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 Post subject: The Spiritual Ecology of Evolution
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:04 pm 
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The Spiritual Ecology of Evolution
by jgraf

Kropotkin versus Darwin

Soon after Charles Darwin published his work pertaining to evolution, the Russian biologist, anarchist, and seminal thinker, Peter Kropotkin, managed to create a work on evolution of equal, some say greater, merit. The Kropotkin volume, to which the author rendered the unassuming title, Mutual Aid: a Factor of Evolution, is rich in accounts of how the dynamic of mutual aid helps species to survive and flourish, from ants up to higher mammals. Unfortunately, upon publication, Kropotkin’s work did not attain the popularity of Darwin’s work - especially here in the West, where history has shown that it was most needed.

The question that goes out now is, how would the shape of modern society have been altered had Kropotkin’s thesis been properly disseminated? One can imagine the way members of western, more capitalistic-oriented society, might have framed their perspective, given mutual aid instead of survival of the fittest as an underlay for social and economic operations.

The time is ripe, and over-ripe, to acknowledge this productive means of re-framing perspective as we move forward in social evolution. In schools, Kropotkin and Darwin could be compared. In the scientific community, more and more, the window on mutual aid could help fill a long-standing void. Now, while we are poised on the verge of a much-needed re-invention of society, the Kropotkin vision waits to be incorporated.

Closing thoughts on the subject from the pen of Kropotkin:

“In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: understood, of course, in its wide Darwinian sense -- not as a struggle for the sheer means of existence, but as a struggle against all natural conditions unfavorable to the species. The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress. The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.”
– Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), Conclusion.

Risen from apes, or descended from angels?

The notion that we evolved from apes is at best an intriguing act of creative fiction. The idea is akin to the fantastic construct that prevails today, although increasingly dying away, that the material world is real, and that matter is the basis of life as we know it. What Olympian feats of imagination, these notions!

Spiritual scientist, Rudolf Steiner, asserted that in ancient times we (and the Earth) existed in a spiritual state. As the Earth became increasingly physical, we descended into the form we now hold. During this process, while we humans held back from incarnating, the animals preceded us. Starting out on the same plane as us humans, the animals, in a sense, sacrificed themselves by going ahead with the grand experiment of incarnation. We are now indebted to our animal “relations” for helping prepare the stage here, until an optimal time could ensue for us to incarnate.

There is observational evidence that evolution has proceeded as a descent. For example, that monkeys descended from man is indicated by the way their babies are quite human-like in appearance, whereas the adult is much less so. This developmental process is, in a sense, a re-enactment, a recapitulation of descent.

To paraphrase Steiner, we did not rise from monkeys, we descended from angels - and are now on our way to returning to that state, that “fifth kingdom” (only, now, unlike the earlier state, with full possession of an individuality).

Further Considerations on Evolution

At present, humanity is called upon to remedy the amount of “de-evolution” that is taking place. By this, I am referring to our assault on diversity and intricacy in the natural world.

Reductionism in materialistic science and reduction in the natural world go hand in hand.

Boundaries delineating the four kingdoms - mineral, plant, animal, and human - have gray areas. Carnivorous plants have an animal-ish aspect, as do nitrogen-fixing legumes. Further, at this time, while a “quickening” of evolution is taking place, there is an increasing level of “astrality” (the essence of animality, in spiritual terms) manifesting in the plant world.

Meanwhile, animals are becoming more egoic (the central differentiation between animals and humans), especially those with more association with the human community - pets, livestock (that are treated compassionately, not those of the mass meat industry), and those entailed in inter-species communication forums. People are coming into closer relationships with animals, exploring new dynamics, opening to new experiences, being more open to learning what an animal has to teach.
Even so, it also needs to be said that the wild animals are also in a state of evolution toward an egoic level of being.

A pivotal question for scientists of the world is: What motivates, say, a tree, to reproduce?

Why bother “perpetuating the species” - as so often is cited for a reason why beings in nature do what they do. Just why would it bother? Why not just live its life and die?

A scientist will say, over and over, that various species do all these things to perpetuate the species in an optimal way. But doesn’t this, in itself, suggest an unfathomable degree of mystery? That is, what induces this perpetuation in the first place? What “altruism” or what-have-you, brings on this motivation for a being to sacrifice some energetic part of its being to undertake this propagation?

