Global Evolutionism

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Evolutionistics vs Global Evolutionism

Ilya V. Ilyin and Arkadi D. Ursu:

"It is worth paying attention to the difference between the two concepts: evolutionics (evolutionistics) and global evolutionism, which many researchers do not differentiate.

  • Evolutionics (evolutionistics) is a general theory of the development of the systems of nature, society and thinking, continuing the philosophic theory of development at the general scientific level, sometimes even using the tools of mathematics, computer science, etc.

>< whereas global evolutionism focuses only on the continuous and progressive development happening in the Universe.

Modern science needs research projects and programs that would consolidate various, increasingly differentiating areas of science and research directions. Multiple scientific schools and movements, pluralism of opinion and competition, which recently have been given unreasonably great in our view attention (and even have been artificially promoted and propagated for well-known reasons) have not been able to provide a unified scientific outlook and have greatly reduced the role and status of science in society. Having rejected the old ideologization of science and monopoly of a certain philosophical and methodological doctrine, scientists began to look for their own ways. Many of them have found out that science requires diversity as well as unity that serves as a foundation for consideration and arrangement of numerous scientific research projects and results in a systematic and integral form of knowledge, and which could be called a world view, an outlook, a concept, a principle, an approach, etc.

For a long time this role was performed by General Systems approach, Cybernetics, later by Complexity Studies (Synergetics), etc.

And only the deep and expanding studies of global (universal) evolutionism made it clear that many, if not all, approaches are integrated into a certain conceptual integrity and general scientific paradigm expressing a new idea of development both in the world and in the evolution of the Universe, which is important for modern and future science at the interdisciplinary general scientific level.

Approaches, methods and other means of research used for the study and creation of this ‘conceptual evolutionary integrity’, its laws, trends and fundamental features are interdisciplinary, and the concept of the universal (global) evolution, that is global evolutionism, itself has an integrative and general scientific status, actively participating in the formation and consolidation of the integrity of science. The concept studied herein is a continuation and the most effective area of transdisciplinary and integrative search for new scientific knowledge about development and is a general model of evolution, uniting philosophic and scientific, general as well peculiar forms and means of accumulation of knowledge into a comprehensive concept-hypothesis. This is accompanied by the formation of a new synthetic area in scientific methodology, which could theoretically unite many research programs and scientific projects. Of course, we are dealing with a question of the status of global evolutionism as a form of knowledge in modern science.

The concept of ‘universal’, or ‘global’, evolutionism is a specific theoretical formation with quite a limited empirical verifiability and interpretation, although, to a considerable degree, this form of knowledge can still claim the status of truth (and not just a role of a hypothesis or a model) with regard to developing natural and socio-natural realities. This theoretical construct that appeared at the stage of post-nonclassical science still lacks sufficiently exact and precise explanations and especially predictions, because it is not fully reflected in the existing system of theoretical knowledge. Let us determine our position with regard to the terms ‘global’ and ‘universal’ that are almost equally used to name the type of evolutionism discussed here (Ilyin and Ursul 2009).

It may seem that only processes occurring on our planet with a certain ‘global integrity’ may be called global processes. In this sense, global processes are not just the processes occurring on the Earth, but the planetary-scale processes, that is, embracing the whole planet. However, it is important to pay attention to the existing etymological dichotomy and linguistic ambiguity of the term ‘global’. The term ‘global’ originates not from one, but from several languages: in particular, from Latin (‘globus’ means ‘the globe’) and French (‘global’ means ‘universal’, ‘taken as a whole’). In English ‘global’ also means ‘world’, ‘world-wide’, ‘general’ and ‘universal’, however, ‘the globe’ still has the Latin meaning (‘the globe’). Therefore, it makes sense to take Latin and French lexical meanings as the main etymological meanings. It is also worth noting that one of the early ‘model conception’ of the Universe as of a kind of ‘celestial globe’ in the form of an image of celestial spheres with stars and other celestial objects on them comes from the same Latin meaning. Let us, however, turn from etymology to the meanings of terms that are already fixed, although not yet finally.

In modern science, the term ‘global’ is mainly used in two ‘spatial’ senses:

1) global as planetary, referring to the whole globe and

2) global as all-encompassing, universal, comprehensive, taken as a whole, and in this sense is it extended to the whole world, or the entire Universe.

Accordingly, global processes can be thought of in these two basic meanings:

1) global processes as the ones happening on the globe, that is planetary processes

2) global processes as the ones happening in the entire Universe, at least in its visible part.

