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Entropy and Evolution: Ground Rules for Discourse
Jeffrey S. Wicken
Vol. 35, No. 1 (Mar., 1986), pp. 22-36
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2413288
Page Count: 15
You can always find the topics here!Topics: Entropy, Thermodynamics, Evolution, Species, Statistical mechanics, Gene pool, Biological evolution, Speciation, Information theory, Biology
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Prior to Darwin, the evolutionary vision had always looked for the unity of life with nature's overall dynamics. Darwin had to truncate this connectivity to establish evolution as a science, as opposed to a philosophic perspective on change. An autonomy-of-biology mentality has grown from this separation that is now antithetical to the evolutionary project. As the science of macroscopic process, thermodynamics is essential to bringing life back to nature. The entropic drive to randomness underlies the phenomena of both variation and speciation; competition between thermodynamic flow patterns underlies the phenomenon of selection; the dissipative structure schema provides basic constraints on morphological transformation. Semantic problems regarding the meaning of entropy obstruct delivery on these promises. I discuss some of those problems in the first sections of this paper, then consider a possible way in which principles drawn from statistical thermodynamics can be extended into the biological realm to illuminate the phenomena of variation and speciation.
Systematic Zoology © 1986 Oxford University Press