Nature's Holism (condensed - 6)
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". . . what is done by violence is contrary to Nature . . ." (Aristotle).

". . . our political institutions were developed well before the industrial revolution took place and cannot be adequate at the present stage of global interrelations. While in the 19th century social inequity was mitigated at the expense of disruption of the environment, climate inequities are brought about by disruption of the environment. This may imply a chance that the social and environmental issues are no longer considered separately. The task then is to conceive a political philosophy of humankind in the community of nature beyond that of the 17th and 18th century, which considers peace with nature. Such a philosophy could support the emerging forms of international solidarity when nations fall back to where, basically, they still are." (Meyer-Abich, 1993)

Thomas Hobbes has had an influence upon modern civilisation's economic and political thought as he influenced Locke with the idea that one can discover natural social laws and that applying these laws led to good government. The thinking of Thomas Jefferson , the formulation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776) and the American Constitutions were influenced by Locke's book, Two treatises of Government (Capra, 1982). There is a thread of common thought traceable back to Hobbes :

[1] Declaration of Independence (1776): "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
[2] Locke (1632-1704): ". . . all men are naturally in . . . a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature," . . . "This equality of men by nature" . . . "equal one amongst another, without subordination or subjection . . ."
[3] Hobbes (1588-1679): "Nature hath made men so equall, in the faculties of body, and mind;" . . ." The question who is the better man, has no place in the condition of mere nature; where all men are equal."

Thomas Hobbes took the laws of nature as a reality of everyday life. He explained them in clear and precise terms. Clarity of speech and the definition of words is the key to the beauty and persistence of his writing. Hobbes says, "but when we make a generall assertion, unless it be a true one, the possibility of it is inconceivable. And words whereby we conceive nothing but sound, are those we call absurd, insignificant, and non-sense . . . that his words were without meaning." This use of understandable language is essential for the establishment of knowledge. Also, man being able "by words (to) reduce the consequences he finds to generall rules, called theoremes or aphorismes," is subject to absurdity; "those most subject to it, that profess philosophy." Hobbes ascribes the causes of absurd conclusions first to the "want of method"; "in that they begin not their ratiocination (reasoning) from definitions; that is from settled significations of their words."

A philosopher named Armstrong (1983) clearly had not taken caution from the advice of Thomas Hobbes when he wrote, "Laws of nature are dyadic relations of necessitation (or probabilification) holding between universals. They are (higher-order) states of affairs which are simultaneously universals. The instantiations of these universals are the positive instances falling under the law. It is an intelligible notion . . . ." Perhaps Armstrong knows what he is trying to say but most people will not. The purpose of philosophy, which should be to transmit knowledge or to counsel and teach another, is lost. Amazingly, what Thomas Hobbes wrote in the 1600's is easier to understand than many modern philosophers with their abstract ideas and new words.

For Thomas Hobbes, "the lawes of nature are immutable and eternall," yet they oblige instinctively, that is to say, they bind to a desire they should take place. Due to our will power, freedom of choice and cultural influences, these instincts are not always expressed.

In response to the statement by Rolston III (1992) that "Ethicists had settled on at least one conclusion as ethics became modern in Darwin's century: that the moral has nothing to do with the natural" we need to understand how Thomas Hobbes saw moral laws such as equity as a natural law. In doing so we can then question the statement that "Science describes natural history and natural law; ethics prescribes human conduct, moral law; and to confuse the two makes a category mistake, commits the naturalistic fallacy " (Rolston, 1992).

From the perspective of Hobbes' philosophy, modern man is in a very precarious and dangerous situation, "for he that should be modest, and tractable, and perform all he promises, in such time, and place, where no man else should do so, should but make himself a prey to others, and procure his own certain ruin, contrary to the ground of all laws of nature, which tend to nature's preservation." If we do not recognise and accept the immutable, eternal and natural aspect of moral law then, just as we are witnessing the destruction of nature on an unprecedented scale, so the destruction of morals through the democratic process will go on! Through the democratic process we can vote away natural laws that are not only moral, but are important to the survival of the human race. Being natural laws, they are also binding, as Hobbes stated. Not only have we accepted some absurd science in our race for technological advancement, but basic laws of nature are wilfully and arrogantly ignored. However, nature has time on her side. Humanity is perhaps the first life-induced global calamity in the history of the earth to cause the mass destruction of ecosystems and extinction of species. We have to follow the same laws as and toward nature as she "observes" eternally, for, being a part of her, we have to follow her rules for life. Hobbes says, "he (Humankind) that having sufficient security (technology), that others (nature) shall observe the same laws towards him, observes them not himselfe, seeketh not peace, but war; and consequently the destruction of his nature by violence." We have effectively declared war on nature, and as we do not observe the laws which bind instinctively ("in foro interno"), we are leading ourselves to our own destruction and the collapse of civilisation.

The basis of natural laws, "because they oblige only to a desire, and endeavour, I mean an unfeigned and constant endeavour, are easie to be observed. For in that they require nothing but endeavour; he that endeavoureth their performance, fulfilleth them; and he that fulfilleth the Law, is just!" "And the science of them, is the true and onely moral philosophy." Elaborating on this he says, "And all men agree on this, that peace is good, and therefore also the way, or means of peace, which are justice, gratitude, modesty, equity, and the rest of the lawes of nature, are good; that is to say, morall vertues; and their contrarie vices, evill. Now the science of vertue and vice, is morall philosophie; and therefore the true doctrine of the laws of nature, is the true morall philosophie!" This approach is opposite to the rejection of "equating values with facts" for what Hobbes is saying is that our values and morals, are products of the primary natural laws! In other words the facts of natural law come before the values, so Hobbes equates values with facts in this context.

What we are looking for is behaviour that leads to the preservation of nature. We need natural principles and a value system that defines this behaviour. In the preservation of nature, humans as part of nature, need to ensure their own preservation. Modern technology can act as a tool, but we need to reevaluate its form and usage. As Hobbes says, "The right of nature, which writers commonly call Jus Naturale, is the liberty each man hath, to use his own power, as he will himselfe, for the preservation of his own nature; that is to say, of his own life." Simply each has the right to PERPETUATE his kind. We could reduce this simply to the law of perpetuity [2: again ] as a driving force found in all creatures. The "right of nature" is a universal "right", for the drive (or force) to perpetuate is found in all creatures. We can relate this to Hobbes' principle of freedom in that freedom implies the right to perpetuate one's own kind and thus the means thereto. We need PRINCIPLES THAT ENSURE OUR SURVIVAL AND THAT OF NATURE IN A COMPLIMENTARY FASHION. The law of "perpetuity" is a law of nature operating in all natural ecosystems. The survival of the associated and interacting species depends upon the survival or perpetuity of the ecosystem. Here we find a hint of an operational law that appears contrary to the competition of Darwin or "survival of the fittest" of Herbert Spencer. It is a law that allows or requires the preservation of nature due to the interdependence of the interacting species. The moral virtues of Hobbes provide a further clue here; they are behavioural activities - interactive events.

