Radical Embodied Cognitive Science. MIT Press.
Clark, Andy & David Chalmers. 1998. "The Extended Mind." Analysis. 58.1
Clark, Andy. 2007. “Soft Selves and Ecological Control.” Pp. 101-22.
From Ross, Don, D. Spurrett & H. Kincaid. Distributed Cognition and the
Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press.
Clark, Andy. 2008. Supersizing the Mind: Embodiment, Action, and
Cognitive Extension. Oxford University Press.
Clark, Herbert. 1996. Using Language. Cambridge University Press.
Clarke, Ellen & S. Okasha. 2013. “Species and Organisms: What Are the
Problems?” Pp. 55 75. From Bouchard, Frederic & P. Huneman. From Groups
to Individuals: Evolution and Emerging Individuality. MIT Press.
Connolly, William. 2011. A World of Becoming. Duke University Press.
Corning, Peter & E. Szathmary. 2015. "‘Synergistic selection’: A
Darwinian frame for the evolution of complexity." Journal of Theoretical
Biology. 371: 45-58.
Costantini, Marcello & C. Sinigaglia. 2011. “Grasping Affordance: A
Window onto Social Cognition.” Pp. 431-460. From Seemann, Axel (Ed.)
Joint Attention: New Developments in Psychology, Philosophy of Mind, and
Social Neuroscience. MIT Press.
Cowley, Stephen. 2004. “Early hominins, utterance-activity, and niche
construction” Behavioral and Brain Sciences. August. Volume, 27:4. Pp.
Damer, Bruce & D. Deamer. 2015. “Coupled Phases and Combinatorial
Selection in Fluctuating Hydrothermal Pools: A Scenario to Guide
Experimental Approaches to the Origin of Cellular Life.” Life.
Danchin, E., L. Giraldeau & F. Cezilly. 2008. Behavioural Ecology.
Oxford University Press.
Davis, Tehran, M. Riley, K. Shockley & S. Cummins-Sebree. 2010.
“Perceiving affordances for joint actions.” Perception. Vol. 39, Pp.
De la Escosura, Andres, C. Briones & K. Ruiz-Mirazo. 2015. "The systems
perspective at the crossroads between chemistry and biology." Journal of
Theoretical Biology. 381: 11-22.
Deacon, Terrence. 1997. The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of
Language and the Brain. W.W. Norton.
Doyle, Margery. 2013. "Stigmergy 3.0: From ants to economies." Cognitive
Systems Research. 21: 1-6.
Dunbar, Robin. 2014. Human Evolution: A Pelican Introduction. Penguin
Egel, Richard. 2014. "Origins and Emergent Evolution of Life: The
Colloid Microsphere Hypothesis Revisited." Orig Life Evol Biosph. 44:
Eisenstein, Charles. 2007. The Ascent of Humanity: Civilization and the
Human Sense of Self. Evolver.
Ellis, Erle. 2011. “Anthropogenic transformation of the terrestrial
biosphere.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: A. 369:
Ellis, Nick & D. Larsen-Freeman, C. Beckner, R. Blythe, J. Bybee, M.
Christiansen, W. Croft, J. Holland, J. Ke & T. Schoenemann, Eds. 2009.
Language as a Complex Adaptive system. Wiley-Blackwell.
Enfield, N.J. "Social Consequences of Common Ground." Pp. 399-430. From
Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture,
Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Enfield, N.J. 2013. “Language, culture, and mind: trends and standards
in the latest pendulum swing.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological
Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture,
Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Fantasia, Valentina, H. De Jaegher & A. Fasulo. 2014. “We can work it
out: an enactive look at cooperation.” Frontiers of Psychology. August.
V. 5. Article 874.
Fitch, Tecumseh. 2010. The Evolution of Language. Cambridge University
Fox Keller, Evelyn. 2005. “Ecosystems, Organisms, and Machines.”
Fusaroli, Riccardo, N. Gangopadhyay & K. Tylen. 2014. “The dialogically
extended mind: Language as skilful intersubjective engagement.” Cogntive
Systems Research. 29-30: 31-39.
Gallotti, Mattia & C. Frith. 2013. “Social cognition in the we-mode.”
Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Vol. 17. No. 4. 160-5.
