September 5, 2020

1. Darwin

A. Background

From about 1775 to 1875, natural science was widely studied and widely discussed. People were reading Linnaeus and collecting plants, reading Lyell and collecting rocks, discussing the age of the earth, etc. The poet Goethe said that, after Shakespeare and Spinoza, Linnaeus influenced him most; Goethe’s rock-collection numbered 17,800. Rousseau had “steeped himself in botany.”1 The philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote a book about the flora of Provence. The novelist George Eliot read the geologist Charles Lyell, and wove his ideas into her novels; one of her novels (The Mill on the Floss) ends with a devastating flood. The Austrian novelist Adalbert Stifter dealt with the natural sciences in novels like Indian Summer (Der Nachsommer). In the last issue, we saw how enthusiastic John Muir was about natural science.

The natural world of Linnaeus was arranged in an orderly way, a way that suggested an Intelligent Designer. Did science strengthen faith? In 1829, Goethe said, “The period of doubt is past; men now doubt as little the existence of a God as their own.”2 Early geologists found sea-shells far from the sea, and viewed that as confirmation of Noah’s Flood. So it seemed that both botany and geology were supporting the cause of religion.

But as geology advanced, tension grew between geology and theology. It seemed that the earth was far older than the Bible said it was. In 1851, Ruskin said that the hammers of the geologists were chipping away at faith: “Those dreadful Hammers! I hear the clink of them at the end of every cadence of the Bible verses.”

If the Biblical account of the origin of the world was false, what about the Biblical account of the origin of man? Was it false, too? If the earth evolved gradually over billions of years, did man also evolve gradually? If so, what happened to our view that man had a unique soul, a unique reason? Was man just another animal? Science seemed to be in conflict with faith, and science seemed to be winning. By the time Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859, many educated people in the West were losing their faith. “Nothing is more remarkable,” Darwin wrote, “than the spread of skepticism or rationalism during the latter half of my life.” Natural science was undermining religious faith. Few educated people believed that God had created the world, and created man, as described in the Book of Genesis.

* * * * *

Enthusiasm for botany, geology, etc. seems to have dried up in our time. You can graduate from college today without knowing a single plant, a single rock, a single star. Science has become concerned with the invisible world of atoms, DNA, etc.

Nature is more interesting if you know something about it, just as cities are more interesting if you know something about architecture. When Darwin was in Brazil, he wrote,

In England any person fond of natural history enjoys in his walks a great advantage, by always having something to attract his attention; but in these fertile climates, teeming with life, the attractions are so numerous, that he is scarcely able to walk at all.

B. The Threshold of a Discovery

Geologists like Lyell dealt with subjects that we think of as outside geology. When we hear the word “geology,” we think of rocks, but for Lyell and his contemporaries, geology meant the study of the earth in a broad sense, including climate, fossils, extinct species, and the origin of new species. When Lyell published his Principles of Geology in 1830, one of the biggest puzzles in natural science was, How do species originate? Do they evolve from other species? Or is each species created separately? If there’s a mass extinction, is a new batch of species created? The French biologist Lamarck favored evolution, Lyell opposed it.3

In 1836, the scientist John Herschel was reading Lyell in South Africa. He had gone there to catalog the southern stars, as his father (William Herschel) had catalogued the northern stars. Herschel was much impressed with Lyell’s book.

Herschel wrote to Lyell, and said that his book would bring about “a complete revolution in [its] subject, by altering entirely the point of view in which it must thenceforward be contemplated.” Herschel said that Lyell had described the problems raised by geology, including “that mystery of mysteries, the replacement of extinct species by others.” Did Herschel suspect that Lyell hadn’t solved the “species problem” himself, but had paved the way for its solution? Herschel’s letter to Lyell was passed around, and parts of it were published. Darwin read those parts and said, in Origin of Species, that he aimed “to throw some light on the origin of species — that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers.”4

Herschel realized that the key to the formation of the earth was Time — lots of Time. In his letter to Lyell, Herschel compared the gradual rounding of a pebble to the gradual evolution of a word: “Words are to the Anthropologist what rolled pebbles are to the Geologist — battered relics of past ages often containing within them indelible records capable of intelligent interpretation.” As European languages have changed much over the last 2,000 years, so too the earth can change much through small changes taking place over vast spans of Time.

