Evolution - an Ecognostic Perspective


Conventional Biology looks at only the gross physical aspect of living organisms, ecosystems, biospheres etc.  Now, this is all well and good, and indeed it is something that has to be taken into account, but it does not represent the entire truth.  To borrow an old cliche of Freud's, the visible world is onlty the tip of the iceberg.

Biosophy (the wisdom of life) differs from Biology (the study of life) in that it adds a "spiritual" or "metaphysical" dimension.  This could refer to adopting a Goethean approach of approaching nature and science in a meditative experiential participitory manner, rather than the detached and clinical reductionistic approach of conventional objective science.  This gives a warmth to one's interaction to nature, one responds to nature as one would to a person rather than to a thing.  In this way the imagination is used to gain an inner understanding of the dynamics of life, form, growth, evolution, and metamorphosis. Yet it is necessary at the same time to divest oneself of prejudices.  Even so insightful a writer as Dr Hermann Poppelbaum, author of A New Zoology,  was really saddled by a ridiculous and outmoded anthropocentrism.  He got this error of thinking from Dr Rudolph Steiner, his teacher, who combined Goethian science, Theosophy, and Christianity to derive all the kingdoms of nature from man (as a sort of emanation).  I on the other hand use that same Goethian science combined with Darwinism and Deep Ecology to see man as simply one small (albeit extremely powerful) twig in the vast evolving "time organism" that is the biosphere and life on Earth.  In as much as the Darwinian approach represents a more valid approach to the material organism and the dynamics of biological evolution than either Theosophy (an occult cosmology) or Christianity (a religion) I like to assume that I am closer to the truth than Dr Poppelbaum.  But inasmuch as reality as such is intrinsically beyond our comprehension, I would be arrogant to assume too smug a position there.

An intuitive approach to nature also leads to occult speculation regarding the activity of the creative intelligences and archetypes behind physical nature, without which nature and life could not exist.

In terms of philosophical categories, Biosophy is idealistic rather than nominalistic.  But rather than considering archetypes as thoughts in the mind of God it considers these archetypes as etheric morphic fields.  Each field serves as the blueprint for the physical genotype which in turn, like a binary computer, feeds instructions that determine the physical phenotype (the body organism).  Each organism, species, ecological cmmunity, ecosystem, and biome is - whether directly or indirectly through the genotype and/or the morphic field - the external expression of a higher intelligence, referred to in Theosophical and New Age terminology as a deva or nature spirit, and in older thinking as an angel (divine messenger).  According to this understanding, different aspects and heirarchies of these intelligences exist on all planes, from the subtle physical and  etheric upto the noetic/divine.

All of this provides an alternative explanation to the theists "argument for design."  It cannot be denied by even the most sceptical materialist that there is such wisdom and perfection in nature: in the design of the structure of a bone for example, which combines strength and lightness in a true miracle of engineering, or the way a red blood vessel has the most perfect shape for the optimal absorption of oxygen.  But - and in this respect I agree with the materialist position - this perfection does not come from some external supernatural watchmaker as the theists and deists assume.  This kind of natural theology - very popular in the last century and used in opposition to Darwinism - has been refuted by Richard Dawkins in his famous book The Blind Watchmaker.  The materialistic explanation is that it is a sort of blind selection.  I agree taht it is selection, but I deny that it is blind.  According to the paradigm of evolutionary platonism, the perefection apparent in nature  is the external expression of hierarchies of supra-mundane creative beings. Steiner refers to "Spirits of Wisdom", and in this context at least I agree with him completely.  These beings are not "wise" like we are, they do not "think".  It is more a spontaneous creativity in action, which works through what to us seems the random working of chance (in fact there is no "chance" - every thing has a purpose).  The taxonomy of living organisms thus reflects and expresses the creative movements of these hierarchies.  Hence; spiritual biology, biosophy.  Actually Integral biology may be a  better term - if I may paraphrase Sri Aurobindo (integral yoga), for this paradigm integrates all the levels of being, not just the physical.

Integral Biology, Biosophy,  invokes a whole series of "kingdoms".  You may have heard the term "insect kingdom" for exmple.  Well, according to this paradigm there is an actual insect kingdom, a specific mode of activity of hierarchical beings which has manifested physically in the arthropodic superclass Hexapoda (insects and their relatives).  The insects in other words are a natural taxon, not a man-made one, and embody a specific evolution, consciousness, and mode of activity.  They embody what esoteric and platonically-inspired thinkers would would call an archetype.  The insect kingdom is divided into subkingdoms, each constituting it's own hierarchy, evolution, and metamorphoses - e.g. the ant kingdom, the beetle kingdom, etc.  Taxonomic divisions are real, not man-made.  It is upto us to discover them.  Just as Jung points out that numbers were "discovered', not "invented", I would say the same about biosophic taxonomy.

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