Home Up

Manuscript from December 2013, incomplete, critiqued, and abandoned ["NN" in parenthesis indicates that an endnote or reference is still needed; illustrations failed to upload]

Systemism: The Reality of Life and the Life of Reality

Abstract: The nature of the interface between humans and the environment is explored from evolution and through philosophy. Use is made of the complex systems perspective either through the wide ranging systems incursions into biology or through recent calls in philosophy to found ontology based on a systemically strengthened materialism. This potential new ontology is explored in the evolution of the human environment to explore the systemic aspects of our environment.

Before examining the interface of human behaviors and the environment, a short review attempts to distinguish the potential of systems theory in philosophy and biology to distinguish it from the traditional approach of agent with fixed environment. The promise of systems thinking in biology to address fundamental issues including the big question of what is life and the deep challenges in evolutionary theory often related to the separation of agent and environment is established. Moving into human evolution, an hypothesis of a collective behavior-environment interface is put forward. It takes the behavioral accumulation attributed to human evolution including the appearance of two-organism coordinated behaviors and the behaviorally compatible aspects of objects as a mutual continuum. The compatibility of behavior with a systemic understanding as well as the behavioral-systems supporting role of objects are explored for feasibility and reciprocal support. These behavioral systems of social individuals show a dynamics with the evolving environmental constraints of objects that have been ignored under the simplifying assumption of working with given boundary conditions. The distribution of matter and the interactional probabilities of matter and organisms in the human environment reveal highly skewed probabilities. Reality as well as life reveal a deep kinship in systemic materialism.

The following builds an hypothesis about the nature of the interface between humans and our environment. To speak of an “interface” is already to pull the focus away from the modern default of the given, objective environment as a cognition challenge and towards some process with a mutual dimension. Two other framing shifts will also be helpful. The first is to underline the magnitude of the relevance of complex systems. And the second is to assess the current state of fundamental issues in biology since within it today, not only are the challenges wide, but they rattle old basic philosophical presumptions about the separation of organism and environment or of human and reality. Without careful attention to philosophy and biology together, the risk is to try to reform philosophy through a biology that is already carrying an old worldview. This circular trap applies equally in the reverse direction.

1 Systems ontology

Using systems theory as the basis for a new foundational paradigm has recently been put forward (Bunge 2003; Bickhard 2011; Thalos 2011). A premise is that prevalent, non-linear aspects of the world offer a metaphysics that skirts the problems of either atomistic materialism or holisms. Emphasizing the importance if not the foundational potential of systems, Hooker (2011, 3) has stated that “[t]he impact of complex systems on science is a recent, ongoing and profound revolution.” He goes on to say that “the complex systems-driven revolution is as deep as the revolutions in physics a century ago, but much wider in impact, even if they do not disturb our sense of fundamental reality in the same way.” (2011, 6). The position upheld here is that a systems ontology, or an “emergentist materialism” as Bunge (2003, 147) called it or “systemism” for Thalos (2011, 162), is indeed a revolution that can offer a foundational metaphysics and that does disturb our fundamental sense of reality.

1.1 System principles rather than systems

It is important to approach a systems ontology not as systems as entities, thereby smuggling in a host of substance preconceptions, but as a range of features – mechanisms and effects. The concepts in the systems family of ideas – complex adaptive systems, self-organization, emergence, self-organized criticality, phase transitions, complexity, dynamic systems, networks, non-linearity, circular causality, etc. (NN) – are now ubiquitous, and seemingly all fields have turned to systems theory to a significant degree – e.g., sociology (Sawyer 2005; Padgett & Powell 2012), economics (Beinhocker 2006), theory of mind (Spivey), biology (Palsson, Alon), linguistics (Ellis & Larsen-Freeman 2009), and history (Wallerstein). Not only are systems ideas and systems fields widespread but systems phenomena are considered to be extremely common. Three measures of what is classified as emergent or complex are: Wimsatt’s concept of non-aggregativity (Wimsatt 2008?; Wan 2011); anything that fails "linear superposition" (Bishop 2011, 128); and internal bonding as opposed to atomism (Thalos 2011, 161). These first two define complex phenomena negatively as being unlike simple aggregates that behave invariantly when rearranged or have their size changed. And both reveal that such non-aggregates are all around. The last defining aspect treats relationships prior to building blocks.

What is not ubiquitous is any agreement about system concepts – about what a complex system is or what general mathematics unifies the field (Hooker 2011, 8). The fecundity of the field appears to be well ahead of its unification. However, the many models, concepts, examples, etc., can be an advantage for a systemic ontology to be able to work from system attributes rather than any prototypical system. Loosely, such phenomena as positive and negative reinforcement, other non-linear causal motifs, local interactions, certain types of constraints, etc. will be described as system mechanisms while such signs of self-organization as attractors, multistationarity, and phase transitions will be referred to as system effects. Together they will be called system features or attributes.

With such a background of a possible systemic ontology, the nature of the interface between humans and their environment will be explored. Such a question must be approached through biology; so it is to biology and its connections to systems theory that frames must first be sought.

2 The reality of life

Biology now increasingly uses systems theory, but it is more typically used for specific systems rather than fundamentally (Palsson 2006, Alon 2007). The following, brief overview of trends and issues in biology will attempt to 1) establish how thoroughly complex systems ideas have penetrated biology; 2) examine the extent of issues in contemporary biology and their relations to systems theory; and 3; consider the larger, foundational issues around biology that cross into other fields.

2.1 Trends in evolutionary theory

Currently systems biology is a fast-growing rage that is, however, seen more as a tool for specific molecular networks than as an opening to larger questions. There are issues. In fact, evolutionary theory appears to be undergoing a big shift so that even moderate voices can speak of a coming "extended synthesis" (Pigliucci & Mueller 2010). In the center of view are several new explorations that do not fit easily within the Modern Synthesis – evolutionary development theory (West-E 2003, Newman 2011), niche construction, symbiogenesis, and inherent self-organization. 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, Odling-Smee et al 2003). Symbiogenesis is the process of having organisms of two or more species come together to form a new, combined species – an extreme form of symbiosis that has happened at least a few significant times (Kozo-Polyansky 2010). Some have even underscored the radicality of this type of evolution by speaking of evolution as “bi-phasic” (Koonin 2007). That organisms might be made up of fundamental principles of organization has resurfaced in a strong way (Camazine et al 2001, Newman 2011). The issue is whether evolution can tinker its way freely into almost any structure or whether the rules of biological organization only give evolution restricted types of organisms to select among. Stronger still is the claim, with significant evidence by some, that biological form is not only self-organized to restricted forms but also highly convergent among evolutionary lines so that, for example, bats and birds converged on the same basic wing structure (McGhee 2011, Morris 2008). One critic, in noting all these challenges, laments that researchers on these various issues are isolated and unable “to escape the vortex of Darwinism” (Reid 2007, 422).

These issues have common themes which appear to relate to systems concepts. For evo-devo and niche construction theory the implication is that organisms “select” their environment which in turn selects the further evolution of their species. For symbiogenesis it is the organisms of other species which effect the further evolution of another. Both of these invoke reinforcement patterns either with the environment or between other species. Self-organization and convergence are patently an invocation of system effects.

2.2 Trends in study of origin of life

Turning to research on the origin of life or even its wider field in astrobiology, the research direction can be said to be reversed. Rather than working with the species or the organism as the starting point from which organism-to-environment or organism-to-organism complications arise as above, studies are conducted before any organism. By all accounts for a time on the order of a hundred million years or so in a pre-cellular phase, there was rich chemical activity especially at certain spots on or near earth’s surface. This continuity is logically important for materialists against any holistic claims, but from an emergentist materialism perspective the richness of the continuity underscores a systemic aspect of nature. A sample of this continuity is highlighted.

The self-organization of life is divided into three main camps, depending on which came first – metabolism, replication, or compartments. For the latter two there are still some assumptions about a “preparatory metabolism” to supply the monomers and energy (Pascal & Boiteau 2011, 2949). From the metabolism first viewpoint there is a wide distribution of processes and phases for these over the tens to hundreds of millions of years for the emergence of cells in the life process. Egel speaks of some seven phases (e.g., “RNA-assisted peptide synthesis” phase) before what he calls “cellular escape” when something like a Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) emerged and initiated r-selection type evolution (Egel 2011, 342-4). He and colleagues can speak in promising detail over each of those phases (Egel et al 2011). Morowitz and Smith speak of the more stable thermodynamic flow of small metabolites on which even the selection of macromolecules regulating these flows depends (Smith & Morowitz 2008, 406-8). “Chemical selection” is a recognized process that favors thermodynamically more stable molecules (Melendez-Hevia et al 2008, 516).

The processes that ran these many phases in self-organization over many millions of years – buildup of concentrations, repetitive steps, circular causality among types of reactions, reinforcements of rates by catalysts, etc. – are all mechanisms that turn molecular assemblies into non-aggregates, system mechanisms. Jacob (2004; quoted in Lucas et al 2011, 535) could say that “... every object that biology studies is a system of systems.” Those who study the origin of life are saying something more like ‘every conceivable hurdle of life’s origin can be explained by a sequence of system mechanisms.’ Similarly Hooker (2011, 39) can claim that system biologists today are well on their way to explaining life’s principles: “... it is pretty clear that, at least in principle, complex systems provide resources for modeling, and hence explaining, each of them [Mayr’s seven principles of life, e.g., metabolism, regeneration, growth, ... (Mayr 2004)] and molecular systems and synthetic biology are between them well on the way to doing so.”

Among the potential life principles – the thermodynamic requirement of generating order by trading away more disorder, the necessity of a solvent like water, the features of bilayer vesicles, network reaction architectures, properties of specific chemical elements, temperature/pressure ranges, and even fine tuned cosmic constants (Luisi 2006; Schulze-Makuch & Irwin 2008; Barrow et al 2008) – three contributing to system dynamics are worth highlighting.

The first is energy flow and the resulting almost steady states of matter cycling that result from its continuity. Mulkidjanian can note that: “We would like to emphasize that formation and maintaining of increasingly complex biopolymers could proceed only if supported by a constant flow of utilizable energy. This consideration severely constrains otherwise plausible hypotheses of origin of life under impact bombardment that tend to treat emergence of life as a one-time event.” (Mulkidjanian & Galperin 2007, P. 2005) Continuous energy flow through a system results in both cycles and energized molecules (Cornish-Bowden 2004, 90; Morowitz 1968, 33).

The second potential feature is the existence of reinforcement patterns to flows. This goes by a variety of names – for example, autocatalysis, feedback, circular causality by event type, closed loops, non-linearity, systems biology, systems motifs, or network topology. [NN?] Even basic replication (Pross 2012) can be considered as a reinforcement pattern since a replicator non-linearly catalyzes other identical molecules.

The third and last potential feature of life’s emergence worth highlighting is the existence of unique boundary conditions such as the famous biopolymers (e.g., proteins and ribonucleic acids). Boundary conditions can include larger collections of particles such as self-organizing lipid membranes, but the concept is applicable to unique molecules. Thinking of a special biomolecule such as a catalyst or a genetic segment as a boundary condition shifts the frame of reference from a source of special powers to a physics concept where a particular physical structure results in different deterministic interactions with other molecules than, say, the proverbial billiard ball. A biopolymer shows two special features. One, it has very specific effects on certain other molecules, and two, its own origin is deterministically very similar to a large number of other polymers of similar length (Pattee & Kull 2011, 214). The second of these – large differences from similar factors of origin – is another aspect of boundary conditions, their quasi-arbitrariness, but magnified since such large specificity changes result with only slight changes in sequence. Smith and Morowitz can say that: “small free energy differences among different sequences, ... [make] the energetic landscape of sequence space flat compared with that of the metabolites themselves so that “[p]olymer sequences are therefore much more likely to be governed by sampling bias in evolutionary history than are metabolites” and that “the informational and regulatory character of life emerges with this class [polymers]” (Smith & Morowitz 2008, 406) It should be noted that biopolymers or unique boundary conditions fill all of Wimsatt’s conditions for non-aggregativity. Others have referred to what is here highlighted as boundary conditions as constraints, memory, or information. [NN?]