Like Herschel, Darwin was much impressed with Lyell’s Principles of Geology. In 1831, when Darwin climbed aboard the Beagle for its voyage around the world, he brought along Lyell’s book, and he viewed the lands he visited through Lyell’s eyes. Lyell’s ideas of Deep Time and gradual change were the basis of Darwin’s theory of evolution.5 Darwin became friends with Lyell, and discussed his theory with Lyell as it took shape.

For many years, Lyell had opposed evolution, perhaps because he felt that evolution would strip man of his humanity, and turn him into just another animal. But eventually Lyell was persuaded by Darwin and others that species arose through evolution from other species; eventually Lyell realized that, for much of his career, he’d been wrong.6

After Lyell published his Principles of Geology, interest in the “species problem” grew. In 1844, Robert Chambers published Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, which promoted the idea of evolution, and became an international bestseller. Darwin later said that Vestiges prepared the public to accept his theory. But even after Vestiges had run through several editions, evolution was “generally rejected.”7 The “species problem” still wasn’t solved.

In 1853, six years before Darwin published his theory, a lecture was delivered in Glasgow about how species originate. The lecturer was a science writer named William Carpenter, and one of those who attended was 15-year-old James Bryce. Bryce was surprised that Carpenter didn’t actually explain how species originate. Rather, Carpenter reviewed the various theories about the origin of species, and explained how each theory failed to solve the puzzle. In other words, Carpenter didn’t describe a theory, he described a puzzle.

Bryce, who later became a diplomat and historian, described the situation thus:

The scientific world had been slowly moving up to the threshold, and was pausing at the threshold, of some great discovery. Some solution must be at hand, but nobody knew — nobody at least, outside of a very small circle — how near the solution was or what it was going to be. We left the lecture room, excited, perplexed, recognizing difficulties that we had never known of before, and wondering what the outcome was going to be. Five or six years later the Origin of Species appeared, and the impression which it produced was enormous. No book dealing with a scientific subject had ever, I suppose, been so largely read by people who were not scientific.

The public was prepared for Darwin’s theory by writers like Lamarck, Lyell, Chambers, and Carpenter. Leading newspapers backed Darwin.

* * * * *

Darwin wasn’t the only naturalist who was working on the species problem. In 1858, a year before he published his theory, Darwin received an essay from Alfred Russel Wallace, an essay that set forth (as Darwin put it) “exactly the same theory as mine.” Wallace’s essay prompted Darwin to stop researching and start writing. Wallace’s view of species-origin was the same as Darwin’s, but he hadn’t collected as many facts as Darwin had (Wallace was 14 years younger than Darwin). Wallace could write a good summary, but not a detailed exposition. Darwin had been collecting data about evolution for many years; “the subject haunted me,” Darwin said.

Like Darwin, Wallace had traveled widely. Like Darwin, Wallace brought Lyell’s Principles of Geology with him as he traveled. Like Darwin, Wallace had imbibed from Lyell the ideas of Deep Time and gradual change. Like Darwin, Wallace had been influenced by Malthus, who argued that life was a struggle for survival, since population tended to outrun resources. (Malthus, in turn, was influenced by Ben Franklin’s Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, c. 1755.) Like Darwin, Wallace realized that, in the struggle for survival, an advantageous mutation would increase the chances of an organism’s survival, and would tend to be passed on to future generations — a faster cheetah would tend to survive and reproduce, while a slower cheetah would tend to die before reproducing, hence the cheetah species would tend to become faster over time.

In 1858, Darwin and Wallace published their theories together, in condensed versions, but they attracted little notice. Darwin later said that a new theory must be set forth at length in order to make an impression:

Our joint productions excited very little attention, and the only published notice of them which I can remember was by Professor Haughton of Dublin, whose verdict was that all that was new in them was false, and what was true was old. This shows how necessary it is that any new view should be explained at considerable length in order to arouse public attention.8

Wallace had written to Darwin from Indonesia. Wallace’s travels had influenced his theories, as Darwin’s travels influenced his theories. “The voyage of the Beagle,” Darwin said, “has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career.” Lyell, too, had learned much from traveling. “Lyell had three pieces of advice for aspiring geologists, and had followed them at every opportunity: travel, travel, travel.”9

C. What Causes Evolution?

In an earlier issue, I said that Darwin’s theory of evolution over-emphasized chance, random mutation. I argued that evolution couldn’t be a random process, couldn’t be the result of chance, there must be some sort of urge or will or synchronicity. “The scientific establishment,” I wrote, “is asking us to believe that man evolved from a one-cell organism by sheer chance, by random mutation. They’re asking us to believe something as unlikely as a monkey writing Hamlet [by hitting keys randomly].”