Gaukroger, Stephen. 2012. Objectivity: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford
Gellner, Ernest. 1988. Plough, Sword and Book: The Structure of Human
History. University of Chicago Press
Gellner, Ernest. 1992. Postmodernism, Reason and Religion. Routledge.
Gerson, Elihu. 2014. “Some Problems of Analyzing Cultural Evolution.”
Pp. 265-81. From Caporael, Linnda, J. Griesemer & W. Wimsatt, Eds.
Developing Scaffolds in Evolution, Culture, and Cognition. MIT Press.
Gianelli, Claudi, C. Scorolli & A. Borghi. 2013. “Acting in perspective:
the role of body and language as social tools.” Psychological Research.
Gibbs, Raymond. 2006. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. Cambridge
Gillespie, Michael Allen. 2008. The Theological Origins of Modernity.
University of Chicago Press
Goldberg, Adele. 2006. Constructions at Work: The Nature of
Generalization in Language. Oxford University Press.
Gregory, Brad. 2012. The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious
Revolution Secularized Society. Harvard University Press.
Grene, Marjorie & D. Depew. 2004. The Philosophy of Biology: An Episodic
History. Cambridge UP.
Hacking, Ian. 2000. The Social Construction of What? Harvard University
Hansma, Helen. 2014. "The Power of Crowding for the Origins of Life."
Orig Life Evol Biosph. 44:307-311.
Hazen, Robert. 2012. The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years,
from Stardust to Living Planet. Penguin.
He, Zhenfeng, W. Jiang & C. Schalley. 2015. "Integrative self-sorting: a
versatile strategy for the construction of complex supramolecular
architecture." Chem. Soc. Rev. 44: 779-89.
Hicks, Dan. 2010. “The Material Cultural Turn: event and effect.” Pp.
25-98. Hicks, Dan & M. Beaudry (Eds). The Oxford Handbook of Material
Culture Studies. Oxford UP.
Hicks, Dan & M. Beaudry. 2010. “Introduction: Material culture studies;
a reactionary view.” Pp. 1-21. Hicks, Dan & M. Beaudry (Eds). The Oxford
Handbook of Material Culture Studies. Oxford UP.
Hurford, James. 2007. The Origins of Meaning. Oxford University Press.
Hutchins, Edwin. 1995. Cognition in the Wild. MIT Press.
Hutchins, Edwin. 2006. “The Distributed Cognition Perspective on Human
Interaction.” Pp. 375-398. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. Roots of
Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Hutchins, Edwin. 2014. “The cultural ecosystem of human cognition.”
Philosophical Psychology. V. 27. No. 1. 34-49.
Iddo, Tavory, S. Ginsburg & E. Jablonka. 2014. “The Reproduction of the
Social: A Developmental System Approach.” Pp. 307-25. From Caporael,
Linnda, J. Griesemer & W. Wimsatt, Eds. Developing Scaffolds in
Evolution, Culture, and Cognition. MIT Press.
Ingold, Tim. 2006. “Against Human Nature.” Pp. 259-281. From Gontier,
Nathalie, J.P. Van Bendegem & D. Aerts, Editors. Evolutionary
Epistemology, Language and Culture: A Non-Adaptationist, Systems
Theoretical Approach. Springer.
Jablonka, Eva & M. Lamb. 2014. Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic,
Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life –
Revised Edition. MIT Press.
Jones, Andrew & Nicole Boivin. 2010. “The Malice of Inanimate Objects:
Material Agency.” Pp. 333-351. From Hicks, Dan & Mary Beaudry (Eds). The
Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies. Oxford University Press.
Jones, Peter. 2016. “‘Coordination’ (Herbert H Clark), ‘integration’
(Roy Harris) and the foundations of communication theory: common ground
or competing visions?” Language Sciences. 53:31-43.
Jordan, J. Scott. 2008. "Wild agency: nested intentionalities in
cognitive neuroscience and archaeology." Philosophical Transactions of
the Royal Society: B. 363: 1981-91.
Kaneko, Kunihiko. 2011. "Approach of Complex-Systems Biology to
Reproduction and Evolution." Pp. 241-59. From Meyer-Ortmanns, Hildegard
& Stefan Thurner (Eds.) Principles of Evolution: From the Planck Epoch
to Complex Multicellular Life. Springer.