2.3 Foundational issues that push the boundaries of biology

The above reportage of trends within biology makes clear that systems have thoroughly infiltrated biology which is likely to continue given the extent of the issues. There are other, wider issues which can be framed as biological but which, however, cross discipline boundaries and also appear to invite system concepts in addressing them. The following problematics will be considered: the strict separation of environment and organism, the focus on life’s exemplars rather than on life’s principles with the attendant buried assumption that there is some unknown specialness called “life,” the avoidance of any theory on the general shape of macroevolution, and the reliance on not-so-firm concepts of organism and species.

Lewontin frames the traditional assumption of an organism separate from its environment: “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 2001, 59 60) This assumption is problematic when, for example, it is contrasted with the recognition that organisms depend on being open thermodynamically with the environment. A bigger problem from the “meta-structure” of dualism is that the focus on matter alone left the concept of life itself, like mind, as a special substance that had no discernible origin other than “lucky chance.” Thus, notions of some sort of a quasi-miraculous quality fostered forms of vitalism, Panspermia, and other creator origins that have still not died out.

Thacker (2010) points out that since Aristotle the tradition of biology has wavered between focusing on life exemplars (living organisms) and searching for a principle of life itself, often conflated in the middle ages with a search for god. Aristotle pursued both; Scholastics focused on the principles of life; and science now focuses on the mechanics of exemplars.

The upshot is that biology has hedged its bets twice – once, to focus on the organism in relative isolation from the environment, and twice, to focus on organisms as distinct from any principle of life. It is here that a general embrace of a principle of systemics offers the potential of a principle of life and a balancing concept to the organism.

The observations that evolution has a general shape, macroevolution, is occasionally named (Smith & Szathmary 1999) but more often avoided (McShea & Simpson 2011). These qualitative jumps in evolution seem to involve shifts in identity (Michod 2011). If this issue is to be addressed, it would seem that systemic principles would have a chance whereas a bare principle of “living thing” would not. Discussions of network architecture do reveal self-organized structures. [Kitano 2007; Ciliberti et al 2007] Discussions of major transitions (in macroevolution) do broach systemic principles. [NN]

A literature review by Clarke and Okasha (2013) reveal that the concepts of organism and of species are defined in many, non-overlapping ways. Ulvestad (2007, 73), in tracking the inhomogeneous composition of organisms, states that “It is thus clear that our intuitive notions of organismal being are imprecise.” The boundary of a putative organism is now unrecognizable when organism-environment cross-causality has been explored within eco-evo-devo – a property shared with systems (Hooker book guy NN). The extent to which organisms and environment interpenetrate can be seen from Piersma and van Gils’ conclusion to a study of a migrating shore bird, the red knot:

“... although bodies and environments are recognizable entities, they really are inseparable.... we also find that the genetic system that we all work with is just one of five such possible inheritance systems. Since organisms not only provide the beginnings and nurture of their offspring, but also build the environments in which they and their offspring live, there are very tight feedbacks of reciprocal causation, both in the development of organisms and in the relationships between the developing organism and their environments. Bodies are earth, and we would do well to acknowledge that in the ways that we study them.” (Piersma & van Gils 2011, 184)

There are other critiques of the species concept. Within contemporary biology species has become a statistical concept to define its members (Bedau 2007, 467). From a systems perspective, a species can be a single process or individual that is just spread out (Bickhard 2011, 101). The chemists, Williams and da Silva, posit a chemical view of evolution that dispenses with species and describes evolution as chemical phases (Williams & da Silva 2006). They also emphasize continuity with the environment: “... we shall describe cellular evolution as being at all times within an energised advancing environment.” (Williams & da Silva 2006, 127) In their view a “chemotype” (as opposed to genotype) is the signature of a chemical age – “The term chemotype is not just analytically descriptive but includes concentrations, energy content, space limitations and organisation, and is therefore a comprehensive thermodynamic description.” (Williams & da Silva 2006, 421) The chemotypes map roughly with known evolutionary epochs, e.g., anaerobic prokaryotes or aerobic prokaryotes. Their last phase is the human era of the last 10,000 years where their trends continue as the number of elements employed has increased to virtually the whole table of elements, compartmentalization has increased significantly, and energy input has increased markedly.

2.4 Systemic principles as principles of life

In line with the claim that systems principles are an inherent part of our world, it is argued that for biology systems concepts are more than a practical methodology. It appears that they possess a range great enough to explain the origin of life. And, without any plausible alternative to otherwise explaining life’s origin, they become probably necessary as well as sufficient.

And, as indicated above, systems concepts have the potential to address the many issues facing evolutionary theory which, often enough, encounter problems crossing the heretofore too strict conceptual and theoretical boundaries of organisms. Systems concepts do more than that; they offer one level of complexity for the common cases from physics such as the B-Z reaction while allowing much more complex network architectures in life examples. Moreno et al suggest that certain system features “... are missing from the complex dynamic models of the standard sciences of complexity, and suggests that biological and cognitive systems hide not only more complexity than physical systems, but rather different forms of it.” (Moreno et al 2011, 314) Davies (2003) argues convincingly that system concepts better explain biological functions than does the historical success from selection. Complex systems features supply the missing creative aspect to a biology with only a selectionist account, or as Reid (2007, 15) says: “Darwin and his descendants have not formulated a generative synthesis. Their hypothesis only circumscribes the demographic fate of novelties.”

This brief overview is meant to establish that complex systems ideas are thoroughly penetrating the huge field of modern biology that is faced with broad, deep, and exciting challenges. This background will now shape an inquiry into the human phase of evolution, a deep discontinuity of its own.

3 The life of reality

Beyond the relevance of systemic materialism for explaining life, it should also be able to explain other basic phenomena especially those that have remained poorly explained by generic materialism – mind, agency, language, self and a host of concepts that have been exiled to the humanities as sui generis special categories applicable to humans – morality, art, personality and so forth. In fact, all of the ones mentioned and many more have been studied as complex systems (In order – Spivey 2007; Murphy & Brown 2007; Ellis et al 2009; Ross et al 2007; Fox 2006; Boyd 2009; Shoda et al 2002). Beyond these contained studies of complex systems it is worth considering an exploration of reality itself as a complex system(s). It is here that systemic materialism as a distinct ontology can test if it challenges our sense of reality. Tackling the systemic nature of reality itself will bring the piecemeal individual studies of systemic phenomena such as of mind and of agency into a more comprehensive light.

The claim, stated negatively, is roughly, just as there is no homunculus in the head to view our representations (Dennett 1991), there is also no theater for free outside the head that turns the matter and radiation of our surroundings into the conceptual traffic that we use with ourselves and with each other and that selects batches of matter for our usability on stage. That the rose and the sunset get all the credit while it is we who tease out the scent and the beauty has long been noted by philosophers such as Whitehead. That humans unique among animals acquire the ability to tease out a ‘world’ of meaning from any environment has also been noted [Von Uexküll 1934). The problem is that our simple materialism metaphysics posits only matter with the dualistic observer peering with the god’s-eye-view and with human actions as yet another category of intervention into the supposedly independently given matter. Any potential interface of shaping and being shaped by is overlooked. It is here that a systemic materialism can have the subtlety to address a potential interface.

The claim, stated positively, is that human evolution expanded behavioral systems to create overlapping behaviors (e.g., cooperation) and networks of shared handles to matter so that these, with gradually added niche constructed enhancements, set up widespread reinforcements among human behaviors, coupled behaviors, and the artefacts of their common ground. The issue is not the objects themselves but how we traffic with them, how their distribution effects who we are in our trafficking with them, and the interplay between these. This thinking follows in spirit thinkers such as Dewey, von Uexküll, Vygotsky, and Bateson [NN] with ideas on the brain-environment arc or the ecological psychology of Gibson [NN]. But complex systems ideas are in place now. And the missing piece is to move from organism behavioral-environmental systems to their collective dimension.

3.1 Shifting perspectives

To give a feel for the nature of this proposal and for the subtle shift in today’s academic terrain, consider how the language and concepts are shifting. Using an example from archaeology, it has been the usual practice to speak of early humans as doers in their environment, much like we conceive ourselves. For example, Mithen (1996, 104) speaks of H. habilis and their activities with stone nodules that were moved from their sources with language such as “transport” and “prediction” and “carried.” This casually action-protagonist view can be contrasted with the view of Gamble (2007, 231) in describing the fire pits and hearths of early humans (much later than H. habilis times) where there is a collective, systemic hue:

“The fires they contain have to be cared for. Ash and cinders need to be raked out and dumped elsewhere while activities that fragment things in order to enchain and accumulate feed them with leaves, wood, bone and peat.... Hearths attract bodies and care for them by providing warmth and keeping predators beyond the circle. The relationship is reciprocal. Hearths need those social agents if they are to grow, while people need the social technology of hearths, not just for practical reasons, but to involve others in projects. Hearths are an emotional resource for a diurnal animal. They have always formed a focus for the childscape because they act as nodes in the net gathering people into those intimate and effective networks. Fire and people form a ring of agency, a hybrid project.”

When in the past the metaphysics of humans acting on a fairly separate environment is taken for granted; in the quote a different view of the interaction of humans and objects is entertained that has system elements of reinforcement even if not called out. This flavor catches the direction of exploring humans and their environment where a systemic interface might appear and how research is pushing against the limits of our foundational metaphysics.

3.2 Problems of materialism / dualism

Before turning to the steps to build reality as a human-matter behavioral interface, it will be helpful to point out how shattered are our philosophical foundations that continue seemingly by inertia and how weak are the current conceptions of cultural evolution. The working assumption is that these should be tackled in tandem to avoid the problems of building a cultural evolutionary bridge to erroneous philosophical foundations and of addressing basic questions of philosophy without evolution.

Contemporary philosophy is still saddled with strict versions of materialism that force dualism or attempts at holistic alternatives. On the face of it, to claim that the world is made of two distinct substances, matter and mental stuff, that somehow work together though separate verges past the contradictory towards the embarrassing. Among other places the problem shows up in the claim that deterministic matter could evolve into something free like human reason (Gellner 1989, ). It also shows up as a material world that contains no values. The problem that life too has been an accepted alien substance has already been noted. Another discontinuity stemming from dualism is that human creations are a special category divorced from the evolutionary narrative. Regarding our objective reality concept, one qualified observer of its philosophical status 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 1996, 15) Such problems stemming from dualism have been amply described and decried both for the conceptual problems as for alleged resulting socio-cultural problems (Nagel 2012; Koons & Bealer 2010; Eisenstein 2007). These critiques have continued at least since the passion of Nietzsche to be a steady river of despair or philosophical sport.

3.3 Challenges of theories of human evolution

If our philosophical concepts are stymied, we also do not have a clear idea of how we began. Evolutionary theory is all but ignored in our daily affairs. The current theory of human origins, several strands of cultural evolutionary theory, are weak, all but ignored, and essentially leave off well before agricultural civilizations begin.

Though the term “culture” does have a definite biological meaning as “interpopulational behavioral variation” for a species with social learning (Wynn et al 2011, 187), the meaning of “culture is perilously confused (Laland & Brown 2011, 214 referring to Kroeber & Kluckholm 1952). Cultural evolution can be formulated as a combination of this behavioral variation with evolutionary developmental theory (evo devo) so that learning and developmental plasticity can be selected for. Richerson & Boyd (2005, 5) describe it as: “Culture is information capable of affecting individuals’ behavior that they acquire from other members of their species through teaching, imitation, and other forms of social transmission.” This combination is a powerful theoretical construct and leads to animal "traditions" and to notions such as Tomasello’s “cultural ratchet” where behavioral learning accumulates (Tennie et al 2009).