There is also a dynamic we could call “re-evolution.”

The elm tree, having long grappled with a critical challenge posed to its very existence, will return. The elm is returning, in a modified form. As is the American chestnut.

Perhaps these events could be called new incarnations, of sorts.

J Graf is the coordinator of Earth Vision and Insight21 - doorways for the 21st Century - at Earth Vision and Insight21 www.evsite.net

Article Source: http://newagearticles.com

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 4:05 pm 
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Souls of Fire

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Quote:
The question that goes out now is, how would the shape of modern society have been altered had Kropotkin’s thesis been properly disseminated? One can imagine the way members of western, more capitalistic-oriented society, might have framed their perspective, given mutual aid instead of survival of the fittest as an underlay for social and economic operations.


To understand this, I think it should be noted that ideas express the characteristics of a society just as much as they form it. In other words, if the intellectual and financial interests favoured views to justify their own, they would not support anything to the contrary.

Western-capitalist society is competition oriented, but beyond any sense of true cooperation outside of managing and dictating for those who most benefit from such a system.

Modern biologists do recognize that nature is both antagonistic and symbiotic. As human beings we find both elements in our nature, the element of individual reinforcement against competition for limited resources and the element of collective reinforcement.

Ideally collective reinforcement should bolster each individual, but most humans do not take kindly to giving up something for others, with few exceptions. Again, human ingenuity can counter this, and create a society of affluence for all. The problem is that the desire material affluence is not the driving force of those who deem survival of the fittest to refer to them.

It is the desire to control the fates of others, and a lack of connection with others and themselves. The propogation of ideas usually takes hold when the social atmosphere is fertile ground, and when all social systems are controlled by those whose highest ideal is power, altruism can be presented as being for the weak.

Our children learn only a fraction of what they believe from schools or any formal medium. Most is from parents, peers and media of information, all biased toward a dog eat dog world because that is their experience and promoted by those with the means to promote their own interests.

Mutual aid would then demand an inner state of reward reinforcing it. Such an inner state is not strong enough for society to support it in the face of the interests of those most in control of its ways and means, IMO.

Quote:
The time is ripe, and over-ripe, to acknowledge this productive means of re-framing perspective as we move forward in social evolution. In schools, Kropotkin and Darwin could be compared. In the scientific community, more and more, the window on mutual aid could help fill a long-standing void. Now, while we are poised on the verge of a much-needed re-invention of society, the Kropotkin vision waits to be incorporated.


I agree with all this, but again individuals would first need to feel the need for such change in their collective gut before implementing it at the intellectual level. Such I believe has been the way of history.

In the scientific community, in my experience, mutual aid is rare. Everyone fears losing their positions of authority if not income. Scientists are probably some of the least enlightened individuals in the world overall for the simple reason they are convinced of their intellectual superiority.

The Kropotkin vision, however, will be incorporated IMO out of social necessity because society is reaching a crossroads in history and we can for the first time see this at collective as well as individual scales. We are, for the first time in history conscious of change at a global scale and this affects everything.

Quote:
The notion that we evolved from apes is at best an intriguing act of creative fiction. The idea is akin to the fantastic construct that prevails today, although increasingly dying away, that the material world is real, and that matter is the basis of life as we know it. What Olympian feats of imagination, these notions!


I believe there are two currents. That of a material ascent and that of a spiritual descent: two waves also related as past to future (materially evident) and future possibility to past (spritually evident). We in our present are an intersection of these waves, IMO.

For me humans are a prototype species, which is why the challenges of humanity are so grave. Spirit has never grounded so deeply into the ways of matter. The connection is turbulent until it finds its balance and harmony, first in humanity and then paving the way for greater consciousness in the rest of material becoming.

Quote:
A scientist will say, over and over, that various species do all these things to perpetuate the species in an optimal way. But doesn’t this, in itself, suggest an unfathomable degree of mystery? That is, what induces this perpetuation in the first place? What “altruism” or what-have-you, brings on this motivation for a being to sacrifice some energetic part of its being to undertake this propagation?


Most Biologists will say the DNA molecule rules all organic behaviour. It is what grows and propogates like a crystal extending its form by drawing on a surrounding liquid solution.

