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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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Introduction
Genesis Vision
Learning Planet
Organic Universe
Earth Life Emerge
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I. Our Planatural Edition: A 21st Century PhiloSophia, EarthTwinity, Ecosmic WumanVersion

B. An Anthropocene Era as a Major Emergent Transitional Phase

Liebes, Sidney, et al. A Walk Through Time. New York: Wiley, 1998. An evocative, beautifully illustrated journey written with Brian Swimme and Elisabet Sahtouris that tells the new creation story of a self-organizing cosmic genesis. The book website is: www.globalcommunity.org/wtt/walk_online.

The universe has a bias for complexity. The universe began as elementary particles, then began constellating into galactic structures. The creativity of the universe accomplishes all this through its own intrinsic self-assembling or self-organizing dynamics. An atom, for instance, is not put together by some agent outside itself. An atom is a group of particles that organizes itself into a whole and coherent system. So too on larger scales. A galaxy is more that just an aggregation. A galaxy is a self-organizing community of stars. (15)

Arthur Koestler gave us a conceptual model for understanding living entities as embedded within each other like Chinese boxes or Russian dolls. He called it “holons in holarchy.” Other holistic modelers have adopted it for its usefulness in describing the relationships within and among living systems. Everything in nature can be seen as belonging to such arrangements - molecules within cells within cells, communities within ecosystems. (164)

Litfin, Karen. Towards an Integral Perspective on World Politics: Secularism, Sovereignty and the Challenge of Global Ecology. Millennium: Journal of International Studies. 32/1, 2003. A professor of political science at the University of Washington makes a strong case that the root of our problems is the old materialist, secular, consumptive scenario which causes contingent people to exploit nature and each other. A radically holistic “new story” is proposed via a synthesis from Gregor Hegel to Thomas Berry, Sri Aurobindo, Pierre Teilhard, Ken Wilber and others, along with the Gaia image of a living earth. Since the single-point, object focus of modernity is unsustainable, Litfin bravely advises an idealist, emergent evolution suffused by subjective communion. This integral cosmology can then inform “humanity’s self-finding” and inspire a global ecological concern.

The integral worldview draws no dichotomy between matter and spirit, nature and humanity, objectivity and subjectivity. Rather, mind and matter are two dimensions of a single reality that expresses itself in the self-organizing processes of the universe. From an integral perspective, the human is ‘that being in whom the universe celebrated itself and its numinous origins in a special mode of conscious self-awareness.’ (33)

If the metaphor for the secular worldview is the billiard-ball model of inert monads in a random universe, the metaphor for the integral worldview might be the seed, with its inherent fecundity and self-generative capacity. Evolutionary idealism proposes that an animating intelligence underlies the development of not only life forms, but of all creation – from galaxies to human forms of social and political organization. (41)

Lloyd, Seth. Programming the Universe. New York: Knopf, 2006. Reviewed more in An Informational Source, an argument for a cosmos that computes itself into complex existence via an intrinsic program which is run repeatedly.

Longo, Giuseppe and Mael Montevil. Extended Criticality, Phases Spaces and Enablement in Biology. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals. Online April, 2013. The authors have also collaborated with Stuart Kauffman, view on arXiv, about randomness alone or an innate vectorial, creative source. Within a cosmic nature that does “enable” our presence, Kauffman, and others, go on to deny any independent “entailing laws.” The “Black Swan” view of Nassim Taleb contends that predictability is not possible, stuff just happens. But Didier Sornette (search) argues this scheme misses a deep mathematical inherency. In Reexamining the Quantum-Classical Relation Alisa Bokulich (search), extends Sandra Mitchell’s integral pluralism to at once note a vicarious extravagance, along with a deep, necessary lawfulness. Stephen Wolfram (search 2012) likewise opts for a self-existing mathematical intelligibility, rather than Gregory Chaitin’s denials. In this paper, CNRS – École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and Tufts University Medical School, Boston, theorists press on to propose and brace a dynamic balance of “contingency and cause.” There is, as the quotes express, a palliative, revelatory urgency to resolve the dreadful drama of our existence, responses to which often say more about the author than the cosmos. Could “many are called but few are (self)chosen writ large,” somehow be nature’s way, as this site tries to document? For a book length version in early 2014 see Perspectives on Organisms: Biological Time, Symmetries and Singularities (Springer)