When cultural evolution is understood as behavioral variation, social learning, and evo devo that selects for learning and plasticity, the theory has not moved out of a biological discussion that includes other species but yet is saddled with some of the same theoretical issues in mainstream evolutionary theory as highlighted above. When cultural evolution moves to include features unique to early humans such as varying ecology, cooperation, and teaching as possible early enhancements to the evo-devo behavioral learning engine, it enters a slippery slope towards aware human specialness. [NN?] Other features of early humans are also considered – e.g., normativity, imitation learning, and theory of mind – but there is a chicken-and-egg quality to know which factors were the early drivers or later selected aspects. In almost all accounts there is an assumption that positive reinforcement promoted mutual growth among the factors especially learning and plasticity. Typical is: “The idea, then, is that positive feedback links social foraging and intergenerational social learning. Intergenerational learning provides much of the informational fuel that makes social foraging successful, and the rewards of social foraging support the life spans and expensive metabolisms that make extensive intergenerational learning possible.” (Sterelny 2012, 14). This itself has made for an exciting research avenue to trace the chronology of types of reinforcement. It also tacitly supports the claim here that human evolution is another testament to complex systems effects in biology.

This unfairly brief characterization of cultural evolutionary theory does capture biological concepts other than just genetics to show unique, important mechanisms of change and adaptation. But cultural evolutionary theory remains inadequate on several counts. One, it is largely ignored by evolutionists and by those in the humanities. Two, although hinting at a novel evolutionary process – Laland and Brown acknowledge that culture, as “represented by the school of cultural evolution, is a dynamic evolutionary system in its own right” – it fails to spell out some new type of evolution (Laland & Brown 2011, 216). The major transition literature flirts with the same unrealized possibility (Smith & Szathmary 1999). Ingold captures the dilemma in noting that even the UN in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights avoids the differences within populations that evolution demands to state “All human beings are endowed with reason and conscience” (Ingold 2008, 277-8). He continues: “That is why evolutionists find themselves in the curious position of having to admit that whereas in the non-human world, biology is the source of all variability and difference, in the human world it is what makes everyone the same!” Three, it seems to drop its interest in human origins a few tens of thousands of years before the rise of civilizations so that it does not begin to address the hectic, technology-driven “evolution” that the average person can see in everyday twenty-first century life. And four, it works hard to stick to the behaviors of organisms but slides imperceptibly to assumptions of human awareness so that the contradictory type of mind characterized by dualistic rationality becomes the picture for humans as they get closer to modern humans. Cultural evolutionary theory does move beyond genetics only but barely and without enough oomph to capture the present in the majesty of evolution.

On the positive side, cultural evolutionary theory goes well beyond everyday evolutionary theory and is in active ferment. Much of the emphasis has shifted from the species view stemming from finding the bones of a breakthrough gene to the search for the cognitive changes that in turn framed the selective environment of hominins (Donald 1991; Mithen 1996; Coolidge & Wynn. 2009).

3.4 The case for a collective behavior environment interface – an hypothesis

So, in the shadow of failed foundations and with cultural evolutionary ideas, cognitive science, and many fields in rapid growth and with many fields turning to complex systems for solutions, the case for a systemic basis for the human-matter behavioral interface can now be made. The hypothesis is that hominins with diverse behaviors and rich sociality saw the emergence of overlapping behaviors which was accompanied by a common ground of behavioral expectations with the environment. It is this common ground as a user-ready theater as an environment that forms an origin for human consensual reality. Overlapping or coupled behaviors (e.g., cooperation, competition within limits) and common ground were additional selection environments in human cultural evolution for factors such as normativity and intention monitoring and for the accumulation of preferred objects.

The existence and compatibility with other fields of research, including especially the new cognitive science and material culture studies, of this hypothesized systemic common ground will now be sketched. It will first be tackled first from a biological and evolutionary perspective and then afterwards in relation to traditional philosophical concepts.

3.5 Collective behavior-environment interface – perspective from evolution

This argument makes use of the viewpoint that behavior is itself a complex system (Nolfi et al 2008; Thompson 2007) and then follows the system overlaps when multiple organisms act in coordination. When humans include others and neutral objects as elements of interacting behavioral systems, then they and the neutral elements are elements in a group behavioral system. A sample of this kind of thinking is given by Marsh et al (2009, 1219) who 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.”

There are several strands of research that cut across this interface – coordinated behaviors such as cooperation, common ground, extended mind, the systemic aspect of the environment, the effects of material culture, interactive behaviors unique to humans, and evidence of simplifications in complex systems. Their relevance to the hypothesis will be unpacked in turn.

3.5.1 Coupled behaviors including cooperation

Cooperation among humans has been widely discussed in the context of human evolution (Richerson & Boyd 2008, 92; Sterelny et al 2013) and in comparison to other great apes (Tomasello 2009). The origin of cooperation is greatly debated since it seems almost impossible given the short term, game-theoretic rewards for cheaters from an individualist perspective. However, its widespread existence in human groups has been verified. Explanations range through “indirect reciprocity, group selection on genes, sexually selected display, innate algorithms for detecting rule violators, Machiavellian intelligence, reputation effects, and the cultural group-selection process ....” (Richerson & Boyd 2008, 92) What is important here is less cooperation and more weaker forms that have the same behavioral system implications. For example in describing how chimpanzees do not collaborate, Tomasello (2008, 174) describes a chimpanzee hunt for monkeys as a “group activity of some complexity in which individuals are mutually responsive to one another’s spatial position....” in a way similar to “wolves and lions.” He refers to this behavior as “coordinated.”

From another viewpoint Byrne highlights the complex behaviors of great apes as helping them survive when monkeys have many advantages in the same niche: “... chimpanzees make tools to extract social insects from their nests, and to break open hard nuts; 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 2006, 493 4) A possibility is that complex behaviors themselves allow more opportunity for overlap with another, perhaps motivated by learning or tangential social purposes rather than material goals. Complementing this view is the assumption that early hominins diverged from other apes by exploiting the complex environments of either mosaic ecologies or the edges of savannahs where other “fallback foods” such as root plants were available (Cartmill & Smith 2009, 203; citing Laden & Wrangham 2005). Complex behavioral capabilities were present in diverse environments where learning speed was important to a point where coordinated behaviors would be indistinguishable from their antecedents.

Other sources of coupled behaviors are coaction (Wegner & Sparrow 2007) and reinforced cooperation. By the latter is meant default cooperation such as when drivers “cooperate” by avoiding crashing into each other on the freeway, where the structured environment constrains even flagrant individualism. Coaction is defined as “when one agent’s action is influenced by or occurs in the context of another agent’s action–and together they do something that is not fully attributable to either one alone....” (Wegner & Sparrow 2007, 18-9).

Weaker forms of coordination have not received the attention that cooperation has received. Yet, cooperative behaviors among humans as well as other species including mammals (e.g., naked mole rats) have been verified (Skyrms 2009, 145 6). Two implications can be drawn. One, weaker forms of coordination probably preceded cooperation. And two, if behaviors can be considered complex systems, then overlapping behaviors suggest integrated behavioral systems were emerging.

3.5.2 Common ground and extended mind

Related to coordinated behaviors is common ground. It has not received a lot of research attention and is hardly studied in the context of human evolution except as a logical precursor to language (Clark, H. 1996; Gibbs 2006, 172; Tomasello 2008, 75). It also does not appear to have received any attention in relation to a complex systems view of cognition and behavior. Common ground, however, is studied as something necessary to explain other early human attributes such as the intention monitoring aspects of human sociality (Enfield & Levinson 2006). Interactive behaviors turned behaviors near each other into behaviors with each other in a way that showed a common, interactive space. As Levinson (2006, 52) puts it:

“Interaction always presupposes a participation structure, which itself presupposes a distinction between being copresent but not in interaction versus copresent and participating. This distinction is precisely what motivates >access rituals’ like greetings.”

With his coauthor, Enfield, they go on to explain common ground:

“At the heart of the uniquely human way of life is our peculiarly intense, mentally mediated, and highly structured way of interacting with one another. This rests on participation in a common mental world, a world in which we have detailed expectations about each other’s behavior, beliefs about what we share and do not share in the way of knowledge, intentions, and motivations.” (Enfield & Levinson 2006, 1).

And Enfield elaborates:

“Common ground constitutes the open stockpile of shared presumption that fuels amplicative inference in communication, driven by intention attribution and other defining components of the interaction engine. Any occasion of >grounding’ (i.e., any increment of common ground) has consequences for future interaction of the individuals involved, .... [t]he greater our common ground, the less effort we have to expend to satisfy the informational imperative.... [and] the economy of expression enabled by common ground affords a public display of intimacy ...” (Enfield 2006, 399-400)

This picture of common ground as “shared presumption[s]” or “participation structure” does presume coordination but not language while keeping an eye towards the bases of language. It does point to a social interface towards the external world. But it does so only by saying that it is necessary for human coordination, interaction, intention-exchanging, and ultimately language without saying what it is.

3.5.3 Extended mind and multi-party behavioral systems

Parallel to this work indicating a common ground achievement for humans are other lines of research working from the bottom up that also indicate behavioral systems larger than an individual. Extended mind theory (Clark, A. 2008) and ecological psychology (Reed 1996) are two strands of cognitive science that are charting how mind and cognition are extended phenomena.

Both of these are stronger at showing that cognition is spread into the objects of the environment than that it is systemically entwined with the cognition of others. But both dimensions are shown. And the complex system aspect of these cognitive processes is often mentioned directly and seemingly always assumed. A key proponent of extended mind theory, A. 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. Such cycles supersize the mind.” (Clark, A. 2008, xxvi). A famous example of extended cognition from Hutchins does cover both multiple people as well as multiple objects as a collective cognitive system. In his study of ship navigation by many sailors and their instruments, he concludes:

“... the real power of human cognition lies in our ability to flexibly construct functional systems that accomplish our goals by bringing bits of structure into coordination. That culturally constituted settings for activity are rich in precisely the kinds of artifactual and social interactional resources that can be appropriated by such functional systems is a central truth about human cognition.... and a proper understanding of human cognition must acknowledge the continual dynamic interconnectivity of functional elements inside with functional elements outside the boundary of the skin.” (Hutchins 1995, 316)

Here Hutchins does make explicit that cognitive effect is bi-directional to and from objects that enhance cognition. The hypothesis that humans evolved collective behavioral systems enhanced by material artifacts appears to be directly supported by extended mind theory.

3.5.4 Systemic nature of the environment – affordances

The other strand of relevant research, ecological psychology, appears to support not just the cognitive overlap with objects but also the system interweaving of behaviors among humans. One tool that this program finds important is the concept of “affordance.” An affordance is a feature of the environment relative to an organism that facilitates, affords, or allows it to use it in a behavior. “Affordances are opportunities for behavior. Because different animals have different abilities, affordances are relative to the behavioral abilities of the animals that perceive them.” (Chemero 2009, 108) One can say that a door handle affords a human the possibility of turning a handle to open the door. Within the tradition of ecological psychology “Behavior is defined as an animal’s ability to change its relationship with its surroundings.”(Reed 1996, 97). And these relationships are both distributed and dynamic: “[I]ntentions are not considered as a mental or psychological state within a person. Instead they are considered to be a property of the ecosystem arising in the interaction between organisms and their environment.” (Knoblich, G. & N. Sebanz 2008, 2022)

There are several advantages of affordances for an ontological bridge to objects. They have been empirically verified as effecting behavior and specifically so relative to an agent’s size, abilities, handedness, etc. [NN?] They provide a very good theoretical bridge to objects. They strike a middle ground between imputing “agency” to objects or only treating objects as accessories to behaviors. They highlight that behaviors, like cognition, can and have been treated as systems which allows this cultural domain to be studied as enmeshed processes rather than as collections of agent-issuing behaviors.

