Our Evolution

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“… evolutionary novelty comes about when ecological opportunities are truly large.”

(P. Ward, RARE EARTH)

For evolution to be creative, which basically means for it to be able to operate on a radical scale, there needs to be a wide-open field to nurture it and allow it to grow within. The same could be said of any innovations. In the human-made world, our creative evolution, which is manifest in the arts and sciences, is dependent on the economic environment. As such, we can assert that human creativity (artistic and technological) can only come about when economic opportunities are truly large. But what does large in this case mean?

Surely it should be understood as widespread, giving opportunities to as many creative and innovative people as possible. Opportunities in these areas don’t have to mean enormous amounts of money, and certainly shouldn’t be merely big pay offs for projects to make these creators and innovators rich. Rather it should be seen as opportunities to get projects done, because: a) there is a space – a laboratory or work-shop – to experiment and construct in; (b) there is time for the innovators to be able to dedicate themselves to the projects at hand; (c) that there is comfort and security that allows the innovators to work without the stress and pressure of results; and (d) innovators have the opportunity (platform) to present the fruits of their work to the rest of society.

Through this kind of creative and innovative freedom a civilisation can truly evolve. Although this progress depends on the creation of an economic comfort zone for all creators, the problem is not an economic one as such, but rather it is a matter of progressive will.

Under our present system, economics is a hindrance to creativity because instead of nurturing economic opportunities for human innovation it creates barriers and impediments for creators to find the freedom to work in. The question should not be: How can we allow creativity to be financed in our society? But: What kind of economic system can be devised to create a field where creativity and innovation on a massive, evolutionary scale is possible?

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Cosmological Purposiveness

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Contemporary cosmology offers us two possible explanations of reality that are useful for developing a strong sense of human purposiveness.

(i) RARE EARTH: the first of these is the Rare Earth Hypothesis, which describes the intricate complexity required of a system in order to produce developed life forms such as those on Earth and concludes that such life-forms must be extremely rare in the Universe, if not completely confined to our planet itself.

(ii) The second is the concept of Cosmological Fine Tuning, which implies that the Universe is deliberately fine-tuned in a way that makes the creation of life possible. In essence these ideas seem contradictory: if the Universe is set up to facilitate the creation of complex life-forms there should be life in abundance all around the Universe, but Rare Earth tells us that is not at all the case. However, if we accept both hypotheses as correct, we get an image of a fine-tuned cosmos that has all the basic necessities for creating complex life-forms, but that the evolution from the original idea is carried out in a random, blind way. It is as if God built a game (the Universe) based on determined rules, physical laws, but the game is a game of chance. In other words, God built a nice casino (the Universe) so It could play dice, but not with the combinations of two or three dice, rather with the combinations of millions of them. Instead of an omnipotent God, we have a blind, quite impotent one.

Yet, if this is what our reality is based on, how can such a paradigm be useful for developing human purpose?   

If we take the idea of Fine Tuning and tweak it with the Rare Earth hypothesis, the picture of a determined, planned Universe arises, but one that is set in a chaotic, random manner to produce complex and ultimately intelligent life-forms. This mix of determinism and randomness, mixes into a middle-point reality, sitting between the conflicting axis of theological against scientific outlooks. It could, therefore, be an alluring new paradigm, seducing a compromise between the theological and scientific ideological stances. It is satisfying from a religious point-of-view because it admits the presence of a Creator and points to a teleological outcome, a Creator-willed end in which humanity plays a vital part (hence our purposiveness). If the Universe is designed for the creation of intelligent life, and we are very likely the most developed form of intelligent life in the Universe (Rare Earth Hypothesis), then the development of our progress as Sapiens entities is vital to the completion of that Creator’s will. In fact, these entities are necessary agents for that will to be made possible.