Keating, Christine. 2012. "Aqueous Phase Separation as a Possible Route
to Compartmentalization of Biological Molecules." Accounts of Chemical
Research. V. 45, N. 12. Pp. 2114-24.
Kelso, J. A. Scott. Dynamic Patterns: The Self-Organization of Brain and
Behavior. 1995. MIT Press.
Kelso, J.A. Scott. 2012. "Multistability and metastability:
understanding dynamic coordination in the brain." Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society: B. 367: 906-18.
Kiverstein, Julian & M. Miller. 2015. “The embodied brain: towards a
radical embodied cognitive neuroscience.” Frontiers in Human
Neuroscience. V. 9. Art. 237.
Knoblich, Guenther & N. Sebanz. 2008. “Evolving intentions for social
interaction: from entrainment to joint action.” Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society: B. 363, 2021-31.
Koonin, Eugene. 2009. “The Origin at 150: is a new evolutionary
synthesis in sight?” Trends in Genetics. V. 25. No. 11. Pp. 473 5.
Koons, Robert & George Bealer, Editors. The Waning of Materialism. 2010.
Oxford University Press.
Kozo-Polyansky, B. & L. Margulis. 2010. Symbiogenesis: A New Principle
of Evolution. Harvard University Press.
Kuhn, Thomas. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Second
Edition. The University of Chicago Press.
Laland, K, Odling-Smee, F & M. Feldman. 2001. “Cultural niche
construction and human evolution.” Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 14:
Laland, Kevin, J. Odling-Smee & S. Gilbert. 2008. “EvoDevo and Niche
Construction: Building Bridges.” Pp. 549-566. Journal of Experimental
Zoology (Mol Dev Evol) 310B:549-566.
Laland, Kevin & M. O’Brien. 2010. “Niche Construction Theory and
Archaeology.” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. 17:303-322.
Laland, Kevin, T. Uller, M. Feldman, K. Sterelny, G. Mueller, A. Moczek,
E. Jablonka & J. Odling-Smee. 2015. “The extended evolutionary
synthesis: its structure, assumptions and predictions.” Proceedings B.
The Royal Society Publishing. 282: 20151019. Pp. 1-14.
Lehn, Jean-Marie. 2013. "Perspectives in Chemistry–steps towards Complex
Matter." Angewandte Chemie International Edition. 52; 2836-2850.
Levinson, Stephen. 2006. “On the Human ‘Interaction Engine.’” Pp. 39-69.
From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture,
Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Lewontin, Richard. 2000. The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and
Environment. Harvard University Press.
Lewontin, Richard. 2001. “Gene, Organism and Environment: A New
Introduction.” Susan Oyama, Paul Griffiths & Russell Gray (Eds). Cycles
of Contingency: Developmental Systems and Evolution. MIT Press.
Li, Jianwei, P. Nowak & S. Otto. 2013. "Dynamic Combinatorial Libraries:
From Exploring Molecular Recognition to Systems Chemistry." Journal of
the American Chemical Society. 135: 9222-39.
Logan, Robert. 2006. “The extended mind model of the origin of language
and culture.” Pp. 149-167. From Gontier, Nathalie, J.P. Van Bendegem &
D. Aerts, Editors. Evolutionary Epistemology, Language and Culture: A
Non-Adaptationist, Systems Theoretical Approach. Springer.
Lucas, Mikael, L. Laplaze & M. Bennett. 2011. “Plant systems biology:
network matters.” Plant, Cell and Environment. 34, 535-553.
MacKinnon, Katherine & A. Fuentes. 2012. “Primate Social Cognition,
Human Evolution, and Niche Construction: A Core Context for
Neuroanthropology.” Pp. 67-102. From Lende, Daniel & G. Downey (Eds).
The Encultured Brain: An Introduction to Neuroanthropology. MIT Press.
Malafouris, Lambros. 2013. How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of
Material Engagement. MIT Press.
Marsh, Kerry, L. Johnston, M. Richardson & R. Schmidt. 2009. “Toward a
radically embodied, embedded social psychology.” European Journal of
Social Psychology. 39: 1217-1225.
Maruyama, S, M. Ikoma, H. Genda, K. Hirose, T. Yokoyama & M. Santosh.
2013. "The naked planet Earth: Most essential pre-requisite for the
origin and evolution of life." Geoscience Frontiers. 4: 141-65.