Now I find that Herschel made the same argument that I made, and used the same analogy. Evolution can’t be a random process, Herschel argued, just as a Shakespeare play can’t be created by assembling words randomly:

We can no more accept the principle of arbitrary and casual variation and natural selection as a sufficient account... of the past and present organic world, than we can receive the Laputan method of composing books... as a sufficient one of Shakespeare and the Principia [i.e., Newton’s Principia]. Equally in either case, an intelligence, guided by a purpose, must be continually in action to bias the directions of the steps of change.

I would argue that the “intelligence” and “purpose” that Herschel speaks of aren’t necessarily those of a divine being, they could belong to matter itself, the universe itself, the unconscious itself. I believe in “smart matter” rather than “smart God.” I view intelligence not as something imposed from above, but rather as something in things themselves; I believe in “bottom up” intelligence, rather than “top down” intelligence. Random mutation has no purpose/goal/direction, but synchronicity and “smart matter” have some sort of direction, and this element of direction is necessary, in my view, to produce complicated systems like DNA and the brain.

When Herschel speaks of “Laputan,” he’s referring to a place in Gulliver’s Travels, a place where books are created by a random process.10

Herschel didn’t reject Darwin’s theory outright, he simply thought that Darwin hadn’t spoken the last word on evolution, hadn’t told the whole story. Herschel wrote, “We are far from disposed to repudiate the view taken of this mysterious subject in Mr. Darwin’s work.” Herschel realized that Darwin had explained the process of evolution, but not the mysterious force behind it.

If it was obvious to Herschel that Darwin’s explanation is incomplete, and if it’s obvious to us today, why didn’t Darwin himself see that? And why don’t today’s biologists see that? The scientific establishment is determined to make evolution rational, mechanical, and random, determined to keep evolution untainted by anything mystical, metaphysical, or occult.

As for Darwin, he seemed to realize that his theory was incomplete, that there was merit to the objections of Herschel and others. Darwin wrote to his friend Joseph Hooker, “If I lived twenty more years and was able to work, how I should have to modify the Origin, and how much the views on all points will have to be modified! Well it is a beginning, and that is something.” When Darwin summarized his theory in his Autobiography, he tried to open the door to other forces besides random mutation and natural selection. His editor and granddaughter, Nora Barlow, wrote, “The many corrections and alterations in this sentence show his increasing preoccupation with the possibility of other forces at work besides Natural Selection.”11

One such force is what Darwin called “use or habit.” If a mole doesn’t use his eyes, it loses the power of vision, and so do its offspring. If a giraffe makes a habit of reaching and stretching, it acquires a longer neck, and so do its offspring. We call this “the inheritance of acquired characteristics,” we associate it with the French biologist Lamarck, and we dismiss it as an obsolete theory.

But Darwin didn’t dismiss it, Darwin was increasingly attracted to it. Nora Barlow wrote,

In the later editions of the Origin Darwin showed an increasing belief in the inheritance of acquired characters and in the importance of use and disuse in the total picture of evolution, which led to some ambiguity of expression as to their respective roles in relation to Natural Selection. Darwin’s faith in Natural Selection as the main agent never wavered, but this admission of other causes showed his awareness of difficulties still unsolved.

Arthur Balfour, who later became Prime Minister, visited Darwin around 1870. Balfour said that Darwin believed “acquired characteristics may be inherited,” but Darwin’s “most ardent followers” don’t believe that. Darwin’s followers are comfortable with reductivist thinking, and they’re strangers to holistic thinking.12

Today’s Darwinians think that scientific advances, like the discovery of genetics and DNA, have strengthened Darwin’s theory. But the discovery of DNA raises the question, How could something so complicated arise by blind chance, random mutation? Thus, scientific advances have weakened Darwin’s theory, not strengthened it; scientific advances have made it more obvious that something is driving evolution, something besides random mutation and natural selection, some sort of will or synchronicity or “smart matter.”

