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Devology: Definition

Proposed concise name for a new science studying the evolution and development of organization on all scales and substrates in the Universe. Coined in 2010 by EDU scholar Georgi Georgiev.

The name stands for and is composed of the following elements:

  • devo = development
  • evo = evolution
  • logos = words, thought, study, principles, truth, science (Greek)

Devology is a much shorter and more effective version of Universal Evolutionary Development Studies (UEDS) a phrase used since 2000 by EDU scholar John Smart. With UEDS, development is the noun, the proposed overarching framework and process, and evolution the adjective, the subordinate process modifying development. Likewise, devology also places universal development first, as a framework for understanding universal evolutionary process. This perspective is underrepresented in modern evolutionary science and systems theory. Note that devology/UEDS is not developmentalism, another useful but limited term that focuses primarily on developmental processes, minimizing or ignoring evolutionary ones, in the same way that evolutionism is a useful but limited approach to evolutionary change that ignores any concomitant process of universal development.

See the EDU Project page for a sample of the broad variety of work that has already been done on devology. An increasing number of interdisciplinary scholars are currently active in seeking a unifying devologist perspective that explains its hierarchical complexification from the origin of the Universe to present society and beyond. See for example the work of Eric Chaisson and Stuart Kauffmann, among many others.

One of the most important transitions in devological processes is the deterministic transition from quantity to quality. It has been proposed first by Hegel, and has been used most recently by Carneiro to explain progressive development. In regard to Devology, larger systems allow for higher forms of organization and greater efficiency. An example is the airline industry. In large enough system commercial flight becomes economically viable. If we do a though experiment and reduce the number of people in the United States to one million people, we can understand that all commercial aviation will cease and the quality of our system will be returned to the level of times when there were a million people in the USA. To emphasize the deterministic role of quantity to quality we can expand the thought experiment to understand that all other forms of modern life will disappear, including electricity production, highways, car production and everything else. The inevitable conclusion from the quantity to quality transition is that in order for the quality, as measured by the organization and efficiency of the human society to increase we need larger quantity of people. If the growth of the human population stops, the technological and economical development eventually will peak and cease. The accelerating change in technology for the last two centuries is largely paralleled by the acceleration of the quantity in our system in terms of number of people.