As compensation for maintaining this site I am adding my own account of evolution to the site's “Classic Reviews” section.

"Re-thinking..." lays down a trail of ideas leading to an alternative natural philosophy for our time. It's simply and non-technically written, 180 pages, intended for the general reader. It might also serve as a challenge to critical thinking for students in both the sciences and the humanities. It's based on the following assumptions:

What I want to account for primarily is my own species' evolution. 

Crucial to that are accounting for us being able to think, and our awareness of being conscious.

I can be consciously creative at will, which tells me I'm free to some extent of physical determinism.

Evolution is creative, and made us, so I can assume it's similarly free of physical determinism.

These assumption incline me away from physicalism to a mind/matter dualism. Physicalism--belief the world is purely physical--is supported only by science's failure to identify anything that's non-physical, but that insensitivity to anything non-physical is built into the scientific method. So for my "research" I employ methods of the humanities such as logic, history and storytelling, One story involves time travel, another involves a gnome capable of magic. Through writing these stories, while I try to maintain some rational discipline, I prompt my imagination to come up with new ideas. Resources available to me include having studied biochemistry at University College London, a career as medical and scientific writer, wide reading on evolution, the writing of a play and two novels, and having maintained this site for half a dozen years. 

I appreciate that such a work is bound to appear crackpot. It introduces ideas not usually associated with evolution. The argument these ideas support is entirely unlike the modern scientific theory of evolution. Radical new thinking, as this claims to be, from outside the academy, I know is seldom worth slogging through. To help you judge whether in this case the slog would be worth while I list below the ideas involved, first in reverse order so you can judge the merits of the natural philosophy the ideas lead to, then in forward order so you can assess the logical progression and plausibilityof the argument. 

Ideas developed in “Re-thinking What it Means We Evolved,” in reverse order.

All our experience can be accounted for through a combination of:

- physical happenings

- things evolving--living creatures, and our thoughts.

We experience our thoughts evolving as consciousness.

Thinking is our thoughts evolving.

To enable us to think, the agent of evolution built the process of evolution into us.

Living creatures evolve when the agent of evolution recalls the ideas that define a species, rethinks them, and “remembers” them back as changes in those genes, or as new genes.  

Just as our ideas correspond to something physical in our brains, the genes strung along the genomes of living creatures correspond to ideas.

Communities of genomes thinking together are the primary agent of evolution.

Unlike us, genomes can read each other’s minds, and think communally and creatively, at every scale from single cells to entire kingdoms of living creatures.

Because the genome has a brain/mind combination like us, it cannot be denied mental qualities like ours—consciousness, creativity, free will--with a similar independence from physical determinism.

What we know about the genome qualifies it to be thought of as a combination of a brain, and a mind associated with that brain, too.

We know the genome has a vast information capacity, can direct the development of trillion-celled creatures like us, with brains, and that it’s been evolving continuously since life began.   

What makes us conscious, creative, with free will is our combination of brain and a mind supported by that brain.

We can be creative. We are also conscious and have free will. To be able to do that we must to some extent be independent of physical determinism

Evolution is extremely creative. It can turn microbes into elephants and whales.

This chain of ideas is how evolution might appear to us today if Charles Darwin had been informed about the genome as we are now and had not been inspired by August Comte's reductionist Posivist science. Comte himself warned that his principles should not be applied to anything involving "volition, either natural or supernatural," a warning Darwin ignored in applying reductionist principles to how we humans evolved. Run history through again, and a natural philosophy like mine might well have become orthodoxy.

I listed the ideas in "Re-thinking..." in reverse order above so you could judge how interesting the ideas in its final pages are, and sample the kinds of thinking those ideas rest on. Now I list those ideas in logical forward order, so you can assess how plausibly I connect those ideas. Remember, most of them come from stories included in the text.

Ideas developed in “Re-thinking What it Means We Evolved,” in logical forward order.

Evolution is extremely creative. It can turn microbes into elephants and whales.

We can be creative. Also we are  conscious and have free will. To have those capabilities we must to some extent be independent of physical determinism

What makes us conscious, creative, with free will is our combination of brain and a mind supported by that brain.

We know the genome has a vast information capacity, can direct the development of trillion-celled creatures like us, with brains, and that it’s been evolving continuously since life began.   

What we know about the genome qualifies it to be thought of a combination of a brain, and a mind associated with that brain, too.

Because the genome has a brain/mind combination like us, it cannot be denied mental qualities like ours—consciousness, creativity, free will--with a similar independence from physical determinism.

Unlike us, genomes can read each other’s minds, and think communally and creatively, at every scale from single cells to entire kingdoms of living creatures.

Communities of genomes thinking together are the primary agent of evolution.

Just as our ideas correspond to something in our brains, the genes strung along the genomes of living creatures correspond to ideas.

Living creatures evolve when a genome intelligence recalls the ideas that define a species, rethinks them, and “remembers” them back as changes in to those genes, or as new genes.  

To enable us to think, a genome intelligence built the process of evolution into us.

Thinking is our thoughts evolving.

We experience our thoughts evolving as consciousness.

All our experience can be accounted for through a combination of physical happenings and things evolving--living creatures and our thoughts.

I offer "Re-thinking..." as a demonstration that it is possible for those of us on the humanities side to account for human nature as we experience and celebrate it. Evolution is our new shared origin story, but what it means can be fought over. How we tell children about evolution in school matters. I urge members of the humanities to ignore the scientists' defense that any criticism of their theories aids creationists. No, those theories are worth opposing for the sake of the arts and the humanities. That's the impulse behind my writing of "Rethinking..." and this web site. 

Below, microdata:

Evolution for the Humanities
Re-thinking What it Means We Evolved evolution

 

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#1 Shaun admin 2017-04-19 22:00
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