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Chapter Two: The Evolution of Societal Structures

Section 3: The Genesis of Structures


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 Odissi dance starring (left-to-right) Jyoti Rout, Manoranjan Pradhan and Asako Takami. Theater of Yugen, San Francisco, California, May 1998.



Having discussed the basic properties of structures, let us note that structures can themselves be structured hierarchically. A structure may be composed of substructures, and, in turn, be a substructure of another. In fact, every structure is a substructure with the exception of the universe.



The universe has another interesting property that it shares with mathematical systems and some hypotheticals from other sciences -- it is a closed system. The properties of closed systems are relatively simple to derive from the laws of nature -- e.g. conservation of energy, increasing entropy -- because they are considered in isolation from any environment. Open systems, a class that includes all living organisms and populations, tend to be more difficult to comprehend because one must take into account the variegated exchanges with the environment.



 Two open systems may be part of each other's environment. If they begin to interact in a regular fashion, they may become substructures of their system of exchanges. Thus, we have described two basic mechanisms for the emergence of complex systems: 1) the reformation of a lower level system according to the laws of its own transformations (maturation); and 2) the regulation of exchanges among lower level systems (integration).



The source of any structure is always other structures -- since according to the framework, structure is all there is. A given structure must evolve or have evolved from the maturation, integration or disintegration of other structures. New heights of complexity, then, can only be achieved through the maturation and/or integration of lower level structures. (While simpler structures may evolve or have evolved in like manner, some simple structures, e.g., viruses, have resulted from the disintegration of more complex structures.)



These principles explain how new and ever more complex systems continue to appear. Applied to the evolution of species, the GS framework at least in the abstract, supplies an answer to the question of how higher forms of life have kept emerging -- a question which is merely begged by the mutationism of classical Darwinism.



However, Darwin's survival of the fittest idea does generalize nicely into the GS framework. As stated earlier, open systems grow and maintain themselves through interactions with the environment. Usually these exchanges involve the destruction of other systems so that their components can be assimilated to the structure of the subject system. Alternatively, two systems can compete for the same limited environmental resource --leading to the languishing or death of one of the competitors.







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