Let’s look at a quote from Alfred Russel Wallace. Wallace paints a convincing picture of evolution by random mutation and natural selection. He rejects any sort of will or habit, perhaps to distinguish his theory from Lamarck’s:

The powerful retractile talons of the falcon- and the cat-tribes have not been produced or increased by the volition of those animals; but among the different varieties which occurred in the earlier and less highly organized forms of these groups, those always survived longest which had the greatest facilities for seizing their prey. Neither did the giraffe acquire its long neck by desiring to reach the foliage of the more lofty shrubs, and constantly stretching its neck for the purpose, but because any varieties which occurred among its [ancestors] with a longer neck than usual at once secured a fresh range of pasture over the same ground as their shorter-necked companions, and on the first scarcity of food were thereby enabled to outlive them.13

The random-mutation theory might be plausible when applied to the talons of a falcon, or the neck of a giraffe, but it becomes preposterous when applied to something extremely complex, such as an eyeball, or a brain, or DNA, or the inner workings of a cell, or the emergence of the first cell. It’s preposterous to suggest that such complex systems are the result of random mutation and natural selection. (Darwin may have realized this, and this may be why he moved away from the random view, and toward a view closer to Lamarck’s.)

A complicated system like DNA could only be the result of some sort of urge or synchronicity or intelligence. Chance doesn’t play a big role in the world; when we look at something that appears to result from chance, we usually find other forces at work. Chance is too easy an explanation, too superficial.14

And if chance can’t explain the development of something complicated — DNA, a brain, the human body as a whole — then it isn’t the driving force behind evolution, it isn’t behind simpler things like sharp talons and long necks. Something besides chance drives evolution — the same force that governs human life, that governs history, that governs synchronicity, that governs the behavior of particles. We need an inter-disciplinary solution to the problem of evolution. Biology alone can’t solve the mysteries of biology, we need a broader perspective. What drives evolution is what drives the world in general, and we can only understand evolution after looking at the forces that operate outside biology, the forces that drive the world as a whole.

Some people might say, “Acquired characteristics can’t possibly be inherited because inheritance takes place through DNA, and DNA is innate, DNA isn’t modified by use or habit.” True, the inheritance of acquired characteristics is a mystery. But is it any more mysterious than the Paired Particles experiment, or the Double Slit experiment, or other QuantumPhysics experiments? Is it any more mysterious than Jungian synchronicity?

Aren’t all of these mysteries essentially the same mystery — the mystery of connectedness? And if we accept the connectedness of the universe, don’t these mysteries become less baffling, less mysterious? If we grasp the connectedness of the universe, we can develop one universal theory of reality, a theory that unites the sciences and the humanities, a theory that explains the behavior of particles, the origin of life, the evolution of life, and the nature of man.

To grasp the connectedness of the universe, we need to think in a holistic way, not a reductivist way; we need to think in terms of systems, not objects; we need to think of causality as “mutual arising,” as a net rather than a chain. The connectedness of the universe can be called magical or occult, and when we grasp this connectedness, we have a new respect for primitive man, whose worldview emphasized connectedness. Darwin had a rational bent, and couldn’t grasp this connectedness, so he could only offer a partial explanation of evolution.15

But the very limitations of Darwin’s theory have made it popular with the academic establishment, which views the occult with fear and loathing. The scientific establishment is committed to the random-mutation theory, as the literary establishment is committed to the Stratford theory. One might say that the biologists will be the last to understand evolution, as the English professors will be the last to understand Shakespeare. As Stephen Hawking put it, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

If we misunderstand evolution, then we’ll misunderstand nature in general, the world in general. Evolution is an important part of philosophy because philosophy aims to understand the world in general. Our understanding of the world in general affects our feelings, our life. Any new religion will be based on our understanding of the world in general.

We should ask of any philosophy, Is it true? We should also ask, Can it foster ecstasy? Can it foster an affirmation of life? Can it make people feel at home in the world? Surely a connected world is more hospitable than a mechanical world that’s ruled by chance.

