A Call To The Humanities To Reclaim Its Concious Self
- Written by Shaun Johnston Shaun Johnston
- Published: February 13, 2016 February 13, 2016
I maintain this site to provide a platform for erecting theories of evolution alternative to Darwinism/the modern synthesis. I launched the site in November 2010 under the name "Take on Darwin." In 2015 I changed the name to "Evolution For the Humanities."
I feel impelled to maintain this site because academics of all stripes appear cowed by physicalists into endorsement of the physicalist origin story that we are purely physical objects evolved through purely physical means. Those of us outside academe, like me, can even less expect to beat the physicalists at their own game, so in this website I propose we change the game and pursue it through the methods of the humanities. The game is to come up with alternative origin stories that celebrate our non-physical capabilities of consciousness, creativity and free will, that are the special province of the humanities. Having come up with new theories we may turn them around to serve as accounts for the evolution of all other creatures as well, and offer them as a new consilience to the sciences.
My review of Dr. Nagel's book "Mind and Cosmos" applauded his opening thesis but declared the whole a failure. After asserting that consciousness could never be accounted for by a purely-physical theory he limited his further analysis to issues posed by traditional philosophic categories. I wanted him instead to deduce what the appearance of consciousness meant for evolution itself. That is, I wanted him to extrapolate from the known, consciousness, to the unknown, evolution, no matter where pre-evolutionary philosophizing stood on the matter.
The mission of this site is well expressed by Thomas Nagel in his summary of his book "Mind and Cosmos" published online at https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/the-core-of-mind-and-cosmos/.
This site is a project of "Evolved Self Publishing," the imprint under which I publish my other writings, primarily books. I list them at www.evolvedself.com. In "Neither Darwin Nor Deity" I present my version ot the game, lay out my preferred origin story, and point out how, by comparison, the physicalist account falls short. I present that as a model for how students of the humanities can engage in the new humanities-driven game.
I studied biochemistry at University College London, and have since was a medical and science writer in NYC. I have written and self published two novels and a play, all on what it means we evolved. In "Neither Darwin Nor Deity" I demonstrate how creative writing, when combined with sufficient knowledge of the course of evolution, can prompt the creation of new theories.
I am not a creationist, but I get labelled as one. Any criticism of Darwinism gets labeled as creationism. There can be no progress in evolutionary theory until we insist on there being a third way. There is in fact already a website thethirdwayofevolution.com where fifty of the world's leading evolutionists declare their disenchantment with Darwinism. One of them, Denis Noble, is organizing a one-day conference held jointly in November 2016 by the Royal Society and the British Academy to present new ideas about evolution. They intend to stay within the physicalist camp, but there is no reason why students of the humanities may not stick their noses under the tent flap to explore the air outside.
To help me, or encourage me, PLEASE LINK TO THIS SITE.