Mazurie, A., D. Bonchev, B. Schwikowski & G. Buck. 2010. “Evolution of
metabolic network organization.” BMC Systems Biology. 4:59.
McGhee, George. 2011. Convergent Evolution: Limited Forms Most
Beautiful. MIT Press.
McShea, Daniel & C. Simpson. 2011. “The Miscellaneous Transitions in
Evolution.” Pp. 19-35. Calcott, Brett & K. Sterelny (Eds). The Major
Transitions in Evolution Revisited. MIT Press.
Melendez-Hevia, Enrique, N. Montero-Gomez & F. Montero. 2008. “From
prebiotic chemistry to cellular metabolismBThe chemical evolution of
metabolism before Darwinian natural selection.” Journal of Theoretical
Biology. 252(2008) 505-519.
Merleau-Ponty. Phenomenology of Perception. 1962. Routledge & Kegan.
Michod, Richard. 2011. “Evolutionary Transitions in Individuality:
Multicellularity and Sex.” Pp. 169-197. From Calcott, Brett & K.
Sterelny (Eds.) The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited. MIT Press.
Miller, Stanley & H. Urey. 1959. “A Production of Amino Acids under
Possible Primitive Earth Conditions.” Science. 117:528-9.
Mithen, Steven. 2003. After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000 -
5,000 BC. Harvard University Press.
Moczek, Armin, K. Sears, A. Stollewerk, P. Wittkopp, P. Diggle, I.
Dworkin, C. Ledon-Rettig, D. Matus, S. Roth, E. Abouheif, F. Brown, C.
Chiu, C. Cohen, A. Tomaso, S. Gilbert, B. Hall, A. love, D. Lyons, T.
Sanger, J. Smith, C. Specht, M. Vallejo-Marin & C. Extavour. 2015. “The
significance and scope of evolutionary developmental biology: a vision
for the 21st century.” Evolution & Development. 17:3, 198-219.
Moll, Henrike & M. Tomasello. 2007. “Cooperation and human cognition:
the Vygotskian intelligence hypothesis.” Philosophical Transactions of
The Royal Society. 362, 639-648.
Monebelli, Alberto, C. Herrera & T. Ziemke. 2008. "On Cognition as
Dynamical Coupling: An Analysis of Behavioral Attractor Dynamics."
Adaptive Behavior. V. 16(2/3): 182-195.
Moreno, Alvaro, K. Ruiz-Mirazo & X. Barandiaran. 2011. “The Impact of
the Paradigm of Complexity on the Foundational Frameworks of Biology and
Cognitive Science.” Pp. 311-333. From Hooker, C., D. Gabbay, P. Thagard
& J. Woods, Eds. Philosophy of Complex Systems. Volume 10 of Handbook of
the Philosophy of Science. Elsevier.
Morowitz, Harold. 1968. Energy Flow in Biology. Academic Press.
Morris, Simon Conway. 2009. “The predictability of evolution: glimpses
into a post-Darwinian world.” Naturwissenschaften. 96:1313-1337.
Mulkidjanian, Armen & Michael Galperin. 2007. “Physico-Chemical and
Evolutionary Constraints for the Formation and Selection of First
Biopolymers: Towards the Consensus Paradigm of the Abiogenic Origin of
Life.” Chemistry & Biodiversity. Vol. 4. Pp. 2003-2015.
Mulkidjanian, Armen, A. Bychkov, D. Dibrova, M. Galperin, & E. Koonin.
2012. "Origin of first cells at terrestrial, anoxic geothermal fields."
PNAS. Feb 13, 2012: E821-E830.
Nagel, Thomas. 2012. Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian
Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. Oxford University Press.
Nash, Joshua & P. Muhlhausler. 2014. "Linking language and the
environment: the case of Norf’k and Norfolk Island." Language Sciences.
Newman, Stuart. 2011. “Complexity in Organismal Evolution.” Pp. 335-354.
From Hooker, C., D. Gabbay, P. Thagard & J. Woods, Eds. Philosophy of
Complex Systems. Volume 10 of Handbook of the Philosophy of Science.
Nicolis, Gregoire & Catherine Nicolis. 2012. Foundations of Complex
Systems. World Scientific.
