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Foundations of Economic Evolution

A Treatise on the Natural Philosophy of Economics

  • New Horizons in Institutional and Evolutionary Economics series

Carsten Herrmann-Pillath

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Chapter 5: Networks

Carsten Herrmann-Pillath


In this chapter, I substantiate the abstract notion of the ‘group’ in general evolutionary theory in terms of the concept of networks. This concept matches with the paradigm of connectionism in the brain sciences, and it builds a bridge to general approaches in ecology, thus applying across vastly different levels of evolutionary analysis. In the first step, this reflects the generality of the mathematical notion of a ‘network’, which is just ‘a collection of points joined together in pairs by lines’ (Newman 2010: 1). One important task of this chapter is to relate this generic notion of a network with the specific biological characteristics of humans, in particular with reference to the theory of the individual. Human networks connect individuals, and so the question is what this implies for network analysis, both in theoretical and empirical terms. The pivotal point is the recognition that human brains fundamentally operate on the basis of semiotically embedded connectivity with other brains.

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