And, affordances come with a natural and somewhat tested track to cooperation and multiple-human behaviors. What are called joint affordances are recognized as the ways that an object allows two people to use it from respective positions. After giving an example of how one person lifts a two-handled basket differently than if working with another person to lift it together, Knoblich and Sebanz explain that: “... embedded in joint intentionality, simultaneous affordance changes into a joint affordance, inviting two different actions from two co-actors.” (Knoblich & Sebanz 2008, 2026) 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). Knoblich and Sebanz also agree on the importance of objects as affordances as transmitters of social agreement. “The creation of enduring artefacts opened up a whole new world of affordances and ways of interacting with the world in a direct manner. The resulting fact that artefacts embody socially transmitted knowledge about ways of interacting with objects is hardly ever acknowledged in the research on object perception.” (Knoblich & Sebanz 2008, 2027). Similarly, Anderson et al (2012, 725) describe “social affordances” as behavioral coupling of two people to form a "coherent perception-action unit or synergy."

Alternately, a coupling for coordinated action similar to common ground that also emphasizes distributed cognition but through shared representations is work by Pezzulo and Dindo: “... 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.” (Pezzulo & Dindo 2011, 626) Or, Wertsch (2009, 119) invokes a “distributed version” of "collective memory" in a similar role with some environmental feedback.

Chemero has already broached the implication that affordances suggest a different ontology. “But if the environment contains meanings, then it cannot be merely physical.... Radical embodied cognitive science requires a new ontology, one that is at odds with today’s physicalist, reductionist consensus that says the world just is the physical world, full stop.” (Chemero 2009, 135-6) The key proposal is then to conjecture that, similar to joint affordances, humans, coordinating their behaviors, share affordances to a degree that expectations and intentions are coupled through them with others. The environment of such social affordances is the substrate of which common ground was built. And this environment as common ground becomes increasingly a scratchpad of possible and expected behaviors for hominin groups where the individual-to-individual interactions are increasingly coordinated through it. The mutual affordance structure of the environment sets the interactional as well as the payoff possibilities for those participating. The environment now affords not just potential behaviors but potential agent-to-agent interactions through the environment including potential interactions with payoffs such as cooperation or exploitation. Humans by their coordinated interactions with environmental neutrals (objects) set expectations with and to each other about those neutrals so that certain future behaviors are rendered more probable. Coupled complex behavioral systems are fortified through the attractors that these objects afford. And their successful employment in coupled behaviors would have fortified them as salient references in the common ground in which development, selection, and payoffs to new behaviors would have occurred. A common ground of mutual affordances for coordinated behaviors would have grown along with them.

Bardone (2011, 92) speaks of “adapting affordances” as something that facilitates another affordance such as a microscope for a very small target. When the adapting is for another, then facilitating affordance is more clear. Examples include attention to an object as facilitating an affordance for another or language that shifts priorities about one or more objects. Here behaviors to facilitate a certain affordance are themselves affordances. Such behaviors would have accompanied the rise of social affordances and included indexical signs and norming behaviors.







Conceptual drawing for affordances for early primate (A) versus those for same physical environment for early hominid (B) where there are more affordances, more possible causal interactions between them (arrows) and more social affordances where activities involve another.

3.5.5 Environmental structures, material culture, and behavioral reinforcement

And then the reinforcement of common ground in coordinated behaviors would have also given a reinforcement to the physical structuring of the environment. This is to speak of tools, artifacts, and niche constructed aspects of the environment. As a superficial assumption such a collective system as entertained in the hypothesis should see the accumulation of system-selected material structures that are reinforcing to behaviors, including coupled ones. Another expectation might be that material structures would show a compatibility among themselves or an inter-relatedness. These ideas are consonant with the concepts from material culture studies:

“Material culture studies in various ways inevitably have to emphasize the dialectical and recursive relationship between persons and things: that persons make and use things and that the things make persons.” (Tilley 2006, 4).


“... the materials of past (and present) societies are not seen as an epiphenomenal outcome of historical and social processes or as just an epistemological component through which these processes can be grasped but actually as constituent parts–even explanatory parts–of these very processes.” (Olsen 2010, 38)

The quote earlier from Gamble about children learning around a hearth captures this sense of where the needs of the fire – wood, ashes, etc. – prompt human behaviors and are agential. Others can speak of composite intentionality especially when acting in the smart environments of our contemporary world (Bardone 2011, 65).

In this view objects are boundary conditions for behavioral systems and thus can reinforce behaviors. They can also reinforce the social learning of behaviors which is important for the evo-devo component of cultural evolution theory. And since objects by type and number steadily increased in the hominin environment, since objects were often employed in coordinated behaviors, and since they were increasingly niche constructed into more usable forms, the reinforcement from material structures grew enormously. As part of these trends tools began to be used in combinations (Gamble 2007); and tools such as blades were treated as more permanent tools rather than as throwaways (Coolidge & Wynn 2009, 112). In the former case material structures became combinatorially employed in systems and in the latter they reinforced systems dilated in time.

The issue in the above characterization of objects as reinforcing systems is opposed to two standard views of objects. In the first view deriving from the physical sciences objects are arbitrary in the environment so that physical laws are universal after accepting the particular boundary conditions. In the second view objects made by humans are the unilateral fruit of human creativity. But this conventional, extra evolutionary explanation has been decried:

“... tradition, even post Darwinian tradition, excludes our doings from natural history.... Yet to put this exclusion so baldly is to make its absurdity self evident, and to invite us to challenge the entire tradition on which it rests.” (Fox Keller 2005, 1073)

Neither of these traditional views of the object has an evolutionary component. The first is time-independent; or better, it is time-heedless as in however these things got here. And the second exults in the increasing richness of the human engineered environment as a unilateral fountain of human genius. In this reckoning objects do not evolve. Yet, in a world like ours today where object/technology accumulation and evolution is proceeding at cultures-breaking speed and when systemic materialism is a robust alternative, the choice of considering objects as anchors to evolving behavioral systems reveals a mutualist trajectory of material structures co-evolving with behaviors.

Part of the beauty of the concept of affordance is that it carries an ambiguity of whether it is a thing or some sort of perceptual projection. This underlines the fundamentally interactive nature of our relationship to the environment. It is a collection of affordances, material while satisfying our behavioral conscriptions to various degrees. Two other concepts carry similar relationships to things – constraint satisfaction network (Hutchins 1995, 241; Simon & Read 2004) and the theory of event coding (Gibbs 2006, 61) – while being more operational.

A mere glance around almost wherever one finds oneself attests to the heavy structuration of our environments. An urban environment is almost entirely either human prepared or has undergone selection for the human environment. In this case the environment ceases to be the environment as in what is external since almost none of it is external. The human environment is different by effectively being non-external. In the absence of a better term it will be referred to as the "humanized environment." The zoologist, Portmann (1968, 91-2), makes the point that for the first year of human life the human environment acts as an extended uterus for the newborn.

Additionally, there have been new energy inputs to the human environment over time from animal power to water power to hydrocarbon power (Smil 2002). All these trends for the human environment – the increased energy input, the expanded use of materials, the compartmentalization of structures, its nestedness within previous evolutionary growth (from bacteria to food crops) – are trends noted by Williams and da Silva in their treatment of evolution as a chemical progression (cited above) and are reflective of systemic features. But it is the proliferation of different and specific types of structures, their longevity, and their combinatorial powers that suggest their entrainment in systemic mechanics. If the self-organizational aspects of the human environment are compared to the systemic processes at the origin of life, then human-prepared objects can seem analogous to macromolecules and their modification of the network flows of metabolites.

Human environmental structures show other patterns which suggest that common ground is not only physically modified but mobilized into flows with their own system effects. Flows of favored structures developed in the environment (economics); human-selected objects dominated the environment so much that there was a transition from mobile lifestyles to permanent settlements (Mithen NN); then in contemporary life these objects so dominate the environment that the term “environment” here is a misnomer; and, objects have now developed their own evolutionary dynamic (e.g., Arthur 2009, 21-5 speaks of technology as a “chemistry” in “combinatorial evolution”). Economics is a testament to material flows and their dynamics that are frequently studied as complex dynamic systems (Beinhocker 2006). Non-linear flow effects seem everywhere from phase transitions (Sole 2011) to circular cumulative causation (Berger 2009) to the frequent market bubbles. Both the innovation of goods and the flows of goods show system effects. Innovations come in network effects of popularity and compatibility with other types of goods (Rogers 2003).

3.5.6 Special interactive behaviors for maintaining collective behavior-environment interface

Maintaining or creating stable behavioral collectives, even of the two-person variety, would require their own dynamics if the collectives were complex systems. That humans have a large repertoire of special talents and cognitive abilities over and above the great apes and that our understanding of these talents continues to show the refined subtlety of these mechanisms is at least consistent with the supposition that collective behaviors and their potential exist as complex systems. Already with primates there are indications that social dynamics requires new capabilities.

“We now recognize that it is not the mere size of a primate social group, but its level of social complexity that is correlated to larger neocortices in certain primate taxa. Such complexities can be measured via social play, deception, coalition formations, altruistic acts, and other subtle social strategies.” (MacKinnon & Fuentes 2012, 80)

Consider the following partial list of special human cognitive abilities besides the big one, language. Most of these have been studied by the group of researchers around Tomasello or around Enfield and Levinson. They include: teaching (Danchin 2008, 710), imitation, coalitional psychology (Boyer 2012), 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 2006, 54), turn taking with interaction repair (Levinson 2006, 54), role reversal imitation (Tomasello 2003, 19), joint attention (Tomasello 2008, 159), normativity, and objects with social functions (Searle 2010). The richness of these capabilities or of what Enfield and Levinson call “the interaction engine” is remarkable (2006, 399). All of them spread, build, or stabilize behavioral systems. Intelligence and memory should be added to the list. And while these evolved capacities are compatible with the existing paradigm of traits of well adapted individuals, the hypothesis of a behaviorally rich environment with diverse shared affordances gives a clearer path for selection for these capacities.

The subtlety of behaviors in the human world can be seen from other vantages. The actions of facilitating affordances for others as mentioned above is a dimension that saturates our behavior as is reading the intentional repercussions of others. Fauconnier and Turner (2002) show how in “conceptual blending” our minds use behavioral experiences (“mental spaces”) to blend with new behavioral challenges or with behavioral expectations of others to devise and couple novel approaches. These reveal the incredible facility with which we blend and simplify our patterns even if illogical.

They are all traits that, at least on the surface, are of a type that could help regulate a system of beliefs, expectations, intentions, and environmental order. They are a reminder of the dense richness of this fabric of beliefs, expectations, and intentions. This richness was probably also reinforced by other mechanisms such as the emergence of emotions unique to humans – pride, shame, and guilt (Turner 2000).

It is well to compare the diverse yet attractor-following human collaboration with the cooperation achieved by social insects or even the naked mole rats where simple interaction rules and hormonal cues and simple material structure rules (“stigmergy” Camazine et al 2001, 23) avoided the cognitive complexity.

3.5.7 Strategies of interface simplifications

Another possible sign of systemic effects in the human environment is whether simplification patterns are evident within complexity. Complexity is differentiated from chaos because it supports the emergence of large scale simplifications. Sterelny (2003, 157) argues that the environment is modified for simplification:

“Hominids make aspects of the physical or social world more salient by marking them physically, linguistically, or behaviorally. Collectively then, hominid groups buffer the increasing cognitive demands placed on them by their own technologies, their extractive foraging, and their social relationships. Such buffering allows the further expansion of information hungry techniques by reducing the burden of such techniques on individual agents.”

There is other evidence indicative of simplifications emerging in our environment. For the tradition from Durkheim to Collins, social interactions as simple as carrying water or going to a football game give mutual-focus that bind participants in a “compelling emotional experience” that forms and transports meaning, ideas, and symbols while building reputations in social networks (Collins 2004, xii). The new style social hierarchies that came with civilization emerged “... when an individual is authorized to delegate to others the power to sanction normative transgressions” (Dubreuil 2010, 8). Also, simplification appears with the condensation of events into stories and news items or even with the pull to normativity. In the following sections other facets of our environment such as objects and language will be examined for their own contributions to complexity reduction. But these few cases are supportive of an expectation that if reality were a systemic behavioral interface then widespread use of simplifications by various prioritizing mechanisms would be evident. The enormous traffic between humans and the environment coupled with the past memories folded back into this traffic as well as the imaginative future expectations is so huge that coordinating simplifications have to be found – simplifications of structures in the environment and of cognitive relationships in our own interpersonal environment.