A creature interacting within its niche within an ecosystem, interacts with biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving) factors. Each creature possesses two main forms of adaptation that contribute towards its survival:

[1] physical, such as camouflage against predators or a thick fur coat against the elements and
[2] behavioural, such as the universal flight response to the threat of danger. (Physiology is chemical and molecular in nature, so I class it as a physical adaptation, although it may lead to behavioural changes. Behaviour is more complex, and though much of it may be physiological, one cannot simply equate the two.)
Humanity's behaviour needs to change, so that we allow the perpetuation of both other life forms and ourselves. We need to lessen the impact upon nature through a change in our behaviour. We need to ponder upon and accept the truth of the laws of nature that Hobbes identified. These moral laws follow from the definition of a law of nature by Hobbes: "A law of nature, (Lex naturalis,) is a precept or general rule, found out by reason, by which man is forbidden to do, that which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same; and to omit, that, by which he thinketh it may be best preserved." This form of reasoning is from the old tradition of science, the foundation of which was "authority understood through reason" (Appleyard, 1992) or as Hobbes says, "precepts . . . found out by reason." Through clear and logical reasoning he built a reasoned edifice, with each principle built upon or derived from earlier ones. In this tradition two authorities contribute to this edifice - the authority from God through divine revelation and the authority of reason. Each confirms the other for "knowledge of the world could only be knowledge of a system utterly determined by and clearly demonstrative of the love and infinite wisdom of God" (Appleyard, 1992). In Hobbes' book the Leviathan, he builds the first half upon reason and the second half relies on Christian revelation that is found in the Bible.

Through the general rule or principle (metaphorically the roots of a tree), derived by reason, that "every man, ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has the hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of warre," Hobbes arrives at the FUNDAMENTAL LAW OF NATURE (metaphorically the trunk of a tree), which is "to seek peace, and follow it." From this he develops many branches of moral law such as the need for a mutual transfer of rights, "and be contented with so much liberty against other men, as he would allow other men against himselfe" and so to the formation of contracts, pacts or covenants and thus the moral law that "men performe their covenants made." HERE WE CAN SEE HOW A NATURAL LAW HAS PRECEDED A MORAL LAW. The laws of nature proposed by Hobbes are moral laws. To keep ones contracts or covenants are good and part of our moral value system, yet by reason it is found to originate from a very fundamental natural law - the "right of nature" discussed above. Injustice is the "not performance of covenant" in the social context and Hobbes derives other moral laws from these fundamental laws.


[1] PRESERVATION OF OWN NATURE (Law of Perpetuity).[2: again ]


















All these laws derive through reason from the first that it is necessary for all men that seek peace, to lay down certain rights of nature. As such Hobbes says, "these are the lawes of nature, dictating peace, for a means of the conservation of men in multitudes; and which only concern the doctrine of civil society." They also form an ethical system where ethics is "the pursuit of goodness in a way which transcends individual interests and human imperfections" (Hooker, 1992) and with justice as "fairness, some kind of equality of treatment."

Dennett (1995) is a critic of Hobbes who observes that "Today, in the wake of hundreds of investigations into the nooks and crannies of game theory, Prisoner's Dilemma tournaments, and the like, we know that Hobbes was altogether too sanguine about the conditions under which a social contract would be evolutionarily enforceable." Hobbes, however did not develop ideas based on evolutionary principles, but upon reason. His was a moral philosophy of the old tradition developing reason as a tool as infallible as mathematics. Russell (1993) observes that it is only recently that we find philosophers who are empiricists and yet recognise the importance of mathematics. Hobbes's laws are natural and binding. Even the worst social condition of open and declared war eventually forces the combatants to seek peace as the people of the old Yugoslavia have recently shown. Hobbes' work is hardly sanguine (to use a word from Dennett's vocabulary), but instead pragmatic. I will show support for his findings through a simple ecological model.

The fundamental right of nature (the law of perpetuity [2: again ]), that every creature strives to live, survive and ultimately produce offspring, may be developed in two directions. Hobbes developed this in the direction of human moral philosophy. Yet, one may recognise the same force driving all creatures to survive and so develop this law to contain nature. The important issue is that moral law originates from the same fundamental natural law that is to be found in natural living systems. This moral law that "every man, ought to endeavour peace, as far as he has the hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of warre," is not found empirically, but through reason. This is the great difference between modern empirical science, which depends heavily upon observation and proof, and the science of reason of Hobbes, which depends upon carefully reasoned principles.

From the moment of the first use of a tool, our first ancestors had two choices open to them. Through destruction and domination they could enhance their own survival, killing all in their path, even their fellow humans. Brute force and war have been our companions ever since. Serbians in the 1990's and Hitler in the 1940's followed this route. Another route is to use the same reasoning that employed the tool to devise a peaceful means of living, where all flourish with least destruction. This latter route has to succeed, for it follows the evolutionary mechanism, as this book will show. This route may have initially been similar to the ritualised instincts reducing conflict that is found in other animals. However as a primate species, humans depend more upon learning than instinct. This fact allows authors such as Dobzhansky to note that "Biological and cultural evolutions of man are not independent; they are interdependent." Culture is an adaptive mechanism (Dobzhansky, 1961). Culture, if analysed from an evolutionary perspective, defines social behaviour conducive toward peace. Culture promotes the right for perpetuity of individuals and the need for compatibility. Dobzhansky notes that "Human cultural evolution has resulted in the formation of a system of values, human values."

A fundamental law of nature for ecosystems is thus: "The law of perpetuity [2: again ], is the drive or instinct each creature has, to use its own power, for the preservation of its own nature; that is to say, of its own life and to continue or perpetuate this life through its progeny." Even a rational human possesses this instinct. At the threat of some danger, even the most rational being will experience the drive or impulse to flee independent of reasoned thought. Anyone that has had a fright has experienced the beginning of the flight response.

Today, a diversity of mathematical models obscure the simplicity and clarity of this method of reasoning that existed with Hobbes, replacing it with empirical science and extensive proofs. Before we can make any progress, these models have to be countered or bypassed. They usually claim precision - if the model is correct. No doubt, the mathematical approach is an essential tool, but this does not warrant the rejection of other non-mathematical methods that may provide another form of irrefutable knowledge. This is an important point, for with the loss of this form of science, the "moral philosophy" of Hobbes, based on reason, is not possible. We have lost a method of evaluating moral right, through our excessive emphasis upon empirical science, mathematics and the democratic choice of the majority. Proof is to be found in the continuing moral decline of humanity. Where a billion drunks say beer is good, you have democracy, but not a civilisation. Hobbes built his science upon reason, yet the conclusions are as real as any mathematical proof.

An example of the scientific areas where mathematical precision is essential is the description of molecular structures in precise mathematical terms, a process that has been in development since the 1940's (Rouvray, 1993). Computers have accelerated the rate of development. Comparison of 3-dimensional molecular structures or electrostatic charges can speed up the development of medicines, pesticides, fuels, polymers and open many new areas for technological development and the synthesis of useful compounds.


"There must be comfort in the proofs of admiration and gratitude that have been evoked all over the world for a warrior statesman and philosopher who was probably more fitted to guide struggling and blundering humanity through its suffering and perils towards a better day, than anyone who ever lived in any country during his epoch" (Winston Churchill to Ouma Smuts)

"Life has divided into millions of species, the fundamental units, each playing a unique role in relation to the whole" (Wilson, 1992) (p33).

"Holism is an attempt at synthesis, an attempt at bringing together many currents of thought and development such as we have seen in our day. It is not a system of philosophy" (Smuts, 1952) (p289). "This (Smuts' Holism and Evolution) is not a treatise on philosophy; not even on the philosophy of Nature; not even on the philosophy of Evolution. It is an exploration of one idea, an attempt to sketch in large and mostly vague, tentative outline of the meaning and consequences of one particular idea" (Smuts, 1926) (p319).

Holism or the "theory of the whole" of General J.C. Smuts needs to be considered in relation to some social, moral and academic dilemmas facing humanity today. It forms part of the foundation of this book. Not only is Smuts' idea of Holism valid, but as a great historic leader, he possesses credibility and commands a respect not credited to less famous individuals. "All great truths are in their essence simple; and the absence of simplicity of statement only shows that the ultimate form has not yet been reached." (Smuts, 1926). Holism simplifies life and causes a peaceful order.


