Evolution as a Concept in Physical Reality
In contrasting Daniel C. Dennett with other writers such as Stephen J. Gould, it soon became apparent to me that Dennett represents the classicist as far as evolutionary theory goes. Yet at the same time, there is an openness to his writings that allow even those who are slanted towards Gould's point of view, like myself, to appreciate the complexity behind such a simple idea as natural selection as an evolutionary concept. Still, these contemporary writers must be weighed against the classical writings of the past, which is what I have attempted to do here.
What Charles Darwin brought to the scientific evolutionary table was the concept of a slow, gradual process occurring over immense amounts of time, resulting in the culmination of what we are today. This was in seemingly direct contradiction to the notion of creationism, yet Darwin didn't expect the ferocity of the attack from religious fundamentalists, the results of which are still brewing today, over a hundred years later. This seemingly leads directly into a very profound conflict even within Robert M. Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality, as outlined in his novel Lila; An Inquiry into Morals.
As I understand it, Pirsig makes claim that it is of higher moral value for us to have evolved into thinking, self-aware beings, and thus it is moralistic for the doctor to kill the bacteria which threatens his patient's life. This seems to follow the creationist point of view. For if it is indeed true, as Darwin felt it to be, that all life forms upon the earth started out as those "lowly" bacteria, why then do "we" have the right to be here anymore than our distance ancestors? This has direct bearing upon the Buddhist outlook upon the sanctity of life, all life.
If we arbitrarily impose a boundary to what we consider "awareness", does it include only humans? The Buddhists seem to believe that it does not. And since it is commonly believed that the Metaphysics of Quality is somewhat based upon this belief in some fundamental awareness within all life, how can this be reconciled with the notion of a moral hierarchy? Where does this hierarchy stop? Can we not impose it upon the human race as well? All of a sudden though, we are trapped within the very stasis that Pirsig warns about.
On the other hand, if we acknowledge all life has its purpose, so to speak, and strive to live in harmony with that life as closely as possible, what if one does become seriously ill? Is it moral to simply let what will happen, happen? If some deadly bacteria has invaded your body and will eventually kill you, yet that bacteria is alive too, do you kill it? Pirsig says yes! It is moral to kill the bacteria because the person alone is capable of perceiving intellectual patterns of value, the highest value in our static quality awareness.
But isn't this just a plea for self-preservation? Isn't this a subjectivitistic notion? And isn't it possible, that the bacteria, from its own point of view, would seem to "think" it had every right to survive? It would seem to me that the moral hierarchy of the Metaphysics of Quality is geared towards a humanistic point of view, which Darwin also believed about his theory of evolution by natural selection, but is it really? For myself, I found that only by examining many different sources of material could I peer between the cracks and see the Quality in it all.
With the purpose in mind that I will attempt to focus on this platypus of evolution in the Metaphysics of Quality, I have decided to break this up into sections, each containing complementary views and each having direct ties with Quality. Some of these titles are over one hundred years old, others are recent publications. And most of all, they are all handy on my bookshelf!
If anything, I hope this inspires the reader to read these books for
themselves if they haven't already done so, and hopefully share some comments
with me if they already have. This page is under continual construction.
Thanks for reading!
|The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin|
|The Hypothesis of Morphic Resonance; A New Science of Life, Rupert Sheldrake|
|Darwin's Dangerous Idea; Evolution and the Meaning of Life, Daniel C. Dennett|
|Earth in Upheaval, Immanuel Velikovsky|
|Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings; Evidence of Advanced Civilization in the Ice Age, Charles H. Hapgood|
|Artificial Evolution in the Physical World|
|Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness|
|THE NATURE OF TIME|
|Brain, Language and the Origin of Human Mental Functions|
|The Theory of Astro Biological Coenergetics|
|THE ORIGIN OF VALUE IN A TRANSCENDENT FUNCTION|
|The Myth History of the Catastrophe Events and Their Cultural Effects|
|The Fall and Rise of Catastrophism|
|The Evolution of Life by Stephen J. Gould|