Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 229-242

First online:

Sophisticated selectionism as a general theory of knowledge

  • Claes AnderssonAffiliated withComplex Systems Group, Division for Physical Resource Theory Email author 

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Human knowledge is a phenomenon whose roots extend from the cultural, through the neural and the biological and finally all the way down into the Precambrian “primordial soup.” The present paper reports an attempt at understanding this Greater System of Knowledge (GSK) as a hierarchical nested set of selection processes acting concurrently on several different scales of time and space. To this end, a general selection theory extending mainly from the work of Hull and Campbell is introduced. The perhaps most drastic change from previous similar theories is that replication is revealed as a composite function consisting of what is referred to as memory and synthesis. This move is argued to drastically improve the fit between theory and human-related knowledge systems. The introduced theory is then used to interpret the subsystems of the GSK and their interrelations. This is done to the end of demonstrating some of the new perspectives offered by this view.


Selection Universal selection Evolutionary epistemology Knowledge Hierarchies Innovation