In recent research, the term ‘global’ has been used in the meaning of embracing some space and getting a systematic integrity, ‘given’ by this or that space (the globe, the Universe). This meaning, which we will call a spatial globality, is important for the understanding of globalization and other global processes. But there is another meaning of the term ‘global’ which implies that a process (or an object) has some universal content characteristic, property or parameter that all existing processes and objects obey. For example, all objects of the material part of the Universe have gravity or three-dimensional space. Or all people inhabiting the planet, even if they are not yet united into some global and integrated system, obey in their development some common social rules. We can say that the rules that are inherent to all people with no exception and their communities (societies) are also their global characteristics, in the sense that they are inherent to the whole social dynamics and development. Comparing these two meanings of the term ‘global’, one can guess that the second meaning of the term turns out to be more profound and comprehensive; because if some social processes have not yet gained their global integrity, for example, in the spatial aspect, they have from the very beginning and by their very nature some universal content properties, which in this case are attributive characteristics common to the whole humankind. It is clear that the qualitative criterion of globality is stronger and more significant than the quantitative one. Ontologically, this ‘attributive globality’ refers to the nature and content side of an object or a process, to its nature and qualitative determination, and it primordially and always exists in them (at least since they appeared). In this sense, globality as an attribute of a material process or an object is its internal and ‘existential’ characteristic. But the globality of a process in the spatial sense does not always exist, which is evidenced by the research of the phenomenon of globalization examined within Global Studies. It is also worth mentioning here that the ‘earthly’ and ‘cosmic’ meanings of globality are hardly worth opposing and contrasting each other. And this comes from the very trends in scientific development connecting terrestrial and space problems.

It is very likely that some of the similarities and parallels will soon appear between Global Studies and planetary science, especially if we admit that global natural processes in a certain perspective can be included into Global Studies. Global Studies in ‘the exoplanet expansion’ will also in the course of time start to gain the cosmic status, although there are other lines of connection between the earth and space, for example, in such emerging area as Cosmo-Global Studies. The title of the present article also reflects this pluralism of meanings, as ‘Global Evolutionism’ is often referred to as ‘Universal Evolutionism’. In this case, the term ‘universal’ stems from the Latin word ‘universalis’ meaning ‘universal, comprehensive and extending to the entire Universe’. At the same time, the proponents of a different naming may refer to the fact that in French and even in English the term ‘global’ means ‘universal’, ‘taken as a whole’, ‘extending to the Universe’, ‘the Universe as a whole’. Here we use the terms ‘global’ and ‘universal’ with respect to evolutionism as equivalents. And sometimes we can even use the word combination ‘global and universal’ with regard to evolutionism and evolution.

Global evolutionism is the foundation of modern scientific outlook and a form of knowledge about the global (universal) evolution, in which self-organization of material systems serves the main permanent process of progressive development in the visible Universe.

Global evolution is a continuous self-organization of material systems, first in abiotic nature and then in biological and social systems of the Universe. The modern scientific worldview, which is to a large extent more systematic than it was in the last century, has also become more evolutionary, at least for the material part of the Universe. At the same time, this outlook contains a fundamentally non-evolutionary part in the form of the cosmological ideas of the dark parts of the Universe and especially of the dark energy that constitutes three-fourths of the material content of the Universe.1 That is why we can hardly speak about a ‘self-organizing Universe’ or about its progressive development, as some scientists previously assumed. The permanent and progressive orientation is inherent only to a special trajectory which is called the superline of the global evolution. The evolution of the Universe and global evolution as a continuous process of material systems self-organization begins with the Big Bang as the moment of formation of an expanding Universe about 13.7 billion years ago from a compressed (until that time) superdense hot formation (initial cosmological singularity). But the knowledge about this evolution is based only on the study of a few percent of the mass (energy) of the whole Universe, that is including only the baryonic form of matter. The rest invisible, ‘dark’ part of the Universe (including dark energy and dark matter that make up about 96 % of the energy of the Universe) were literally out of sight of researchers.

