Development and Evolution surveys and illuminates the key themes of rapidly changing fields and areas of controversy that are redefining the theory and philosophy of biology. It continues Stanley Salthe's investigation of evolutionary theory, begun in his influential book Evolving Hierarchical Systems, while negating the implicit philosophical mechanisms of much of that work. Here Salthe attempts to reinitiate a theory of biology from the perspective of development rather than from that of evolution, recognizing the applicability of general systems thinking to biological and social phenomena and pointing toward a non-Darwinian and even a postmodern biology.
Salthe's intent is nothing less than to provide, with this alternative paradigm, a position from which the deconstruction of the Bacononian/Cartesian/Newtonian/Darwinian/Comptian tradition becomes possible, while at the same time suggesting in its place an organic view predicated upon Aristotelian and Hegelian antecedents. In the face of complexity, we must alter our view of the universe as inherently ordered and predictable; order develops, but at great cost.
Explorating of the nature of change in a complex world, Salthe brings together such disparate areas as hierarchy theory, information theory, and semiotics in illuminating ways as he seeks a mode of answering questions as to the nature of complexity and as to how we might derive information from the interactions of the parts of a contextualized developing system.
Stanley N. Salthe, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biology at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, is a Visiting Scientist in Biological Sciences at Binghamton University.