Although modern technology has existed, since about the 1800's - for a mere instant in evolutionary terms - the scientific and technological era has had stops and starts throughout history and with many civilisations. The first ships of about 4000 B.C., galleys powered by rows of paddlers, represent one of the most ancient technologies. Egyptians invented sails around 3000 B.C.! As far back as 300 BC, Euclid's "Elements of Geometry" showed analytical precision. His are among the first theorems, proved in a chain of logical reasoning. Euclid introduced the notion of mathematical proof in a concise format, creating a body of unquestioned fact forming what he called axioms (Poundstone, 1992). He introduced only five axioms, statements so obvious that they had to be true. Today theoreticians postulate and test axioms to see what their outcome will be.

Physicists recognise three "revolutions", beginning with the work of Galileo, Newton and their contemporaries in the seventeenth century (Davies, 1989). They are named for the systematic study of matter, force and motion by what is called the scientific method. Appleyard (1992) says that "this science . . . that existed before Galileo was different in every respect from the science - our science - that ruled after that moment in 1609." Before this, another intellectual revolution changed humanity's perception of itself. This was the Copernican revolution, beginning in the sixteenth century, when Galileo established that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun (Gingerich, 1982). Copernicus' magnum opus of 1543 preceded this. "On the revolutions of the heavenly spheres" showed a wonderful regularity when the sun was placed at the centre of our solar system. It dislodged the Earth, and therefore humans, from the centre of the visible universe to the position of a small planet, with others, circling a small sun (Leakey & Lewin, 1992). Humanity was the centre of creation before this, now we are a mere speck of dust within a massive universe. Holism calls for a similar great change in our world view.

Physicists' second revolution includes:

[1] the theory of relativity (applicable to objects moving faster than everyday speeds and close to the speed of light),
[2] the quantum theory (applicable to objects far smaller and less massive than everyday macroscopic objects) and
[3] the discovery of radioactivity (Davies, 1989).
Today, a fourth revolution, some claim, is taking place across a broad front. The symptoms of this revolution are many new mathematical theories and the search or quest for a "Theory of Everything" (TOE) which will unite the laws of Nature into a single statement (Barrow, 1988). They call this current phase "THE NEW PHYSICS", a term used by Smuts in 1926.

Smuts recognised three recent events that led to great changes to our view of nature and to fundamental revolutions in human thought. These are Darwin's "Origin of Species", published in 1859; the discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel in 1896 and the "General Theory of Relativity" published in 1915. Today we may ignore the significance of Becquerel's discovery as it is no more significant than many other modern technological advances such as the silicon transistor of commercial personal computers and molecular biology. Instead I add another landmark: the discovery of the genetic code by J. Watson and F. Crick in 1953 - "a scientific revolution brought on by the advent of molecular genetics" (Burian, 1984).

Smuts' Holism presents another revolution that shall dawn upon us. As the facts of the world-view of Holism unfold we should see immense changes in our dealings with and understanding of nature. Holism will encompass every aspect of modern technology and require that we reform our association with nature and make our activities more benign.

SCIENCE is a mathematically determined world, or in other words, the world is easily adapted to a simple mathematical description so that modern science is founded almost entirely upon mathematics (Barrow, 1988). (Is it not perhaps that mathematics is adaptable to the consistent aspect of the world?) A question that then arises is what do we miss through viewing scientific knowledge only through the lens of mathematics. What has mathematics allowed us to discover or develop, which we should not have, had science had a moral or ecological focus? Holism has a different focus to the mathematical, which Smuts recognised as the fundamental, synthetic, ordering, organising, and regulating activity in the universe. Its emphasis is ecological.

Until recently, mathematics was at a loss in chaotic systems, such as are life's interactions. This is because predictability is lost. Physicists have emphasised mathematically predictable linear systems and so arrived at the current description of physical (nonliving) nature. This unpredictability is due to the (chaotic) system's extreme sensitivity to initial conditions. In the predictable systems of elementary mechanics, small errors in input data result in small errors in output. In a chaotic system the errors grow exponentially with time, so that the slightest error in information soon leads to complete loss of predictive power (Davies, 1989). Technically, chaos is a synonym for randomness. (Ford, 1989).

Chaos is what we observe without the information to perceive the underlying order. It creates an uncertainty that poses a limit to our abilities. (Ford, 1991). Chaotic or random interactions exist and are unique, but are uncomputable, unpredictable and uncontrollable - a scientist's nightmare. Our environment's weather is a chaotic system that has proved very difficult to predict reliably for any extended period. Even the weather of only a week ahead is uncertain (chaos), while they can land a spacecraft exactly on its determined position on the moon (deterministic science), or plot its course for years ahead. In some engineering fields such as lasers and electronics methods of controlling chaotic systems are being found (Ditto & Pecora, 1993). This is possible because the behaviour of a chaotic system is not absolutely random.

Much of what we experience relates little to science and is chaotic - the arrangements of leaves on a tree, the shape of clouds passing through the sky, rain drops falling on dry sand, snowflakes, gusts of cool wind and our daily interactions in life. Here religion (all religion is based on faith and thus subjective) and its spiritual component bear influence and we discover the traditional and often dogmatic divide between science and religion. We live within a chaotic system that forges our experience and provides the forces of natural selection. These forces select strongly and subtly, forming our behaviour so that we can survive in this physical environment. As such, a cat has a fear of heights and all creatures including humans have the instinctive drive to flee danger.

Whereas, for a mathematician, predictability in a chaotic system is impossible as errors grow at an accelerating rate, for life-systems the converse occurs in that there is an incredibly strict selection upon form and behaviour by the chaotic system. A life form that is not compatible behaviourally and physically with its biotic and abiotic environment (the chaotic system), represents in mathematical jargon, another variance or degree for freedom in the chaotic process. In terms of survival of the "fittest", it dies. Designers of computer software that mimics intelligent systems encounter an immediate problem of reducing the random search for solutions. A good computerised chess player has 10 120 possible board positions to choose from (Lenat, 1984). In life the complexity is greater, as are the choices.

Life solves this complexity by death and natural selection, so limiting the search for solutions that a mathematician faces. Life forms are selected for, that have a common behavioural and physical characteristic; that is they conform to a COMMON PRINCIPLE defined by our material universe. This principle of compatibility, which leads one to a holistic conception, is reflected in a behavioural strategy of the animal that ensures its perpetuation (survival). Smuts describes this principle as Holism. Ecologists have recognised the gross effects of this principle and defined it as negative feedback. "Instead of the animistic, or the mechanistic, or the mathematical universe, we see the genetic, organic, holistic universe, in which the decline of the earlier physical patterns provides the opportunity for the emergence of the more advanced vital and rational patterns" (Smuts, 1952). Smuts recognised in the discoveries of the New Physics of 1926, an important HOLISTIC principle: "the structural character of matter indicates that it is also creative, not of its own stuff, but of the forms, (chemical) arrangements and patterns which constitute all its value in the physical sphere." It is the varied character of the atoms, which has allowed the great diversity of chemical forms or associations, which have enabled life as we see it today.

Water, the combination of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, depends upon the unique nature of these atoms for the characteristics that we see. More complex atomic structures such as enzymes (proteins) and the double helical structure of DNA control life functions. "Just as life and mind are creative of values through the selective combinations and forms which they bring about, so matter also, instead of being dispersive, diffusive, and structureless, effects through its inner activities and forces, structural groupings and combinations which are valuable, not merely to humans, but in the order of the universe. But for its dynamic, structural, creative character, matter could not have been the mother of the universe" (Smuts, 1926)! No wonder humanity believes in God!

