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EvoLit 2011: Evolution, a process in progress



Evolution, A Process in Progress 
19 April 2011 (PG)

"I wanted to go the rooftree of Maine to start my trip before turning west.  It seemed to give the journey a design, and everything in the world must have design or the human mind rejects it. But in addition it must have purpose or the human conscience shies away from it."

"In Spanish, there is a word for which I ca't find a counterword in English ... If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere but doesn't greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction .... Let us say we wanted to walk in the streets of Mexico City but not at random.  We would choose some article almost certain not to exist there and then diligently try to find it."

 ...  John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

"There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning."

... Thorton Wilder, The Bridge of San Luis Rey


Evolutionary exuberance ... for better and for worse

How many kinds of orchids?  Why?

How many kinds of plane accidents?  Why?

Random variation plus differential persistance 

A universe in which there is no fixed purpose or design or meaning to be found but one in which there are more possibilities than currently (or ever) can be enumerated and the potential to bring new ones into being - a creative exploratory universe

Empirical inquiry and the bipartite brain as adaptations to such a universe

Learn from experiences, and from creating stories that account for them/conceive and explore alternative futures - creative exploratory organisms

Problems and solutions?

wish for meaning/absence of meaning to be found out there: make and revise meanings oneself

fear of uncertainty: learn to appreciate not only hazards but also the "beneficence" of chance

wish for immortality for oneself/others: recognize/accept causal efficacy/persistance of stories as significant contributor to the evolutionary process, individuals as continuing participants in/contributors to that process