THE LIMITED SCOPE OF DARWINISM
Before pursuing the physical strategy in earnest, it is necessary to consider whether or not the nature of perception-action cycles is explainable through the conceptual tools of contemporary evolutionary theory. The answer that will be given is "no." Although the word "evolution" was popularized in the middle of the 19th century prior to its use in connection with Darwin, today evolution and "Darwinism" are typically taken to be synonymous. The "almost universally adopted definition of evoiution as a change of gene frequencies" (Mayr, 1980, p. 12) as the result of natural selection is, today, what is meant by Darwinism. As Mayr (1980, p. 43) noted, the synthesis or the rise of neo-Darwinism ("Darwinism" in its present form) was simply the "final implementation" of the basic Darwinian conception except that the focus was shifted from the differential reproduction of organisms to gene frequencies within a population. This narrow conception of evolution carries forward the dualistic tradition of decoupling the living from the physical world-a tradition (as noted earlier) that goes back in modern history at least as far as Kant..In so doing it renders itself incapable of addressing the nature of the living itself, in particular the purposive striving of perceiving-acting beings.
Spencer's Conception of Evolution and Darwinism
It was Spencer (1862) who first formulated a general theory of evolution, defining evolution as the lawful and progressive production of order from disorder governed by physical or universal law. He argued that the "instability of the homogeneous" or the "transformation of the incoherent into the coherent," the "law of evolution," as he called it, holds uniformly from the nonliving to the biological to the cultural (human social; Spencer, 1862). Although Darwin was well acquainted with Spencer's work (e.g., he credited Spencer with the phrase "the survival of the fittest") Darwin never used the word evolution until the last edition of The Origin of Species in 1872, more than a decade after it was first published (Carneiro, 1972).
In fact, as Huxley (1878/1954), Darwin's most well-known 19th century advocate himself noted, Darwin never intended to address the problem of general evolution or put forth a theory to account for it at all (Gilson, 1984)("Mr. Darwin," Huxley [Gilson, 1984, p. 73] said in 1878, "confines himself to the discussion ... of living matter assuming such matter to have once come into existence. On the other hand, Mr. Spencer ... has dealt with the whole problem of evolution."). Darwin's agenda, in short, was to dispel the then still widely held notion of the fixity of species. Thus, as the full title of his book (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life) indicates, Darwin assumed "the struggle for life" or the "struggle for existence"a term he borrowed from Malthus, and which Malthus had already claimed as a general property of animals and plants (Gilson, 1984)-as a necessary condition for natural selection to begin with. In short, Darwin assumed spontaneous opportunistic ordering, in particular, the purposive active properties of living things including their perceiving-acting capabilities, as the starting place for his theory.
Despite the fact that Darwin's theory of natural selection clearly lacked, by his own definition, the scope for a comprehensive theory of evolution (which its progenitor never claimed it had), in the intervening years, the word "evolution" came to be synonymous with Darwinism (Levins & Lewontin, 1985; Mayr, 1980). Because the central and limited conception of Darwinism remained natural selection, the notion of evolution was drastically reduced, from spontaneous universal ordering, to organic evolution (evolution of the living only), and finally to the product of natural selection. Evolution became defined by Darwinism itself as the result of natural selection acting on a Malthusian population, namely, a population of differentially replicating or reproducing entities competing for limited resources (i.e., fixed Malthusian parameters; Mayr, 1980). In sum, the existence of a purposive Malthusian population was assumed, but not accounted for, and given that this assumption is an assumption of perceiving-acting capabilities, an accounting of such capabilities is, ex hypothesi, beyond the scope of evolutionary theory as defined by Darwinism.
Decoupling Evolution from Physics
Whereas Spencer had envisaged biological and cultural evolution as spontaneous orderings conforming to a fundamentally physical or universal process, the effect of equating evolution with natural selection was to drive a wedge between evolutionary theory and physical theory. The repeated insistence of the autonomy of biology (e.g., Mayr, 1985), simply underscores that this dualistic decoupling has, in recent years, been promoted intentionally. The purposeless-particle view of physics (what might be called the "Newtonian-Boltzmann narrative") is taken to be both accurate and complete, and as such, the argument is made that physics is immaterial to biology and what are taken to be the inherent properties of the living (Mayr, 1985). Discontinuous change (and thus creative change) is excluded from the Newtonian world, and in the statistical Boltzmannian world order is said to be "infinitely improbable" (Boltzmann, 1886/1974). It is certainly true that if these conceptions were taken as comprising a correct and exhaustive description of matter, physics would have little to say with regard to biology or psychology. But these conceptions, conceptions from which the ordered world in which we live cannot be derived, were hardly accidental. They were impoverished from their beginnings and never intended to be exhaustive. In particular, Newtonian physics, in accomodating the religious demands of the time, was formulated with the assumption (and therefore the requirement) that there was a watchmaker capable of ordering the purposeless world of physics from the outside. A dualistic assumption was thuys built into the foundations of the modern scientific world view at its inception (cf. Depew & Weber, 1985; Weber & Depew, in press).