* * * * *

Darwin didn’t understand genetics, he died before Mendel’s work became known. But he knew that the traits of mother and father weren’t simply mashed together. If a white pea and a red pea are combined, you don’t get pink peas, you get some white and some red, just as, when male and female are combined, you don’t get offspring that are half-male and half-female, you get some completely-male offspring and some completely-female offspring. Darwin wrote to Wallace,

I crossed the Painted Lady and Purple sweetpeas, which are very differently colored varieties, and got, even out of the same pod, both varieties perfect but none intermediate.... Though these cases are in appearance so wonderful, I do not know that they are really more so than every female in the world producing distinct male and female offspring.16

Thus, advantageous mutations aren’t lost by being mashed together in the process of reproduction, advantageous mutations can be preserved and passed down. Darwin called this “the non-blending of certain varieties.”

D. Goethe and Evolution

Life arises and evolves through the same forces that move us on a daily basis. The forces within us are the same forces that drive nature. Nature has a creativity that reminds us of an artist or an athlete, an unconscious creativity. And nature has the same connectedness that we find in our own lives, and in quantum physics.

Understanding evolution is an important part of understanding nature in general. Want to know what kind of world you live in? This line of inquiry can tell you — better than any other line of inquiry. Hint: it’s not the random, mechanical world of the scientific establishment, it’s a creative, mysterious, magical world.

Perhaps no one understood the creative character of evolution better than Goethe. Goethe’s evolution isn’t the brutal, unintelligent, Malthusian evolution of the Darwinians. Goethe’s evolution is about inner urge, inner vitality, not random mutation and natural selection. Goethe’s evolution is active, like the writing of a poem; Darwin’s is passive.

Goethe was initially an enthusiastic student of Linnaeus, but he became disillusioned with Linnaeus’ static system, Linnaeus’ cubbyholes; in the Linnaean system, “nothing can come to be except what already is.”17 So Goethe took his own approach to botany, just as Rousseau had become disillusioned with Linnaeus and developed his own approach. Goethe developed a dynamic, creative botany, as opposed to Linnaeus’ static botany; Goethe’s botany emphasized change and adaptation. Goethe believed that plants had evolved from a primal plant, which he called the Ur-Plant.

The plant forms which surround us [Goethe wrote] were not all created at some given point in time and then locked into the given form. They have been given... a felicitous mobility and plasticity that allows them to grow and adapt themselves to many different conditions in many different places.18

Thus, evolution resembles the process of personal growth that every individual goes through — change in response to challenge and pressure; change in response to the inner urge to live, to grow, to improve; change mixed with stasis, rest.

Goethe’s remarks on the Ur-Plant remind me of our earlier discussion of the Ur-Mammal, the primal mammal (“rarely larger than a polecat”), and our earlier discussion of the Ur-Human, the primal human who arose in Africa. Goethe realized that his concept of the Ur-Plant could be extended beyond plants: “The same law will be applicable to all living things.” Evolution is about branching out from the primal being, branching out from the first living cell.

One scholar said that the Ur-Plant was “an hypothesis towards which [Goethe] had pressed unconsciously and from an inner urge.”19 This unconscious pressing, this inner urge, is evolution itself! The scientific thinker moves toward his hypothesis about evolution by the same process that drives evolution! Science and art and personal growth and life in general — all take place by the same process as evolution, all take place by an unconscious pressing, an inner urge.20

Western science generally takes a rational, reductivist approach, hence Goethe looked askance at it. Goethe took issue with Newton and Linnaeus, and doubtless he would have taken issue with Darwin, too. But he would have been fond of Quantum Physics, which takes a holistic approach.

2. Movies

A. Balloon (2018) is a German movie about two families trying to escape from East Germany via hot-air balloon. It’s a thriller with constant action, constant tension. It’s based on a true story, and teaches you something about life in East Germany. It’s moderately popular with critics and the public — more popular than the 1982 film on the same subject. I recommend Balloon, it’s an easy movie to like.

B. Last Dance is a good basketball documentary. It’s 8 hours long, a bit slow at times, not my favorite sports film, but it’s good on the whole. The title (Last Dance) refers to Michael Jordan’s last season with the Chicago Bulls, but the film reviews Jordan’s entire life and career.

