C-20. Evolution: fact, concept and theory

Two points, the generality which is not universality of particulars (i.e., the persisting qualities without quantity which characterize the Nature of Things: partial order, consequentiality and discontinuity {GPC]) and the double crystal of life (i.e., the behavioral entity’s dual body and step structures) raise some interesting questions about evolution as fact, concept and theory.

That bodies have evolved seems incontrovertible, a fact. This however incompletely all the facts of the matter may have been gathered. This incompleteness is already a serious and widely accepted matter, evident in the apparent gaps of the fossil record. But, given that all entities are behavioral entities, and given the Nature of Things’ GPC, there were behavior and consequences prior to the period covered by the fossil record, with the possibility that the GPC were an additional source of adaptive behavior, along with particular immediate conditions, very soon after Big Bang produced particular entities (and thus discontinuity). Collisions ensued, given partial order and consequentiality.

We might ask, for instance: “Would consequences of the GPC produce irregularities in the consequences of the particular conditions record? Don’t the obvious collision-relevant capacities of behavioral entities, especially those pertinent to avoiding and arranging collisions and their consequences, from brachiopod shells for defense to eagle eyes for offense, suggest the GPC influence? What about the plethora of early, soon extinguished, life forms (as found in the Burgess shale)? Would the consequences of GPC become increasingly pronounced once BE multi-step taking got going? Even more so with the emergence of step making, especially via communication and cognition (App. III)?”

The GPC may still be a shaping (literally [see VII], the appearance of design notwithstanding) influence on bodies, but now more significantly via steps developed and taken within the lifetime of the entities. For with the beginnings of life on earth, we are no longer dealing with one-step (e.g., orbiting) lifetimes. And with partial order a lot can happen, within as well as between lifetimes.

With evolution as fact, our questions focus on BE’s body as product and on sources for changes in that product. Turning to evolution as concept and theory, BE’s steps come more prominently into the picture, especially in light of GPC’s partial order. More and more varied collisions, more and more varied functional capabilities required. Consequentiality is no longer just a matter of body products and sources. Now it’s also a matter of processes. With process, adaptation is not the whole story (C-9).

(That evolution might adequately characterize steps via bodies, on the presumption that function follows structure, is troublesome [C-18]. The structure x function dynamic [XI] is not so unidirectional. Consider, for example, expectant mothers who are cognitively active tend to produce babies with more brain capacity.)

Evolution as concept has performed loosely and unproductively as a synonym for change. Even worse has been its application to step structure (e.g., “cultural evolution”), where it is confused with, and often substitutes for, the concept of development. Given the latter’s potentially rich theoretical roots in the Nature of Things and behavioral necessity, and the still-pressing need for further development (V), and given the problems we have yet to solve (0), the lack of a clear focus on development makes the conceptual employment of evolution here a huge intellectual impediment (IV).

Evolutionary theory has enough to do accounting and explaining BE’s adaptive changes in body relative to the Nature of Things’ GPC and to differences and changes in immediate particulars of time and spaces’. So much more of consequentiality in regard to BE emerges with a focus on steps that we need to switch behavioral and theoretical emphasis here to adaptation rather than evolution. Which is to say: Let’s consider body evolution as a manifestation of adaptation, a (limited) aspect of adaptive processes (themselves a limited portion of behavioral processes).

Once we switch emphasis, altering our theoretical perspective, we then note that ADAPT is but one of three behavioral meta-strategies (C-9; App. IV), along with ADOPT and ADEPT, which three need to be considered in regard to their dynamic relationships (XI). It can substitute for the other two, but should we do so? Not given the applicability of the other two to problem solving – the former with respect to tried solutions and the latter to producing new solutions. And with ADEPT, we can “adapt it to” not just “adapt to it.”

We can also adopt to adapt, if the collision potential of other step takers must be taken into consideration. Still, and better, our relationships with other step takers call for ADEPT, for us to compose a community with them (C-10) and then to compose a path forward with them (App. VII) as well as those paths we compose for ourselves individually (XI). Another way we adopt to adapt gives primary emphasis to the behavioral problem rather than the situational problem (I). We adopt a belief (aka ideology). Religious conversion dramatically exhibits this feature.

The behavioral point for BE of the Nature of Things is, after all, to be “in accord,” not just to ADAPT (C-9). For the behavioral entity, “Know thyself” pertains as much to behavior as it does to entity — and it implies that we consider body and step interdependently (XI).That mankind, like Earth, might be the center of the universe was not, is not, the full extent of our conceit and ignorance.

(c) 2011 R. F. Carter