Sociocultural Evolution

Sociocultural microevolution, the evolution of the individual in the last of the three major phases, is based on the continuation of an outer differentiation in the differentiation of a symbolic inner world. The ontogeny of structures of the neural mind includes the organization of information which may be conservatively stored both in the outer world and the inner world (memory). However, it may also be generated in direct contact with other individuals and their mental structures. The phylogeny of mental concepts may take place in one or more individuals, in short or very long time-spans. The gain in flexibility, as compared with biological information, is evident.

The wide opening toward novelty, first in the present and the past (apperception) and - subsequently in the future (anticipation), is always of prime importance. This holds for short-range plans as well as for the anticipations of religions which span whole eons. Cosmic and biological/'ecological evolution have, in their phylogeny, transferred information which consisted primarily of confirmation, whereas novelty found an entry in the ontogenetic processes of the present (in the interplay ofthe physical forces and in metabolic communication). In sociocultural evolution, novelty increases in the experience of the present and the past, but may, above all, also break in ftom the luture into the present.

Thereby, it is again emphasized that in the sociocultural phase of evolution the individual becomes co-responsible for macroevolution. The process of mentation originates in the individual, but the autopoictic structures of the neural mind form their own systems of relations which become translated into sociocultural macrosystems such as communities, societies and civilizations. In the same way, the neural mind shapes a world of equilibrium structures, such as buildings, machines and roads and interferes creatively with ecosystems, for example, by introducing agriculture.

If chemotaxis was a rigid control system for sociobiological behaviour, emotions now form a more flexible regulatory system for sociocultural dynamics. It becomes clear how a new level of evolutionary processes opens up a new level of indeterminacy and freedom. Although emotions are connected with certain physical correlates, such as biochemical reactions and changes in blood pressure, they clearly transcend the framework of physical exchange. The same holds for the attractive or repulsive effect of ideas, plans and visions. The symbolic re-creation of the world out of structures of "pure" materially unbound information determines the dynamics of self-organizing sociocultural systems in the first line. Thus, the transition has been achieved from the evolution of matter to the evolution of an immaterial, symbolic mind. The evolution of matter is followed by the evolution of the organization of matter, and the latter, in turn, is followed by the evolution of mental structures and webs of relations which have become emancipated from the material world. Mind and matter are complementary aspects in the same self-organization dynamics, mind as dissipative and matter as conservative principle. But mind transcends its own matter systems and is capable of the symbolic re-creation of the entire outer world in the matter system of the brain. Mind underlies self-transcendence and may evolve itself...."

The Self-Organizing Universe - Erich JantschErich Jantsch, The Self-Organizing Universe - Scientific and Human Implications of the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution, New York: Pergamon. 1980, pp.210-211

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