3.5.8 Hypothesis of collective behavior-environment interface, a biological summation

The conclusion of the hypothesis is similar to the conclusion of others except that the systemic nature, its extension into affordances from the material environment, and its scale-of-magnitude complexity are emphasized. An example of a similar point of view comes from Whiten & Erdal (2012, 2119):

“Here we present evidence from a diversity of sources supporting the hypothesis that a fuller answer [to how hominin evolution could compete with a guild of specialist carnivores] lies in the evolution of a new socio cognitive niche, the principal components of which include forms of cooperation, egalitarianism, mindreading (also known as >theory of mind’), language and cultural transmission, that go far beyond the most comparable phenomena in other primates.”

By way of recap, the hypothesis of a collective behavior-environment interface entails the following logic:

$ Coupled behaviors such as social learning arise mutually with social affordances.
$ The resulting environment, or common ground, now has "meaning" in that the affordances of others have social and survival consequences for any one individual.
$ Any niche construction enhancements of any objects increase the behavior-inducing probability of these as affordances.
$ Coupled behaviors pay off in either greater rewards or greater learning.
$ Reinforcement between coupled behaviors and learning (e.g., teaching), common ground and coupled behaviors (i.e., joint attention), and niche construction and common ground set up a new payoff and selection environment for intelligence, memory, intention monitoring, intention control, object continuity, roles, and normativity.
$ The usage of social affordances initiated norming behaviors (negative reinforcement) and facilitating behaviors (positive reinforcement) such as pointing.
$ The composition of and agreement about common ground not only had positive payoffs but became a significant time and energy expenditure.

All of these points are taken to describe behaviors with the environment and others as aspects of complex systems.

The last point to touch in taking stock of a hypothetical common ground from the vantage of evolution is to situate the hypothesis within the frame of a fundamentally systemic biology forecasted above. Not only is the hypothesis consonant with this understanding of biology, but there is also the possibility for a tighter parallel between biological systems and systemic common ground of the hypothesis. In section 2.2 above three features at life’s origin were deemed significant – energy flow, network causal topologies with cycles, and unique boundary conditions. These three features are also seen prominently in the systemic reality of the hypothesis. Energy flow is a precondition that has grown markedly as humans have harvested ever new sources of energy. And the two most marked features of systems reality (common ground) are the physical structures of the environment, i.e., boundary conditions, and the elaborate causal topologies of human collaborative behavioral complexes. The suggestion is that the characteristics of human evolution are not to be compared to the prototypical examples from biology, organisms, but to more diffuse phases of complex system processes in life’s history.

It is worth mentioning that energy, networks, and boundary conditions are important aspects of physics whose importance within its laws was only appreciated rather late. Feynman (1963, 4-1,2) could say “... in physics today, we have no knowledge of what energy is” although it is a “numerical quantity” which “... does not change in the manifold changes which nature undergoes.” Dorogovtsev & Mendes (2003, 219-20) describe a networks as “... one of the few fundamental objects of the Universe.” And networks are considered to model complex systems in a close way (“Green showed that complex systems are isomorphic to networks....” Paperin et al 2011, 610; reference to Green 1993). Boundary conditions were in some ways seen as obstacles to clear in order to find the true fundamental laws of physics. For example, early scientists ignored friction in order to understand the impossible, but valid, case of infinite inertia (Funkenstein 1986, 153). Taking the environment with its boundary conditions as a given for a moment in time in which organisms evolve has been an assumption taken up in biology. Against this view, Lewontin (2000, 58) emphasizes the evolution of the environment: “The constructionist view is that the world is changing because the organisms are changing.” It is noteworthy that this assumption is not used in studies of the origin of life because it is only by the enrichment of the environment that self-organized life could emerge. In their treatment of chemical evolution Williams & da Silva (2006) reach similar conclusions about energy, systems, and elements/compartments.

To make a suggested comparison between the hypothesis and the character of system dynamics at the origin of life is to invite responses to biological questions about the nature of human evolution as a unique process (Laland & Brown 2011, above) or as a “major transition” (Smith & Szathmary 1999, above). This latter, major transition theory, recognizes human sociality with language to be a unique transition that like other such transitions (e.g., origin of chromosome, eukaryotic cell) might indicate that “the space of biological possibility ... [is] itself evolving.” (Calcott et Sterelny 2011, 4) And different biological possibilities include the type of individual evolving (e.g., chromosome, eukaryotic cell).

Both biological directions to the question of the character of human evolution (i.e. cultural evolution or human sociality major transition) remain open. The hypothesis suggests an answer at the level not of physical individuality but of behavioral individuality. Coordinated behaviors, ephemeral cooperative behaviors (following Sawyer 2005, 210 for “ephemeral emergent” of social groupings), and fully cooperative systems reveal a range of behavioral “individuals” however transitory. These have both their own selection dynamics and systemic properties. The physical aspects of these are the public objects that constrain and reinforce them as well as the energy and material flows they engender. Reality then is the set of constraints anchoring these various behavioral systems. Or better, reality is the set of matter aggregates constraining collective, ephemeral, and individual behavioral systems as shaped by previous, related versions of these behavioral systems.







Conceptual drawing for systems origin of life (C) where a self-organized network or closed catalytic network has emerged in the midst of causally deterministic events now normalized to align in same direction; better depiction of the same (D) where more probable event types because of their combination are drawn bolder where all events are normalized as deterministic events; a simpler and more intuitive depiction of the same systems depiction of very simple life. Drawing C is inspired from Rothschuh (1963) as seen in Toepfer (2012).



Text Box:  




Text Box:  





Conceptual drawing of systems view of simple behavior (F, left) where organism shifts to new state 1’ under new environment and of sustained behavior between two organisms (G, right) where 1’ and 2’ are either evolved predator/prey relationship or mutualism/sociality. (Examples of F are E.coli lac operon gene for lactose/glucose; or Egbert et al, 2012; or from movement.)









Conceptual drawing of behaviors with objects (square, brown boxes). Left (H) is one organism interacting with two affordances/objects where light green semi-circles are meant to depict the temporary behavioral system with object. Right (I) has two organisms interacting with social affordance/object o3 and where small purple semi-circle is meant to depict coupled behavioral system with object. These two drawings respectively depict similar conceptions to those from drawings A and B above.

3.6 Reconciling common ground hypothesis with philosophy

After the above arguments that a behavioral environment interface arose in the course of human evolution that is consonant with a systemic view of biology, the question remains whether such an hypothesis is compatible with philosophical assumptions and whether it addresses some of the infamous and lingering contradictions of dualistic materialism. It should be noted immediately that behaviors-in-common and particularly behaviors in common with objects collapses the usual modernist assumption of the independence of knowledge and thing, of the radical distinction of epistemology and ontology.

The hypothesis follows trends in philosophy that are already in progress. For instance, Mark Taylor (2001, 206)has it that “... we will see not only that biological and mental processes are isomorphic but that, when taken together, they constitute yet another complex adaptive system.” Behaviors as a way to merge the scientific with the experiential and the objective with the subjective have been explicitly proposed since at least Mead and Merleau-Ponty (Rosenthal & Bourgeois 1991).

3.6.1 In the practice of daily life

First of all, the systems perspective of life is rather intuitive. As one writer suggests, systems thinking is all around us as common wisdom – “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” and “A stitch in time saves nine” (Meadows 2008, 3). It is now firmly entrenched as a branch of therapy and maybe even as a unifying metatheory for different schools (Smith-Acuña 2011). Finding multiple points of change before a family system shifts or having a therapist pick a structural role in a couple from which to be and to challenge and with what strength are facets of interacting systemically. Calling a dog can easily help her slide effortlessly into a new behavioral attractor. In business one might speak of a “strategic and fiscal landscape.” Seeing a written article take shape is certainly a trip through some strange attractors.

Its influence in economics is mentioned above. And, it is increasingly important in ecology where issues such as the resilience of an ecosystem before collapse are a concern. The systemic aspects of ecology are focal: “Investigators can all agree that an ecosystem is a quasi-organized type of system...” (Currie 2011, 27). And our management of human interactions with ecologies generates new surprises and non-linearities including the expected surprises from experiments (Gross 2010). In short, our lives are full of non-linearities that often span larger collections and longer processes than those for which our analytical methods have been so successful.

With ideas and beliefs the system effects are equally striking. Consensuality itself presumes reinforcements besides the effects of panics and fads. Small pieces of evidence can have extreme non-linear influences – a “butterfly effect” for ideas. The learning curve is a favorite for non-linearity. We ourselves are seen to have particular styles of thinking whether we associate ideas by fertile imagination or negative fault-finding or holding the middle ground (De Bono 1982). Others of us seek butterfly effects in our lives by looking for the next invention or the next popular topic. Business today encourages the recognition of different thinking styles and “making thinking visible.” Offices and malls are designed in meticulous detail to afford the flow of people, goods, and attention through them. Systems principles and effects are scattered about our public landscape, and practices of various types to navigate them are similarly prevalent.

It is our environment. Mastering the physical of the world does not excuse us from mastering the richness of the cognitive infusion.

3.6.2 Reconciling object, knowledge, language, and agency

Having framed reality as a behavioral interface, it is important to make this understandable in the usual concepts of object and knowledge. Consider the following equivalences: an object is an affordance; knowledge is an adaptive behavior; and language is an aspect of the behavior with something. Objects as affordances or opportunities for behaviors have already been referenced above. On knowledge, “... adaptations are themselves knowledge, themselves forms of ‘incorporation’ of the world into the structure and organization of living things.” (Plotkin 1994, xv) The cognitive study of word usage ties them to behaviors even for abstract concepts (Borghi & Riggio 2009, 117; Stout & Chaminade 2009; Anderson et al 2012, 720; A. Clark in Supersize?). “Maybe we understand language by simulating in our minds what it would be like to experience the things that the language describes.” Bergen (2012, 13) What is suggested here is that object, knowledge, and language (as semantics) are aspects of behavioral interactions.

Of the three concepts – object, knowledge, language (or sign) – knowledge is the least firm as it has largely passed into the vernacular as some sort of nebulous quantity as in the “knowledge economy” or “has a lot of knowledge.” It is also the concept from the old substance metaphysics that has mostly dissolved into the new cognitive science in the realm of neural patterns and complex systems. Language is trending in the same direction as cognitive science pulls it in and as language pragmatics studies find ever more situational subtleties [NN – Gibbs, H. Clark?, Streck et al 2011) It is also trending to an environmental aspect as it is studied as niche construction (Aunger 2009;Cowley 2004). And language in the traditional sense of syntax or whole system is now being approached as a complex system (NN – Lansing from Hooker, Ellis et al 2009).

An inference that is suggested by the above is that not only are knowledge and words aspects of objects (or other targets) as affordances/behaviors but that they layer these as complex systems. In this ontology knowledge and sign are aspects of the object system, the more human aspects of their networks to be sure and the more volatile, but inseparably part of the interface in which objects “complete,” constrain, or afford behaviors. As put forward in section 3.5.5, signs are facilitating affordances to make other affordances more available. Language then acts as a behavior reinforcing to, correcting of, and playing in common ground. It is the use of common ground to renew itself, the reality system reinforcing itself. There is no mirroring or substitution, just behaviors making other behaviors more or less prominent and probable.

