Peter Corning

Peter Corning

Peter Andrew Corning (1935) is an American biologist, consultant, and complex systems scientist, and Director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, in Palo Alto, California, and is known especially for his work on the causal role of synergy in evolution. [ Institute for the Study of Complex Systems] . Retrieved 6 June 2008.]


Peter Corning was born in Pasadena, California in 1935. He received a BA from Brown University and an interdisciplinary social science-life science PhD degree from New York University. Later he was awarded a two-year NIMH post-doctoral fellowship for additional study and research at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado.

After the Brown University Corning served as a naval aviator and as a science writer at "Newsweek" magazine for two years before returning to graduate school. After his post-doctorate degree, he taught in the interdisciplinary Human Biology Program at Stanford University for seven years, along with research appointments in the Behavior Genetics Laboratory of the Stanford Medical School and in the Department of Engineering Economic Systems. Since 1991 Corning has served as the director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems in Palo Alto, California, and as a founding partner of a private consulting firm in Palo Alto California. [ Peter A. Corning, Ph.D. Director] , Institute for the Study of Complex Systems 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2008.] He was President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences in 1999, and is Treasurer of the International Society for Bioeconomics and a member of the board of directors of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences. He is also on the board of directors of the Epic of Evolution Society, and has been actively contributing member of the International Society for Human Ethology, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, the International Society for Endocytobiology, the European Sociobiological Society, and the International Association for Cybernetics. In 1996, he was also the recipient of a research fellowship in evolutionary biology at the Collegium Budapest, an international institute for advanced study, in Hungary.


Peter Cornings research interests are in the fields bioeconomics, and the research in greater depth on specific sources and "economic" consequences of functional synergy in nature and its role in biological and socio-cultural evolution. One area of particular interest is molecular level cybernetic processes. Another concerns the progressive evolution of energy-capturing mechanisms. [ [ Peter A. Corning] Collegium Budapest, 1998. Retrieved 6 June 2008.]

Corning is known especially for his work on the causal role of synergy in evolution. Other work includes a new approach to the relationship between thermodynamics and biology called "thermoeconomics", a new, cybernetic approach to information theory called "control information", and research on basic needs under the "Survival Indicators" Program.

Holistic Darwinism

In the recent years Peter Corning has been at the forefront of a new generation of complexity theorists, who have been working to reshape the foundations of evolutionary theory. Well known for his Synergism Hypothesis—a theory of complexity in evolution that assigns a key causal role to various forms of functional synergy—Corning puts this theory into a much broader framework in Holistic Darwinism, addressing many of the issues and concepts associated with the evolution of complex systems. [Corning, Peter A. (2005). "Holistic Darwinism: Synergy, Cybernetics, and the Bioeconomics of Evolution". ]

See also

* Emergence
* Ludwig von Bertalanffy
* Paleolithic
* Teleogenesis
* Thermoeconomics


Corning has written half a dozen books and numerous research papers and articles over the years. A selection:
* 1969. "The evolution of medicare: from idea to law". U.S. Social Security Administration.
* 1971. "The Theory of Evolution as a Paradigm for the Analysis of Social Behavior".
* 1981. "The Synergism Hypothesis: A Theory of Progressive Evolution". McGraw-Hill
* 1986. "Winning with synergy : how America can regain the competitive edge"
* 2003. "Nature's magic : synergy in evolution and the fate of humankind"
* 2005. "Holistic Darwinism : synergy, cybernetics, and the bioeconomics of evolution" Articles:
* 1995. "Synergy and Self-Organization in the Evolution of Complex Systems." In: "Systems Research".
* 1996. "To be or Entropy: Or Thermodynamics, Information and Life Revisited, A Comic Opera in Two Acts". With Stephen Jay Kline. Prepared for the International Society for the Systems Sciences Annual Meeting, Budapest, Hungary, September 1996.
* 1996. "The Co-operative Gene: On the Role of Synergy in Evolution." In: "Evolutionary Theory".


External links

* [ Peter A. Corning] , Director, Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, ISCS 2007.

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