At the same time, the Rare-Earth/Fine-Tuning idea is inspirational for scientific and artistic sectors of humanity: our purpose is to allow our intelligence to evolve in a limitless way, understanding, imagining and creating with the Universe in a constant process of continual becoming. In a God-willed random Universe, the Creator is not omnipotent, and our duty is not to any religious dogmas but to the Work itself: which now is that of developing human potentials to the full.

In this new paradigm, sapiens organisms are the final cause of an evolutionary process, while, at the same time, we are also the beginning of a new transcendental process of transformation: via the sapiens mind itself, and through the space-transforming technologies that the sapiens are able to manufacture.

The amalgamation of Rare Earth and Fine Tuning is deeply imbued with purposiveness and duty. If we are unique, we cannot afford to disappear. We have a duty to protect our world, and protect ourselves. Our ultimate duty is easily appreciated, to the world and to our species, above all other duties. All meaning rests here. The Earth is a unique harbour of life in a Universe that is evolving chaotically around it, and it must be preserved, so that complex life can be preserved.

Our most pressing task, for all of us, is to overcome the problems of human separation. This can only be done through the development of purposiveness as an ideological alternative to all the separating, identity-ideologies that are so embedded in our societies today. Our cosmological reality leads us, therefore, to a moral and political stance, which is a profoundly humanistic one.

We are of vital importance; we are necessary. Our future, and the evolution of the Universe itself may depend on us recognising that necessity and the great purpose it imbues us all with.

Moral Teleology

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Kant proposed moral teleology, the idea of a moral final-cause, as a form of tackling, in a rational way via nature’s apparent final causes, the concept of the Creator or God.[1]

In our previous posts we have also been toying with this idea of the moral teleology, but instead of using it as a way to prove the existence of God, we do so to supersede the need to think of God, and allow ourselves to concentrate on human purposiveness. Our moral teleology is based on progress through becoming and concerns humanity – all of humanity without separations. The vision of the final-cause, even with the consciousness that it can only ever be a process of becoming, without end, and never be perfectly fulfilled, is a fundamentally moral concept that, as in all morality, implies duties. And while becoming negates permanence, and through that nullification a further negation of dogmas, it also maintains a need for the preservation of ideas via the imperative of learning.

In our concept of moral teleology, there are no divine commands, but yes, there is a moral gravity that tugs us forward in a purposive way. We have a duty, a sense of obligation, to creating a happy ending for humanity and the Universe.

But even in Kant’s case, despite building his moral-teleology bridge toward the Creator, he was also able to argue in favour of a rather atheistic kind of agnosticism: “Beyond all doubt the great purposiveness present in the world compels us to think that there is a supreme cause of this purposiveness and one whose causality has an intelligence behind it. But this in no way entitles us to ascribe such intelligence to that cause.”[2]

In a sense, Kant is arguing Plato’s cave-thesis in reverse. The temptation is to see God in our shadows, but, in reality, the illumination that casts that shadow is too bright for us to deduce anything at all from it.

And so, he says, we can handle the idea of God in a rational way through moral teleology, although, really, we are not entitled to come to any conclusions because they would be fantasies.

God exists because we want it to exist, but it would be more purposeful and positive to investigate the purposiveness of ourselves and the real human potential latent in our progress (with an aim of properly and positively unleashing that potential).

As a bridge between reality and fantasy in theology, Kant proposed the idea of psychoteleology.[3] This term is useful for tackling the idea of final-cause from our own perspective of becoming. A psychoteleological approach to the examination of theories of Cosmological Fine Tuning opens up a fertile field  for rationalising a forward-looking, authentically progressive philosophy of purposiveness for humanity.

[1] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, Part One.

[2] Ibid, p. 313

[3] Ibid, p. 314

 

Happiness

Eutychia

Kant makes a point that human happiness depends on humanity harmonising its condition with nature. Human here is the key term: we are not talking about the happiness of individuals, although it would be easier for individuals to find happiness if the human race itself had a happier condition.

