History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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The long lost concept of ‘involution’

September 1st, 2016 · No Comments

I now have the Kindle version of Wolfe’s book, but before reading it let me say that his idea of ‘man creating language’ (I haven’t read what he said) has to be considered, despite the problems. But more generally, as per the previous post, the process of evolution is in part top down, with a mysterious ‘macro’ factor. Let us note that Lamarck said as much (not referring to his theory of adaptation, giraffe’s neck stuff).

But the question of language is indeed baffling. And it gets worse: we see it is spandrel’d with a whole series of other questions: the main list is, language, mind, ‘self-consciousness’, ethical reasoning (of a sort), a factor ‘will’, free or not, a ‘soul’ (whose definition is not clear), creative powers, and a propensity for art, poetry, etc…

That’s a pretty tough assignment for any theory!
So let me do something I don’t really agree with myself, which is to try momentarily to resurrect the idea of ‘involution’ from the dead. The New Age history of this idea is so wretched I long distanced myself from it, to focus on the single idea of evolution. This idea is a useful til it too fails, because it is the logical complement to evolution. In writing WHEE I forbade myself any use of the concept, and it is an idea with a lot of baggage.
We are clearly, with the issue of language, and its nexus of related questions, near something too complex to evolve in any conventional sense, and which is downshifting as a manifestation of something top down, which means a complex of some kind already exists and realizes a totality in physical form. (the focal development of ‘mind’ in an integrated set of aspects might be one version of a top down core. Advaita folks would immediately interpolate that this was ‘consciousness’). The idea of ‘involution’ is the road to new age ruin, theories in ruins, but the point here is that science itself is gestating some version of the idea: some potentiality we have missed emerges very early, perhaps the era of inflation, and the result is some kind of process that stands as the guiding attractor in the life/evolution process. Can’t take it any further, the idea of ‘involution’ being too scrambled for clear usage. But let us note that right under our noses the scientific successors to the idea are already with us: macro and micro ‘evolution’.

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