For those without a knowledge of chemistry, each element such as carbon, iron, phosphorus, sulphur, etc. have different atomic characteristics such as size and electrical charges. These give each element its own nature. At the subatomic level of atoms specific groupings are found between the atomic constituents such as protons, neutrons and electrons. These elements then interact in typical and allowed associations and bonding defined by their inherent characteristics (such as electrical charge), so forming the variety of selective groupings as molecules, chemical structures or matter. In this sense Smuts describes matter as creative. In the creative process of matter, there must have been an evolutionary process over an unknown period, which led to the stable atomic forms of today. This hypothesis forms part of the Big Bang Theory. Furthermore, a period of chemical evolution must have preceded the origin of life on earth, leading to life one billion years after the earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago (Dickerson, 1978) (Mason, 1992).

Unfortunately, Smuts used the word "creative", as such words as this and "purpose", attributed to the holistic mental construct, imply will, consciousness and intention, none of which is found in inanimate matter. A better word here would have been 'dynamic'. Matter has an inherent character resulting in a specific dynamic and stable structure maintained by an association of forces. Such words as 'creative' have resulted in the idea of holism receiving much scorn, when it is not the idea but the phraseology and semantics that are incorrect. The concise oxford dictionary defines creative as, "creating; able to create; inventive, imaginative; showing imagination as well as routine skill." Matter has no imagination but it does have an incredible dynamism that arises from it's inherent and diverse, stable character.

Smuts' observation of the consequence of material nature's characteristics upon evolution was correct, but the attribute of "creativeness" to this creates confusion. It is The Creator who has structured these Laws according to which all in creation conforms. God is the creator "who has created with order and proportion and who has ordained laws to guide" (QsLXXXVII). We cannot disprove this fact, for God is the Eternal Uncreated while its proof is found in the "order and proportion." Whether one looks at the origin of physical life or the origin of spiritual life or the origin of matter, all philosophers have to confront the question of what was before the knowledge that they have. No scientist or philosopher need deny this nor try to disprove this for to figure out origins is beyond human intellect. No scientist can say what event led to the Big Bang creation of our universe. As a Sufi once said to me, quoting the Holy Quraan, about the atheistic scientist, "Ask him only to create the wing of a fly and he cannot, yet he denies the existence of the Creator of the Universe."

For Smuts, Holism culminates in the PERSONALITY. This is for him the most recent Holistic event or expression. The aspiration of the Holistic Personality of Smuts is for the full and pure freedom of expression of the individual as a unique personality as opposed to the social norms or conventions such as ambition, patriotism, and love of money or power. Such a person achieves an active moral nature and the suppression of the harmful elements in life. This path, the development of the personality, brings one into a relationship with nature, so that we have to become central to ecosystem processes. "The unity of character which the holistic movement aims at does not involve the destruction of the lower by the higher ethical factors, but the clear undisputed hegemony (preeminence or dominance) of the latter over the former, and the reduction of the former to a subordinate or servile position in the whole. It is this combination, in a harmonious form, of all grades of ethical evolution in the ideal Personality which will make it truly human, while at the same time it will be expressive of the universal order. To secure that harmony ought to be the supreme aim of the ethical individual." Lower ethical factors I take to mean the more base desires that most moral codes advise us to avoid such as greed, lust, anger and so forth. It would also include the destructive motives that are the basis of evil (Hubbard, 1964). Of personality he says, "The highly developed and disciplined Personality, pure and homogenous in itself, and in harmony with universal holism, and thus finely responsive to all things true and good and fair in the universe, will not only embody the ancient Greek ideal of . . . moderation and self-control, but will also come to realise both the Stoic and Epicurean ideal of . . . tranquillity of soul, and finally to know the peace of God, passing all understanding, which is the supreme promise of the Buddhist no less than of the Christian religion."

We cannot escape this holistic influence as it is a part of every facet of our being. Even an atom is subject to this influence, for it determines the nature of the atom! Smuts recognises what all religions call for: "how important a part moral discipline plays in the furtherance of the evolutionary holistic scheme." "Any . . . extraneous or adventitious element in it (the personality) which does not harmonise with it prevents it to that extent from being a whole." He sees in humans that reason and conscience are a new element in the life process, able to moderate natural selection so that evolution is no longer left to instinct and blind physical processes. It is this that Divine Scriptures have provided from ancient times, for left to our animal drives we can behave in the most savage manner as the lowest of the low. As the newest and most intelligent expression of life, we have no choice if we are to survive, but to become central to all ecological processes. Even if we choose to do nothing to a particular ecological system, it is a choice based on scientific reasoning.


Smuts made the following observation at the age of 78, "When I look at the world unrest today and the confusion which prevails in science, in philosophy, in religion and in our whole human outlook and set-up, I feel more and more that in the concept of holism we have the key to many a door, and the way to ultimate solutions. Something holistic is at the heart of things and in the nature of this universe, which is not a mere chance or random assemblement of items. The detailed things derive most of their meaning, significance and functioning from the whole of which they are but parts. They are not mere parts but really members of wholes. Both as a metaphysical and as a scientific concept the whole is basic to an understanding of the world. And in sociology and religion this is more clearly the case. Relativity is only a halfway house to this more fundamental concept (Smuts, 1952)." For a rather haphazard exploration of this, I have added more in a separate file called " Reality & Rationality ."


As the originator of evolution through natural selection, we must accredit Charles Darwin's work as a major foundation of this book, for without it, holism would not be possible. We must give Darwin credit for his insight into natural life processes and not natural selection alone. He recognised many aspects of natural systems that have relevance today and form the forefront of aspects of modern biological research. I wish to take what he had to say on a different course to the traditional perception to illustrate how close his ideas came to the concept of perpetuity and compatibility.

He recognised the COMPLEXITY of nature and its contrast and difference to the realm of physics. "Throw up a handful of feathers, and all must fall to the ground according to definite laws; but how simple is this problem compared to the action and reaction of innumerable plants and animals which have determined, in the course of centuries, the proportional numbers and kinds. . . ." The various interactions and processes to be found within an ecosystem were evident from his descriptions and reasoning. His term "struggle for existence" was used in a largely "metaphorical sense" (to use his own words ), "INCLUDING DEPENDENCE OF ONE BEING ON ANOTHER ( which we can equate partially with compatibility), and including not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny" (which we can equate with PERPETUITY). A struggle for existence "inevitably follows from the high rate at which all organic beings tend to increase." "Therefore, as more individuals are produced than can possibly survive, there must always be a struggle for existence, either:

[1] one individual with another of the SAME SPECIES,
[2] with the individuals of DISTINCT SPECIES,
[3] with the PHYSICAL CONDITIONS of life" ( Malthusian doctrine).
The interactors he called "enemies or COMPETITORS", which is an unfortunate choice of words that have echoed through society and ecological science until today. Our understanding of competition is too closely aligned with human activities for its application to nature to be correctly interpreted. Competition theory forms a significant part of modern economics and business practises (Burke et al, 1988). Darwin recognised the principle that at environmental extremes, such as "Arctic regions, or snow-capped summits, or absolute deserts, the struggle for life is almost exclusively with the elements (abiotic interactions)."

