January 12, 2010 | Leave a Comment

Category: Biology, Myth/Story, Society, Unconscious

It has now become clear that neo-Lamarckism has always been a reasonable theory, and it has stood the test of time for more than a century.  Once some misunderstandings and inhibitions are removed, the theory can be regarded as a more complete theory (than neo-Darwinism) in that it analyses the evolutionary process in terms of both the proximate and ultimate mechanisms, and in that it is especially suited for analyzing the origin of macroevolutionary change.  Through the analysis of the proximate process we come to know the cause of variation and the presumed initial stage of evolution of the structures upon which natural selection has worked.  In traditional neo-Darwinism natural selection is considered to be involved throughout the whole evolutionary process (of structures), which is indeed untrue, as Mivart (1871) already knew.  In practice obvious cases of over-extension of the theory of natural selection, which actually results from neglect of the proximate process, have often been criticized in terms of their falsifiability.  Yet the critics have never offered a solution for this dilemma.  Indeed, evolutionary biology has been in a state of constipation caused by the neo-Darwinian constraint that inhibits exploration of the proximate process of evolution.  It should now be realized that such a worry will be over once we accept the neo-Lamarckian approach.

The application of the neo-Lamarckian analysis appears to resolve some outstanding problems and riddles in evolutionary biology.  For instance, the problem of “inheritance of acquired characters” is now understood as the result of accumulation of genocopies.  The age-old riddle of ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ can now be answered from the evolutionary viewpoint (Sect. 3B2).  ‘Adaptive response’ now must be restored as a fundamental evolutionary concept, though it has been neglected.  All phenomena of abnormal metamorphosis (halmatomorphosis, neoteny, caenogenesis) resulting in macroevolutionary structural changes are now attributed primarily to environmentally induced alteration in the response of the genotype (alteration in gene regulation) during the proximate process.  The study of the Baldwin effect as special cases of genetic assimilation must be encouraged.

It should be realized that all the above problems can be more clearly understood by inquiring into the hormonal mediation that becomes involved.  Indeed, the environmentally induced hormonal intervention controlling gene action was the mechanism that was unknown to the nineteenth century neo-Lamarckists, and the lack of knowledge of such a mechanism might have hindered the acceptance of neo-Lamarckism.  (Ryuichi Matsuda, Animal Evolution in Changing Environments, with Special Reference to Abnormal Metamorphosis (New York:  Wiley Press, 1987), p. 53.)

Ryuichi Matsuda has now passed, but he has colleagues that still pursue a classic Lamarckian interpretation of how evolution unfolds, a seemingly anomalous approach in a world where even evolutionary developmental biologists often hesitate to cite Lamarck.  Matsuda was a giant among Lamarckians, an anomaly in the late 20th century.  We in the year 2010 still live in an epistemological limbo where leaders of evolutionary biology are also leaders in the atheism movement, binding together insights on evolution and deity.  This is all so very strange.  Matsuda, the Lamarckians and creationists all get lumped together as people believing in the power of nonrandom variables to influence evolution.

There are a number of Asian spiritual paths that explore levels of consciousness or identity scales, some offering levels within levels as the individual shifts further and further away from identification with the body.  I sometimes find myself wondering how these kinds of sciences, accompanied by a host of details, might inform evolutionary studies, where it seems that an ability to identify interconnection on different scales might make possible a reevaluation of what an individual is.  This is in the context of the individual within a community, suggesting a possible redefining of consciousness, depending on which community or scale is being examined.

Theorists such as Dawkins intuit that deity is integral to understanding evolution.  Dawkins concludes that it is essential deity not exist.  What interests me is what kind of deities, in the form of consciousness studies, best model interpretations of evolution that are not Neo-Darwinian.

I am fascinated by myth as a modeling process seeking to find pattern to the world.  The Dawkins crowd targets myth believers as creating unnecessary information which, in addition, poorly models reality.  I think Dawkins misses the point of myth.  Myth-making is model-making.  There is a process that humans engage in that involves the aesthetic of embracing reality while transforming it into something unique.  This aesthetic seems closely related to an integral feature of consciousness, to embrace and transform, that the atheists experience as random.

Reading science text, I see myth deeply integrated into “facts.”  How content is connected has everything to do with how process is understood.  Based upon the power of natural selection, there is this make-believe that connection suggesting larger wholes is arbitrary.  Matsuda described nonarbitrary connections between environment and evolution.  Slowly this paradigm is becoming respected again.  Perhaps soon consciousness will be able to enter the equation.


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