Synopses & Reviews
Stuart Kauffman here presents a brilliant new paradigm for evolutionary biology, one that extends the basic concepts of Darwinian evolution to accommodate recent findings and perspectives from the fields of biology, physics, chemistry and mathematics. The book drives to the heart of the exciting debate on the origins of life and maintenance of order in complex biological systems. It focuses on the concept of self-organization: the spontaneous emergence of order that is widely observed throughout nature Kauffman argues that self-organization plays an important role in the Darwinian process of natural selection. Yet until now no systematic effort has been made to incorporate the concept of self-organization into evolutionary theory. The construction requirements which permit complex systems to adapt are poorly understood, as is the extent to which selection itself can yield systems able to adapt more successfully. This book explores these themes. It shows how complex systems, contrary to expectations, can spontaneously exhibit stunning degrees of order, and how this order, in turn, is essential for understanding the emergence and development of life on Earth. Topics include the new biotechnology of applied molecular evolution, with its important implications for developing new drugs and vaccines; the balance between order and chaos observed in many naturally occurring systems; new insights concerning the predictive power of statistical mechanics in biology; and other major issues. Indeed, the approaches investigated here may prove to be the new center around which biological science itself will evolve. The work is written for all those interested in the cutting edge of research in the life sciences.
Stuart Kauffman has written a challenging book on the general problem of the origins of life and maintenance of order in complex biological systems. Kauffman contends that the basic concepts of Darwinian evolution by natural selection must be extended to accommodate new information from molecular biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Kauffman's hallmark is a shift to nonlinear paradigms for living systems. Kauffman argues that biological order is largely self-organized and spontaneous, and proposes to extend evolutionary theory beyond Darwin. His thesis requires three components: an understanding of spontaneous sources of order and self-organization; integration with natural selection, which in Kauffman's scheme molds biological order; and a consideration of adaptation. Origins of Order will advance our understanding of evolution and provoke considerable discussion among evolutionary, molecular and developmental biologists.
About the Author
Stuart Kauffman, M.D., is a MacArthur Fellow, and a philosopher, biologist, evolutionary theorist, and one of the founders of the discipline known as complexity.
Table of Contents
1. Conceptual Outline of Current Evolutionary Theory
PART I: Adaptation on the Edge of Chaos
2. The Structure of Rugged Fitness Landscapes
3. Biological Implications of Rugged Fitness Landscapes
4. The Structure of Adaptive Landscapes Underlying Protein Evolution
5. Self Organization and Adaptation in Complex Systems
6. Coevolving Complex Systems
PART II: The Crystallization of Life
7. The Origins of Life: A New View
8. The Origin of a Connected Metabolism
9. Autocatalytic Polynucleotide Systems: Hypercycles, Spin Glasses and Coding
10. Random Grammars
PART III: Order and Ontogeny
11. The Architecture of Genetic Regulatory Circuits and Its Evolution
12. Differentiation: The Dynamical Behaviors of Genetic Regulatory Networks
13. Selection for Gene Expression in Cell Type
14. Morphology, Maps and the Spatial Ordering of Integrated Tissues