This paper analyzes, in terms of critical transitions, the phase spaces of biological dynamics. The phase space is the space where the scientific description and determination of a phenomenon is given. We argue that one major aspect of biological evolution is the continual change of the pertinent phase space and the unpredictability of these changes. This analysis will be based on the theoretical symmetries in biology and on their critical instability along evolution. Our hypothesis deeply modifies the tools and concepts used in physical theorizing, when adapted to biology. In particular, we argue that causality has to be understood differently, and we discuss two notions to do so: differential causality and enablement. In this context constraints play a key role: on one side, they restrict possibilities, on the other, they enable biological systems to integrate changing constraints in their organization, by correlated variations, in un-prestatable ways. This corresponds to the formation of new phenotypes and organisms. (Abstract)

Organisms and ecosystems are structurally stable, also because of their constrained autonomy, as they permanently and non-identically reconstruct themselves, their internal and external constraints. They do it in an always different, thus adaptive, way. They change the coherence structure, thus its symmetries. This reconstruction is thus random, but also not random, as it heavily depends on constraints, such as the proteins types imposed by the DNA, the relative geometric distribution of cells in embryogenesis, interactions in an organism, in a niche. Yet, the autopoietic activity is based also on the opposite of constraints: the relative autonomy of organisms. In other words, organisms transform the ecosystem while transforming themselves and they can stand these continual changes because they also have an internal preserved coherent structure. (13)

Lovelock, James. Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2019. Yes, another epic contribution from the elder British scientific sage, who is hale and hearty at age 100. He can well affirm that his 1970s Gaia vision of life’s self-regulating biosphere, after many contentions, has become a mainstay of Earth system science. A novel situation today is that nature’s vital propensity to modify and form sustainable environs can be set within vast planet-filled heavens. By virtue of his research, while life’s self-maintenance is a robust process, it is contingent on many factors to an extent that our home ecoworld may likely be the only one to get this far. Thus, our regnant, global sapience may have achieved a unique knowing perception within an otherwise insentient cosmos. His cosmic scenario then proposes that to sustain this animate abode, human beings will need to enhance themselves, with all checks and balances, by way of a cyber-technical, artificial intelligence capacity. Once again, James Lovelock gifts us with a grand vista for seeing how significant a rarest living Earth actually can be to the future and fate of the whole universe. The enhancements he broaches will be of concern, but it is assured that they will not be a machine singularity to replace precious peoples. See also a review by Stephen Cave in The Financial Times (July 16, 2019), re the fifth quote.

Gaia must continue her work of cooling the planet because she could be destroyed by shocks to her system, which, in previous ages, would have been shrugged off. I am pretty sure that only Earth has incubated a creature capable of knowing the cosmos. But I am equally sure that the existence of the creature is imperiled. We are unique, privileged beings and, for that reason we should cherish every moment of our awareness. We should now be cherishing those moments even more because our supremacy as the prime understanders of the cosmos is rapidly coming to an end. (5)

I think the zone of habitability idea is flawed because it ignores the possibility that a planet bearing life will tend to modify its environment and climate in a way that favors the life upon it, as our does. A great deal of time may have been wasted curing the search for life elsewhere because of the false assumption that the current environment of the Earth is simply a matter of geological happenstance. The truth is that the Earth’s environment has been massively adapted to sustain habitability. (11)

To me it is clear that the distinguishing feature of human intelligence is that we use it to analyze and speculate about the world and the cosmos, and in the Anthropocene, to make changes of planetary significance. As I have said, I believe only we do this, only we are the way in which the cosmos has awoken to self-knowledge. Assuming I am right and there are no intelligent aliens, then the end of life on Earth would mean the end of all knowing and understanding. The knowing cosmos would die. (23-24)

This is the age I call the Novacene. I’m sure that one day a more appropriate name will be chosen, but for now I’m using ”Novacene” to describe what could be one of the most crucial periods in the history of our planet and perhaps even of the cosmos. (30)

The only stable way of ensuring a cool planet is to ensure it is replete with life, Lovelock argues, drawing on his Gaia theory. The machines will therefore join us in undoing the damage we have done, bringing fresh smarts to this task, and imagining new ways of re-engineering the planet back to a happy equilibrium. The other reason he gives for welcoming AI is even more double-edged. Like some scientists whose business is to understand the universe, he claims that this endeavor is the very purpose of life. The Earth has given rise to us humans as the first step on this route to enlightenment, but it is our vastly smarter machine progeny “that will lead the cosmos to self-knowledge”. (Cave review)

Low, Albert. The Origin of Human Nature: A Zen Buddhist Looks at Evolution. Brighton, UK: Sussex Academic Press, 2008. Dr. Albert Low, the author of many wise works, is founder and director of the Montreal Zen Center. By drawing upon a vista of Eastern and perennial insights, an alternative, beneficial view of universe and human creativity can accrue. Rather than a material machine as touted by Richard Dawkins, bereft of plan or purpose, the unitary cosmos is alive and suffused from its origin with intention and intelligence. As Hwa Yen Buddhism’s vision of Indra’s Net conveys so well, each parcel or entity at once reflects and contains the encompassing numinous cosmos. Human beings are the latest phenomenal manifestation of its grand, yet fraught, task unto awakening, knowing awareness.