Kant says: “We are determined a priori by reason to further what is best for the world as far as this lies within our power.”[1]

For Kant, this harmonising would take place by guiding nature, or perhaps crafting it, to follow humanity’s moral ends. Where we differ from Kant is that we have observed that our particular perspective of what human moral ends should be are actually demonstrated by and embedded in nature already. We are referring here to the ideas of becoming and perpetuity, which are part of the nature of the cosmos.

For us, the harmony of the Universe flows through, and depends on, sapiens entities like humanity being able to understand nature’s final ends. A harmony that depends on the creation and perpetuation of life and its evolution into the complexity of sapiens organisms, which include, of course, our own species.

Our duty

Kant concluded that we are very likely the only entities in the Universe capable of thinking what the final end of the same Universe could be.[2] So, if that’s the case, we should start to tackle the concept seriously.

The first part of the process of the becoming has to be an idea of what is final, and what a happy ending could be like. The adjective is important: to be positive, the purpose in the becoming must always be directed towards Utopia.

Counter-purpose, on the other hand, is anything pushing us towards a dystopia.

The Chicken of the Egg

What came first, the chicken or the egg?

We see the Universe as an egg. The world in it is a potentially life-producing object, the yolk. Self-conscious life, or Sapiens, is the chick, growing inside. Eventually the chick has to break out of the egg. That is the first step from Sapiens to a new evolutionary process of becoming God.

[1] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement, p. 282

[2] Ibid

Becoming and Purposiveness

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Ours is a nihilistic world: What our civilisation lacks and needs is a common, human purpose. But purposiveness only makes sense when combined with the process of becoming. The purpose is not found in what is, but rather meaningfulness is rooted in the act of becoming; or, in other words, in making real that which will come to be. Becoming is a natural purposiveness, embedded in the evolutionary nature of things. Counter-purposiveness is, therefore, located in the static and the contrary idea that the good lies in the actual state of what is.

Nevertheless, if we consider evolution from the standpoint of the evolution of ideas, it is immediately clear how important to becoming is the idea of learning. Progress has to be a building on that which came before. Memory is essential and preservation is a necessary agent for facilitating memory on a vast cultural scale. The static is a counter-purposive state, but preservation is not. Quite the contrary, preservation is replete with purpose, and in fact it gives fuel to purposeful being.  

Opposed to the positive element of preservation then, we have the negative counter-purpose of eradication.

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By observing evolutionary processes, we see how becoming is embedded in the biological nature of organisms. Likewise, if we look at the cosmological evolution of the Universe through the mathematical prism of Cosmological Fine Tuning, then we also see a process of purposive becoming take place. In both cases, there is a continual insistence on trial and error and the learning that occurs through it. If the Rare Earth scenario is correct, then, in cosmological terms, the complexity of creating life through trial and error is immense, and the probabilities of success, even in the great enormity of this Universe, are miniscule. Despite this, a steady process of becoming has been able to produce an organism capable of understanding the amazing complexity involved in the process of its own evolution, and this has to be regarded as an incredible achievement born from the natural, reflexive process of becoming itself.

Whether there was, from the beginning, a natural purposiveness in this or not; whether evolution is an accidental process or not – authentic, universal purposiveness can be derived from observation of the process and, whether this is an anthropocentric perception or not, the moral implications still hold true. Once becoming is recognised as the moral nature of things, then a moral path forward is opened for us. The past is only significant in terms of what needs to be learned in order to go forward. There is no purpose in the past except what it tells us about where we have come from and, hence, what becoming is.

The requirements of the moral laws of purposiveness derive their inspiration, not from the past or the creator, but from the future. If the essence is becoming, then humanity and all human cultures must ask themselves what we can become. Or even: What must we become? Morality needs to be orientated towards the future: Always.

Nothing is written: The moral law is part of becoming and must always be adjusted to future looking purposiveness.