Darwin emphasised the importance of biological (biotic) interactions, the topic of modern ecology. He noted "that many cases are on record showing how complex and unexpected are the checks and relations between organic beings, which have to struggle together in the same country." Today we would use the terms "habitai" or "ecosystem" instead of "same country." He emphasised "THAT THE LIFE OF EACH SPECIES DEPENDS IN A MORE IMPORTANT MANNER ON THE PRESENCE OF OTHER ALREADY DEFINED ORGANIC FORMS (ORGANISMS), than on climate; and therefore, that the really governing conditions of life do not graduate away quite insensibly like heat or moisture." This line of thought leads naturally to ecology, though the science was not recognised in Darwin's time, but alluded to by him in that "when we look at the plants and bushes clothing an entangled bank, we are tempted to attribute their proportional numbers and kinds to what we call chance. But how false a view this is."

In my book there is an emphasis upon interdependence to illustrate the principle of compatibility. Darwin's idea of "dependence" was often linear such as in his conclusion that "it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animal (cat) in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention (preying upon) first of mice and then of (humble) bees (preyed upon by mice), the frequency of certain flowers (fertilised of pollinated by the bees) in that district." In another instance, "a plant on the edge of the desert is said to struggle for life against the drought, though more properly it should be said to be dependent on the moisture." This latter interpretation is consistent with Kantist teleology. Concerning parasitism he also says, "the dependency of one organic being on another, as of a parasite on its prey, lies generally between beings remote in the scale of nature."

Darwin recognises the complexity of nature as evident by these statements. He concludes, "this is often the case with those which may strictly be said to struggle with each other for existence, as in the case of locusts and grass-feeding quadrupeds. But the struggle almost invariably will be MOST SEVERE between the individuals of the SAME SPECIES, for they frequent the same districts, require the same food, and are exposed to the same dangers. In the case of varieties of the same species, the struggle will generally be almost equally severe."

To develop the ideas of this book, I allocate an "INTERACTIVE COST" of ONE between individuals of the SAME SPECIES and rate all other forms of interaction relative to this. What this means is that when two individuals of the same species interact, there is an energetic cost to this interaction and this "intraspecific" (within the species) cost is allocated a value of one. This represents the average cost of interactions between individuals of the same species. The energetic cost of other interactions that the species has are then rated compared with this "cost" of one.

To use one of Darwin's examples, where certain mountain varieties of sheep will starve out other mountain varieties, so that they cannot be kept nor live together. The successor may have an interactive effect of 1.1 upon the displaced species and the displaced species an effect of 0.9 upon the successor. I will use this conceptual model to explain interactions.

Interdependence is found in nature, as well symbolised by the bee and the flower and is different to competition. Through natural processes, Darwinian natural selection leads to less competition and more interdependence. We need to see how close Darwin ventured to this idea or principle, and a good start is the ECOLOGICAL NICHE that each species occupies. As they had not adopted the term "niche" when Darwin wrote the "Origin of Species" he had to use a circuitous route to describe the niche as in the following statement: "We can dimly see why the competition should be most severe between allied forms, which fill nearly the SAME PLACE IN THE ECONOMY OF NATURE; but probably in no one case could we precisely say why one species has been victorious over another in the great battle of life." He rephrases this in other instances but it is the same as the modern idea of an ecological niche. As such, Darwin says that natural selection "depends on there BEING PLACES IN THE POLITY OF NATURE, WHICH CAN BE BETTER OCCUPIED by some of the inhabitants of the country undergoing modification of some kind." He also describes several closely-allied species as "FILLING NEARLY THE SAME PLACE IN THE NATURAL ECONOMY OF THE LAND" and that natural selection can do nothing until favourable variations occur, and until a PLACE IN THE NATURAL POLITY OF THE COUNTRY can be better filled by some modification of some one or more of its inhabitants." "Within a confined area (of nature), with SOME PLACE IN ITS POLITY not so perfectly occupied as might be, natural selection will always tend to preserve all the individuals varying in the right direction (speciation through a selective pressure), though in different degrees, so as to better fill up the unoccupied place." All individuals vary while only those with traits suited to the specific niche survive. These reproducing and surviving individuals could, in turn, perhaps generate further variation of the trait selected.

Methods of separating the niches of closely related species include, "haunting different stations, . . . breeding at slightly different seasons, or . . . varieties of the same kind preferring to pair together." "Isolation, (such as by barriers) also, is an important element in the process of natural selection." Eventually, two populations with a common ancestry, occupying slightly different niches, get a few crucial differences that prevent them from exchanging genes. This adaptation can be of a particular part of the anatomy (such as colour), a physiological process (such as temperature tolerance), or a behaviour pattern (such as a mating dance) (Wilson, 1992). Reproductive isolation between formerly interbreeding populations may result in speciation or the creation of two species and further biological diversity (Wilson, 1992). Alternatively, natural selection, by a process of vertical evolution, leads to changes to the same species creating what they call chronospecies. In human evolution, Homo erectus and H. sapiens form chronospecies. There is no single moment in time when the one species became the other yet they are different.

Amazingly, Darwin's work is glibly relegated to the past. In contrast to the above paragraph, Edward O. Wilson, (1992) states, ". . . he lacked a biological species concept based on reproductive isolation. As a result he did not discover the process by which multiplication occurs. His thinking on diversity remained fuzzy." Darwin even explained how two populations of the same mountain-sheep species living side by side (sympatric species) may evolve into two species (see below). Rather than being fuzzy, Darwin's explanations were so concise that even today his ideas remain at the forefront of evolutionary thought.

Concerning competition, Darwin said, "Not until we reach the extreme confines of life, in the arctic regions or on the borders of an utter desert, will competition cease. The land may be extremely cold or dry, yet there will be competition between some few species, or between the individuals of the same species, for the warmest or the dampest spots." Intuiting it is difficult or detach from our instincts and comprehend a clear alternative to this competitive mode of thought. An alternative, compatibility, arises through interdependence within an ecosystem. Darwin seems to admit to this problem in the concluding paragraph to his chapter on "Struggle for Existence" where he says, "It is good thus to try in our imagination to give any form some advantage over another. Probably in no single instance should we know what to do, so as to succeed. It will convince us of our ignorance on the MUTUAL RELATIONS OF ALL ORGANIC BEINGS; A CONVICTION AS NECESSARY, AS IT SEEMS TO BE DIFFICULT TO ACQUIRE."

Having alluded to "mutual relations", Darwin reiterates this principle in his chapter on "Natural Selection": "Let it be borne in mind how infinitely complex and close-fitting are the MUTUAL RELATIONS of all organic beings TO EACH OTHER and TO THEIR PHYSICAL CONDITIONS of life." This is basically an ECOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION of the complex interactions within an ecosystem and it is in this context that Darwin says that "this preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection." This results in animals being better adapted to their altered (natural) conditions.

Darwin's ecological description then goes deeper! "We may conclude, from what we have seen of the intimate and complex manner in which inhabitants of each (ecosystem) country are BOUND TOGETHER, that any change in the numerical proportions of some of the inhabitants, independently of the change of climate itself, would most seriously affect MANY of the others." Thus, we arrive at a recognition of the INTERDEPENDENCE of associated, interacting species within an ecosystem! He even emphasises that such changes considered are INDEPENDENT OF ABIOTIC INFLUENCES. We thus arrive again at the symbol of interdependence shown by the flower and the bee: "Thus I can understand how a flower and a bee might become slowly, either simultaneously or one after the other, modified and ADAPTED in the most perfect manner TO each other, by the continued preservation of individuals presenting MUTUAL and SLIGHTLY FAVOURABLE DEVIATIONS OF STRUCTURE." My theory of compatibility is a description of the dynamics of this process.

