Andrey Korotayev



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Evolution: Cosmic, Biological, Social 

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the understanding of specific features of each type of macroevolution and its 

driving forces. Hence, any theoretical approach aiming to unite the methodo-

logical arsenal for analyzing different types of macroevolution cannot be me-

chanical in its nature. Thus, we need to develop and refine our common termi-

nology, methodology, and conceptual contents.  

This implies the necessity to create a common field for the study of evolu-

tionary processes (among other things, through interdisciplinary research), within 

which we could clarify and refine the common and peculiar features in evolution-

ary approaches, terminology, principles, as well as conduct cross-evolutionary 

research. The wider the field will be and the more diverse the form of its inte-

gration, the more significant advances we may expect. We believe that this may 

well provide new productive opportunities leading to a better understanding of 

the course, trends, mechanisms, and peculiarities of each type of evolution.  

In recent decades a number of researchers have tried to interconnect various 

forms of evolution. However, the study of evolutionary processes is mainly de-

veloping within each of its specific areas in rather isolated ways. In most cases

the scientists who study evolution often do not know that the problems they ana- 

lyze may already have been solved in other fields of the evolutionary studies.  

The conclusions that they may have reached independently may be surprisingly  

similar for abiotic, biological and social systems. Some contributors to this vol- 

ume experienced this firsthand when they discovered that solutions found in one  

field turned out to be applicable in another.

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 The fullest consideration of this  



question is presented in the contribution by Leonid Grinin, Alexander Markov,  

and Andrey Korotayev ‘Biological and Social  Aromorphoses: A Comparison  

between Two Forms of Macroevolution’ (in this Almanac); this article demon- 

strates how the application of ideas developed through the study of biological  

macroevolution can be very productive in the study of social macroevolution  

and vice versa. The authors trace contours of general analytic instruments, regu- 

larities and laws that are common for both types of macroevolution. This con- 

firms once again the point that both a common field and significant theoretical el- 

ements that can shape a general paradigm of evolutionism are already available.  

However, they need to be developed further.  

Thus, we first of all need to unite our efforts in order to see better what has 

already been done in this field. Those who are working with evolutionary mega- 

paradigms need to be enabled to know more about each other, in order to see 

 

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 It is well known  that, while developing the theory of natural selection (and, especially, the idea of 

struggle for survival) Darwin explicitly or implicitly relied on concepts of demography, political 

economy, and macrosociology, most notably the ones developed by Thomas Malthus, Adam 

Smith, and Herbert Spencer (see, e.g., Darwin 1991: 23; Mayr 1981: 18–19; Schweber 1977, 

1980; Ingold 1986; see also Lekevičius' contribution to this Almanac, as well as the contribution 

by Grinin, Markov, and Korotayev). Note also that biologists have borrowed from economics 

such notions as ‘invention’ and ‘innovation’ (see, e.g., Erwin and Krakauer 2004). 



Introduction. Evolutionary Megaparadigms 

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and understand what has been done (and by whom), so that they can enrich 

themselves with the experience of scientists specializing in different fields of 

evolutionary studies. The best way to initiate such a process has often been to 

start a scientific publication. This approach formed the basis of the idea to start 

a multidisciplinary almanac with Evolution as its general title. We plan to pub-

lish here those articles that study multifarious forms of evolution. We suggest 

the widest possible range of topics in terms of both the scope of fields and 

the broadness of research designs: from approaches of the universal evolution-

ism to the analysis of particular evolutionary regularities in abiotic, biological, 

and social systems, culture, cognition, language, psychological phenomena, etc.  

*   *   * 

The comparison between different types of macroevolution is an extremely im-

portant but, unfortunately, rarely studied subject, the analysis of which has con-

vinced us that there are both fundamental differences and similarities. How-

ever, one may wonder on which common principles and aspects such a unified 

field, dealing with everything from galaxies to human societies, could be based. 

We believe that there are several important aspects to such an approach.  

First of all, there are established fundamental notions such as ‘matter’, ‘en-

ergy’, ‘entropy’, ‘complexity’, ‘information’, ‘space’, and ‘time’, that provide 

a general framework for comparisons. In this issue of the Almanac several con-

tributions deal with these issues, including Chaisson's ideas concerning the cor-

respondence between increasing levels of complexity and the amount of energy 

flowing through them. This is expressed in terms of the amount of free energy 

that passes through a system during a certain period of time (Chaisson 2001, 

2005, 2006). On this basis Chaisson seeks to detect a general mechanism of cos-

mological, biological, social, and even cultural evolution. In Spier's contribution 

to this Almanac, some of the merits and contradictions of this approach are dis-

cussed (see also Spier 2005, 2010).  

In the second place, matter has some very general properties, which were 

perhaps already predetermined during the initial super dense phase of the uni-

verse. During the subsequent phases of universal evolution, matter acquires very  

specific forms, while new properties emerged at every new stage of the univer- 

sal evolution.  

In the third place, a few general system-dependent structural properties of 

matter

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 appear to determine similarities between different types of macroevo-



lution. Ashby (1958) noticed that while the range of systems is enormously 

wide, most systems consist of physical parts: atoms, stars, switches, springs, 

 

10

 If we take into account the concept of dark matter, it might be more appropriate to speak about 



ordinary matter as ‘matter that is capable of evolution’. Until now it has not been possible to say 

anything specific about ‘dark matter’, which supposedly forms the greatest portion of matter in 

the universe.  





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