The Building Blocks of Intelligence

  • Andrew Y. GliksonEmail author


The ancient Greek philosopher Anaximander postulated the development of life from non-life and the evolutionary descent of man from animal. Ever since the development of the theory of evolution by Darwin (1859) and Wallace in 1858, the theory stands up as the landmark of fundamental knowledge in life sciences, with a common ancestor, genetic selection and biological diversity as the cornerstone of biological science, yet essential questions remain. Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace’s theory of evolution by natural selection, which dominates biological science, explains the most part of biological evolution, yet leaves many questions unanswered regarding the origin of complex living systems and observations of directionality and sense of purpose. The fundamental question is how can an assemblage of atoms—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur—evolving over time through mutations and natural selection, culminate in the brain and in consciousness—a consciousness capable of resolving the basic laws of physics, the atomic and subatomic structure of matter and astronomy. The likelihood of an emergence of life is intimately related to initial cosmological conditions and the laws and constants of physics, indicating whether life has sprang by chance or is destined to emerge due to unknown and possibly unknowable principles. In terms of the second law of thermodynamics the phenomenon of life depends on differential trajectories among atoms, where entropy increase in closed systems but can decrease in open systems that absorb energy. Inherent in these questions is the contrast between the Selfish Gene hypothesis of Dawkins and theories that emphasize the interconnectedness and the emergent properties of the complex cells, where Aristotle’s dictum the whole is greater than the sum of the parts assumes key significance. Inherent in the question is inherent in the contrast between the “Selfish Gene” hypothesis of Dawkins (2006) and theories that emphasize the interconnectedness and the emergent properties of the complex cells, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Since organisms reflect and respond to the environment in which they have evolved, the study of early habitats is closely relevant to life’s origin.


Evolution Directional Brain Consciousness Living systems 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research School of Earth ScienceAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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