Consequences of a Non-purposive Physics
Historically, the purposeless materialism advanced by Newtonian mechanics was a radical departure from previous conceptions of physics. For the Greeks, the word "physics" referred to the study of nature, and the nature of a thing or process, in the Aristotelian sense, was the end it served or to which it strived. Thus the study of physics, at its inception, was the study of teleology or final causes. The attacks on Aristotelian causality by Bacon and Descartes laid the foundations for rejecting final causes, purposiveness, or the study of ends from modern physics. This rejection would eventually pose difficulties for disciplines (biology, psychology, and all the social sciences) that could not avoid the study of ends, namely, purposive, goal-directed, or intentional behavior. As noted earlier, Darwin himself simply assumed purposiveness as an inherent property of the living -"all organic beings are striving to increase at a high ratio and to seize on every unoccupied or less well occupied space in the economy of nature" (Darwin, 1859/1937, p. 152). But such an assumption left unnswered the question of the origin or nature of purposiveness in a physically aimless or purposeless universe (and the practical question of how the issue of purposiveness can be approached if teleology-the study of ends-is banned from discussion). Within biology and psychology, the failure to address adequately the origins issue has necessitated the repeated invocation of special extraphysical mechanisms as the sources of the order and purposiveness that it is assumed physics cannot provide. The word "teleonomy", meaning goal-directedness due to the operation of a program (Mayr, 1969, 1976), has been coined for use in the biological literature to allow teleological talk in what is otherwise taken to be a purposeless physical world. The dualism in such a move is obvious.
The Problem of the Population of One
Because natural selection (Darwinism) assumes replicative ordering to begin with, the incontestible point is that an evolutionary theory reduced or truncated to natural selection cannot be comprehensive -evolution did not come into the world with living things, rather, living things were the product of evolution. What is more, a growingcontemporary understanding is that evolution, as the previous discussion has already noted, is a planetary phenomenon, and that the Earth system at its highest level evolves as a single global entity (e.g., see Figure 1; Cloud, 1988; Margulis & Lovelock, 1974; Schopf, 1983). Natural selection cannot address or even recognize this global evolution (in fact denies it; Dawkins, 1982) because there is no population of replicating and competing Earth systems on which natural selection can act; the Earth is a population of one. T'his puts the question of (end-directed) physics directly back on the table and suggests that there must be a physical selection principle (because if it does not involve replicating entities it cannot be biological) that accounts for the selection of ordered (or macro) from disordered (or micro) states. It restores the notion of evolution -as Spencer finst defined it -to a universal (lawful) process of spontaneous order production flowing directly from natural law. Both the evolution of the living from the nonliving and the problem of the population of one suggest that evolution, or spontaneous order production, is fundamentally a generic physical process of which the characteristic qualities of living things, such as perception-action cycles, are special higher order consequences.
Outside of Darwinism there has been both a general acknowledgment of evolution as a directed process of spontaneous ordering (e.g., Oparin, 1968) and a long-respected need for taking a planetary stance. Vernadsky (1929/1986, p. 81) wrote: "the organism cannot be considered apart from its medium ... Living organisms are a regular function of the biosphere erroneously contrasted with (their) medium as though the two were independent objects." In his view, evolution could not be understood except at a global level; the mass respiration of all organisms had to be taken into account. Biogeochemical energy, characterized by the progressive growth of free energy (reduction in entropy), acts back as an internal force to produce increasingly more highly ordered states (Figure I substantiates this claim). Vernadsky proposed a biogeochemical extremum principle governing evolution: The bioienic migration of chemical elements in the biosphere tends toward a maximum of manifestation. This migration is affected not only by the mass of atoms in circulation, but also by the intensity or rate of the circulation. just as Spencer's law of evolution was unexplained with regard to the known laws of physics, so too was Vernadsky's biogeochemical principle. Vernadsky believed that a physical account was possible, however, and urged that it be sought.