The object can be said to be non-foundational because it is difficult to argue for its definition apart from our interaction with it. As Putnam (1988, 114) explains: “What is wrong with the notion of objects existing ‘independently’ of conceptual schemes is that there are no standards for the use of even the logical notions apart from conceptual choices.” Or, the pursuit of objectivity allows justified removal of prejudices but not assumptions (Gaukroger 2012, 5); objects carry assumptions. Pragmatically, the “concept of an object is a concept of something that is knowable robustly ...(accessible [detectable, measurable, derivable, definable, producible, or the like] in a variety of independent ways.)” (Wimsatt 2007, 197) But turning away from the object as foundation of uniqueness allows its systemic nature, its affordances, to anchor its usage in different conceptual schemes including those that pursue detailed consistency. The object could only be maintained as foundational by removing both conceptual assumptions as well as time from it. But removing conceptual assumptions is illogical and removing time is a spurious idealist abstraction. To reintroduce time to objects is to speak of probabilities of its past and future trajectories which in turn stem from all the conceptual assumptions and systems that surround it. The frequency, structure, distribution, and movement of mailboxes is not just a property of metal or wood but of systems that probabilize all these features. To continue to speak in two registers in traditional philosophy – of foundational objects and agency – is be blind to the evolution of the environment and to be blind to the multiple competing and overlapping expectations that our behavioral nets enlace around them. Objects afford multiply to people of different sizes, physical abilities, and cultures and to organisms of different species; and these multiple affordances are also facts inseparable from particular material structures.

Similar to the traditional sharp distinction between life and environment is the sharp distinction in materialism between matter and human agency. The two concepts appear to be mutually constructed as opposites. The situation, however, is changing; and similar to the continuity of life and environment as a varied distribution of system aspects as described above, agency in a systems world seems headed for some type of continuity with the environment. This trend is a welcome relief from a tendency to see the concept of agency swing to diametrical opposites from the independent person to cases of environmental determinism that accompanied the rise of Behaviorism. (Cziko 1995, 117)

Backing up through the concept of causality, materialism only speaks of a never-ending chain of causes where no step is the beginning of anything. Agency was supposedly the special human talent for escaping this law of no beginning causality. The concept of causality assumes some sort of intervention, actual or hypothetical (Pearl 2000, 349). Here complex systems concepts can save a continuity/discontinuity impasse since there is a proven system effect, bifurcation. This does away with the need for a distinct source but it also removes the sense that agency comes from a distinct locus. In archaeology (Jones & Boivin 2010; Olsen 2010) and environmental policy studies (Connolly 2011; Pickering 2008) [and geography?] one speaks of distributed agency and material agency. The first emphasizes that agency comes from more than one source and the second that material objects can influence events. As mentioned above, Wegner & Sparrow (2007) also speaks of coaction where agency is distributed among people as in partner dancing.

All of these aspects are amenable to a world impregnated with systems features. A useful concept of agency in light of these views of its distribution is that of control (Clark, A. 2007). Shepherding an action to completion is much different, more prolonged than just simple initiation of action that might be an inadvertent accident. And when people act as agents in controlling a process to an ending, then we are a system that does all the reinforcements and supplies the energy required to move events along possibly to a state with features like an attractor. And such views of agency in distribution are what would be expected from the hypothesis of a behavioral-environment systemic interface.

Supporting this view is the concept of self as niche construction for the useful accounting of authorship for social and psychological reasons are the contributing authors in the Ross et al (2007) collection (Ainslie, Pettit, A. Clark, Thalos). Ross is very clear (2007, 13):

“... the self is depicted as virtually created in niche construction, in order to perform the function of simultaneously stabilizing and intermediating the micro-scale dynamics of the distributed individual mind/brain and the macro-scale dynamics of society and culture. Selves, in my view, do not exist despite the complexity of these dynamics at both scales, they exist because of it.”

Niche construction then in this context is the bundling of micro actions, memories, perceptions, and so forth into a whole that allows us to treat ourselves and others as continuous units. Selves are niche constructed simplifications of cognitive complexities. The literature on niche construction expands the concept into the cultural arena where social habits and communicative habits have been listed as niche constructions that are also passed on intergenerationally (Odling-Smee & Laland 2009; Feldman 2008).

3.6.3 Philosophical promise in light of the hypothesis

Even in a brief manner, it is important to show that the hypothesis has promise in tackling current philosophical issues and with giving other studies a fresh perspective.

The subtley of coupled behaviors and social affordances is not always appreciated in the modern world. Each human interaction or each place of our human environment is overlain with thick webs of expectations, individual preferences, future plans, legacies connected to others not even present, individual idiosyncracies of habit, the social alliances and disagreements that look for magnification, resonant memories from similar events, chance arrangements of people and material that evoke alternative perceptions, moods that change our priorities, and so forth. All these are not epiphenomenal to a specific event or mere "idols" following Bacon (1620) but are the time signature of dynamic complex systems written in constraints and possibilities (Ceruti 1994).

This rich profusion of shared and divergent expectations give the interface of the real a vitality that is missing in substance metaphysics. Trading differences and looking for interesting couplings with the real is constitutive of values. More than that, these preferences, these preferred affordances show us to be extended beings. Our habits of environmental intervention and arrangement and our habits of interlocking our behaviors with others effectively extends our bodies as body-behavior integrated complex systems. Finding work-life and body-mind balances are resulting challenges. The reality interface is not a fixed plane; it is a theater of care in which we are inseparably enmeshed. Values and character are not extras; they emerge directly with our engagement in common ground. Even when written records were used to transmit the behaviors from the past with the environmental responses as when books began to be stored in libraries, monasteries, madrasas, and universities, strong traditions of debate and oratory co-existed revealing a deep connection to direct behavioral formation (“The written word, by contrast [to face-to-face speaking as espoused by Socrates], is untrustworthy and corrupting because it is detached from the actions, honor, and character of whoever uttered it.” McNeely & Wolverton. 2008, 10). Today, despite extensive written and technological records to prompt human engagement, the joint attention of conferences and business online slide shows keep the focus required for maintaining common ground and “buy-in.”

The human material environment is massively built up with constraints to prompt our behaviors. Finding unadulterated raw nature verges towards a receding frontier. The challenge of most human environments is rather to keep them from being boring or stultifying. An easy way to see the effect of the heavily structured environment on ourselves is the observation by De Zengotita (2005) that the environment is addressed to us. Street signs, stairs, advertisements, computer programs, prepared food, etc. are the staples of this humanized environment that are prepared for us. In fact, the issue from our environment is less “representation versus reality, phony versus authentic, artificial versus natural” and more of how flattered we are by the solicitations and how much attention, the new scarce commodity, we give to them (De Zengotita 2005, 11 & 143; Lanham 2006; xi). In effect, the new humanized environment “wants” our attention as opposed to its traditional hostile or indifferent relationship. This same ‘environment’ is now supplying energy needs as well as allowing the off-loading of cognition through computers. The reinforcement from this material component is a key component of common ground.

Addressing issues around conformity and idiosyncratic experiences and in searching for a general ethics, Fox (2006) finds that complex systems theory offers the best possible guide. An important guiding principle is what he calls “responsive cohesion” as opposed to “fixed cohesion” or rigid structures and to “discohesion” or everything goes. In his view this applies to epistemology as well where “...there is an ongoing mutually modifying chicken-and-egg interplay–or responsive cohesion–between theories and observations.” (Fox 2006, 90) Similarly Hooker (2011, 51): “Culture requires a particular relationship between the responsive, constructive capacities of individuals and the globally binding capacity of the emergent society; too little binding and the society falls apart into a mere aggregate, too much binding and culture is squeezed out by merely rigid habits.” These are in the old territory of not too much and not too little, the yin and yang of existence. The literary critic and historian Auerbach (1953) similarly points out that literature has gone through swings from high style (coherence on the big principles) to low style (delight in the details, often burlesque) that flourishes in periods when both are blended. This reinforces Fox’s point about aiming for responsive cohesion, and they both underline how building commonality in behaviors, expectations, and constraints is a dynamic of our world. This dialectic of details and common ground is put well by Boyd (2009, 411) in describing art’s place in evolution. “If art is ‘unnatural’ variation, science is ‘unnatural’ selection.”

The debate around social constructivism can show how the hypothesis of a behavior-environment interface can avoid the extremes of overly universalized concepts and overly relativized social regularities. Both sides already embrace the value of consistency. What the hypothesis brings is the language from evolution of convergence and selection.

A good analysis of the constructivism debate is provided by Hacking (1999). He pulls out three different points of disagreement: contingency of paths to discovery, the importance of the already given inherent structure of the world, and whether stable sources of explanation come primarily from internal (phenomenon derived) or external (arguments from other fields, say) considerations. For him, neither constructivism nor objectivism will go away (Hacking 1999, 101); nor will these dimensions.

It will help to begin with examples of convergence. Campbell (1974) is cited as noticing that the jaws of the worker termite and ant adhere to Archimedes’ principle of levers where the muscle attachment and hinge surface optimize force at the useful point of the jaw (cited in Murphy & Brown 2007, 57). If two species “discovered” the principle of levers as did Archimedes, then convergence of ideas to some inherent structural universal is possible. The hypothesis with its systemic frame where robust structures are selected supports such optimal structures. On the other end of the spectrum are what Hacking (1999, 123) calls “interactive kinds” by which he means things that are more subject to human interactions than are others. For example, the definitions of mental health or child abuse are more subject to feedback loops from their adherents, their commercial interests, and their social stigmas than are Maxwell’s equations in electromagnetism. Such a distinction reflects similar distinctions such as physis and nomos for the Greeks or materialism and social reality for Searle (2010). Such interactive kinds show that some things are more subject to the pure patterns of human coupled behaviors as suggested by the hypothesis. Since the hypothesis begins interactively with matter and with social coupling, the two Hacking dimensions that recognize contingency in the temporal path of discovery and mixed forms of support (from, say, historical precedent, political leaders, fields of research, etc.) both figure as capturing real people and environmental relational factors.

4 Conclusion

Philosophically, it has been clear for some time that materialism with its dualistic tail is broken. Systemic materialism is an alternative in plain sight. And already supported (Bunge 2003; Bickhard 2011; Thalos 2011). Embracing it forces us to look beyond the ad hoc applications of complex systems concepts for specific instances and towards its ontological dimension. Embracing it and looking clearly at the cognitive complexity of our environment forces one to think about an understanding of reality like this hypothesis.

Just as a conception of life as special category is incommensurate with life’s having an origin, so reality with a default conception as a determinate landscape is incommensurate with a general theory of evolution or with its being a lived-in arena. A big advantage from the hypothesis is that the indefensible independence of subject and object in modern philosophy is broken and explained. Another is that the material inventions and creations of humans are brought into continuity with nature as a material dialectic from and to behavior.

Adding a complexity dimension to ordinary reality, as the hypothesis does, is similarly unsurprising to everyday life, trends, and ancient wisdom. The surprise is to bring an archaic philosophical background concept, reality, into evolutionary thought and into the new field of complexity science, now studied only for specific phenomena. The rich, interactive, shared nature of our environment is best brought out by a technique such as complex systems theory even if the calculational models themselves shift to new generalities. And the hypothesis is also not necessarily dependent on a full integration of biology and systems theory, but it is strongly supported by the already deep intrusions of systems theory as highlighted. The claim, however, that a large scale behavioral-environment systems interface emerged in evolution does strongly suggest deep systemic mechanisms in nature.

The intuitive view should also be apparent. The environment between us and external structures is astoundingly complex. The combinations, possibilities, fleeting thoughts, fleeting shared structures that could be called cognitive ephemerals, overlain individual memories and preferences, unknown but in-built behavioral biases of objects, processes set in motion by distant behaviors, and so on reveal a swarm of complexity that exists within our mapping efforts. We are creatures who are builders of and products of a uniquely complex environment – a collective interface of behaviors, structures, and mutually but imperfectly recognized potential behaviors. When the furniture of the world is viewed from the vantage of the handles to interaction that it allows us, that world of staggering afforded possibilities that we live in is revealed as much more of an interactive feast than an observer’s source for note-taking.