Moral laws can never, therefore, be inviolable. Quite the contrary: We should expect them to evolve. Evolution is essential in becoming, and the role of preservation is needed for the learning to be able to push progress forward.

Of course becoming and progress also make demands on us, but true purposiveness is a liberating kind of duty, with a heavy enough anchor to keep the dynamic process from exploding into anarchy.  

Good and Evil = Purposiveness and Counter-purposiveness

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When we elevate problems up to the “Human” level, the question of “what should be done” is immediately purified and made simpler. The problem of humanity is not humanity per se, but rather the self-interestedness of the non-humanity that infects the simplicity and clouds the perspective of our progressive-thinking, sapiens nature in favour of egotistical accumulations and wealth.

For instance, from a “Human” perspective, the problem of good versus evil can be seen more clearly if we change the terms to purposiveness instead of good, and counter-purposiveness in the place of evil.

In order to properly see human purposiveness, we must examine the absolute of the final end: What is the final end of humanity in the Universe?

A purposive resolution of this question would firstly have to take humanity’s special qualities into consideration (i.e. our sapiens qualities, that make us capable of understanding that we have purposes), and then imagine how this special quality can be meaningful and enriching for the place we inhabit, which is, ultimately, the Universe itself.

(Here we lift humanity to the level of all sapiens entities, at the same time elevating our home to the Universe, and reality to that of the possible rather than the actual.)

Seen as the purposive entity that we as sapiens creatures are, therefore, our purposive thesis should be: The final end of humanity in the Universe has to be the fulfilling of humanity’s role (as sapiens entities) in the Universe, as an integral part of the Universe’s Being.

The counter-purposiveness antithesis would be: The final end of humanity lies outside the Universe. In this way we immediately see the negative force of the transcendental reasoning of the spiritual as a distraction away from authentic purposiveness.[1]

Seen from this point-of-view, our anti-human view of history has been a steady process of counter-purposiveness.

As Kant said: “it is only as a moral being that man can be a final end of creation.”[2] Only man/humanity as a moral being with purposiveness regarding its place and role in the Universe can be a final end of creation.

When separated into groups, humanity becomes contemptible – only as humanity itself, as a whole, or as individuals or groups working for the purposiveness of that whole, can humans ever be regarded as admirable.

[1] When considering God, we would all do well to keep in mind that the deity was created by reason, and reason tells us that while the idea that reason created God is reasonable, the idea that God created reason is less reasonable.

[2] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgement

The Cause of Possibility: (Possibility versus Actuality)

 

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Perhaps the most distinctive feature of human reasoning is our capacity to see beyond the actual and perceive possibility.

Possibility is what makes us moral animals and throws us unavoidably into the divisive areas of good and evil and right and wrong. It is through our capacity for seeing possibilities that our tremendous creativity is allowed to bloom. Nevertheless, human society itself is responsible for much repression of possibility and civilisation itself tries to mould actuality into its own image at the price of possibility.

For the most part in contemporary society, that which ought to happen is constantly thwarted by actuality. Thus, poverty ought to be eradicated but actuality seems to turn the idea into some idealistic fantasy; war should be a thing of the past, but actuality makes it eradication impossible; we ought to have eliminated many more diseases and found cures for countless other simple ailments, and yet actuality engenders more new viruses year after year; we should have become more human and less nationalistic, but actuality makes a norm of the nationalistic spirit …

Possibility is constantly being strangled by actuality, and we are gasping in a choking planet. If there is a cause that we should now be defending above all others, it is the Cause of Possibility. Once that is empowered, all the rest of the causes, all the “ought to be” things in the world, will fall into place.   

Our Specialness

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Sapiens life-forms, gifted with the ability to be conscious of and understand the physical mechanics of the world around them, are, most likely, a very rare part of the enormous cosmos we inhabit. Despite the vastness of the Universe, the stability required to produce ecosystems capable of harbouring organisms is extremely scarce.

