Evolution of Levels of Evolution

  • Thomas O. Fox


Within each field of science evolutionary processes are observed. Their elucidation in such diverse disciplines as cosmology, biology, and sociology suggests that an overall evolutionary process continues through atoms, through cells, and beyond the confines of the human brain. But while most scientific attention has dealt singly with individual levels of evolution--observable by each corresponding scientific discipline--we can also recognize principles that describe the overall evolutionary process and, particularly, the emergence of each level of evolution.


Evolutionary Principle Early Level Diverse Discipline Incremental Nature Dendritic Ally 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Several words in this presentation deliberately have been used with narrow meanings. These include genetic, biological, mental and social. In general usage these have broad and overlapping connotations. Here they have been used narrowly to connote levels of evolution with real and discrete foci of selection. This presentation does not suggest, for example, that the higher levels of evolution are independent of genetic determinates, but rather that the broad “genetic” mechanism itself evolves and that important new foci of selection appear as evolution progresses through and beyond the “biological” realm.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Huxley, J., “Evolution in Action,” Perennial Library, Harper & Row, Publ., New York, 1966.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fox, S. W., Harada, K., Krampitz, G., and Mueller, G., Chemical & Engineering News 48, pp. 80–94 (22 June 1970 ).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The particular levels listed in Table I, or in alternate lists of evolutionary levels, are partially speculative. Since some levels, systems, and foci of selection are more obvious than others, the listing will evolve with discussions as further experimental data is gathered. We may learn, for instance, that the synthesis of proteinoids can occur from amino acid precursors, not requiring the evolution of an amino acid level, per se. Likewise, genetic cell systems might beobtained directly from amino acid and nucleic acid derivatives. Then these hypothetical systems, along with the amino acid synthesis of proteinoids and the formation of proteinoid microspheres, would all be experimental models and potential historical intermediates. Changes of this type, as are anticipated, should not alter the basis of this presentation, only its specific form.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas O. Fox
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeuropathologyHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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