In the description of the bee and the flower Darwin has recognised the possibility of mutual favourable deviations of structure being selected for through natural selection! This principle forms part of the compatibility CONCEPT of this book as opposed to the COMPETITIVE CONCEPT where, as Darwin said and the world believed, "if any one species does not become modified and improved in a corresponding degree with its competitors, it will soon be exterminated." We thus see that Darwin acknowledges that the process of Natural Selection can lead to TWO quite different outcomes, one of INTERDEPENDENCE, and one of competition. This is further confirmed by his observation of two basic principles:

[1] "Competition should be most severe between allied forms, which fill nearly the same place in the economy of nature; and its "COROLLARY OF THE HIGHEST IMPORTANCE":

[2] "That the structure of every organic being (organism) is related, in the most essential yet often hidden manner, to that of all other organic beings, with which it comes into competition for (i) food or (ii) residence, or from which it has to (iii) escape, or on which it (iv) preys." In a consideration of Compatibility the word competition in [2] above would be replaced by interaction or association.

Darwin's description of the bee and the flower requires that one add (v) a noncompetitive interactive situation to those that result in related structures between organisms. Thus his thought dwells upon competition, while interdependence is the neglected aspect of natural selection that I pursue and investigate. Darwin completes his observation with the following statement: "This is obvious in the structure of the teeth and talons of the tiger; and in that of the legs and claws of the parasite which clings to the hair of the tiger's body. But the beautifully plumed seed of the dandelion, and in the flattened and fringed legs of the water-beetle, the relation seems at first confined to the elements of air and water. Yet the advantage of plumed seeds no doubt stands in the closest relation to the land being already thickly clothed by other plants; so that the seeds may be widely distributed and fall on unoccupied ground. In the water-beetle, the structure of its legs, so well adapted for diving, allows it to compete with other aquatic insects, to hunt for its own prey, and to escape serving as prey to other animals." This is a holistic perception, in that Darwin recognises adaptations to the whole system - the plumed seed is an adaptation to the whole forest! It is also a recognition of the teleology of the form described by Kant.

This is not an isolated statement. Darwin repeats it several times, explaining how biotic interactions result in "complex co-adaptations of structure between one organic being and another, which we see everywhere throughout nature." Also, "natural selection is continually trying to ECONOMISE in every part of the organisation." Again he says, "in short, EACH ORGANIC BEING IS EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY RELATED IN THE MOST IMPORTANT MANNER TO OTHER ORGANIC BEINGS," so that the "range of the inhabitants of any country by no means exclusively depends on insensibly changing physical conditions, but in large part on the presence of other species, on which it DEPENDS, or by which it is destroyed, or with which it comes into competition." This perception of Darwin is the most neglected aspect of his work, yet he said it was "OF THE HIGHEST IMPORTANCE."

The term compatibility has wider scope than interdependence. Two species that do not interact may have no effect upon each other nor compete with each other and thus not form a mutual adaptation of any direct type and yet be compatible and part of the same ecosystem. Ultimate compatibility is the ability to exist without any effect or dependence upon associated species - an impossible condition for, even plants depend upon micro-organisms for some of their needs. Aquaculturists who produce unicellular algae to feed larval fish or prawns, have to add the vitamins B1, B12 and biotin to the culture as the algae species cannot produce one or all these vitamins! In nature they get these vitamins from bacteria. Ultimate compatibility being a physical impossibility, being in a role that benefits associated species is what is usually found.

Competition dominates current theories on natural selection. Darwin describes well the consequences of competition. An important principle of Darwin's, not in use today is that "it is common (numerous) species which afford the greatest number of recorded varieties, or incipient species. Hence, rare species will be less quickly modified or improved within any given period, and they will consequently be beaten in the race for life by the modified descendants of the commoner species." In other words the rate of variation depends on population numbers, an acceptable premise or again as Darwin expressed it, "the species which are most numerous in individuals will have the best chance of producing within any given period favourable variations." Even Mayr (1991) missed this principle when he said in his book, "One Long Argument", that "He (Darwin) would describe how they became adapted to a new niche, but he failed to account for their reproductive isolation from the parental species." He went as far as to call Darwin "confused about the issues" of "species and speciation"; yet Darwin uses the above principle well to describe in detail how two adjacent varieties can remain reproductively separated. Darwin said, "I believe many perfectly defined species have been formed on strictly continuous areas. He then goes on to explain HOW REPRODUCTIVE ISOLATION OF VARIETIES OCCURS:

"If I am right in believing that allied or representative species, when inhabiting a continuous area, are generally so distributed that each has a wide range, with comparatively narrow neutral territory between them, in which they become rather suddenly rarer and rarer; then, as VARIETIES do not essentially differ from species, the same rule will probably apply to both; and if we in imagination adapt a varying species to a very large area, we shall have to adapt two varieties to two large areas, and a third variety to a narrow intermediate zone. The intermediate variety, consequently, will exist in lesser numbers from inhabiting a narrow and lesser area; and practically, as far as I can make out, this rule holds good with varieties in a state of nature." He then continues, "I think, we can understand why intermediate varieties should not endure for very long periods; - why as a general rule they should be exterminated and disappear, sooner than the forms which they originally linked together." He gives three basic reasons for this:

[1] that "any form existing in lesser numbers would . . . run a greater CHANCE of being exterminated than one existing in large numbers";
[2] "in particular this case the intermediate form would be eminently liable to the inroads of closely allied forms existing on both sides of it"; and
[3] "A FAR MORE IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION," "during the process of further modification . . . forms existing in large numbers will always have a better chance, within any given period, of presenting further favourable variations for natural selection to seize on, than will the rarer forms that exist in lesser numbers.
Hence, the more common forms, in the race for life, will tend to beat and supplant the less common forms, for these will be more slowly modified and improved." Darwin then uses the example of three varieties of sheep, one of an extensive mountainous region, another an intermediate form restricted to a hilly tract, and a third to a wide plains area. Using the above principle he explains how the improved mountain or plains breed will replace the less improved hill breed, so coming into close contact with each other. Thus two varieties may to some extent interact and interbreed across an intermediate zone. As each variety is adapted to its specific habitat and is at a selective advantage in this area and as varieties from the two larger zones fill the area of interaction of the varieties, rather than hybrids extending into the two zones, reproductive isolation is effectively maintained between the populations.

A real life example of this situation exists in the interaction between the African bee, Apis mellifera scutellata and the European bee, a "gentle subspecies of A. mellifera" (Rinderer et al, 1993). Although these species did not originate in South America, but were introduced, their ability to interbreed would, according to the competitive theory, not allow their coexistence as separate populations. We find a different situation existing. Early settlers to the New World of North America found that native honeybees were lacking, so introduced bees from Europe. This subspecies, which originated from an Asian species is adapted to temperate climates through behavioural responses that enable it to survive through winters without collecting honey. It evolved the ability to regulate body temperature and survive in a temperate climate. Two of the major behavioural adaptations to withstand cold are to cluster together in sheltered nests and to eat honey stores collected in the warmer months.

Commercial enterprise has resulted in unintentional experiments giving interesting results, as in Brazil which originally also introduced this European honey bee. In this tropical climate, bee colonies "rarely, if ever" survived in the wild and beekeepers found it difficult to sustain viable colonies throughout the year for commercial operations. Apparently, the behavioural adaptations of the European honeybee led it to "misread" environmental cues for reproduction. This bee is adapted to temperate climates where day length varies seasonally, with increasing day length indicating the onset of warmer weather, summer and flowering plants. The bees' response to this is to expand the size of their worker populations so that by the time flowers bloom, many workers are available to forage for pollen and nectar. Little relation exists between day length and the availability of pollen and nectar in the tropical Brazilian climate, so this behaviour was maladaptive to the extent that the bees could hardly survive. Rainy periods lead to the abundant production of flowers - a completely different environmental cue. In Brazil, the European colonies would respond to the environmental cue of long day length and expand their colonies through the production of workers at times when food supplies were scarce - to their own detriment. The European honeybee was completely out of tune with the cycles of flowering in tropical climates - their (teleonomic) adaptation was unsuited to tropical climates and no teleology is involved.