Lotka (1945, p. 167) also believed in the necessity of viewing evolution as a global whole evolving under the flood of light received from the sun. He remarked that "fundamental to the concept of evolution is the idea that it is in some significant sense a directed process" and proposed a law of maximum energy flux as the governing extremum: Natural selection will make the energy flux through the system a maximum, so far as is compatible with the constraints (Lotka, 1922). These extremum principles of Vernadsky and Lotka are closely similar. Vernadsky's inherently more physical view, however, is the deeper of the two. Because Lotka's principle is stated as the result of the imperialistic nature of living things in competition, it starts with the same assumptions as Malthus and Darwin.
Scope of Darwinism in Overview
In the previous discussion it was shown why the fact of perception-action cycles is outside the scope of Darwinism. Natural selection presupposes, at the outset, the characteristic achievements of living things -self-maintenance, adaptability, reproduction, and the abilities to perceive and act coordinately. Additionally, the steady supply of free-oxygen at appropriate levels needed for the progressive development of perceiving-acting cycles is a property of a persistent global entity that Darwinism is not designed to accommodate. Further, because it cannot address this functional global whole, Darwinian theory, despite the overwhelming evidence, adopts an agnostic and sometimes hostile posture toward the creative or progressive (meaning: going in a direction) nature of evolution (e.g., Maynard-Smith, 1969; Williams, 1966)1. Because adaptation is attainable at any level of organization (bacteria, amoeba, worm, insect, placental mammal), and because the reproductive capabilities of many simpler forms of life surpass those of greater complexity (Bertalanffy, 1968), it is impossible by Darwinian criteria to recognize the directed nature of evolution.
A selection principle is required that can account for the selection of ordered from disordered things and the progressive evolution of the global entity as a whole. Because competition for resources (where a generalized resource is a nonequilibrium field potential as defined later) is not between replicating entities but between macro (ordered) and micro (disordered) modes, the principle cannot, by definition, be biological. This forces the view that the overarching selection principle must be physical rather than biological and suggests the necessity of recoupling the world that has been dualistically pulled apart. Such a principle would be consistent with the view of the importance of identifying scale-or level-i'ndependent physical principles and laws that function with equanimity over all of nature's partitionings (e.g., Haken, 1983; Iberall & Soodak, 1987; Kugler & Turvey, 1987; Nicolis & Prigogine, 1989; Saithe, 1985; Swenson, 1988, 1989b; Weber, 1991; Yates, 1989).
The sections that follow are directed at the earlier claim that the strategy needed to understand perception-action cycles is the physical strategy of identifying the preceding field conditions which produced or selected them at their origins and have continued to produce or select them over evolutionary time. In developing this claim, the implicated physical selection principle will figure prominently. We proceed in two main steps. In step one, we identify and develop the physics appropriate to spontaneous orderings, the physics that spells out the preceding field conditions. In step two, we focus explicitly on the thermodynamic conditions formative of perception-action cycles with special emphasis on vision's guidance of action.
1.The following are a few of the examples that are easily proliferated to make the point (see Carneiro, 1987a, for further discussion): (a) "To attempt to compare members of distinct types on a scale of highness (of organization) seems hopeless; who will decide whether a cuttle fish be higher than a bee . . ." (Darwin, 1859/1937, p. 96). (b) "It would be a brave anatomist who would attempt to prove that recent man is more complicated than a Devonian ostracoderm" (Dobzhansky, 1970, p. 392). (c) ". . . all species from amoeba to man are basically equal" (Por, 1980, p. 390, summarizing the neo-Darwinian view). (d) '. . when we speak of progress in evolution we are already leaving the relatively firm ground of scientific objectivity . . ." (Huxley, 1942/1974, p. 565, quoting Haldane).
It was during the same extraordinary decade that saw the works of Spencer and Darwin first published, that Thomson (1852) and Clausius (1865) formulated the second law of thermodynamics, a law that Eddington (1929) regarded as holding the supreme position among the laws of nature. As originally formulated, the second law was precisely a statement of final cause in the Aristotelian sense as the "end to which everything strives and which everything serves" or "the end of every motive or generative process" (Bunge, 1979, p. 32), a fact first explicitly stated by Planck (1949). "The entropy of the world," said Clausius (1865, p. 400), "strives to a maximum." The physical world, regarded for so long as aimless, was seen as end driven.