REFERENCES (Incomplete):

Alon, Uri. 2007. An Introduction to Systems Biology: Design Principles of Biological Circuits. Chapman & Hall/CRC.
Anderson, Michael, M. Richardson & A. Chemero. 2012. "Eroding the Boundaries of Cognition: Implications of Embodiment." Topics in Cognitive Science. 4: 717-730.
Arthur, W. Brian. 2009. The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How it Evolves. Free Press
Auerbach, Erich. 1953. Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Translated by Willard Trask. Princeton University Press.
Aunger, Robert. "Human Communication as Niche Construction." From Shennan, S., Editor. Pattern and Process in Cultural Evolution. 2009. University of California Press. Pp. 33-43.
Bacon, Francis. (1620) 2000. Francis Bacon: The New Organon. Cambridge University Press. Edited by Lisa Jardine & M. Silverthorne.
Bardone, Emanuele. Seeking Chances: From Biased Rationality to Distributed Cognition. 2011. Springer.
Barrow, John, S.C. Morris, S. Freeland & C. Harper. (Eds.) 2008. Fitness of the Cosmos for Life: Biochemistry and Fine-Tuning. Cambridge University Press.
Bedau, Mark. 2007. "What is Life?" Pp. 455-470. From Sarkar, S. & A. Plutynski (Eds.). A Companion to the Philosophy of Biology. Blackwell.
Beinhocker, Eric. 2006. The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics and What It Means for Business and Society. Harvard Business School Press.
Bergen, Benjamin. 2012. Louder Than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning. Basic.
Berger, Sebastian, Ed. 2009. The Foundation of Non-Equilibrium Economics: The Principle of Circular and Cumulative Causation. Routledge.
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. Elsevier. Volume 10 of Handbook of the Philosophy of Science.
Borghi, Anna & Lucia Riggio. 2009. "Sentence comprehension and simulation of object temporary, canonical and stable affordances." Brain Research. 1253. Pp. 117 128.
Boyd, Brian. 2009. On the Evolution of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction. Harvard University Press.
Boyd, Robert & Peter Richerson. 2009. "Culture and the evolution of human cooperation." Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences. 2009. 364. Pps. 3281-3288.
Boyer, Pascal. 2009. "Cognitive Predispositions and Cultural Transmission." Pp. 288-319. From Boyer, Pascal & J. Wertsch (Eds). Memory in Mind and Culture. Cambridge University Press.
Byrne, Richard. "Parsing Behavior: A Mundane Origin for an Extraordinary Ability?" Pp. 478 505. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Calcott, Brett & K. Sterelny, Eds. 2011. The Major Transitions In Evolution Revisited. MIT Press.
Camazine, S., Deneubourg, Franks, Sneyd, Theraula, & Bonabeau. 2001. Self-Organization in Biological Systems. Princeton University Press.
Campbell, Donald. 1974. "'Downward Causation' in Hierarchically Organised Biological Systems," from Ayala, F. & T. Dobzhansky (eds). Studies in the Philosophy of Biology. Pp. 179 186.
Ceruti, Mauro. 1994. Constraints and Possibilities: The Evolution of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Evolution. Gordon and Breach Science Publishers. Translated by Alfonso Montuori.
Chapura, Mitch. 2009. "Scale, causality, complexity and emergence: rethinking scale's ontological significance." Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. 34: 462-474.
Chemero, Anthony. 2009. Radical Embodied Cognitive Science. MIT Press.
Ciliberti, Stefano, Olivier Martin & Andreas Wagner. 2007. "Robustness Can Evolve Gradually in Complex Regulatory Gene Networks with Varying Topology." PloS Computational Biology. February 2007. Vol. 3. Issue 2. e 15. Pps. 164 173
Clark, Andy. 1997. Being There: Putting brain, Body, and World Together Again. MIT Press.
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.
Collins, Randall. 2004. Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton University Press.
Connolly, William. 2011. A World of Becoming. Duke University Press.
Coolidge, Frederick & T. Wynn. 2009. The Rise of Homo sapiens: The Evolution of Modern Thinking. Wiley-Blackwell.
Cornish-Bowden, Athel. 2004. The Pursuit of Perfection: Aspects of Biochemical Evolution. Oxford University Press.
Coward, Fiona & C. Gamble. 2008. "Big brains, small worlds: material culture and the evolution of the mind." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 363: 1969_1979.
Cowley, Stephen. "Early hominins, utterance-activity, and niche construction" In Behavioral and Brain Sciences. August, 2004. Volume, 27:4. Pps. 509-510.
Currie, William. 2011. "Units of nature or processes across scales? The ecosystem concept at age 75." New Phytologist. 190: 21-34.
Cziko, Gary. 1995. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. MIT Press.
Danchin, E., L. Giraldeau & F. Cezilly. 2008. Behavioural Ecology. Oxford University Press.
Davies, Paul Sheldon. 2003. Norms of Nature: Naturalism and the Nature of Functions. MIT Press.
Davis, Tehran, M. Riley, K. Shockley & S. Cummins-Sebree. 2010. "Perceiving affordances for joint actions." Perception. Vol. 39, Pp. 1624-44.
De Bono, Edward. 1982. Thinking Course. Facts on File publications.
De Zengotita, Thomas. 2005. Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It. Bloomsbury.
Dennett, Daniel. 1992. Consciousness Explained. Back Bay Books.
Descola, Philippe. 2013. The Ecology of Others. Prickly Paradigm Press. Translated by Genevieve Godbout & B. Luley.
Dorogovtsev, S.N. & J.F.F. Mendes. 2003. Evolution of Networks: From Biological Nets to the Internet and WWW. Oxford University Press.
Dubreuil, Benoit. 2010. Human Evolution and The Origins of Hierarchies: The State of Nature. Cambridge University Press.
Egbert, Matthew, X. Barandiaran & E. Di Paolo. 2012. "Behavioral Metabolution: The Adaptive and Evolutionary Potential of Metabolism-Based Chemotaxis." Artificial Life. 18: 1-25.
Egel, Richard. "Integrative Perspectives: In Quest of a Coherent Framework for Origins of Life on Earth." Pp. 289-360. From Egel, Richard, D. Lankenau & A. Mulkidjanian, Eds. Origins of Life: The Primal Self-Organization. 2011. Springer.
Egel, Richard, D. Lankenau & A. Mulkidjanian, Eds. Origins of Life: The Primal Self-Organization. 2011. Springer.
Eisenstein, Charles. 2007. The Ascent of Humanity: Civilization and the Human Sense of Self. Evolver.
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. 2006. "Social Consequences of Common Ground." Pp. 399_430. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. "Introduction: Human Sociality as a New Interdisciplinary Field." Pp. 1-35. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Fauconnier, Gilles & Mark Turner. The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind's Hidden Complexities. 2002. Basic Books.
Feldman, Marcus. 2008. "Dissent with Modification: Cultural Evolution and Social Niche Construction." Pp. 55-71. From Brown, Melissa (Ed.) Explaining Culture Scientifically. University of Washington Press.
Feynman, Richard, R. Leighton & M. Sands. 1963. The Feynman Lectures on Physics: Volume I. Addison-Wesley.
Fitch, Tecumseh. The Evolution of Language. 2010. Cambridge University Press.
Fox, Warwick. 2006. A Theory of General Ethics: Human Relationships, Nature, and the Built Environment. 2006. MIT Press.
Fox Keller, Evelyn. 2005. "Ecosystems, Organisms, and Machines." BioScience. 55(12):1069-1074.
Funkenstein, Amos. 1986. Theology and the Scientific Imagination From the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century. Princeton University Press.
Gamble, Clive. 2007. Origins and Revolutions: Human Identity in Earliest Prehistory. Cambridge University Press.
Gaukroger, Stephen. 2012. Objectivity: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press.
Gellner, Ernest. 1988. Plough, Sword and Book: The Structure of Human History. University of Chicago Press.
Gibbs, Raymond. 2006. Embodiment and Cognitive Science. Cambridge University Press.
Gillespie, Michael Allen. 2008. The Theological Origins of Modernity. University of Chicago Press
Goodman, Nelson. "Words, Works, Worlds." Pp. 61-77. From McCormick, Peter. 1996. Starmaking: Realism, Anti-Realism, and Irrealism. MIT Press.
Green, David. 1993. "Emergent behaviour in biological systems." From Complex systems: from biology to computation. Green, David & T. Bossomaier, Eds. IOS Press. Pp. 24 33.
Gross, Matthias. 2010. Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological Design. MIT Press.
Hacking, Ian. 1999. The Social Construction of What? Harvard University Press.
Halley, Julianne & D. Winkler. "Consistent concepts of Self-organization and Self-assembly" 2008. Complexity. Vol. 14, No. 2, 10-17.
Hooker, Cliff. 2011. "Introduction to Philosophy of Complex Systems: A." Pp. 3-90. From Hooker, C., D. Gabbay, P. Thagard & J. Woods, Eds. Philosophy of Complex Systems. Elsevier. Volume 10 of Handbook of the Philosophy of Science.
Huang, Sui. 2011. "The molecular and mathematical basis of Waddington's epigenetic landscape: A framework for post-Darwinian biology?" Bioessays 34: 149-157.
Hutchins, Edwin. 1995. Cognition in the Wild. 1995. MIT Press.
Hutchins, Edwin. "The Distributed Cognition Perspective on Human Interaction." Pp. 375-398. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. Roots of Human Sociality: Culture, Cognition and Interaction. Berg.
Ingold, Tim. 2000. "Culture, nature, environment: Steps to an ecology of life." Pp. 13-26. From Ingold, Tim. 2000. The Perception of the Environment: Essays in livelihood, dwelling and skill. Routledge.
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.
Jacob, Francois. 1974. The Logic of Living Systems: A History of Heredity. Allen Lane.
Jones, Andrew & Nicole Boivin. 2010. "The Malice of Inanimate Objects: Material Agency." Pp. 333-351. From Hicks, Dan & Mary Beaudry. The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies. Oxford University Press.
Kauffman, Stuart. 1996. At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity. Oxford University Press.
Kirsh, D. 2004. "Metacognition, distributed cognition and visual design." From Cognition, education and communication technology. Ed. P. Gardinfors and P. Johansson. Erlbaum.
Kitano, Hiroaki. 2007. "Towards a theory of biological robustness." Molecular Systems Biology. 3:137 18 September 2007. doi: 10:1038/msb4100179. Pp. 1 7.
Knoblich, G. & N. Sebanz. 2008. "Evolving intentions for social interaction: from entrainment to joint action." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B. 363, 2021-2031.
Koonin, Eugen. 2007. "The Biological Big Bang model for the major transitions in evolution." Biology Direct. V. 2, Article 21, Aug 20, 2007.
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., Margulis, Fet & Raven. 2010. Symbiogenesis: A New Principle of Evolution. Harvard University Press.
Kroeber, A. & C. Kluckholm. 1952. "Culture: A critical review of concepts and definitions." Papers of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology. 47: 1-223.
Laden, G. & R. Wrangham. 2005. "The rise of the hominids as an adaptive shift in fallback foods: Plant underground storage organs (USOs) and austalopith origins." JHE. 49:482 498.
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 & G. Brown. Sense and Nonsense: Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Behaviour. 2011. Oxford University Press. P. 214.
Lanham, Richard. 2006. The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information. University of Chicago Press.
Levinson, Stephen. "On the Human 'Interaction Engine.'" Pp. 39-69. From Enfield, N. & S. Levinson. 2006. 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" Pps. 59 66. From Oyama, Susan, Paul Griffiths & Russell Gray. Cycles of Contingency: Developmental Systems and Evolution. MIT Press.
Lewontin, Richard. 2000. The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, and Environment. Harvard University Press.
Lisiecka, Karolina. 2013. "Group as a Unit of Analysis." Pp. 209-25. Nowak, Andrzej, K. Winkowska-Nowak & D. Bree (Eds). Complex Human Dynamics, Understanding Complex Systems. Springer.
Lloyd, Dan. 2007. "Civil Schizophrenia." Pp. 323-48. From Ross, Don, D. Spurrett & H. Kincaid. Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press.