To further elaborate on this unintentional experiment, in 1957 the Brazilians imported African bees to Sao Paulo. These bees were adapted to the warmer climates of South Africa and Tanzania and so believed to be better suited to the Brazilian tropical climate. They also distributed some to other beekeepers in Brazil. These bees were better able to take their reproductive cue from variations in rainfall and the availability of flowers and were adapted to cope with dry seasons. So successful were they, that by 1981 they had reached Panama and by 1992 had crossed most of Mexico. They reached Texas on 15 October 1990 and were first spotted in Arizona in 1993. They have now reached southern California. Southwards, however they encountered apparently coupled climatic and competitive limits to their distribution and did not distribute throughout Brazil. To what extent competition was a factor limiting distribution is evident from what happened when African bees reached the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The Yucatan has the greatest concentration of commercial honeybees in the world! They were originally European bees, but on checking these bees it was found that insects with European morphology predominated (Before 12/1993), but some possessed mainly African morphology. Many had intermediate features showing hybridisation had occurred.

Mitochondrial analysis provided more evidence of interbreeding, with bees with European morphology and African mitochondrial DNA and vice verse. The mitochondria (the "energy factories" of the cells) are unique in that they have their own DNA separate from the cellular DNA to be found in the chromosomes of the nucleus. Mitochondria are inherited exclusively from the mother during reproduction. Nuclear DNA directs the emergence of physical and behavioural traits. Hybrids of African males and European females have the advantage of hatching about a day earlier than the European bees. Early hatching queens are more likely to posess new hives.

Hybridisation occurs in tropical climates, so in Argentina, climate must play a crucial role in limiting the African bees distribution. In Argentina we find the situation postulated by Darwin. Africanised bees are common in the north and European bees are rare. Near Buenos Aires a narrow transition zone of either African or European or hybrid bees is found, similar to the situation in the Yucatan Peninsula. In the south European bees are abundant and Africanised bees are rare. Although the bees can interbreed, climatic factors keep the two populations separate.

Southern Argentina has a more temperate climate but supports abundant beekeeping of the European strain. This is evidence of two strains of a single species superiorly adapted to specific conditions and maintaining their genetic integrity within their respective optimum conditions although interbreeding is totally viable. Selective pressures dictated by environmental conditions keep these two populations separate and unique. With time this dynamic situation could shift in four directions - increased separation of the populations, dominance by the African bee, dominance by the European bee, or complete hybridisation. However if the selective pressures of the tropical and temperate climates lead to adaptations to different environmental cues, which are necessarily so precise to be in harmony with the respective flowering seasons and in addition mutually incompatible, then the two populations will remain separate as proposed by Darwin.

Evolution, according to the modern view, creates two patterns across time and space. An organism can undergo `vertical change' (the change through time of a species without it splitting into many species) in the original population, or it may undergo speciation. Speciation is the process of species formation, where, as well as vertical change, the population splits into two or more reproductively isolated populations. The result is multiple races or species. Change without speciation is termed anagenesis, while change with speciation is called cladogenesis (Dennett, 1995).

In Argentina's mix of European and African bees we find the expression of modern evolutionary principles and Darwin's ideas. In Argentina, different climates suit the European and African bees - African bees to the warmer north and European bees to the colder southern climates. In the climates to which they are adapted, they are more fit than either the hybrids or the subspecies suited to the other climate. These differences, which evolved as traits that adapted the bee to the environment, prevents the success of hybrids in either of the climatic extremes. Adaptive differences in habitat, here flowering patterns in relation to the climate that the bee is synchronised to, have accidentally come to serve as isolating mechanisms. The hybridisation of European and African bees in North America shows that the situation is dynamic. It will be interesting to see if the two subspecies interacting in Argentina evolve into separate species. If hybrids have a lower survival potential at this zone of interaction, than either the southern or northern population, migrants from the two larger populations will continually displace them.

Continuing with competition, Darwin states, "the forms which stand in closest competition with those undergoing modification and improvement, will naturally suffer most. . . . It is the most closely-allied forms, - varieties of the same species, and species of the same genus or of related genera, - which, from having nearly the same structure, constitution, and habits, generally come into the severest competition with each other. Consequently, each new variety or species, during the progress of its formation, will generally press hardest on it's nearest kindred, and tend to exterminate them." Thus, THE INTERACTIVE COST DUE TO COMPETITION IS HIGHEST BETWEEN LIKE INDIVIDUALS. Wilson (1992) upholds the same principles in modern evolutionary theory: "Pairs of newly created sister species are often so close in their diet, nest preference, susceptibility to particular diseases, and other biological traits that they cannot coexist. Each tends to push the other out by competition." A logical step or survival strategy would be to reduce this interactive effect in some way. This entails the separation of niches or utilisation of different niches or to use Darwin's terminology, "DIVERGENCE OF CHARACTER." Darwin asks the question, "How, then, does the lesser difference between varieties become augmented into the greater difference between species?" His answer is based on the competitive perspective: "The more diversified the descendants from any one species become in structure, constitution, and habits, by so much will they be better enabled to SEIZE on many and widely diversified places in the polity of nature, and so be enabled to increase in numbers." Departing from a purely competitive concept he states, "The truth of the principle, that the greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification of structure, is seen under many circumstances." I will show that this divergence of character is the source of stability in diverse ecosystems that has so eluded ecologists through all the years. However, Darwin seems to perceive this diversification as part of the competitive drive in such statements as "if its natural powers of increase be allowed to act, it can succeed in increasing only by its varying descendants seizing on places at present occupied by other animals."

From the perspective of compatibility the drive towards diversification is a remedy for excessive competition. The individuals of the same species have on average the same effect upon one another. Any method employed to reduce this interactive cost will improve the prospects or survival potential of the two interacting species. One example provided by Darwin was interactors "haunting different stations." This requires specialising in and thus becoming a superior competitor to a specific station in nature. The ecological result of this interactive process is that where animals and plants "come into the closest competition with each other, the advantages of diversification of structure, with accompanying differences of habit and constitution, determine that the inhabitants, which thus (have closest association) jostle each other most closely, shall, as a rule, belong to what we call different genera and orders." The bee and the flowering plant have a close association but in evolutionary terms are very distantly related.

"The advantage of DIVERSIFICATION in the inhabitants of the same region is, in fact, the same as that of the physiological division of labour in the organs of the same individual body - a subject so well elucidated by Milne Edwards. No physiologist doubts that a stomach by being adapted to digest vegetable matter alone, or flesh alone, draws most nutriment from these substances. So in the general economy of any land (ecosystems), the more widely and perfectly the animals and plants are diversified for different habits of life, so will a greater number of individuals be capable of there supporting themselves. A SET OF ANIMALS, with their organisation but little diversified, could hardly compete with a set more perfectly diversified in structure."

We see that a divergence of character provides a clear advantage as this reduces the interactive effect or cost of closely related species. It is an economic advantage, as this diversification leads to an energetically more efficient association. In the evolutionary process, the minimisation of energetic costs is an inevitable result of interactions. The greatest competitive drive is not going to come from other species but from the same or closely related species and competition leads not necessarily to extinction but divergence of character and the lowering of the interactive "cost". Although there may be unoccupied or not perfectly occupied places "occupied by other beings," as noted by Darwin, it is largely the competitive forces resulting from interactions within a species or closely related subspecies that drive individuals out into other habitats or to adopt other mechanisms of niche differentiation such as becoming nocturnal. This process is not teleological. As described by Darwin, "the more diversified in structure the descendants from any one species can be rendered, the more places they will be enabled to seize on." The generation of variation cannot be in anticipation of some unoccupied niche for that is a teleological conception. No foresight is involved.