Loye,, David, ed. The Great Adventure: Toward a Fully Human Theory of Evolution. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. At the World Congress of Systems Science in Toronto, July 2000, psychologist Loye and members of the General Evolution Research Group met in an effort to move their project of articulating a holistic, empathic vision of life’s emergence to its next level. A result is this series of papers by Ervin Laszlo (GERG founder), Stan Salthe, Riane Eisler, Sally Goerner, Allan Combs and others who strive for an expanded narrative which can include creativity, consciousness, gender partnership and integral sustainability. In his essay, Loye argues that Darwin originally saw cooperation to be more important than usually attributed and joins this insight with Abraham Maslow’s humanistic and transpersonal psychology. Guidelines for future work along with an annotated bibliography are included.

Luisi, Pier Luigi. The Emergence of Life: From Chemical Origins to Synthetic Biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. The emeritus professor and dean of Swiss macromolecular chemistry writes a frontier text of life’s origin and evolution as now being reconceived in terms of complex systems science. We quote from the publisher’s website.

The origin of life from inert chemical compounds has been the focus of much research for decades, both experimentally and philosophically. Connecting both approaches, Luisi takes the reader through the transition to life, from prebiotic chemistry to synthetic biology. This book presents a systematic course discussing the successive stages of self-organization, emergence, self-replication, autopoiesis, synthetic compartments and construction of cellular models, in order to demonstrate the spontaneous increase in complexity from inanimate matter to the first cellular life forms. The theory of autopoiesis leads into the idea of compartments, which is discussed with an emphasis on vesicles and other orderly aggregates. The final chapter uses liposomes and vesicles to explain the synthetic biology of cellular systems, as well as describing attempts to generate minimal cellular life within the laboratory.

Preface; 1. The conceptual framework of the research on the origin of life on Earth; 2. Approaches to the definitions of life; 3. Selection in prebiotic chemistry - why this …and not that?; 4. The bottle neck - macromolecular sequences; 5. Self-organization; 6. Emergence and emergent properties; 7. Self-replication and self-reproduction; 8. Autopoiesis - the logic of cellular life; 9. Compartments; 10. Reactivity and transformation of vesicles; 11. Approaches to the minimal cell; Outlook; Bibliography.

Lupisella, Mark. Cosmocultural Evolution: The Coevolution of Culture and Cosmos and the Creation of Cosmic Value. Steven Dick and Mark Lupisella, eds. Cosmos & Culture: Cultural Evolution in a Cosmic Context. Washington, DC: NASA SP-4802, 2010. A premier chapter in this online volume at http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4802.pdf by the NASA astrobiologist that is one of the best reviews of polar options from a “bio-resistant” universe, the default today, to a waxing sense of an innately fertile conduciveness for emergent life, intelligence, and persons. This approach is taken further, as Paul Davies herein also, to propose a “bootstrapped universe” whereof human cultural knowledge serves, by our conscious witness, to bring such a self-generating creation into full, actual being. As a result, the past centuries of our demotion to utter insignificance is reversed by a “cosmic promotion” of humankind to a rightful place of central, phenomenal importance. This influence can then extend on to “planetary, astrophysical, cosmological, ontological, and metaphysical” realms, in which regard we people are participants in a “self-synthesizing” universal creativity. For more writings, see Lupisella’s succinct paper in Bertka, Constance, ed. Exploring the Origin, Extent, and Future of Life. (Cambridge, 2009).

