While discussing these aspects we need to answer
ies? 2) Can we detect a certain unity in evolutionary megaparadigms? Tentative
answers to those questions may include the following: within this approach we
are dealing with specific processes of qualitative transformations of objects and
structures, resulting in the emergence of new levels of organization of matter
with new qualities, possibilities, and perspectives.
We can identify at least
localized qualitative changes; b) changes leading to more significant qualitative
changes (for example, the emergence of a new level of integration); c) espe-
cially significant qualitative changes, whose emergence creates possibilities for
In the words of Henri Claessen: ‘Evolutionism
currence of such structural changes’ (2000a: 2). Such qualitative transformations
are described by a number of general evolutionary principles, laws, and rules,
some of which are mentioned below.
In the second place, megaparadigms may include mega-laws that should be
regarded as certain principles rather than as rigid and fixed relationships. How-
ever, the significance of each of those principles can be rather different, de-
pending on the nature of the evolving systems (cosmic, biological, or social). It
is not sufficient to formulate only very general principles and laws. It is also
necessary to translate these more abstract principles into methodological mod-
els for specific case studies. The present issue of the Almanac considers such
laws, rules, and regularities. We hope that this will lead to more detailed dis-
cussions in subsequent issues.
In the third place, the notion of megaparadigms implies the possibility to
detect not only large-scale regularities and rules but it also opens up the possi-
bility to analyze the degree of applicability of particular rules to the various
types of macroevolution. Indeed, the appearance of certain similar traits, prin-
ciples, and regularities in different types of macroevolution does not necessar-
ily prove that they are the same type of process. Large underlying differences
may convey the impression of similarities. Such a discovery can lead to a better
understanding of such differences.
These include, for example, patterns of evolutionary expansion and differentiation of forms, de-
self-organization, relationships of components as parts of internal structures, relations between
the whole system and its environment, etc.
We generally follow the definition of Voget – Claessen who define evolution as ‘the process by
which is qualitatively different from the ancestral form’ (Voget 1975: 862; Claessen 1989: 234;
See Grinin and Korotayev 2007; 2009: ch. 1; Grinin, Markov, and Korotayev 2008 for more detail.
For example, the genomes of chimpanzees and of humans are very similar; the differences consti-
In the fourth place, we need to develop a common terminology. We have al-
ready mentioned a few such terms, e.g., ‘energy’, ‘matter’, ‘information’, ‘sys-
However, are there any terms that are specific for evolutionary studies? We
think these terms should include, obviously, evolution and coevolution as well
as micro-, macro-, and megaevolution; numerous notions labeled with the adjec-
tive evolutionary; various terms characterizing evolution, such as speed, direc-
tionality, levels, forms, types; terms that characterize spheres of evolution, most
notably, perhaps, the biosphere, the noosphere, the technosphere, etc.; possibly,
perhaps, notions of progress or the lack of it; processes of selection and resul-
ting variation. However, for a further development of evolutionary megapara-
digms these terms may not be sufficient, and examples of the use of new terms
can be found in some contributions to this Almanac. It is noteworthy that all
the existing mega-evolutionary terminology is interdisciplinary by nature. More
likely than not, therefore, new terms will also have an interdisciplinary character.
In the fifth place, there is a potential for the development of cross-
disciplinary and comparative research that can establish similarities as well as
detect differences of both methodological and practical nature; this may allow
us to find new heuristic evolutionary theories. While the issues studied within
different branches of sciences may be very specific, through the prism of the
evolutionary approach it is often possible to find opportunities for interdiscipli-
nary comparisons, the creative borrowing of methodology, the identification of
common mechanisms, of ‘vectors’ as well as systemic properties that are char-
acteristic of different forms of organization of matter, energy, and information
in abiotic, biological, and social systems (cf. Carneiro, Spier, Snooks, Grin-
chenko, Grinin, Markov, Korotayev, Reznikova, Lekevičius, Heylighen in this
Almanac). In forthcoming issues of the Almanac we hope to present more dis-
cussions about these aspects.
In the sixth place, research in terms of evolutionary megaparadigms fre-
quently requires considering issues such as directionality (vectors or trends),
speed, reversibility, etc.
In sum, the general nature of evolution requires at-
minological and methodological.
In the seventh place, any serious scientific paradigm requires a study of its
own history. We are planning to publish such overviews and discussions in fu-
ture issues of the Almanac.
cial differences between chimpanzees and humans that arise from the at first sight ‘insignificant’
difference between the two genomes.
In particular the speed of evolution has received considerable attention from a number of con-
Grinin, Markov, and Korotayev 2009a).
See also the issues of the Almanac in Russian: Grinin, Markov, and Korotayev 2009a, 2009b;