This book by Sheldrake suggests a new take on the eonic model, an interpretation that I have often had in the back of my mind, but which seemed too controversial (and my own understanding still insufficient). That is the way ‘teleology’ might be explained by something acting from a virtual future. Or else some kind of new, still unknown attractor model. It sounds totally crackpot, but now we see that it is built into a lot of fundamental science (which doesn’t mean we can hack around with facile use of it, but…)
The original ‘model’ (i.e. world history built around a sequential macro interpretation) explicates the Axial Age beautifully, with some remaining issues and questions, but leaves the explanation incomplete. What exactly is driving the eonic sequence? The latest version, simplified, in Descent of Man Revisited, is explicit on teleology, where WHEE speaks mostly of ‘directionality’, and this takes the position that ‘teleology’ is a Kantian noumenal unknown with a phenomenal representation visible as a cyclically driven sequence, BINGO for the ‘eonic’ model. But that additiional Kantian barrier is still another obstacle to understanding. However it makes better sense than an explifict teleological interpretation. That was simply up in the air for standard science, despite the very strong evidence base shown in world history. But now I can see that issues related to teleology, pace the Sheldrake book, have long been anticipated but ‘unmentionable’ from the time of the discoveries/theories of electromagnetism. That’s not ‘out of woods’ yet, of course, and you can’t just start twaddling about teleology to your heart’s content.
In any case, the meaning of the eonic model is suddenly obvious, but you can’t just graft these ideas onto the treatment, that the issue of teleology is part of a model of virtual futures. The gap in solid foundational research isn’t there, and putting such material into the book would spoil its more rigorous and neutral use of the ‘eonic model’. But maybe an appendix in a fifth edition could help many to see that the basic format of the ‘eonic model’ is far ahead of current Darwinian nonsense. This issue must arise when something suddenly arises in world history, like the Axial Age, without any simple causal explanation.
Many people fail to read WHEE carefully, rejecting it out of hand without even looking at it. But the book is a very careful periodization study, and its results are downright spooky, almost eerie. And they are quite compatible with something I never allowed into the treatment, a virtual future model, of ‘directionality’/teleology. The whole thing remains rigorous by sticking to a deadpan chronological account with three ‘transitions’. To claim that these are the result of ‘attractors’ in a virtual future would have caused derision in most ‘scientific’ readers. But now I can see that in some future version such thinking will be considered more, not less, scientific. Causality from the future, as I have noted many times here, is allowed in electronics models, but quietly mentioned and bypassed, and never used.
Some of the deepest insights in WHEE were left behind in the third edition, and should be reintroduced. One of them, the so-called Discrete Freedom Sequence, shows something exotically strange, that should be worked back into the account, in light of these issues. We will see.
Meanwhile, to read WHEE consider the hypothesis of teleology, and the way it might manifest in a set of oscillations that look like driven transitions (and if you want icing on the still unbaked cake, these the result of an attractor process in a virtual future?????).
That these ideas of ‘attractors’ might extricate evolution theories from confusion is clear, and as clearly this could end up in confusion.