Astrophysicists, cosmologists and philosophers who study and interpret the phenomenon of ‘dark matter’ tend to conclude that this part of our Universe does not evolve (but has a significant impact on the global evolution), despite the fact that there are certain changes, for example, in the dark mass. Such a conclusion, if it is confirmed further, will have a significant impact on the scientific outlook and on many of our philosophical views. In fact, assuming that most part of the Universe does not evolve in the ‘traditional’ sense, we will have a completely different image of our Universe. Evolution in general, including global evolution, seems to occur according to a kind of a ‘leftover’ principle dictated by the ‘dark’ fragments of the most components of the Universe. We may talk about some unknown to science laws of the allocation of matter forms in the Universe (like a negentropic pyramid). The universal (global) evolution, being characteristic of our material Universe, distinguishes from all directions of development only one – the main for it continuously progressive direction – as the trajectory of a permanent self-organization, because only this very trajectory leads to the emergence of higher levels and stages of development of material systems. It is along this trajectory, or the superline, that those forms and levels of development (which do not interrupt, but progressively get more and more complex) existed during the whole time of evolution in the Universe. It is just for them that the universal and invariant principles, trends and laws of progressive development are defined, and due to them we can understand and explain the emergence of life and intelligent beings. These laws also allow us to forecast a further interaction of the social stage of evolution with the nature of the Earth and space. The development of global evolutionism as an interdisciplinary scientific concept and as an important fragment of the scientific outlook goes in line with those studies that represent the core for the generation and synthesis of scientific knowledge and the development of a unified science at the time of the noosphere formation.

In principle, this main progressive branch of development (the superline) in the Universe is of particular importance for the evolutionary Global Studies, since it is just along this line that the evolutionary processes (that can be used in Global Studies, and, above all, in global management) take place. The superline can be characterized by a ‘saving’ (and safe for the highest stages of evolution) type of permanent progressive development when, for example, separate biological or social systems, selected by certain circumstances, persist in the course of evolution and continue to exist through self-organization after another bifurcation. Permanent progressive evolution is a ‘safe’ type of self-organization leading to the emergence of new, higher structural levels and stages of development of material systems. Evolutionism develops as a broad worldview and methodological concept (already having explications in the form of evolutionics [Urmantsev 2009], or evolutionistics, according to Leonid Grinin [2011; Grinin et al. 2011a]) and as a universal (or global) evolutionism as a part of it, but the most important in the scientific aspect.


It is important to distinguish between universal evolutionism and planetary evolutionism (Vitol 2002), whose understanding, in our opinion, is limited by the scale of the planet Earth and its evolution and does not attempt to reveal permanent and stable trends, self-organization, principles and laws as the universals of the progressive development of all existing heterogeneous structures of matter. Many authors refer the term ‘global’ to the broad scale of the Universe or even to the notion of the multiverse, which is now replacing the notion of the Universe, that is to the cosmological space dimension, and there is no generally accepted opinion about the use of the concepts discussed yet. For this reason, we equally use the terms ‘global evolutionism’ and ‘universal evolutionism’ for characterizing the permanent progressive evolution in the Universe. The term ‘global’ will not refer only to the studies of global processes, as it is accepted in Global Studies analyzing globalization, global issues and other planetary processes taking place on the globe. Here the term ‘global’ can go beyond its ‘planetary’ meaning and ‘sky-rocket’ to space. In our view, global evolutionism in the broadest sense should focus on the common invariant trends, laws and models of the permanent self-organizing processes that manifest themselves at the different levels of matter organization (structures). This concept is based on the idea of universality, globality and continuous self-organization as a special kind of evolution of different structural levels, on finding the interrelations between increasingly complex evolving structures. In view of what has been mentioned (and the arguments that will be provided further), we prefer to use the term ‘global’ to characterize the type of evolution under consideration. However, this does not mean that it is the only correct solution to this terminological problem. The future will show which term will be more acceptable. That concerns not only this term, but also a number of other terms used in this work. The concept ‘global evolutionism’ should be distinguished from the concept ‘Evolutionary Global Studies’ that we recently introduced, which means an interdisciplinary conceptual approach to the study of global (planetary) processes and systems in an evolutionary perspective.

What Evolutionary Global Studies, in contrast with global evolutionism, focus on is not the processes of permanent self-organization in the Universe, but the planetary global processes: self-organization processes, as well as other evolutionary processes. The negative degenerative processes will be the focus of attention in Evolutionary Global Studies as the most important (threatening) for the future existence of humankind and development of an anti-entropic global activity. As a concept, the ‘global evolutionism’ sums up all scientific knowledge accumulated before and in the particular area related to the study of the problem of development and finding general scientific approaches, principles, laws and trends. As a conceptual and theoretical basis of this synthesis of knowledge into a holistic formation, the type of evolution under consideration represents an idea and a problem-hypothesis at the same time. This is a problem-hypothesis of our view on the dynamics of the Universe that has already had a significant integrative and activating effect on the whole problem and conceptual structure of science.