INSIGHT •• ANTÓNIO MADUREIRA - 4 May 2012
A holonic framework
The origin of species appeared in 1859, introducing the new idea of natural selection. Charles Darwin observed that all organisms, even the most slowly reproducing ones, produce more offspring than can actually survive. Those individuals that are the fittest are most likely to survive and reproduce. Given that subsequent generations inherit this capability to be fitter, average fitness in the population tends to increase. However, there was a gap in the Darwinian theory: the source of variability among species. The gap was filled by Gregor Mendel’s work. From the Mendelian perspective, the presumed loss of variability occurring with blending inheritance does not happen, but it is conserved by mutations.
Although satisfying in many ways, the Darwinian- Mendelian theory was in some ways unsatisfactory. The issue was the need to reconcile a theory of gradual evolution (Darwinism) with the saltationism that emerged from the new discipline of genetics born with the work of Mendel. In 1918, Sir Ronald Fisher provided an answer, showing correlations between relatives on the supposition of Mendelian inheritance, convincingly demonstrating that Darwinism could be reconciled with Mendelism. The Darwinian-Mendelian theory consolidated the basis to what has become known as the Modern Synthesis (MS), a list of consensus statements that form the core of the synthetic theory of biological evolution .
The explanatory power of the MS was such that theorists proposed to enlarge its application to other domains . One of the key arguments was……