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Darwin-L Message Log 1:45 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.


<1:45>From BROWNH@CCSUA.CTSTATEU.EDU  Mon Sep  6 22:48:58 1993

Date: Mon, 6 Sep 1993 23:50:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: BROWNH@CCSUA.CTSTATEU.EDU
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: Evolution and Change

Robert Guralnick's suggestion that evolution means ordered change, or
at least that was part of his suggestion, leaves me a little unhappy.
As I age, I see an ordered pattern of change, but I think of it more
as degeneration than evolution.  A homeostatic process is ordered, but
not evolutionary, if by evolution we wish to imply some kind of cumula-
tive pattern.  I get the feeling that "evolution" has a teleological
(no longer a bad word in systems theory) or progressive implication,
and we are caught with a word that may or may not fit real processes.

This is why I try my best to avoid the term, prefering "emergent process,"
which arguably can be related to decreasing entropy, the movement from
a more to a less probable state.  I contrast this with "dissipation,"
which I use to refer to a process of increasing entropy.  So a constrained
dissipation offers a thermodynamic engine of the emergence of improbable
structures, which in turn constrain dissipation.  The unity and interde-
pendence of two opposite processes, which I like to call a "contradiction."

Haines Brown (brownh@ccsua.ctstateu.edu)

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