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Evolution and Thermodynamics: The New Paradigm{

Jeffrey S. Wicken*

Department of Biochemistry, Penn State University, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA

This paper introduces the new evolutionary paradigm born of the synthesis of Darwinism and thermodynamics. It also introduces this volume, whose theme is the integration of life and social process with physical law. The sense of this expansion is as follows: Darwinism has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, from several fields. These range from statistical mechanics to developmental biology. In this paper, I will discuss the direction the revision of the Darwinian program is taking through thermodynamics, which is the science of irreversible process and self-organization. My objective is to show the coherence of life with the rest of nature. # 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Keywords evolution; emergence; thermodynamics

INTRODUCTION Evolutionary theory is presently undergoing the kind of massive conceptual restructuring that marked the two great scientific revolutions of our century: relativity and quantum mechanics. Like those two revolutions, the one occurring in evolutionary theory has tremendous practical and epistemological implications for understanding, and dealing with, nature. Much is dissonant in the Darwinian world. The ecological relationality of life had, from the time of Aristotle, suggested a functional order of nature that was cooperative. This was not an arbitrary world, but one of design. Darwin's theory challenged this old thesis in uncomfortable ways. The order of nature was not only

* Correspondence to: Jeffrey S. Wicken, Department of Biochemistry, Penn State University, The Behrend College, Erie, PA 16563, USA. { Originally published in Systems Research 1989, 6(3), 181±186.

imperfect, but was…...

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