C. Alexander Waugh continues to make Shakespeare videos, and post them to his Youtube Channel. He’s now made about 50 videos. It would be difficult to name one that’s especially good, they’re all interesting and well-made. They throw light on Shakespeare’s life and work, and on mystical traditions such as Hermetism and the Kabbalah. I made a list of Waugh’s videos.

© L. James Hammond 2020
feedback
visit Phlit home page
become a patron via Patreon
make a donation via PayPal


Footnotes
1. “Goethe and Linnĉus,” by James L. Larson, Journal of the History of Ideas, Oct.-Dec. 1967, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 590-596, jstor.com/stable/2708532 back
2. Conversations with Eckermann, 9/1/29 back
3. One might say that Lyell shrank back from evolution, as Schopenhauer shrank from overturning Christian morality. Lyell paved the way for Darwin, but wasn’t ready to take the step that Darwin took, just as Schopenhauer paved the way for Nietzsche, but wasn’t ready to discard morality, as Nietzsche did. When Nietzsche was about 30, a German scholar predicted that Nietzsche would bring the problem of atheism to a conclusion. When Darwin was 30, did anyone predict that he would solve the “evolution problem” that Lyell had left unsolved?

During the 19th century, some men-of-letters wondered, “If the earth is billions of years old, and if it will last billions of years more, what happens to man’s place in the world? What happens to human history, human achievements? Don’t they become utterly insignificant?” The idea of Deep Time was a blow to man’s pride, rather like the Copernican Theory. Poets were fascinated by these vast expanses of space and time, but also horrified by them. Tennyson depicted heroes reduced to dust:

Who loved, who suffered countless ills,
Who battled for the True, the Just,
Be blown about the desert dust,
Or sealed within the iron hills?

Another poet, Edward Fitzgerald, said that science was revealing “a greater epic than the Iliad,” with huge dragons (dinosaurs) thundering over the earth for millions of years. But man’s achievements disappeared in these vast spans of Time; as Fitzgerald put it, “this vision of Time must wither the Poet’s hope of immortality.” Even the greatest poet will eventually disappear in the ocean of Time. (See James Secord’s Introduction to Lyell’s Principles) back

4. Notice how Darwin calls Herschel a “philosopher,” though we would call him a scientist. Likewise, Lyell calls Humboldt a “philosopher” (Principles, Ch. 7), and Darwin’s shipmates on the Beagle sometimes called Darwin a “philosopher.”

The term “natural philosophy” was used for physics, and sometimes for science in general. When Darwin was born in 1809, the humanities and sciences were still close friends, but by the time he died in 1882, the sciences were becoming specialized, and a split between the “two cultures” was beginning to develop. The term “scientist” was coined by Herschel’s friend William Whewell.

When the Beagle stopped at the Cape of Good Hope in 1836, Darwin visited Herschel, whose writings he had admired as a Cambridge undergrad. back

5. In his Origin of Species, Darwin wrote, “He who can read Sir Charles Lyell’s grand work on the Principles of Geology, which the future historian will recognize as having produced a revolution in natural science, yet does not admit how incomprehensibly vast have been the past periods of time, may at once close this volume.”

I’m indebted to an excellent website called “Darwin Online.” It has complete texts of all of Darwin’s works, including The Voyage of the Beagle (1890 edition, illustrated), a day-by-day itinerary of the voyage, the Autobiography, recollections of people who met Darwin, recollections of people who knew him during the Beagle voyage, Lyell’s Principles of Geology (1830 edition), etc.

