Natural Selection versus Divine Election, III
I think this issue is important enough to spend a little more time on, in the interests of greater clarity. I made some further attempts at clarification in the comments section of the first post on this topic, in response to a comment by LittleBigMan.
Now, the qualities of a good, robust model of logic is that it should account for all human experience, not just a sliver of the full spectrum of that experience. It should be complete, by which I mean, it should form a holon. Present evolutionary theory, with its emphasis on natural selection, is not complete. Nor is Ken Wilber’s AQAL (All Quadrants, All Levels) model of logic. They invite controversy and contradiction by their very omissions.
If the full spectrum of the human experience is not represented in the model, that model cannot claim to be “universal”, or valid everywhere and at all times. And the deficiencies of the Western or “Eurocentric” model of logic are, in large part, related to its inadequacy in accounting for the meaning of time, consciousness, life, creativity, etc. or those pesky things called “subjective values”.
Yes, out of necessity a lot of attention is now being paid to these issues, especially time and consciousness, but in large part, only to try to explain them away or to force them to conform to the already deficient model of logic and to that model’s root assumptions. We have been saying here in The Chrysalis that the deficiencies in that model of logic (the received Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm, as it were) is the reason why the theories generated from that model are incomplete, and that incompleteness invites controversy and contradiction.
“Where Man is not, Nature is barren” — William Blake
“The will to a system is a lack of integrity” — Friedrich Nietzsche
These two judgements are equivalent and interchangeable. What both Blake and Nietzsche are referring to is the deliberate omission of factors like consciousness, imagination, intentionality, creativity, desire from explanations of reality. This bias against “subjective values” in accounting for our full experience stems from a faulty assumption of the model of logic… that the “mind” or “consciousness” or “spirit” or “life” is a foreign intruder or presence in the kosmos, and not a participant in the kosmic dialectic or kosmic dance. This abstract or “otherworldliness” of the mind was merely a methodological assumption and convention that has become, rather, the “common sense”. But abstraction leads to distraction, and “subjectivity” was simply amputated from the kosmos as a pernicious influence in developing the perfect system. When Laplace boasted that he had “no need for God” as an hypothesis to explain his system, that also meant no need to account for subjectivity, creativity, and consciousness as well.
Well, Nietzsche and Blake contradict him and the whole schmear of “modern ideas”. That’s what those statements are saying. Life, consciousness, creativity, need, desire, etc are also all part of the kosmic equilibrium and the human experience, which cannot be excluded “by establishment” nor amputated from our description of reality.
But this is, in large part, what the Western or Eurocentric model of logic does, and this is reflected in the products and artefacts of that generative logic — the theory of natural selection included. There is still this methodological bias or prejudice that sees mind (and thinking) or consciousness as something external to, our outside of, the physical world and not participant in it. It is this deliberate omission (until now, with the “measurement problem” in quantum physics) that Nietzsche is decrying as “lack of integrity”. The fact that, the Measurement Problem is even referred to as an “embarrasment”, as if something shameful, attests to this deficiency. It’s an embarrasment for the model. Otherwise, it’s a grand opportunity to correct our flawed assumptions about “reality”.
The problem for the model of logic is, that “subjective values” are the immeasurables and the unquantifiables, and to it the immeasurable is the imponderable. It’s quite absurd to assume that these imponderables and immeasurables are hindrances to developing the perfect system, or are proof of flaws in what we call “reality”. It’s the logic that is deficient, not the reality. Our consciousness must overcome its self-imposed constraints and limits and expand its horizons to include more of the spectrum of experience, for right now, it is far too narrowly focussed, which is called “egoism”.
For although we overcame the faulty “geo-centric” view of the cosmos, we haven’t yet overcome its psychic equivalent — the “ego-centric” view of the cosmos. And as I stated in a comment to the first post on this subject, it is one of the merits of Rosenstock-Huessy’s “cross of reality” that the human “I” or ego is put in its proper place in the fourfold universe, and not at the centre of things.
For aeons of time, in fact, human consciousness never considered itself to be at the centre of things or “the first person” of the grammatical relation. Imagination, creativity, intuitions, inspirations, etc were never thought of as being possessions of the ego. They were experienced as the influence (ie “flowing in”) of the gods or God, or the Muses, etc. Man, in his relationship to these powers, always felt himself as a “thou”, as an addressee and as a respondent. Homer never thought of himself as the “author” or “creator” of his poems. This he attributed to the Muses, who spoke through him. The human ego was, and perhaps still is, a rather passive and subdued thing, especially in humankind’s early history. A sense of “self” barely exists, let alone a sense of self as cause. Mankind was the fearful plaything of gods, fates, spirits which he was powerless to oppose, and could only propitiate through sacrifices, magic, prayers, etc. That is the state called “pagan”.
The Cartesian cogito (or res cogitans — the “thinking thing”) goes to the other extreme. It makes the thinking ego the centre of being or existence, and from that is derived the conceit about “the self-made man” and the extremes of individualism and narcissism. But, as I say, the “I” or ego-nature is not the centre of existence, and a Copernican Revolution is necessary to displace it from there to its proper relationship with the other modes of existence.
The ego is not an initiator but a respondee. To a certain extent, that is still admitted even if not recognised. The poet awaits his “muse”. The artist awaits his “inspiration”. The scientist follows his “hunch” or intuition. We are still in this position, really, of being respondents. Our first and primary experience of ourselves is as a “you” or “thou”, and not an “I”. This is what the Buddha referred to as the “I am conceit”. We are a “thou” or “you” before we discover our “I”. This belongs to the formative or creative or shaping power of speech. This innate creativity, expressed in speech, is why Rosenstock-Huessy states “God is the power that makes men speak” — that is, this creativity at the root of speech.
Rosenstock-Huessy consequently also denies that “man invented speech”. He insists, contrariwise, that “man was invented by speech”, or made by speech, and that only by entering into the matrix of grammatical relations (his “cross of reality”) does the ape become human at all.
So, when I use the phrase “divine election” in contrast to “natural selection”, it is with that in mind. Yes, “natural selection” is valid as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough. There is this other factor we call “creativity”, but which for aeons of time mankind never thought of as a possession, but as being possessed — inspired, enthused or call it what you will. That is the sense in which Rosenstock speaks of God as “the power that makes men speak”, whether it is called intuition, inspiration, enthusiasm or “muse”.
And, in those terms, “divine election” is a much a part of humankind’s evolutionary biography as “natural selection”, and this whole contention between “evolution” and “creationism” is arid, barren, and sterile, although not entirely meaningless if we recast that as “mechanical” against “creativity” more broadly because our kosmos is not just a three dimensional thing, but a fourfold entity. It includes the fourth hitherto ignored and neglected dimension — consciousness and subjectivity.