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The Fool

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PostSubject: Eusociality And Superorganisms   Fri Dec 12, 2008 11:10 am

Could it be that civilization is nothing more than another representation of a super organism much like that we find with ants, termites, and other insects?

Could it be that humans are eusocial or very similar?

Finally by taking into account that civilization may be a representation of a super organism ruled by eusocial means is altruism that is if altruism exists at all triggered by a desire to preserve genetical inheritance or to preserve a functioning social structure?

For those who know nothing about eusociality or super organisms I shall direct you to these quotes brought to you by wikipedia:

Quote :
A superorganism is an organism consisting of many organisms. This is usually meant to be a social unit of eusocial animals, where division of labour is highly specialised and where individuals are not able to survive by themselves for extended periods of time

Ants are the most well known example of such a superorganism. The Naked mole rat is a famous example of the eusocial mammal. The technical definition of a superorganism is "a collection of agents which can act in concert to produce phenomena governed by the collective,"[1] phenomena being any activity "the hive wants" such as ants collecting food or bees choosing a new nest site.

Nineteenth century evolutionist Herbert Spencer coined the term super-organic to focus on social organization (the first chapter of his Principles of Sociology is entitled "Super-organic Evolution"[4]), though this was apparently a distinction between the organic and the social, not an identity: Spencer explored the holistic nature of society as a social organism while distinguishing the ways in which society did not behave like an organism.[5] For Spencer, the super-organic was an emergent property of interacting organisms, that is, human beings. And, as has been argued by D. C. Phillips, there is a "difference between emergence and reductionism."[6]

Similarly, economist Carl Menger expanded upon the evolutionary nature of much social growth, but without ever abandoning methodological individualism. Many social institutions arose, Menger argued, not as "the result of socially teleological causes, but the unintended result of innumerable efforts of economic subjects pursuing 'individual' interests."[7]

Spencer and Menger both argued that because it is individuals who choose and act, any social whole should be considered less than an organism, though Menger emphasized this more emphatically. Spencer used the organistic idea to engage in extended analysis of social structure, conceding that it was primarily an analogy. So, for Spencer, the idea of the super-organic best designated a distinct level of social reality above that of biology and psychology, and not a one-to-one identity with an organism.

Nevertheless, Spencer also argued that "every organism of appreciable size is a society," which has suggested to some that the issue may be terminological.[8]

Eusociality (Greek eu: "good" + "social") is a term used for the highest level of social organization in a hierarchical classification. The term "eusocial" was introduced in 1966 by Suzanne Batra[1] and given a more definitive meaning by E. O. Wilson.[2] It was originally defined to include those organisms (originally, only invertebrates) that had certain features:[3][4]

Reproductive division of labor (with or without sterile castes)
Overlapping generations
Cooperative care of young
The lower levels of social organization, presociality, were classified using different terms, including presocial, subsocial, semisocial, parasocial and quasisocial.

The most familiar examples are insects such as ants, bees, and wasps (order Hymenoptera), as well as termites (order Isoptera), all with reproductive queens and more or less sterile workers and/or soldiers. The only mammalian examples are the naked mole rat and the Damaraland mole rat.[5]

Eusociality with biologically sterile individuals represents the most extreme form of kin altruism. The analysis of eusociality played a key role in the development of theories in sociobiology.

The phenomenon of reproductive specialization is found in various organisms. It generally involves the production of sterile members of the species, which carry out specialized tasks, effectively caring for the reproductive members. It can manifest in the appearance of individuals within a group whose behavior (and sometimes anatomy) is modified for group defense, including self-sacrifice ("altruism").

Subsequent to Wilson's original definition, other authors have sought to expand or narrow the definition of eusociality, focusing on the nature and degree of the division of labor, which was not originally specified. A narrower definition specifies the requirement for irreversibly distinct behavioral groups or castes (with respect to sterility and/or other features), and such a definition excludes all social vertebrates (including mole rats), none of which have irreversible castes.[6] A broader definition allows for any temporary division of labor or non-random distribution of reproductive success to constitute eusociality, and some have accordingly argued that even humans may be considered eusocial.[7] Others believe that the hierarchical classification may not serve much purpose.[8]

In spite of the obvious advantages of common foraging and defense, eusocial animals had appeared paradoxical even to Darwin: if adaptive evolution unfolds by differential survival of individuals, how can individuals incapable of passing on their genes possibly evolve and persist? Since they do not breed, their fitness should be zero and any genes causing this condition should be eliminated from the population immediately. In Origin of Species (first edition, Ch. Cool, Darwin called this behavior the "one special difficulty, which at first appeared to me insuperable, and actually fatal to my theory." Darwin anticipated that a possible resolution to the paradox might lie in the close family relationship, but specific theories (e.g. kin selection or inclusive fitness) had to wait for the discovery of the mechanisms for genetic inheritance.

