Re-thinking What it Means We Evolved: Shaun Johnston

How can I have the nerve to put my own book atop this list of classic texts? Because it demonstrates how the meaning of us having evolved may be probed through what Henri Bergson called "intuition." Bergson sensed intuition to be a source of profound wisdom about self and life that we had evolved in us, that he experienced occasionally breaking through into consciousness. In the course of writing a couple of novels it occurred to me that intuition could be harnessed through art and creativity. Could creative artists and members of the humanities, through informed and disciplined creativity, tap into intuition on demand? "Re-thinking..." consists of a train of thought developed through an alternation of essays and stories, each essay raising a question that the following story explores, a process perhaps similar to dream analysis or historians' analytical narrative.

I maintain this webite as a resource for artists and humanists to help others wishing to undertake such a study of evolution, as well as to establish that such a study is needed. Since the early 1930s the study of evolution through intuition has been branded "vitalism" and "creationism" by the scientific establishment and actively suppressed, to the point that academics of all stripes fear losing tenure if they rebel (Holbrook).  But scientific study inspired by the "modern synthesis," today's scientific theory of evolution, has shown itself to be something of a scandal, its roots in Fisher's population statistics of doubtful validity. Evolutionists accuse creationists of seducing the public away from a due concern with evolution, but more probably it is the aridity of the scientific theory and dark clouds of determinism implied by purely physical world views that make the public welcome any alternative. 

"Re-thinking..." is simply and non-technically written, 180 pages, intended for the general reader. It's based on the following assumptions:

What I want to account for primarily is my own species' evolution. 

Crucial to that are accounting for us being able to think, and our awareness of being conscious.

I can be consciously creative at will, which tells me I'm free to some extent of physical determinism.

Evolution is creative, and made us, so I can assume it's similarly free of physical determinism. 

Ideas developed in “Re-thinking What it Means We Evolved”

Evolution is extremely creative. It can turn microbes into elephants and whales.

We can be creative. Also we are  conscious and have free will. To have those capabilities we must to some extent be independent of physical determinism

What makes us conscious, creative, with free will is our combination of brain and a mind supported by that brain.

We know the genome has a vast information capacity, can direct the development of trillion-celled creatures like us, with brains, and that it’s been evolving continuously since life began.   

What we know about the genome qualifies it to be thought of a combination of a brain, and a mind associated with that brain, too.

Because the genome has a brain/mind combination like us, it cannot be denied mental qualities like ours—consciousness, creativity, free will--with a similar independence from physical determinism.

Unlike us, genomes can read each other’s minds, and think communally and creatively, at every scale from single cells to entire kingdoms of living creatures forming, in effect, neural networks akin to those in today's artificial intelligence.

Communities of genomes thinking together are the primary agent of evolution.

Just as our ideas correspond to something in our brains, the genes strung along the genomes of living creatures correspond to ideas.

Living creatures evolve when a genome intelligence recalls the ideas that define a species, rethinks them, and “remembers” them back as changes in to those genes, or as new genes.  

To enable us to think, a genome intelligence built the process of evolution into us.

Thinking is our thoughts evolving.

We experience our thoughts evolving as consciousness.

All our experience can be accounted for through a combination of physical happenings and things evolving--living creatures and our thoughts.

Kirkus review.

 

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