If you don’t want to read all of The Voyage of the Beagle, a chapter can be read independently. Perhaps my favorite chapter is the Tahiti chapter. Also of special interest is the Galapagos chapter, and Darwin’s final thoughts on the voyage. back

6. James Secord writes, “Throughout the 1840s and 1850s [Lyell] fought against the assumption of progress in the fossil record, driven by his secret obsession with Lamarck and the status of the human species. Although he could point to discoveries that buttressed his argument that all the major fossil groups might be found from the earliest strata onwards, this became a rearguard action and he convinced only a few.... In 1850 and 1851 Lyell delivered his final case against progression from the presidential chair of the Geological Society. The tenth edition of the Principles, written in the wake of the Origin and published in the 1860s, finally abandoned the idea that mammals might be found in the oldest fossil-bearing rocks. Chapters once devoted to attacking the idea of progress were turned around to support it. Moreover, progress was tied to evolution, and although Lyell remained more cautious than the Darwinians would have liked, this still represented a remarkable change of mind. He used his influence to gain natural selection a fair hearing.... ‘When I came to the conclusion that after all Lamarck was going to be shown to be right,’ he confessed to Darwin, ‘that we must “go the whole orang,” I re-read his book, and remembering when it was written, I felt I had done him injustice.’” back
7. Samuel Butler, notebook back
8. Does this explain why my theories, which I’ve set forth briefly, haven’t attracted any attention? back
9. Lyell, Principles of Geology, Penguin Classics, Introduction by James Secord. Secord discusses Lyell’s influence on novelists like George Eliot. Secord refers us to a book by Jonathan Smith called Fact and Feeling: Baconian Science and the Nineteenth-century Literary Imagination (1994). back
10. When I looked into Gulliver’s Travels, I found that it’s actually Lagado, not Laputa, where books are created by a random process.

Richard Dawkins summarizes Darwin’s theory thus: “Non-random survival of randomly varying hereditary elements.” My argument is that the “hereditary elements” aren’t “randomly varying,” they’re non-randomly varying, they’re varying by will or synchronicity or life-instinct, or some such force — the same force that makes particles cooperate in the experiments of Quantum Physics, the same force that’s behind the “acausal” phenomena that Jung discusses. back

11. Darwin wrote, “I cannot look at the universe as the result of blind chance, yet I can see no evidence of beneficent design.” He didn’t realize that there was a third option, besides chance and design. The third option is smart matter, the design of synchronicity, the connectedness of all things, the intelligence of all things.

Modern scientists think that Darwin should have stayed with his earlier position, instead of drifting toward Lamarck. So they choose to reprint his first edition of Origin of Species, rather than his last edition. (See Richard Dawkins’ Introduction to the Everyman edition of Origin of Species and Voyage of the Beagle.)

When Nora Barlow speaks of “The many corrections and alterations in this sentence,” she’s referring to the following sentence from Darwin’s Autobiography: “Everyone who believes, as I do, that all the corporeal and mental organs (excepting those which are neither advantageous nor disadvantageous to the possessor) of all beings have been developed through natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, together with use or habit, will admit that these organs have been formed so that their possessors may compete successfully with other beings, and thus increase in number.” back

12. In earlier issues, I discussed William McDougall, Arthur Koestler, and others who questioned Darwinian orthodoxy, and were receptive to Lamarck’s ideas. If a young biologist questioned Darwin, his academic career would be ruined, just as, if a young Shakespeare scholar questioned the Stratford theory, his career would be ruined. Academia maintains orthodoxy and crushes diversity.

One might compare the inheritance of acquired physical traits to the inheritance of acquired behavioral traits. Darwin discusses how birds gradually acquire a fear of man, and this fear becomes an inherited trait.(Voyage of the Beagle, Ch. 17) Perhaps physical traits are inherited through DNA, while behavioral traits are inherited through some sort of mental stamping. This mental stamping is akin to what Jung called an archetype. back

13. Quoted in Richard Dawkins’ introduction to The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle, Knopf, Everyman’s Library, 2003 back
14. The astronomer Fred Hoyle argued that the first living cell couldn’t have arisen by chance: “Life as we know it is, among other things, dependent on at least 2000 different enzymes. How could the blind forces of the primal sea manage to put together the correct chemical elements to build enzymes?” A cell can’t be created by chance, Hoyle argued, just as an airplane can’t be created by chance: “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable to the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”

Hoyle argued that, since life couldn’t have arisen by chance, it must have been brought to earth from space. Hoyle doesn’t realize that life could have been created, and could have evolved, through “smart matter,” through synchronicity, through the connectedness that we see in Quantum Physics. If we point to space as the source of life, that doesn’t answer the question, it simply changes the question to, How did life arise in space?