The reduction of INTERACTIVE COSTS through natural variation, as where varieties of a single species feed upon different sized seeds, will be of survival advantage to that species as the two varieties can coexist. As Darwin words it, "the more diversified these descendants become, the better will be their chance of succeeding in the battle of life." Behaviour may dictate breeding patterns so that the two varieties remain genetically distinct. Natural selection further acts upon the two varieties, so that they become better adapted and specialised to their respective diets. This reduces the interactive cost and improves their respective survival prospects through REDUCED interactions or competition! This topic is quite complex.

A point, which may be important later, is the observation that adapted creatures do not necessarily represent the best possible under all possible conditions; that is they are not perfect. Darwin's perception on this is "that the chief part of the organisation of every being is simply due to inheritance; and consequently, though each being assuredly is well fitted for its place in nature, many structures now have no direct relation to the habits of life of each species" - the teleonomic consequence that is so popular today as if it is a new idea! "Natural selection will not produce absolute perfection," but does lead to improved varieties surviving. As evidence for this lack of perfection Darwin notes that some animals have structures and habits not suited to their habitat. "What can be plainer than that the webbed feet of ducks and geese are formed for swimming; yet there are upland geese with webbed feet which rarely or never go near the water." He observes that such animals have changed their habits without a corresponding change in structure.

Above is a thread of reasoning developed from The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Readers miss it, because it is hidden within Darwin's approach to the topic of evolution that had to counter the beliefs of the day. Following his one long argument chapter by chapter, the emphasis is different and draws the reader to different details to counter the main criticisms of the time. However, among these perceptions is the more profound analysis of nature, evolution and natural selection. Darwin, had, for example, to convince people of the existence of variations in nature. His first chapter begins with variation under domestication, where he notes that while (at his time) the laws governing inheritance are quite unknown, nature gives successive variations and man selects from this variation the traits that suit his needs. Many domestic creatures such as horses, pigeons and flowers illustrate the accumulated effects of selection.

He then goes on to discuss variation under nature that produces individual variability and varieties of a species as a necessary foundation for the work. In the struggle for existence or life he notes that "any variation, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if it be in any degree profitable to an individual of any species, in its infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to external nature, will tend to the preservation of that individual, and will generally be inherited by its offspring." It is this principle of the preservation of slight variations that Darwin termed Natural Selection "to mark its relation to man's power of selection." In this context he says that "Natural Selection . . . is a power ready for action." Critics such as Livingstone (1987) take this latter statement on its own and accuse him of "rank anthropomorphism" (human centeredness) but one can see from the CONTEXT that this is merely a lapse into colloquial wording to ease understanding. It is very easy to take statements out of context and develop the wrong impression of what an author is trying to say. As later explained, Natural selection can "act" only by the preservation and accumulation of infinitesimally small inherited modifications, each profitable to the preserved being. "A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die, - which variety or species shall increase, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct." Mathematical models confirm this.

Darwin manages to introduce ideas that are either considered modern ideas or still hotly debated today. This book deals with some of these ideas, for holism resolves these dilemmas ([1] to [5] below) through the new perception that it offers.

[1] "If any one species does not become modified and improved in a corresponding degree with its competitors, it will soon be exterminated." "Natural selection tends only to make each organic being as perfect as, or slightly more perfect than, the other inhabitants of the same country with which it has to struggle for existence." "The inhabitants of each successive period in the world's history have beaten their predecessors in the race for life, and are, in so far, higher in the scale of nature; and this may account for that vaguely yet ill-defined sentiment, felt by many palaeontologists, that organisation on the whole has progressed." As natural selection acts by competition, it adapts the inhabitants of each country only in relation to the degree of perfection of their associates."

Today, philosophers of science largely deny that there is any form of progress inherent during evolution. In a book edited by M.H. Nitecki (1988) called Evolutionary Progress, the general theme is the denial of any form of progress. Bertrand Russell was a great opponent of any evolutionary progress. As often happens, much conflict is due to semantics and a lack of definitions. For Russell any progress in natural processes implied teleology (Nitecki, 1988). At the opposite extreme, Bergson found a direction in evolution and claimed that "Man might be considered the reason for the existence of the entire organisation of life on our planet." Compatibility theory supports neither Russell nor Bergson. I find no cosmic purpose (purpose of the universe) in evolution and do not find humanity to be the reason for it all, but like Darwin, I do find a form of progress in nature that results from the interaction and co-adaptation of associated species. (see glossary for more on "progress").

[2] "The truth of the principle, that the greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification, is seen under many natural circumstances." Ecologists had, until today, tried unsuccessfully to develop models that show that diversity begets stability, as the necessary corollary of Darwin's statement. I will show that with slight modification, a standard model, the Lotka Volterra model displays the mechanism behind Darwin's observation and contrasts with the modern view: "As a mathematical generality, increasing complexity makes for dynamical fragility rather than robustness . . . This inverts the naive, if well intentioned, view that complexity begets stability" (May, ). This model shows that coevolution begets stability. Great diversity, as found in the tropics is probably the result of coevolution during long periods of environmental stability, termed the stability-diversity hypothesis (Wilson, 1989).

[3] "Natural selection, also, leads to the divergence of character." Evolutionary theory has not even managed to improve upon Darwin's explanation for this. Compatibility theory will prove that this is a fundamental principle (that natural selection favours the trend to diversification within ecosystems).

[4] "It is notorious that each species is adapted to the climate of its own home: species from the arctic or even from a temperate region cannot endure a tropical climate or conversely." It is only with the rise of environmentalism world-wide that society is beginning to appreciate such concepts and attempting to prevent the destruction of nature and emphasise habitat preservation.

[5] Soon after Darwin proposed the theory of evolution through natural selection, he proposed the idea of convergent evolution - "two very distinct species furnished with apparently the same anomalous (abnormal) organ." "Natural selection, working for the good of each being and taking advantage of analogous variations, has sometimes modified in very nearly the same manner two parts in two organic beings, which owe but little of their structure in common to inheritance from the same ancestor."

I shall deal with the first four points in this book. The fifth is now a well established principle observable in the similar forms in the tails of sharks and dolphins, two evolutionary lines that have arrive at the same "solution". In this short analysis of Darwin's "Origin of Species" I have attempted to show that Darwin emphasised the interdependence of nature as much as he did competition. From his observations Darwin develops the principle that Natural Selection leads to the divergence of character. It is this process that I concentrate upon to reveal the mechanism within the process of natural selection, which leads to this divergence. Out of this principle comes my idea of compatibility in nature. Compatibility is found to emerge in the interaction between organisms as described by Darwin: " . . . during the modification of the descendants of any one species, and during the incessant struggle of all species to increase in numbers, the more diversified these descendants become, the better will be their chance of succeeding in the battle of life." I express this principle differently. A species has a higher chance of survival if its interactive effect upon associated species is small or even beneficial. Diversification causes this effect between closely related species. Coevolution occurs from interactions between unrelated species, again reducing interactive costs or creating beneficial associations.


Before Immanuel Kant can be discussed within the context of this book, diverging a bit is necessary and explain the idea of Gaia and teleology.

Next page. Return to: Gems Index & Introduction.

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by Laurence Evans 1998 - 2008


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