A potentially helpful distinction in many of these brands of cosmic worldviews is whether culture is in some sense “built-in,” or inherent in the universe, as part of the nature of the universe. On the spectrum shown in Figure 1, the bioresistant, biotolerant, biofriendly, and both weak and strong bootstrapped views would suggest that cultural evolution is not inherent in the nature of the universe, certainly that it is not an inevitable “cosmic imperative.” However, views characterized as teleological, pantheistic, and theistic would likely claim that culture is indeed part of the nature of the universe (i.e., perhaps as part of a trend of evolving self-organizing complex systems) and/or as part of a deeper conceptual metaphysical significance (e.g., spiritual or divine). This distinction is potentially important in that if culture is seen to be a deep manifestation and expected outcome of cosmic evolution, this would engender worldviews in which we are seen to be at home in the universe, to belong to the universe, to be an important part of its fundamental nature. This is a friendly universe, a cosmos in which many will feel a deep sense of comfort and belonging and perhaps a larger sense of objective meaning and purpose—which in turn can have an impact on how intelligent beings think and act in the world and if/how intelligent beings may ultimately influence the evolution of the universe itself. (332)

What we do with the potentially unlimited power of cultural evolution is a profound challenge—one that we face day-to-day on many levels, but that will increasingly be relevant on ever-widening scales as we begin to see ourselves in a long-term cosmic context and as cultural evolution begins to become a more cosmically relevant phenomenon. The forces of morality and creativity can give rise to a morally creative cosmos, a universe that goes beyond intelligence and technology, a universe that is deeply driven by the caring capacity of valuing agents and ultimately by a pervasive cosmic force of moral creativity—something to which all cultural beings might aspire.
Whether one thinks life and culture arose by chance or are instead a part of cosmic design, an argument can be made either way for the value of life, intelligence, and culture. Whether we are a kind of rare cosmic gem, part of a “cosmic fugue,” or perhaps a part of cosmic destiny, there is arguably some form of note¬worthy significance we can claim for life, mind, and culture. Either way, we can see ourselves as precious and meaningful, worth preserving, and worth developing to the greatest potential — for ourselves and the whole of the universe. (348)

Malin, Shimon. Nature Loves to Hide. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Quantum physics, properly understood and with roots in Plato and Plotinus, can finally set aside the Newtonian machine to reveal an organic universe springing from an immaterial source. Alfred North Whitehead’s 20th century philosophy of a dynamic cosmic organism is a further resource for Shimon’s thesis. Through this meld of quantum observership and ancient wisdom, manifest human life gains purpose by its creative contemplation of the universe.

Similarly, at the present time, we live, as Thomas Berry said, “between stories.” With the advent of Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity the Newtonian ideas about space and time were thrown overboard. And with the advent of the quantum theory the Newtonian concept of matter was replaced by a radically different concept. These theories provided physics with new paradigms; they did not, however, provide Western civilization with a comprehensive worldview. (xii)

Do we have a place in the universe? A role to play in the cosmological scheme? If the universe is largely inanimate, clearly the answer is no. If, however, it is alive and multileveled, our consciousness, especially our innate potential to reach high levels of consciousness, may well have a cosmological function….to bring about a relationship between the phenomenal and noumenal levels. (209)

Mandoki, Katya. Everyday Aesthetics. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2007. The Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico, professor of aesthetics, semiotics, and design seeks an artistic, poetic, organic essence that graces our daily personal and social lives. After many chapters to set scenes, a consummate section evokes an holistic aura called “matrixes” as a symbolic universe or cosmic context, rife with fractal networks and self-similarities, for our luminous abide. And most prominent is the Family Matrix, our ultimate humane iconic embrace. May we then consider it fitting, truly appropriate, to offer a Family Cosmos milieu for a procreative genesis uniVerse?

The matrixes, from the Latin “mater” are literally and metaphorically the places where identities are bred, sustained, and cultivated. A matrix is to the collective subject what a body is to the individual subject, namely, its indispensable material and morphological condition. (177) Matrix of all matrixes, the family is unequivocally the origin of culture. From that simple albeit infinitely complex act of procreation a great diversity of matrixes unfold through human history. Within the family matrix emerges ….the first step that takes us from the biome to the culturome. (195)

Marro, Joaquin. Physics, Nature and Society: A Guide to Order and Complexity in Our World. Berlin: Springer, 2014. An international scholar with dual doctorates in statistical and computational physics, presently at Granada University, Spain, seeks to continue and expand the survey of condensed matter physics from its 19th century origins to a 21st century “postmodern” integration with the nonlinear dynamics of living and human systems.

Social systems—defined here as large groups of humans relating with each other—are complex in the sense considered here. But it is surprising that, although these systems comprise apparently free and intelligent elements, certain social behaviour observed may be understood by simply assuming that human interaction is similar to that used to understand inanimate matter. This chapter shows how, in effect, cooperative models that underestimate, even deny individuality, manage to describe significant aspects of social reality. (Abstract, “Interacting Humans” chapter)

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