The scientific establishment says that life evolves through random mutation and natural selection. But the establishment can’t explain how life arose — certainly random mutation and natural selection couldn’t have created the first spark of life. “Alternative biology” explains both the origin of life and the evolution of life; alternative biology points to smart matter, synchronicity, connectedness, etc. These “alternative forces” not only help us to understand biology, they also help us to understand the world in general — history, psychology, the occult, etc.

Understand the world in general, and you’ll understand biology. Try to explain biology by looking only at biology, and you won’t succeed. As Schiller said, “Only wholeness leads to clarity” (Nur die Fülle führt zur Klarheit). back

15. In an earlier issue, I discussed the physicist Wolfgang Pauli: “Pauli believed that synchronicity played a role in evolution, and that the scientific establishment over-emphasized the role of chance in evolution. Pauli spoke of the ‘chance religion of the biologists.’ Pauli believed that genetic mutation wasn’t purely random; rather, it was meaningful mutation, i.e., synchronicity. We should view mutation not as a random, isolated event, but as an event that’s related to outer circumstance and inner emotion. In other words, we should view mutation in a holistic way, just as we view the Double-Slit Experiment in a holistic way. ‘There is no word more apt to describe the quantum world. It is holistic; the parts are in some sense in touch with the whole.’

“Instead of using the term ‘holistic,’ we could use the phrase ‘mutual arising.’ In an earlier issue, I quoted Joseph Campbell: ‘A great number of things round about, on every side, are causing what is happening now. Everything, all the time, is causing everything else. The Buddhist teaching in recognition of this fact is called the Doctrine of Mutual Arising.’ Evolution results from a ‘mutual arising’ of mutation, circumstances, will, etc.”

So if we understand the ancient doctrine of Mutual Arising, we don’t need Quantum Physics and Systems Theory. These new disciplines merely confirm our view of reality, and help us to explain it to others. back

16. Quoted in Richard Dawkins’ Introduction to The Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle, Everyman’s Library Classics Series, Knopf Doubleday back
17. “Goethe and Linnaeus,” by James L. Larson, Journal of the History of Ideas, Oct.-Dec. 1967, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 590-596, jstor.com/stable/2708532 back
18. Wikipedia. Goethe wrote this about thirty years before Darwin published Origin of Species.

Darwin’s evolution has largely stopped for man; we don’t believe that society should be a “survival of the fittest.” But Goethe’s evolution never stops — not for man, not for any living thing. Goethe’s evolution is driven by the same forces that drive the individual’s life, that drive history; Goethe’s evolution will last as long as life lasts. back

19. “Goethe and Linnĉus,” by James L. Larson, Journal of the History of Ideas, Oct.-Dec. 1967, Vol. 28, No. 4, pp. 590-596, jstor.com/stable/2708532

Schopenhauer’s view of evolution reminds one of Goethe’s view. Schopenhauer wrote, “Anaxagoras and Empedocles quite rightly taught that plants have the motion of their growth by virtue of their indwelling desire.” (The World as Will and Representation, Vol. 2, Ch. 23) Did Schopenhauer get his view from Goethe? back

20. Goethe developed his Ur-Plant idea during his Italian journey. “Goethe begins with the question, how in the variety of plant forms can one recognize that this shape and that are both plants? In Padua he advances the hypothesis that all plant forms evolve from one original plant. The subject arouses in Goethe a degree of excitement which seems to indicate profound and far-reaching consequences. In February in Rome Goethe fancies he is on the verge of discovering how nature develops the greatest complexity from the simple. By the time he reaches Palermo his conception of the Urpflanze [Ur-Plant] has crystallized and become the object of serious inquiry.” (“Goethe and Linnĉus,” by James L. Larson)

When Arthur Koestler wrote a book about Copernicus, Kepler, and other astronomers, he called it The Sleepwalkers, because he felt that “discoveries in science arise through a process akin to sleepwalking. Not that they arise by chance, but rather that scientists are neither fully aware of what guides their research, nor are they fully aware of the implications of what they discover.”(Wikipedia) Perhaps sleepwalking is a good analogy not only for scientific discovery, but also for evolution. Evolution isn’t about chance, but neither is it about conscious purpose; evolution has purpose, but the purpose is unconscious, not conscious. back