The alpha mammalian center is not a specialized individual, but a role. Perhaps because this role embodies a greater degree of whatever metaphysical substance makes up the network of dominance and cooperation, mammal societies with dominance hierarchies should be considered more dispersed than centered. At the very least, however, they are a step along what is clearly an evolutionary trend toward centering, the prime mammalian manifestation of which is as striking as that of the atom, the cell, and the organism. Out of primal dominance hierarchies have emerged centralized human systems and civilizations.

from Metapatterns (1995)

Portrait of Tyler Volk

Tyler Volk

Professor of Environmental Studies and Biology

Tyler Volk is a professor in the departments of environmental studies and biology at New York University. His areas of interest include principles of form and function in systems (described as metapatterns), environmental challenges to global prosperity, CO2 and global change, biosphere theory and the role of life in earth dynamics.


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Gregory Stock


In this visionary book, Gregory Stock gives us a new way of understanding our world and our future. He develops the provocative thesis that human society has become an immense living being: a global superorganism in which we humans, knitted together by our modern technology and communication, are like the cells in an animal's body. Drawing on impressive research, Stock shows this newly formed superorganism to be more than metaphor: it is an actual living creature, which he has named Metaman, meaning beyond and transcending humans.