Noble, Denis. 2015. "Evolution beyond neo-Darwinism: a new conceptual
framework." The Journal of Experimental Biology. 218: 7-13.
Nolfi, Stefano. 2005. “Behaviour as a Complex Adaptive System: On the
Role of Self-Organization in the Development of Individual and
Collective Behaviour.” ComPlexUs. 2:195-203.
Nolfi, Stefano, T. Ikegami & J. Tani. 2008. “Editorial: Behavior and
Mind as a Complex Adaptive System.” Adaptive Behavior. 16:101-3.
Norris, Vic. 2014. "What Properties of Life Are Universal?
Substance-Free, Scale-free Life." Orig Life Evol Biosph. 44: 363-367.
Nyhart, Lynn & S. Lidgard. 2011. "Individuals at the Center of Biology:
Rudolf Leuckart’s Polymorphismus der Individuen and the Ongoing
Narrative of Parts and Wholes. With an Annotated Translation." Journal
of the History of Biology. 44: 373-443.
Odling-Smee, F. John, Kevin Laland & Marcus Feldman. 2003. Niche
Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution. Princeton University
Odling-Smee, John & K. Laland. 2009. “Cultural niche construction:
evolution’s cradle of language.” Pp. 99-121. From Botha, Rudolf & C.
Knight. The Prehistory of Language. Oxford University Press.
Olsen, Bjornar. 2010. In Defense of Things: Archaeology and the Ontology
of Objects. AltaMira Press.
Palsson, Bernhard. 2006. Systems Biology: Properties of Reconstructed
Networks. Cambridge University Press.
Pascal, Robert & A. Pross. 2014. "The nature and mathematical basis for
material stability in the chemical and biological worlds." Journal of
Systems Chemistry. 5:3.
Pearl, Judea. 2000. Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference.
Cambridge University Press.
Pezzulo, Giovanni. 2012. “The ‘Interaction Engine’: A Common Pragmatic
Competence Across Linguistic and Nonlinguistic Interactions.” IEEE
Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development. 4(2): 105-23.
Pezzulo, G. & H. Dindo. 2011. “What should I do next? Using shared
representations to solve interaction problems.” Exp Brain Res. 211:
Pickering, Andrew. 2008. The Mangle in Practice: Science, Society, and
Becoming. Duke University Press.
Pigliucci, Massimo & G. Mueller. 2010. Evolution – the Extended
Synthesis. MIT Press.
Pinker, Steven. 2007. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates
Powers, Simon, C. Van Schaik & L. Lehmann. 2016. “How institutions
shaped the last major evolutionary transition to large-scale human
societies.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: B.
Putnam, Hilary. 1996. “Is There Still Anything to Say about Reality and
Truth?” Pp. 11-28. From McCormick, Peter (Ed). Starmaking: Realism,
Anti-Realism, and Irrealism. MIT Press.
Quental, Tiago & C. Marshall. 2013. “How the Red Queen Drives
Terrestrial Mammals to Extinction.” Science. July 19. Vol. 341: 290-2.
Reed, Edward S. 1996. Encountering the World: Toward an Ecological
Psychology. Oxford University Press.
Reid, Robert. 2007. Biological Emergences: Evolution by Natural
Experiment. MIT Press.
Richerson, Peter & Robert Boyd. 2005. Not by Genes Alone: How Culture
Transformed human Evolution. University of Chicago Press.
Ross, Don. 2007. “Introduction: Science catches the Will.” Pp. 1-16.
From Ross, Don, D. Spurrett & H. Kincaid. Distributed Cognition and the
Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press.
Ross, Don. 2013. "The Evolution of Individualistic Norms." Pp. 17-43.
From: Sterelny, Kim, R. Joyce, B. Calcott & B. Fraser (Eds). Cooperation
and Its Evolution. MIT Press.
Ruiz-Mirazo, Kepa, C. Briones & A. De la Escosura. 2014. "Prebiotic
Systems Chemistry: New Perspectives for the Origins of Life." Chemical
Reviews. 114: 285-366.
Sawyer, R. Keith. Social Emergence: Societies as Complex Systems. 2005.
Cambridge University Press.
Scott-Phillips, Thomas, K. Laland, D. Shuker, T. Dickins & S. West.
2013. “The Niche Construction Perspective: A Critical Appraisal.”
