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Peter Corning


Peter Corning

Peter Andrew Corning
Nationality American
Fields complex systems, systems theory, cybernetics, evolution
Institutions National Institute of Mental Health
University of Colorado
Stanford University
Institute for the Study of Complex Systems
Alma mater Brown University (B.A.)
New York University (Ph.D.)
Known for synergy, thermoeconomics

Peter Andrew Corning (born 1935) is an American biologist, consultant, and complex systems scientist, and Director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, in Friday Harbor, Washington, and is known especially for his work on the causal role of synergy in evolution.[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Work 2
  • See also 3
  • Publications 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Peter Corning was born in Pasadena, California in 1935. He received a his undergraduate BA from Brown University and completed a Doctor of Philosophy in interdisciplinary social science-life science at New York University. Later he was awarded a two-year National Institute of Mental Health Post-doctoral Fellowship for additional study and research at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics at the University of Colorado.

After graduating from 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-doctoral studies, 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 and as a founding partner of a private consulting firm in Palo Alto, California.[2]

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 an 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.[2]


Peter Corning's 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".[3]

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".[1]

See also


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
  • 2011. The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice


  • 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.


  1. ^ a b Institute for the Study of Complex Systems. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  2. ^ a b Peter A. Corning, Ph.D. Director, Institute for the Study of Complex Systems 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  3. ^ Peter A. Corning Collegium Budapest, 1998. Retrieved 6 June 2008.

External links

  • Peter A. Corning, Director, Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, ISCS 2007.
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