This is invariably a very simplistic view, and biologists will usually also agree. In fact, recently they discovered that DNA is quite passive, and that a complex environmental working comes into play, what they call a systemic effect.

In that sense, all systems are by and large self supporting, with inner competition being a weeding out process that has nothing to do with "the law of the jungle". The only reason animal organisms eat each other is because they have not evolved to gain from other sources of energy. Human beings are the only animals currently capable of at least moving toward unlimited sources of life sustaining energy.

Human beings are a transitional species, IMO. Not that they will become something else, but that they are not evolutionarily whole. That's why they have all these conflicts to compensate for their sense of being incomplete, psychologically and physically.

All spiritual paths, after all, are part of the quest for wholeness that is part of being human.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:19 am 
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Fiery Serpents
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Aristomenes wrote:
... I think it should be noted that ideas express the characteristics of a society just as much as they form it. In other words, if the intellectual and financial interests favoured views to justify their own, they would not support anything to the contrary.

A rather disturbing example is this BBC news article mentioning the possibility of humanity splitting into two sub-species in 100,000 years time as predicted by HG Wells.

Aristomenes wrote:
Human beings are a transitional species, IMO. Not that they will become something else, but that they are not evolutionarily whole. That's why they have all these conflicts to compensate for their sense of being incomplete, psychologically and physically.

But we are continuously in the process of becoming something else, for these conflicts and the efforts to deal with such conflicts also push us to evolve into a species that is more psychologically and physically stable.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 31, 2008 3:12 pm 
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Quote:
But we are continuously in the process of becoming something else, for these conflicts and the efforts to deal with such conflicts also push us to evolve into a species that is more psychologically and physically stable.


That depends on the definition of "else", I think. What I meant was that everything we are to become is latent in what we are, an evolution and not an alienation from our foundation nature as bio-spiritual beings, as some theories of "transhuman" outcomes propose.

On the other hand, I agree that conflicts do promote change simply because they are unacceptable evolutionarily speaking. What the capitalist adaptations of Darwinism say, however, (also called social Darwinism, which is not really what Darwin proposed), is that conflict should be a status quo because it kills off those that cannot win.

All that does is support those who are conflict-oriented, which would only result in a world with more suffering and violence. This is different than confronting conflict to transcend it, IMO.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 01, 2008 10:04 am 
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Souls of Fire
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I hate to say this, Aristomenes, but I'm finding myself hopelessly out of your depth and floored by your knowledge. But that's all right, 'coz it's forcing me to learn even more just to catch up with you guys and be able to contribute something of value to this forum. I'm really enjoying your posts, even though I have yet to make heads or tails of most of them. So please keep on posting, it's all good! :D


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 2:58 pm 
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Souls of Fire

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I hate to say this, Aristomenes, but I'm finding myself hopelessly out of your depth and floored by your knowledge. But that's all right, 'coz it's forcing me to learn even more just to catch up with you guys and be able to contribute something of value to this forum. I'm really enjoying your posts, even though I have yet to make heads or tails of most of them. So please keep on posting, it's all good!


Lol...thanks for the encouragement. I admit I tend to ramble on about some things, and most of the time it's hard to just call a spade a spade when you see so much more to it.

On a forum this can be interpreted as being pretentious, especially when you want to condense a alot into a small "reply" space and end up with a tangled net, especially when the topic is deep and involved...


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:54 am 
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Souls of Fire
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Aristomenes wrote:
Lol...thanks for the encouragement. I admit I tend to ramble on about some things, and most of the time it's hard to just call a spade a spade when you see so much more to it.

Language is quite limiting, so sometimes calling a spade a spade is not that easy a task. In order to convey precise meaning, one has to occasionally resort to calling a rose by all its other names, so rambling is good. :wink:

Aristomenes wrote:
On a forum this can be interpreted as being pretentious, especially when you want to condense a alot into a small "reply" space and end up with a tangled net, especially when the topic is deep and involved...

Not in my case, so please keep posting, Aristomenes. I, for one, am enjoying your contributions immensely. :D

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:31 am 
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Aristomenes wrote:
On a forum this can be interpreted as being pretentious, especially when you want to condense a alot into a small "reply" space and end up with a tangled net, especially when the topic is deep and involved...

Tangled is good. After all, they don't call this the web for nothing. :lol:

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