Evolution. 68-5: 1231-1243.
Searle, John. 2010. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human
Civilization. Oxford University Press.
Seyfarth, Robert & D. Cheney. 2015. “Social cognition.” Animal Behaviour.
Shapiro, Robert. 2006. ""Small molecule interactions were central to the
origin of life." The Quarterly Review of Biology. Vol. 81. No. 2.
Sinha, Chris. 2015. “Language and other artifacts: socio-cultural
dynamics of niche construction.” Frontiers in Psychology. V. 6. Art.
Smil, Vaclav. 2002. The Earth’s Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and
Change. MIT Press.
Smith, Eric. 2013. “Emergent order in processes: the interplay of
complexity, robustness, correlation, and hierarchy in the biosphere.”
Pp. 191-223. From Lineweaver, Charles, P. Davies & M. Ruse (Eds).
Complexity and the Arrow of Time. Cambridge University Press.
Smolin, Lee. 1997. The Life of the Cosmos. Oxford University Press.
Stallins, J. Anthony. 2012. “Scale, causality, and the new
organism-environment interaction.” Geoforum. 3: 427-441.
Sterelny, Kim. 2010. “Minds: extended or scaffolded?” Phenom Cogn Sci.
Sterelny, Kim. 2012a. The Evolved Apprentice: How Evolution Made Humans
Unique. Bradford Book, MIT Press.
Sterelny, Kim. 2012b. "Language, gesture, skill: the co-evolutionary
foundations of language." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society: B. 367: 2141-51.
Sterelny, Kim, R. Joyce, B. Calcott, & B. Fraser (Eds). 2013.
Cooperation and Its Evolution. MIT Press.
Stock, Gregory. 1993. Metaman: The Merging of Humans and Machines into a
Global Superorganism. Simon & Schuster.
Stout, Dietrich & T. Chaminade. 2009. “Making Tools and Making Sense:
Complex, Intentional Behaviour in Human Evolution.” Cambridge
Archaeological Journal. 19(1): 85-96.
Stotz, Karola. 2014. “Extended evolutionary psychology: the importance
of transgenerational developmental plasticity.” Frontiers in Psychology.
V. 5. Article 908.
Stout, Dietrich & T. Chaminade. 2009. “Making Tools and Making Sense:
Complex, Intentional Behaviour in Human Evolution.” Cambridge
Archaeological Journal. 19(1): 85-96
Streeck, Juergen, C. Goodwin & C. LeBaron. 2011. “Embodied Interaction
in the Material World: An Introduction.” Pp. 1-26. From Streeck, Juergen,
C. Goodwin & C. LeBaron. Embodied Interaction: Language and Body in the
Material World. Cambridge University Press.
Strogatz, Steven. 1994. Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos: With Applications
to Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering. Perseus.
Stutz, Aaron. 2014. “Embodied niche construction in the hominin lineage:
semiotic structure and sustained attention in human embodied cognition.”
Frontiers in Psychology. Vol. 5. Art. 834. August.
Szary, Janelle, R. Dale, C. Kello & T. Rhodes. 2015. “Patterns of
interaction-dominant dynamics in individual versus collaborative memory
foraging.” Cogn Process. 16:389-99.
Szathmary, Eors & J. Smith. 1995. “The major evolutionary transitions.”
Nature. V. 374. March 16. 227-32.
Szostak, Jack. 2011. "An optimal degree of physical and chemical
heterogeneity for the origin of life?" Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society: B. 366: 2894-2901.
Thacker, Eugene. 2010. After Life. University of Chicago Press.
Thalos, Mariam. 2011. “Two Conceptions of Fundamentality.” Philosophy of
the Social Sciences. 41(2): 151-177.
Theiner, Georg. 2014. “Onwards and Upwards with the Extended Mind: From
Individual to Collective Epistemic Action.” Pp. 191-208. From Caporael,
Linnda, J. Griesemer & W. Wimsatt, Eds. Developing Scaffolds in
Evolution, Culture, and Cognition. MIT Press.
Thompson, Evan. 2007. Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the
Sciences of Mind. Harvard University Press.
Thompson, Travis. 2007. “Relations among functional systems in behavior
analysis.” Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. 87,
Tilley, Christopher, W. Keane, S. Kuechler-Fogden, M. Rowlands & P.
