1st Edition

Behavior and Culture in One Dimension Sequences, Affordances, and the Evolution of Complexity

By Dennis Waters Copyright 2021
    278 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Behavior and Culture in One Dimension adopts a broad interdisciplinary approach, presenting a unified theory of sequences and their functions and an overview of how they underpin the evolution of complexity.

    Sequences of DNA guide the functioning of the living world, sequences of speech and writing choreograph the intricacies of human culture, and sequences of code oversee the operation of our literate technological civilization. These linear patterns function under their own rules, which have never been fully explored. It is time for them to get their due. This book explores the one-dimensional sequences that orchestrate the structure and behavior of our three-dimensional habitat. Using Gibsonian concepts of perception, action, and affordances, as well as the works of Howard Pattee, the book examines the role of sequences in the human behavioral and cultural world of speech, writing, and mathematics. 

    The book offers a Darwinian framework for understanding human cultural evolution and locates the two major informational transitions in the origins of life and civilization. It will be of interest to students and researchers in ecological psychology, linguistics, cognitive science, and the social and biological sciences.

    Introduction: Sequences, Sequences, and Sequences

    Chapter 1. The Problem of Sequentialization

    Chapter 2. The Emergence of Constraint

    Chapter 3. The Grammar of Interaction

    Chapter 4. The Grammar of Extension

    Chapter 5. The Grammar of Abstraction

    Chapter 6. The Conundrum of Replication

    Chapter 7. The Threshold of Complication

    Chapter 8. The Institution of Sequences

    Chapter 9. The Continuum of Abstraction

    Appendix: Just Enough Molecular Biology


    Dennis P. Waters received his Ph.D. from Binghamton University in 1990. He became a publishing entrepreneur, founding technical news services like GenomeWeb.com. After retiring, Waters continued his Ph.D. research, how one-dimensional patterns of DNA, language, and code guide the three-dimensional world. He is a visiting scientist at Rutgers University.

    "Behavior and Culture in One Dimension provides an engaging, highly readable exploration of the foundational role of one-dimensional patterns or "sequences" in the origin and evolution of complex systems on earth, among them, living systems. These one-dimensional sequences (including, for example, RNA, DNA, linguistic sequences, computer code) serve to organize, harness, and control (three-dimensional) physical systems so that the systems exhibit functional, organized activity at larger spatiotemporal scales including ecologically relevant scales. The book should attract a variety of readerships including popular science readers and students of evolution, ecological science, and language. For language scholars, such as myself, it offers a unique, persuasive, and impactful perspective on the kind of thing that language is, offering valuable insight on how language use in the world (written as well as spoken) can do the work it does. I highly recommend this book."— Carol A. Fowler, Haskins Laboratories, U.S.A.

    "Over the past 60 years Howard Pattee proposed foundational ideas for understanding the nature of life. With spectacular clarity and force his former student Dennis Waters examines and extends Pattee’s work to produce a vibrant framework for thinking how the physical/biological world constructs life itself. Get ready to think and then think again. This book is true scholarship in its finest form."— Michael Gazzaniga, SAGE Center for the Study of Mind, University of California, U.S.A.

    "Dennis Waters’ Behavior and Culture in One Dimension explores the implications of a deceptively simple idea—the concept of a sequence—and shows how much of the complexity of the biological and human world is dependent on it. With DNA at one end of his account and written language at the other, he shows how sequences have played midwife to the emergence of complex life and human civilization." — Terrence Deacon, University of California, U.S.A

    "Behavior and Culture in One Dimension pursues the bold and intriguing claim that DNA, language, and computer code are not simply metaphorical allies. Waters builds the case that systems of linear sequences have properties in common that allow them to constrain activity in three dimensions. He’s after a universal organizing principle that is independent of the embodiment of the sequence—human language, animal communication, behavior by parasites, bacteria, and civilizations are all in his sights. The neglect of language has long been seen by cognitive science as the Achilles heel of ecological psychology. An approach to language that respects the ecological emphasis on natural law is sorely needed and that is very much what Waters provides."Claudia Carello, University of Connecticut, U.S.A.