Evolution and Hegelian dialectics in nature

1. Is there dialectics in nature?

"Dialectics of nature" by Friedrich Engels was the first book I have read about philosophy 20 years ago. I was shocked to find out that a lot of philosophers reject this idea. Than I learned that it depends on the concept of dialectics.

You can use the term "dialectic" as : "Hegelian method of logic, based on the concept of advancing contradictory arguments" or as the "principle of all motion, all live and all activity of actuality" (Hegel in Shorter Logic §81 n).

But I think it is interesting to see why some people refuse dialectics in nature. J.P.Sarte said (1970 in a newspaper) : "Using dialectic in nature would reduce people to products of physical laws".

I think he stands up for a difference between nonhuman nature and humans. Hegel also emphasized: "natural things do not reach the ideality of being-for-itself, but they are always merely for-Other" (Shorter Logic §96 n).

Another question is the existence of the Negative which determines the "Other". What is the totality for nature?

2. There is evolution/development in nature

In 1995/96 I wrote my first book about evolution in nature (in cosmos and biological). I found typical "patterns" of evolution. It was interesting to see that the concepts of self-organisation proved their worth. Self-organisation is an important moment of evolution and evolution in nature is self-organised. But concepts of self-organisation can´t explain evolution - they only take "labels" on the problems (than some authors call them "This is an attractor", "This is a bifurcation-point", "this is a mode to enslave others"...). To explain evolution we have to understand the motion of concrete things, we have to see the determiniation of concrete motions and so on. This gives me a hint about dialectics which uses "concret determined negations" and not only an abstract pattern.

Nevertheless I found some typical principles of evolution, which refer to concepts of self-organisation and dialectics:

  1. There exist realms of the world which constitute typical essential interactions. I call these realms "system" and the (generally necessary) essential interactions "laws" (following H.Hoerz). The elements constitute the system (and the laws) by continuous motion (like concept of autopoeisis supposes).
  2. The motion is the reproduction of the elements and the system - and it changes their own (inner and outer) conditions absolutly. This self-changing of conditions is the "cause" of all changing and becoming and evolution. You can interprete this in terms of Hegel (about conditions and so on...) and in terms of the concept of self-organisation (which needs an input of higher-grade energy and output of entropy). Pay attention to the interweaving of several systems ("vertically" and "horicontally") - which is necessary. It leads to the concept of Co-Evolution.
  3. The possibility of "behavior" is framed by the laws. But the elements have a "field/room of possibilities/contingencies". (qualitative notion of statistical laws by H.Hoerz).
  4. In wide frame the changing of conditions changes the quality of the system merely unessentially. But there exist a "measure" (Hegel) at the "bifurcation point" (concept von self-organisation). Here the quality must change non-continously.
  5. This non-continously changing means emerging of new laws, i.e. new forms of interactions which use the new conditions.
    New laws determine a "new system" with a new quality, which is generally "higher" than the old - which is sublated (negation of negation...). The "evolution of evolution" changes evolution-laws too.
    Also a new "field of possibilities" emerges. New interactions open up new ressources (because the old are vanished).
  6. The new systems/states/things use the "old" things and the changed conditions. Therefore there is a "trend" in evolution, not only accidentally fluctuations.

Perhaps we can say that there are "relative targets" in natural evolution (notion by H.Hoerz).

Conditions or states which were unessentially before can become essentially in the moment of "jumping" suddenly! (because new conditions make them possible and probable).

And the "butterfly-effect" means that a little thing can be blowing up in the moment of jumping.

(If we want/or not a "jumping" (in society) we can derive from that principles, what is to take into account by doing.)

The changing ("jump") can occure in several patterns: one new "way" "under" the old, or one new way in a "higher" stage, or radiation...

If occurs "enslaving" selection the quickest new variant asserts itself, not the best!

News emerge generally not at the highest points of the previous evolution but at edges (at highest points there was the using of the old, vanishing conditions).

Conditions of these effects are (we know them from the concepts of self-organisation): Non-linearity (i.e.positive feedback), existing fluctuations, import of energy and export of entropy. Perhaps we can say: "Nature fulfils these conditions generally" or "matter (in a wider sense) is inexhaustible" (Lenin) - than evolution is a general form of existence of nature.

7. The News are not the result of competition for (old) ressources, but the result of new combinations of interactions (Co-Evolution!) which use new ressources.

Therefore self-organised and self-organising (every) evolution is lawfully and is not lawfully:

  • lawfully, because objective conditions determine the "frame" of changing themselves (within essential interaction in given systems)
  • not lawfully, because laws are changing too and there occurs co-evolution between systems with different laws (in a "system of laws"...).

3. Dialectics as a method of understanding evolution

Because principles which describe concrete evolution refer to dialectic principles very well. I propose to use dialectics as a method of understanding evolution at least.

But there is a difference:

Hegel always talked about ONE essence. Therefore in this evolution (in the sphere of determined being) each Something has only ONE Other to negate and therefore develops a linear (!) way of evolution (with steps).

Now we know that in natural evolution things with different essences (laws) are interacting - this is one cause of "indeterminateness" in real nature (and society). And we have to take into account that there exist two possibilities of changing at least:

  1. Only one quality within an essence changes (Hegelian changing)
  2. Essences change too (which Hegel did not describe).

Here are the following mails from Andy´s eMail-list:

Cyril S. (4.7.98):

>when Annette talks about 'dialectics in nature', she seems to mean a very
>general kind of pattern, found in many different situations. But I still
>don't know what it is that is in something else. If you could shake
>Nature, could you hear the little dialectics rattling inside? She also
>wants to mean that there is a special 'method of logic', attributed to

>How do these two things connect? Two questions: (a) Why is this method
>good for talking about Nature? (b) If it is, why does Hegel not 'use' it
>when he talks about Nature? As you all know, Hegel is quite sure that
>there is no development in Nature, and so no dialectic. These only
>operate in the realm of Spirit, consciousness, etc. Dialectic is the
>movement from 'in-itself' to 'for-itself'. So rocks, trees and elephants
>can't have it, because Nature for Hegel is only 'in-itself'. It has no
>history, only cyclic changes. Its shapes are a series of separate stages,
>and not a connected sequence in time.

Julio H. answered (5.7.98):

Human consciousness is partially a product of natural evolution. Our DNA has
a lot in common with those of elephants (and even trees). At least in that
restricted sense, to the extent that natural change leads to human
consciousness and history, the overall movement from "in-itself" to "for-
itself" (dialectic) encompasses natural evolution.

Please refer as well to (in English):

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