Maturana and Mpodozis (2000) developed a theory of evolution that is based on the concept of autopoiesis and differs paradigmatically from the conventional theory derived from Darwin (1859). The present study aims to show that the authors have not exhausted the explanatory potential that the concept of autopoiesis can offer for the theory of evolution. Based on the critique of Maturana and Mpodozis, a system theoretic-oriented concept for the origin of species will be developed.
To render the explanatory potential of the concept of autopoiesis more fruitful for the theory of evolution, the proposition is made that the application of this concept is not limited to the molecular, or organismal level, as propounded by Maturana and Mpodozis, but should be also related to populations and species. By exempting the design of Maturana and Mpodozis from the rudiments of methodological individualism, a new field of application for the concept of autopoiesis is explored.
The proposed system theoretic concept of evolution theory makes it possible to shed new, constructive light on fundamental problems in the conventional biology of evolution. For example, with regard to the significance of the emergence of sexuality, or how phases of accelerated change in the course of evolution (e.g. the Cambrian explosion) are possible, or regarding the problem of the units of selection.
Although there have been attempts in the social sciences to interpret populations as autopoietic systems (for example by Niklas Luhmann), the proposed approach to evolutionary biology is new. Also original is a system theoretic conception of the evolutionary theory, in a strict renunciation of methodological individualism. This renunciation permits systems theories of evolution in social science and biology to be compared across disciplines.
The author thanks anonymous reviewers for their valuable hints and helpful critical comments, which certainly contributed to the improvement of the paper. The author thanks Stan Jones for editing the English language of this paper.
Räwel, J. (2019), "The origin of species through system differentiation: The evolution of living autopoietic systems", Kybernetes, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/K-03-2019-0141Download as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited