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developmentsee ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, CHILD DEVELOPMENT.
irreversible, directional, and lawlike change in material and ideal objects. Only the simultaneous presence of all three characteristics distinguishes developmental processes from other types of change. Reversibility of change is characteristic of processes of functioning (cyclical repetition within a continuous system of functions). Accidental processes of a catastrophic nature lack lawlike regularity. In the absence of direction, changes cannot accumulate, and therefore the process lacks the single, internally interconnected line that is characteristic of development. As a result of development, a qualitatively new state of the object arises, and this appears as a change in its composition or structure—the emergence, transformation, or disappearance of elements or connections within it. The capacity for development constitutes one of the universal properties of matter and mind.
Time is the essential characteristic of developmental processes because any development takes place in real time and because only time discloses the direction of development. Therefore, the history of scientific conceptions of development begins only with the appearance of theoretical concepts attributing direction to time. Thus, ancient philosophy and science had no conception of development in the true sense of the word since time was regarded as something that moved in a cyclical pattern, and processes were thought to follow a certain program “set for all time” and to complete an invariable series of cycles. “The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and it hasteth to the place where it arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to its circuits…. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:5.6, 9).
In the world view of classical antiquity the problem of irreversible change did not exist, and the question of the origin of the world as a whole and of the objects within it was, for the most part, reduced to the question, Out of what does something originate? As for the mechanism of origination, it was interpreted in a purely speculative way. The idea of an absolutely perfect cosmos, which underlay all thought in classical antiquity, prevented the formulation of the question of directional changes that engender fundamentally new structures and relations. There could be no development but only the unfolding of certain potentialities inherent in an object from the beginning and always latent within it. This principle was stated explicitly in the doctrine of preformationism. Nevertheless, their achievements in logic enabled the ancients to create techniques for analyzing various types of change and motion, and this became one of the chief methodological premises for the later study of developmental processes.
Concepts of time and the direction of time changed with the advent of Christianity, which introduced the idea of the linear direction of time, although, to be sure, this idea applied only to the spiritual realm and was totally banished from the realm of natural processes. With the rise of empirical science in modern times, the idea of the linear direction of time gradually began to enter the study of nature, resulting in the formation of concepts of natural history and of irreversible directional changes in nature and society. The creation of a scientific cosmology and the introduction of a theory of evolution in biology (given its classical form by Darwin) and in geology (C. Lyell) played a crucial role in this regard.
When the idea of development was firmly established in natural science, it almost simultaneously became the object of philosophical investigation. Its most profound exposition appeared in classical German philosophy, especially in Hegel, whose dialectic is essentially a doctrine of universal development, expressed in idealist form. Using the dialectical method, Hegel not only showed the universality of the principle of development but also revealed its universal source and mechanism—the emergence, struggle, and resolution of opposites.
An integral scientific conception of development was elaborated by Marxism, which regards development as a universal property of matter, as a genuinely all-embracing principle which, in the form of historicism, also serves as the basis for explaining the history of society and knowledge. The main features of developmental processes are expressed in the basic laws of materialist dialectics—the unity and struggle of opposites, the transformation of quantity into quality, and the negation of negation.
Lenin formulated the fundamental ideas of the dialectical materialist conception of development as follows: “A development that repeats, as it were, stages that have already been passed, but repeats them in a different way, on a higher basis (the ‘negation of negation’), a development, so to speak, that proceeds in spirals, not in a straight line; a development by leaps, catastrophes, and revolutions; ‘breaks in continuity’; the transformation of quantity into quality; inner impulses toward development, imparted by the contradiction and conflict of the various forces and tendencies acting on a given body, or within a given phenomenon, or within a given society; the interdependence and the closest and indissoluble connection between all aspects of any phenomenon (history constantly revealing ever new aspects), a connection that provides a uniform and universal process of motion, one that follows definite laws—these are some of the features of dialectics as a doctrine of development that is richer than the conventional one” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 55).
The dialectical materialist doctrine of development was the philosophical and methodological foundation for the theory of the revolutionary transformation of society along communist lines. By reworking and expanding the Hegelian dialectic, Marxism showed the fundamental difference between, and yet the organic unity of, the two basic kinds of development —evolution and revolution. The social and practical aspect of this problem was analyzed especially thoroughly, and this was directly reflected in the theory of socialist revolution and of the development of socialism into communism. Thanks to the dialectical doctrine of development, the arsenal of scientific knowledge was substantially expanded, and the historical method, with its various concrete modifications, assumed a central place in it. A number of scientific disciplines have arisen that study the concrete processes of development in nature and society.
In the second half of the 19th century the idea of development was widely accepted, although the bourgeois mind perceived it as superficial evolutionism, largely owing to the influence of the philosophy of H. Spencer. From the many possible conceptions of development the only notion selected was that of a monotonous evolutionary process in a linear direction. An analogous conception of development underlies the ideology of reformism. The dogmatic narrowness of superficial evolutionism evoked a critical response in bourgeois philosophy and sociology. On the one hand, such criticism rejected the very idea of development and the principle of historicism, and on the other hand, it was accompanied by the rise of theories of “creative evolution” (for example, “emergent evolution”), imbued with indeterminism and subjective idealist tendencies.
Practical social experience in the age of imperialism and scientific progress have provided extensive material confirming the complexity and ambiguity of developmental processes and their mechanisms. Above all, the positivist idea of development as linear progress, stemming from a strictly linear conception of time, has been refuted. The practical experience of the social movements of the 20th century has demonstrated convincingly that historical progress is by no means attained automatically, that the generally ascending line of social development results from the complex dialectical interaction of a multiplicity of processes, and that among these processes there are those that diverge from progress or are even retrogressive. All this has revealed the direct link between social development and the ideological struggle, a link that has become especially evident in the context of the duel between the two world social systems, socialism and capitalism. In this situation, the genuinely progressive development of society occurs as the result of the purposeful activity of the popular masses, based on the objective laws of history. In this age, therefore, progressive development is inseparable from the ideology of Marxism-Leninism and from scientific social management capable of setting and achieving adequate goals for development.
Concepts of development have broadened in both the natural and social sciences. If the 19th century was preeminently the century in which the idea of development was accepted and evolutionary patterns of thought were firmly established, the 20th century has concentrated on the inner mechanisms of development. For example, in formulating the theory of organic evolution it was enough for Darwin to simply indicate that natural selection was the basic factor in evolution, operating through heredity and variation; this successfully explained the pattern of the evolutionary process as a whole. However, 20th-century biology has focused on the specific mechanisms of heredity and variation. It has shifted from an analysis of the overall pattern of the developmental process to an analysis of its inner structure and the conditions under which it takes place, making possible the rise of the modern synthetic theory of evolution.
Such a reorientation has substantially enriched the general conceptions of development. In the first place, biology and the history of culture have shown that the process is neither universal nor homogeneous. If we look at the main lines of development, for example, at organic evolution, we see fairly clearly a dialectical interaction between processes moving in different directions: the general line of progressive development is interwoven with changes that produce the “dead ends” of evolution or that lead to regression. On a cosmic scale, moreover, processes of progressive or regressive development are apparently of equal significance.
In the second place, the analysis of developmental mechanisms has required a more thorough study of the internal structure of developing objects and especially of their organization and functioning. Such an analysis was necessary for working out objective criteria that would permit a quantitative approach to the study of developmental processes. A rise or decline in the level of organization during development usually serves as such a criterion. But questions of organization and functioning have proved to be so broad and diverse that special subject areas have been delimited. Since the middle of the 20th century there has been a noticeable demarcation of fields of knowledge concerned with the study of the organization and functioning of developing entities. This kind of specialization is justified methodologically to the extent that processes of functioning constitute an autonomous field of study. But it must be borne in mind that the theoretical representation of the object obtained from such study may well be partial and incomplete.
In some scientific schools, there has been a hypertrophy of the functional aspect to the detriment of the evolutionary aspect. This is typical of many representatives of the school of structural-functional analysis in bourgeois sociology and of some adherents of structuralism who prefer structural to historical analysis. This position has given rise to a debate over whether the structural or the historical approach should have priority. The debate has become especially heated in historical science, ethnography, and linguistics, but it has also affected biology.
Although many questions in this area cannot be considered resolved, the debate itself and contemporary research have shown that both the aspect of development and the aspect of organization may have a completely independent significance in studying developing entities. It is only necessary that the possibilities and limits of the two approaches be taken into account, as well as the fact that at a certain stage of cognition it becomes necessary to synthesize the evolutionary and the organizational ideas about an object—as has been done, for example, in modern theoretical biology. To achieve such a synthesis the concept of time must be extended. The distinction between the evolutionary and structural aspects presupposes a corresponding distinction in regard to time, and here it is not physical time that takes precedence, not mere chronological time, but the inner time of an object, the rhythms of its functioning and development.
In assessing the prospects for constructing synthetic theories of developing objects, it should be remembered that the techniques for analyzing the processes of functioning are more advanced than the techniques for investigating developmental processes, owing to the latter’s greater complexity. Therefore, one of the most important methodological tasks is the refinement of our ideas about the structure and mechanisms of developmental processes and about their relation to the processes of functioning.
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Lenin, V. I. Filosofskie tetradi. In Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29.
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Printsip istorizma v poznanii sotsial’nykh iavlenii. Moscow, 1972.
Mayr, E. Populiatsii, vidy i evoliutsiia. Moscow, 1974. (Translated from English.)
E. G. IUDIN
(1) A type of musical variation associated with the breakdown of themes and the free transformation of their elements.
(2) The middle section in the sonata form, in which the above-mentioned type of musical variation prevails.