Early ideas on eusociality included suggestions that trophallaxis or food sharing was a basis for sociality.[9] Other theories include superorganism theory and parental manipulation theory. The most widely accepted model to explain eusociality is based on W.D. Hamilton's idea of inclusive fitness.

According to inclusive fitness theory, eusociality may be easier for species like ants to evolve, due to their haplodiploidy, which facilitates the operation of kin selection. Sisters are more related to each other than to their offspring. This mechanism of sex determination gives rise to what W. D. Hamilton first termed "supersisters" who share 75 per cent of their genes on average. Sterile workers are more closely related to their supersisters than to any offspring they might have, if they were to breed themselves. From the "selfish gene's" point-of-view, it is advantageous to raise more sisters. Even though workers often do not reproduce, they are potentially passing on more of their genes by caring for sisters than they would by having their own offspring (each of which would only have 50% of their genes). This unusual situation where females may have greater fitness when they help rear siblings rather than producing offspring is often invoked to explain the multiple independent evolutions of eusociality (occurring some 11 separate times) within the haplodiploid group Hymenoptera — ants, bees and wasps.[10] However, Hymenoptera is a large group and the majority of hymenopterans are not social. Furthermore, highly developed eusociality also exists in non-hymenopterans, perhaps most prominently in termites. Certain vertebrates (such as the naked mole rat) have also been described as eusocial. Most such cases involve organisms that display high levels of inbreeding, such that colony members share more than 50% of their genes, and therefore the same model is considered to apply to these species.

Reeve and Holldobler's version of superorganism theory further elaborates this model by considering competition and co-operation between groups as well as within groups.[11][12] In this case, an individual's inclusive fitness varies depending on how much it invests in within-group competition (e.g. hoarding a private food cache) versus between-group competition (e.g. contributing to common foraging); and on its relatedness to the other group members. In a hymenopteran colony with one breeder (queen) and many workers as described above, the evolutionarily stable state is for each individual to invest entirely in helping the group, leading to a perfect "superorganism", which implies the stability of eusociality in this case. This agrees with Hamilton's model. This is implied even without considering between-group interactions. However, they further show that any group of relatives may show high "superorganismness", provided that there are many groups competing for the same resources. This may favour eusociality, or a degree of eusociality in non-hymenopterans. Indeed, a non-zero level of inter-group co-operation is predicted, even if the group members are entirely unrelated, as long as there is competition between groups.

Theories of parental manipulation point out that the transition from solitary to eusocial appears to involve intermediate stages where dominance interactions are required to suppress the reproductive tendencies of group members; that is, females are manipulated into acting as workers, even if it is against their own self-interest.[13][14] This model does not require that individuals be highly related, though high relatedness will reduce expected levels of resistance to manipulation.

Some hypotheses about how eusociality evolved in naked mole rats include: inbreeding, ecological factors such as the dependence on large tubers that are hard to locate and reach underground, heat loss prevention, and high dispersal costs. In the mammalian cases, eusociality is believed to arise from 'reproductive suppression', where infertility in working females is only temporary, and not genetic.[citation needed]

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PostSubject: Re: Eusociality And Superorganisms   Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:53 pm

The Fool wrote:
Could it be that civilization is nothing more than another representation of a super organism much like that we find with ants, termites, and other insects?
That is exactly what human society is. The Human Animal is no different than an ant or bee drone. The common manimal is easily replaceable.

Civilization is series of social evolutions: tribe, clan, city, state, nation, country, continent, globalization. Now, the 'human' species acts a singular animal, because of how social cognition has evolved (and adapted) to progress human life. Nobody is behind the wheel; the consciousness is collective.

The Fool wrote:
Could it be that humans are eusocial or very similar?
Yes, it could be, and it probably is.

The Fool wrote:
Finally by taking into account that civilization may be a representation of a super organism ruled by eusocial means is altruism that is if altruism exists at all triggered by a desire to preserve genetical inheritance or to preserve a functioning social structure?
That is true, but geneticism must take into account racism and sexism. The human animals compete with one another to keep the supraorganism moving forward for the sake of "progress". Once the violent male competition stops, the Spirit of Man is destroyed, and the whole system will probably come crashing down as the supraorganism consumes all of its resources without the ability to manifest new forms of adaption (due to the loss of sacrificial competition).
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