Eddington's (1929) statement reflected the fact that both the second and the first laws of thermodynamics are not ordinary laws of physics; they sit above the ordinary laws as laws about laws, expressing dynamic symmetries of the laws of physics themselves. The first law, the conservation law, growing out of the work of Meyer, joule, Helmholtz, and others, states that (a) all forms of energy, for example, mechanical, chemical, or heat, are interconvertible into one another, and (b) the total amount of energy is conserved (energy is neither created nor destroyed). It expresses the time-translation symmetry of the laws of physics. The second law similarly expregses a symmetry that governs the ordinary laws of physics, but additionally expresses a symmetry that governs the first law as well. (Hence, Eddington's claim for its supremacy.) While the first law is a law of equivalence, the second law expresses, for nonuniform distributions of conserved quantities (e.g., mass, energy, momentum), a symmetry unfulfilled. It is precisely this unfulfilled symmetry (the distribution is not uniform) that nomologically introduces end-directed behavior into the natural world and makes the second law a law of "preference" (Planck, 1949). Clausius's entropy is the measure of this preference of nature for certain states.
There is an inextricable relation between energy and entropy, and understanding its form is of crucial importance. The first law was formulated prior to the second, but energy was not fully defined until entropy was identified. Carnot (1824/1960) showed that the "availability" for producing dynamical change or work-the "motive force"-was irreversibly destroyed. The implication of this finding, as Thomson and Clausius recognized, was that if the first law were to hold, then there had to be a quantity that was not conserved in addition to the quantity (energy) that was conserved. The second law states that all natural processes proceed spontaneously so as to maximize this quantity, for which Clausius coined the word entropy (to sound like energy and, thereby, to stress the relation between the two). The state of maximum entropy, the end state at which all evolutionary or macroscopic change stops, is called thermodynamic equilibrium. Note that when entropy is maximized field potentials are minimized. A field potential exists whenever and wherever there is a nonuniform distribution in a conserved quantity. Thus, the second law may be expressed equivalently as entropy maximization or field potential minimization; they are both expressions of the same symmetry.
The active end-directed nature of the second law is readily appreciated. If a glass of warm liquid is placed in a room that is at a cooler temperature, a flow of heat is spontaneously produced from the glass to the room until the temperatures of the two are equal. The liquid and the room together constitute a thermodynamic flow field and the difference in temperature between the two constitutes a nonuniform distribution of energy called a field potential. As Carnot first realized, the difference or field potential determines a force, proportional in magnitude to the size of the difference, that drives the flow. The flow, which can be considered a drain on the potential, continues spontaneously until the potential is minimized given the constraints, or equivalently the entropy is maximized and the field is at thermodynamic equilibrium (when the two temperatures are equal).
To make the fundamental point about the energy with respect to the entropy, the room can be imagined as tightly sealed so that no energy can flow into or out of it. Note that the energy in the field (within the entire room including the glass) is precisely the same at the beginning of the process and at the end of the process; the only difference is the way ie is distributed. The latter situation highlights how energy and entropy are confounded in statements such as "energy is the measure of a system's ability to produce change." Only entropy, the extent to which it is maximized, is a measure of a system's ability to produce change. This measure of the ability to produce change is precisely the notion of Carnot's availability and why Soddy (1912) called the second law the "law of availability." Entropy maximization can, therefore, be conceived as availability destruction (or dissipation). The second law would then read: Nature proceeds spontaneously so as to maximize availability destruction or, synonymously, resource dissipation.
Note further how the example illustrates the notion of final cause. The second law defines the end state-the symmetry condition of maximum entropy-for the given temperature arrangement and for any other way the field (room and liquid in glass) is arranged. Thus, given the same quantity of energy, if the temperature of the liquid is cooler than that of the room, then the energy will flow from the room to the glass rather than the reverse, yet the end state will be precisely the same. Whatever the temperature configuration of room and contents, the field will produce the appropriate flows so as to maximize the entropy. In sum, the symmetry of the second law reveals in the "striving" of Clausius, the "preference" of Planck, and the "motive force" of Carnot that the laws of physics, governed as they are by this overarching symmetry, are hardly aimless or purposeless, but rather active and end directed.