The book has its own domain: http://www.theevolutionofeverything.co.uk/ Here is the book on Google books and Amazon. Peter Forbes says it is Ridley's "magnum opus". High praise - since many of Ridley's other books are pretty good.
The book has a form of Universal Darwinism at its core. Ridley writes:
Indeed, to borrow a phrase from a theorist of innovation, Richard Webb, Darwinism is “the special theory of evolution”. But there is a general theory of evolution, too, and it applies to society, money, technology, language, law, culture, music, violence, history, education, politics, God, morality. The general theory says that things do not stay the same; they change gradually but inexorably; they show “path dependence”; they show descent with modification; they show selective persistence.
The special and general theories of evolution. I love it. What a great way to express the idea of Universal Darwinism. I don't like the term "Darwinism" being reserved for the "special" theory. Rather like Einstien, Darwin pioneered both the special and general theories of evolution; we should give him credit for that.
From the list of examples, it looks as though Ridley might be missing out on Darwinian Physics, though.
You may find that the first chapter is available free here. It's a philosophical/historical overview of bottom-up explanations.
Google Books has the first two chapters online here.
- Ronald Bailey: Good News Is Unplanned - How culture, economies, technology, and government evolve
- Michael Shermer: No Planning Necessary
- Peter Forbes: The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge by Matt Ridley
- Alberto Acerbi: The evolution of what?? A bad book (and a bad review).
- John Gray: Does Darwin’s theory apply to everything, from the internet to leadership? The columnist and disgraced banker has written a bumptious, misguided book.