This Rare Earth Hypothesis was put forward by the geologist and palaeontologist, Peter ward and the astronomer and astrobiologist, Donald Brownlee in their book Rare Earth. Their thesis is an argument against the Drake Equation that was championed by Carl Sagan and was a favourite of Fox Mulder in the X-Files.

The Drake Equation is more or less based on probabilities suggested by the simple vastness of space and fails to take into consideration neither the enormous inhospitableness of that space, nor the tendency for organised systems to fail or fall into mutually destructive relationships with each other. The Drake equation was most definitely an exaggeration, while the Rare Earth Hypothesis points to the Anthropic principles put forward by Barrow and Tipler and other champions of Cosmological Fine Tuning. It suggests the probability that the complex variety of life-forms on Earth may be unique in the Universe. In other words, we may very well be alone here.

Unique or not: we are special and rare, and immensely important for the qualitative existence of the Universe. Once we embrace this condition of uniqueness, ideas of fulfilment and purposiveness are radically augmented and changed as well. If we are the best there is, we should act accordingly and try to make sure we always act correctly, according to our noble status.

Our specialness implies purposiveness, and points toward meaningful life-philosophies. Likewise, it indicates that our negative feelings of alienation and absurdity are fostered by a lack of connection with the authentic purposiveness implied by our uniqueness in the cosmos. The truth is here, but we cannot see it because what we are, is buried in what we are. Our partnership with the Universe, established through Being, that puts us in a privileged position of importance within the cosmos, has not only deep philosophical significance, it also cries out for a drastic re-thinking of our attitudes to politics, economics, society and the very reasons we have for doing anything.

The Anthropic Principle demands a return to humanist principles and a revolutionary upheaval of the system that nurtures and governs our global civilisation today.

The Science of Necessity

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In our previous pots (Intelligence and Being[1] and Natural Purpose is born from Necessity[2])we made necessity a force; a physical law of nature. But, how can that be?

Within metaphysics there is the Necessitarian Theory which puts forward the idea that the “Laws of Nature are the principles which govern the natural phenomena of the world”. But this was more of a nomic debate between must and is [3], and a questioning of free will which is certainly not where we want to go. Necessity is also implied, if not stated, in much of the debate on final causes and purposiveness in biology, and, again, championed by theologians, but that is not where we want to go either.

A surprising upholder of final causes and purposiveness as a driving force in biological design was Kant. For him, mechanistic materialism was not enough to explain biology.[4] Nature needs more than just an understanding of its laws to explain it.

But to avoid the philosophical pitfall of tripping over into theology when unravelling metaphysical ideas, perhaps the best way to tackle this would be through an examination of the information used by systems – mechanical or biological – in order to drive themselves. Traditionally we have called much of this information laws: But how do these laws happen? Why must systems act in a certain way? Doesn’t this obligation imply necessity?

If atoms in water must solidify at 0ºC, and must agitate and become gaseous at 100ºC there is a certain force of necessity involved. Once we have established that all natural-laws contain the element of necessity, we see that necessity is everywhere, running throughout the very fabric of the entire universe, on the cosmic and the sub-atomic levels. Things happen because they must; because necessity demands it.

Science thinks it understands phenomena when it has been able to understand its laws, or, in our terminology, when it has understood its necessity – although knowing that something happens necessarily is not the same as knowing why it happens. It is in this field of trying to understand why, that those who ask the question are drawn into the problematic area of teleology and final causes.

Or perhaps not … The answer to the question of why organised systems come about may have nothing to do with final causes – the finality in each law may be just the singularity of each separate law. Initially, the necessary function of each law may simply be that it works. Nevertheless, once a system becomes complex, it needs the individual elements that make it up to all work in a necessary way.

Could we say that physical laws, and therefore needs, evolve as the system evolves? Structurally there is really nothing static in the Universe, everything is changing or inter-changing. Everything is dynamic, evolving into systems that seem in macro-cosmological terms to be stable.