Lucas, Mikael, L. Laplaze M. Bennett. 2011. "Plant systems biology: network matters." Plant, Cell and Environment. 34, 535-553.
Luisi, Pier Luigi. 2006. The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology. Cambridge University Press.
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 z(Eds). The Encultured Brain: An Introduction to Neuroanthropology. MIT Press.
Malafouris, Lambros. 2010. "The brain-artefact interface (BAI): a challenge for archaeology and cultural neuroscience." SCAN. 5, 264-273.
Marsh, Kerry, L. Johnston, M. Richardson & R. Schmidt. 2009. "Toward a radically embodied, embedded social psychology." European Journal of Social Psychology. 39: 1217-1225.
Mayr, E. 2004. What Makes Biology Unique? Cambridge University Press.
McGhee, George. 2011. Convergent Evolution: Limited Forms Most Beautiful. MIT Press.
McNeely, Ian & L. Wolverton. 2008. Reinventing Knowledge: From Alexandria to the Internet. W.W. Norton.
McShea, Daniel & C. Simpson. 2011. "The Miscellaneous Transitions in Evolution." Pp. 19-33. From Calcott, Brett & K. Sterelny (Eds.) The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited. MIT Press.
Meadows, Donella. 2008. Thinking in Systems: A Primer. Chelsea Green.
Melendez-Hevia, Enrique, N. Montero-Gomez & F. Montero. "From prebiotic chemistry to cellular metabolism
The chemical evolution of metabolism before Darwinian natural selection." 2008. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 252(2008) 505-519.
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, John & S. Page. 2007. Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life. Princeton University Press.
Mithen, Steven. The Prehistory of the Mind: The cognitive origins of art, religion, and science. 1996. Thames and Hudson.
Monge, Peter. & Noshir Contractor. 2003. Theories of Communication Networks. Oxford University.
Morange, Michel. 2009. "Articulating Different Modes of Explanation: The Present boundary in Biological Research." Pp. 15_26. Barberousse, Anouk, M. Morange & T. Pradeu, Ed. Mapping the Future of Biology: Evolving Concepts and Theories. Springer.
Morin, Edgar. 1999. Homeland Earth: A Manifesto for a New Millennium. Hampton Press.
Morowitz, Harold. 1968. Energy Flow in Biology. Academic Press.
Morris, Simon C. 2008. "Tuning in the frequencies of life." Pp. 197-224. From: Barrow, John, S.C. Morris, S. Freeland & C. Harper. (Eds.) Fitness of the Cosmos for Life: Biochemistry and Fine-Tuning. Cambridge University Press.
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.
Murphy, Nancey & Warren Brown. 2007. Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will. Oxford Univ. Press.
Nagel, Thomas. 1989. The View from Nowhere. Oxford University Press.
Nagel, Thomas. 2012. Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. Oxford University Press.
Newman, Stuart. 2011. "Complexity in Organismal Evolution." Pp. 335-354. From Hooker, C., D. Gabbay, P. Thagard & J. Woods, Eds. Philosophy of Complex Systems. Elsevier. Volume 10 of Handbook of the Philosophy of Science.
Odling-Smee, F. John, Kevin Laland & Marcus Feldman. 2003. Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution. Princeton University Press.
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.
Oyama, Susan. 2000. Evolution's Eye: A Systems View of the Biology Culture Divide. Duke University Press.
Padgett, John & W. Powell. 2012. The Emergence of Organizations and Markets. Princeton University Press.
Palsson, Bernhard. 2006. Systems Biology: Properties of Reconstructed Networks. Cambridge University Press.
Paperin, Greg, D. Green & S. Sadedin. 2011. "Dual phase evolution in complex adaptive systems." Journal of the Royal Society: Interface. 8, 609 629.
Pascal, Robert & L. Boiteau. 2011. "Energy flows, metabolism and translation." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: B. 366, 2949-2958.
Pattee, Howard & K. Kull. "Between Physics and Semiotics." Pp. 213-233. Emmeche, Claus & K. Kull, Eds. 2011. Towards a Semiotic Biology: Life is the Action of Signs. Imperial College Press.
Pearl, Judea. Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference. 2000. Cambridge University Press.
Pezzulo, G. & H. Dindo. 2011. "What should I do next? Using shared representations to solve interaction problems." Exp Brain Res. 211: 613-630.
Pickering, Andrew. 2008. The Mangle in Practice: Science, Society, and Becoming. Duke University Press.
Piersma, Theunis, & J. van Gils. 2011. The Flexible Phenotype: A Body-Centred Integration of Ecology, Physiology, and Behaviour. Oxford University Press.
Pigliucci, Massimo & G. Mueller. 2010. Evolution
the Extended Synthesis. MIT Press.
Plotkin, Henry. 1994. Darwin Machines and the Nature of Knowledge. Harvard University Press.
Portmann, Adolf. 1990 (1968). A Zoologist Looks at Humankind. Columbia University Press. Translated by Judith Schaefer.
Pross, Addy. 2012. What is Life? How Chemistry Becomes Biology. Oxford University Press.
Putnam, Hilary. 1988. Representation and Reality. Bradford Press.
Putnam, Hilary. "Is There Still Anything to Say about Reality and Truth?" Pp. 11-28. From McCormick, Peter. 1996. Starmaking: Realism, Anti-Realism, and Irrealism. MIT Press.
Ragir, Sonia & S. Savage-Rumbaugh. 2009. "Playing with meaning: normative function and structure in play." Pp. 122_141. From Botha, Rudolf & C. Knight. The Prehistory of Language. Oxford University Press.
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.
Richerson, P. and R. Boyd. 2008. "Cultural Evolution: Accomplishments and Future Prospects." Pp. 75-99. From Brown, Melissa, Editor. Explaining Culture Scientifically. University of Washington Press.
Rilke, Rainer Maria. 1982. Translated by Stephen Mitchell. The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. Vintage.
Rockwell, W. Teed. 2005. Neither Brain nor Ghost: A Nondualist Alternative to the Mind Brain Identity Theory. MIT Press.
Rogers, Everett M. 2003. Diffusion of Innovations. Fifth Edition. Free Press.
Rosenthal, Sandra & P. Bourgeois. 1991. Mead and Merleau-Ponty: Toward a Common Vision. State University of New York 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, D. Spurrett & H. Kincaid. 2007. Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press.
Rothschuh. K. 1963. Theorie des Organismus. Bios. Psyche. Pathos, Second edition. Urban & Schwarzenberg.
Samson, Paul and David Pitt. The Biosphere and Noosphere Reader. Routledge. 1999.
Sawyer, R. Keith. Social Emergence: Societies as Complex Systems. 2005. Cambridge University Press.
Schulze-Makuch, Dirk and Louis Irwin. 2008. Life in the Universe: Expectations and Constraints. Second Edition. Springer.
Searle, John. 2010. Making the Social World: The Structure of Human Civilization. Oxford University Press.
Silberstein, Michael & A. Chemero. 2012 "Complexity and Extended Phenomenological-Cognitive Systems." Topics in Cognitive Science. 4: 35-50.
Shoda, Yuichi & Scott Tiernan. "Personality as a Dynamical System: Emergence of Stability and Distinctiveness from Intra and Interpersonal Interactions." Personality and Social Psychology Review. 2002, Vol 6, No. 4, pp. 316 325.
Simon, Dan, C. Snow & S. Read. "The Redux of Cognitive Consistency Theories: Evidence Judgments by Constraint Satisfaction." 2004. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 86, No. 6, 814 837.
Skyrms, Brian. Response in Tomasello Forum. Tomasello, Michael. Why We Cooperate. 2009. MIT Press.
Smil, Vaclav. 2002. The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change. MIT Press.
Smith, Eric & H. Morowitz. "Framing the question of fine-tuning for intermediary metabolism." Pp. 384-420. From: Barrow, John, S.C. Morris, S. Freeland & C. Harper. (Eds.) Fitness of the Cosmos for Life: Biochemistry and Fine-Tuning. 2008. Cambridge University Press.
Smith, John Maynard, and Eörs Szathmary. 1999. The Origins of Life: From the Birth of Life to the Origin of Language. Oxford University Press.
Smith-Acuña, Shelly. 2011. Systems Theory in Action: Applications to Individual, Couples, and Family Therapy. John Wiley & Sons.
Smolin, Lee. 1997. The Life of the Cosmos. Oxford University Press.
Snell, Bruno. 1953. The Discovery of the Mind in Greek Philosophy and Literature. Translated by Rosenmeyer. Dover.
Sole, Ricard. 2011. Phase Transitions. Princeton University Press.
Spivey, Michael. 2007. The Continuity of Mind. Oxford University Press.
Sterelny, Kim. Thought in a Hostile World: The Evolution of Human Cognition. Blackwell. 2003.
Sterelny, Kim. 2012. The Evolved Apprentice: How Evolution Made Humans Unique. 2012. Bradford Book, MIT Press.
Sterelny, Kim, R. Joyce, B. Calcott, & B. Fraser (Eds). 2013. Cooperation and Its Evolution. MIT Press.
Stern, Daniel. 1985. The Interpersonal World of the Infant. Basic Books.
Stout, Dietrich & T. Chaminade. 2009. "Making Tools and Making Sense: Complex, Intentional Behaviour in Human Evolution." Cambridge Archaeological Journal. 19(1): 85-96.
Strohman, Richard. 1997. "Epigenesis and Complexity: The coming Kuhnian revolution in biology." Nature Biotechnology. Volume 15: 194-200.
Taylor, Mark C. 2001. The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture. University of Chicago.
Tennie, Claudio, J. Call & M. Tomasello. 2009. "Ratcheting up the ratchet: on the evolution of cumulative culture." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences. 364, 2405 2415.
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.
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, 423-440.
Tilley, Christopher, W. Keane, S. Kuechler-Fogden, M. Rowlands & P. Spyer (Eds). 2006. Handbook of Material culture. Sage.
Toepfer, Georg. 2012. "Teleology and its constitutive role for biology as the science of organized systems in nature." Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 43: 113-9.
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.
Tu, Weiming. 1998. "The Continuity of Being: Chinese Visions of Nature" From: Tucker, Mary Evelyn and Berthrong, John (Eds.) Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans. Harvard University Press.
Turner, Jonathan. 2000. On the Origins of Human Emotions: A Sociological Inquiry into the Evolution of Human Affect. Stanford University Press.
Ulvestad, Elling. 2007. Defending Life: The Nature of Host Parasitic Relations. Springer.
Von Uexküll, Jakob. (1934) 2010. A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans: With a Theory of Meaning. University of Minnesota Press. Translated by Joseph O'Neil.
Wan, Poe Yu-ze. 2011. "Emergence a la Systems Theory: Epistemological Totalausschluss or Ontological Novelty?" Philosophy of the Social Sciences. 41:178-210.
Weber, Bruce. 2010. "What is Life? Defining Life in the Context of Emergent Complexity." Origin of Life in the Evolving Biosphere. (2010) 40:221_229. February 19, 2010.
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.
Wertsch, James. 2009. "Collective Memory." Pp. 117-37. From Boyer, Pascal & J. Wertsch (Eds). Memory in Mind and Culture. Cambridge University Press.
West-Eberhard, Mary Jane. 2003. Developmental Plasticity and Evolution. Oxford University Press.
Williams, R.J.P. & J.J.R. Frausto da Silva. 2006. The Chemistry of Evolution: The Development of our Ecosystem. Elsevier.
Wilson, Deirdre & D. Sperber. 2012. Meaning and Relevance. Cambridge University Press.
Wilson, Robert A. 2004. Boundaries of the Mind: The Individual in the Fragile Sciences. Cambridge University Press.
Wimsatt, William. 2006. "Aggregate, composed, and evolved systems: Reductionistic heuristics as means to more holistic theories." Biol Philos. 21:667-702. P. 676.
Wimsatt, William. 2007. Re-Engineering Philosophy for Limited Beings: Piecewise Approximations to Reality. Harvard University Press.
Whiten, Andrew & D. Erdal. "The human socio cognitive niche and its evolutionary origins." 2012. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: B. 367: 2119 2129.
Wynn, Thomas, R. Adriana Hernandez-Aguilar, L. Marchant & W. McGrew. 2011. "'An Ape's View of the Oldowan' Revisited." Evolutionary Anthropology. 20:181-197.

Home Up

Thoughts or suggestions; Email