Some Notes on Evolution Theory

EDITORIAL, 29 May 2023

#798 | Johan Galtung – TRANSCEND Media Service

There is much talk about evolution and peace and, having worked on it off and on, here are some notes.

  1. Nature’s Message as Guide

From diversity and symbiosis to increasing complexity, even self-reproducing called Life, humans, us–what next?   Of that we know little.  But Nature works slowly measured by our life span and our capacity for self-destruction through war and eco-crimes grows more quickly than our capacity for self-preservation, peace.

The primordial symbiosis for something more than the sum of the components is the photosynthesis producing sugar from H2O and CO2:

6H2O+6CO2=C6H12O6+6O2, monosaccharide and oxygen.  Mono- becomes di- becomes more complex organic compounds, proteins, super-proteins, and when the conditions are there, life.  I take note that there is an element of equity, equal numbers of molecules–if unequal there is waste, scarcity.  No H2O no synthesis holds also for no CO2 but our concern is with CO2 excess, not deficit.  O2 is essential for life, an incredibly well crafted process:

Diversity + Symbiosis–>Complexity

Another approach in  Nature may be iteration, repeating, maybe at to ever higher levels, a basic point in “chaos theory” when trying to reproduce shapes of ferns, coast-lines, market curves, etc.  There is cosmos in the chaos–not Euclidean but fractal geometry–description more than theory, as confirmed to me by Mandelbrot.  A process?

  1. Social Entropy = Structural Complexity as Approach to Peace

Take a social system stratified by class in elites vs. people, and by polarization in two opposed blocs: four groups, six possible links. In a prewar system only intra-bloc positive interaction and some inter-elite, summit meetings; 2 or 3 of 6 links; in a peace system the interaction distributed more randomly-chaotically-entropically on all. Criss-crossing loyalties have dampening effect on violence.  Thus, at the end of the cold war dissidents in one bloc had links with elites in the other.  The higher the entropy the more difficult to mobilize one bloc for violence against the other; violence would be micro, not macro.  For violence high energy=polarization=low entropy is needed.  High entropy systems may have less energy for creative changes.

Hypothesis: more diversity and symbiosis more creative interaction and complexity, more complexity more peace, more peace more evolution.

Another approach would pick up iteration, like from norm to norms-set=roles to role-sets=status to status-sets-locus to locus-sets=community to community-sets=countries to country-sets-regions to region=sets=world (to world=sets=universe).  Complexity, resilience.

  1. Cultural/Mental Entropy = Complex Thinking for Social Complexity

Peace is in the relation and the relation is in the structure, defined as a set of elements with binary, trinary etc. relations among them.  Frege: a relation (zweistelliges Prädikat) cannot be reduced to attributes (einstellig) of the elements, in 4>3 > is sui generis.

One dimension of complex thinking makes the jump from attributes to relations to structures to patterns to pattern recognition, meaning identifying isomorphic structures.  Buddhist thinking focuses on the relations among sentient lives, past, present, future more than the attributes, on the net of the relations more than the individual knots (Panikkar); closer to the essence of conflict-violence-peace.

Another approach to more complex thinking would pick up the daoist focus on contradiction –“dao=that which is and is not”–and the good in the bad in the good and the bad in the good in the bad, and so on ad infinitum.  This facilitates building on the good in all parties for new projects=new relations instead of good/bad as actor attributes.

  1. Evolution Could Be in Interaction Rather Than Individuals

The individual is the atom, the molecule is the structure, ever more complex the more diversity (human variety) and symbiosis (like mixed marriages, heterogamy.)  We have focused too much on simple, vertical stability, law and order; too little on more complexity, evolution.


A Theory of Peace – TRANSCEND University Press, 2012

Peace Mathematics (with Dietrich Fischer), TUP, 2011, Ch. 11-12


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of TRANSCEND International, TRANSCEND Media Service, and rector of TRANSCEND Peace University. He was awarded among others the 1987 Right Livelihood Award, known as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize. Galtung has mediated in over 150 conflicts in more than 150 countries, and written more than 170 books on peace and related issues, 96 as the sole author. More than 40 have been translated to other languages, including 50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives published by TRANSCEND University Press. His book, Transcend and Transform, was translated to 25 languages. He has published more than 1700 articles and book chapters and over 500 Editorials for TRANSCEND Media Service. More information about Prof. Galtung and all of his publications can be found at

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 May 2023.

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