It is this dynamism that eventually produces, in at least one tiny speck of the Universe, conditions for life. With the emergence of organisms, complexity takes on a whole new form. Really there are three stages of complexity in the Universe: (i) the mechanical stage of organising matter; (ii) the organic stage of evolving life forms; and (iii) the perceptive and idealistic stages in the evolving of minds.

In each stage there are laws or needs which deal with: a) lack; b) the problems of the maintenance and preservation of the system; and c) the needs for adapting, changing and progressing through creativity. The interesting thing here is that at all three stages the systems are liable to fall into internecine relationships with themselves. There seems to be an effort to regulate itself and find equilibriums and conditions which are self-regulatory, but the overall rule seems to be that this is impossible, at least in an absolute sense. While systems seem to strive for regularity and permanence, any absolute permanence seems to be impossible. All systems must eventually collapse, even though this seems to be the opposite of the intentions of the needs.

But, if the intentions are real, then the Universe is imbued with purpose; with a struggle; with the need to overcome its own internecine tendencies and evolve into regularity and permanence or at least to keep moving in that direction through the progressive evolutionary forces of adapting, changing and creating.

Looked at in this way, the final cause is in the process and is embedded in progress and becoming geared towards permanence.

[1] https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3120

[2] https://wordpress.com/post/pauladkin.wordpress.com/3117

[3] Internet Enciclopedia of Philosophy www.iep.utm.edu/lawofnat

[4] See Stanley N. Salthe, DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION; COMPLEXITY AND CHANGE IN BIOLOGY, p. 270

Natural Purposiveness is Born from Necessity

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The purposiveness of nature is not a product of design, but of necessity. The Universe needs perceiving, living organisms in order to exist. It needs sapiens creatures capable of perceiving and understanding it in order for its existence to be comprehensible. The underlying fabric of everything is necessity.

Existence was born out of a need intuited by the infinite lack of the void, and the presence of need in that metaphysical equation points toward a universal purposive meaning.

In evolutionary science, need, through adaptation, determines or explains evolutionary processes – and it can also explain the process out of the inanimate universe into worlds with life. If we can admit that the first amphibian didn’t develop its lungs in a purely accidental fashion, then why should we assume that life on earth had to have been formed in a purely accidental way?

But this need is a great problem for science, because it leads to an idea of the deterministic universe, which allows room for the idea of God, which opens the door to religions, which leads to a lot of very unscientific hogwash and the negation of science.

Yet, must determinism be rejected because of this. What is God? The fact that the Universe has an a priori element in its creation doesn’t oblige us to admit the validity of scripture. Not at all. To suggest that the Universe is deterministic and that the origin of its necessary existence is necessity itself, does not have to be an invitation to pray. There may be a deistic element in saying the Universe was born from need, but, historically, deism has always be associated with atheism by religions and should not be problematic for science.

How is necessity understood by science? To what extent can science be understood by understanding necessity? Can we say that all necessity exists like oxygen exists, or like the platypus exists, waiting to be discovered through observation and analysis? Can we therefore imagine a science of necessity dedicated to the uncovering of authentic needs?

Or perhaps these questions are irrelevant: scientific validity is already subject to necessity and possibility. All causes contain a certain amount of accident, and because the accidental is buried in cause, indetermination must also be embedded in results. But is it valid to ask what the necessity is behind a cancer? Or what is the necessity involved in a hurricane? Surely it is: for only through understanding its necessity can we possibly understand why things exist.

Everything exists for a reason that includes both necessity and possibility. It is there because it could be and because it had to be given the circumstances.

This should not be confused with fatalism. If what has to be is not desirable then, if we understand that it has to come about given the current conditions, we can go about taking steps to change those conditions and avoid the otherwise imminent outcome. This is pure common sense. But in order to avoid what is inevitable we have to firstly understand what is inevitable.