Spyer (Eds). 2006. Handbook of Material culture. Sage.
Tomasello, Michael. 2003. Constructing a Language: A Usage Based Theory
of Language Acquisition. Harvard University Press.
Tomasello, Michael. 2008. Origins of Human Communication. MIT Press.
Tomasello, Michael. 2009. Why We Cooperate. MIT Press.
Tomasello, Michael. 2014. A Natural History of Human Thinking. Harvard
Tu, Weiming. 1998. “The Continuity of Being: Chinese Visions of Nature.”
Tucker, Mary Evelyn and J. Berthrong (Eds). Confucianism and Ecology:
The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans. Harvard University Press
(Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions).
Tuttle, Russell. 2014. Apes and Human Evolution. Harvard UP.
Uryu, Michiko, S. Steffensen & C. Kramsch. 2014. "The ecology of
intercultural interaction: timescales, temporal ranges and identity
dynamics." Language Sciences. 41: 41-59.
Van Schaik, Carel & J. Burkart. 2011. "Social learning and evolution:
the cultural intelligence hypothesis." Philosophical Transactions of the
Royal Society: B. 366: 1008-1016.
Visco-Comandini, Federica, S. Ferrari-Toniolo, E. Satta, O.
Papazachariadis, R. Gupta, L. Nalbant & A. Battaglia-Mayer. 2015. “Do
non-human primates cooperate? Evidences of motor coordination during a
joint action task in macaque monkeys.” Cortex. 70:115-127.
Voit, Eberhard. 2013. A First Course in Systems Biology. Garland
Von Kiedrowski, Guenter, S. Otto & P. Herdewign. 2010. "Welcome Home,
Systems Chemists!" Journal of Systems Chemistry. 1: 1.
Waechtershaeuser, Guenter. 2012. "Origin of Life: RNA World Versus
Autocatalytic Anabolist." The Prokaryotes – Prokaryotic Biology and
Symbiotic Associations. Pp. 81-8. Rosenberg, Eugene, E. DeLong, E.
Stackebrandt, S. Lory & F. Thompson (Eds.) Springer.
Wan, Poe Yu-ze. 2011. “Emergence a la Systems Theory: Epistemological
Totalausschluss or Ontological Novelty?” Philosophy of the Social
Wegner, Daniel & B. Sparrow. 2007. “The Puzzle of Coaction.” Pp. 17-37.
From Ross, Don, D. Spurrett & H. Kincaid. Distributed Cognition and the
Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press.
West-Eberhard, Mary Jane. 2003. Developmental Plasticity and Evolution.
Oxford University Press.
Westerhoff, Hans, C. Winder, H. Messiha, E. Simeonidis, M. Adamczyk, M.
Verma, F. Bruggerman & W. Dunn. 2009. "Systems Biology: The elements and
principles of Life." FEBS Letters. 583: 3882-90.
Whiten, Andrew & D. Erdal. “The human socio-cognitive niche and its
evolutionary origins.” 2012. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society: B. 367: 2119-2129.
Willard, Charles Arthur. 1996. Liberalism and the Problem of Knowledge:
A New Rhetoric for Modern Democracy. University of Chicago Press.
Williams, R. & J. Frausto da Silva. 1999. Bringing Chemistry to Life
from Matter to Man. Oxford University Press.
Williams, R.J.P. & J.J.R. Frausto da Silva. 2006. The Chemistry of
Evolution: The Development of our Ecosystem. Elsevier.
Williams, R. & R. Rickaby. 2012. Evolution’s Destiny: Co-evolving
Chemistry of the Environment and Life. The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Wimsatt, William. 2008. “Aggregativity: Reductive Heuristics for Finding
Emergence.” Pp. 99-110. From Bedau, Mark & P. Humphreys (Eds.)
Emergence: Contemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science. MIT Press.
Woese, Carl. 2004. “A New Biology for a New Century.” Microbiology and
Molecular Biology Reviews. 68(2):173-186.
Wynn, Thomas, R. Adriana Hernandez-Aguilar, L. Marchant & W. McGrew.
2011. “‘An Ape’s View of the Oldowan’ Revisited.” Evolutionary
Young, Kenneth. 2016. “Biogeography of the Anthropocene: Domestication.”
Progress in Physical Geography. 40:161-174.