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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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Genesis Vision
Learning Planet
Organic Universe
Earth Life Emerge
Genesis Future
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II. Pedia Sapiens: A Planetary Progeny Comes to Her/His Own Actual Factual Knowledge

4. Whole World Philosophy: An Ubuntu Universe

Gilbert, Bruce. The Vitality of Contradiction: Hegel, Politics and the Dialectic of Liberal-Capitalism. Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press, 2013. A Bishop’s University, Quebec, philosopher finds it still worthwhile to turn to Gregor Hegel (1770-1831) for a 21st century guidance. We cite because indeed it is, for as one peruses the academic text a perennial essence can be gleaned. Beyond an inapt title and arcane terms, from his milieu three centuries ago the self-existence of a greater dialectical reality of which everything and everyone is a phenomenal manifestation was a given assumption. As it must be, but a philosophy which has now been abandoned and dismissed in our dire day. As portals and versions through time try to evoke, there is indeed a bipartite, complementary principle at the heart of procreation and wisdom which we need to soon recover anew.

Grayling, A. C.. The History of Philosophy. New York: Penguin, 2019. The Oxford University prolific polyscholar achieves a 600 page treatise in five parts: Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance, Modern, Twentieth Century, and Indian, Chinese, Arabic-Persian and African Philosophy. A good read with pithy erudition on each page, but we make note for another reason. As one views these sections, and the long index, every name cited back to Greece is male, about 1,000 in all. Two women I found were Hannah Arendt and Simone de Beauvior, with feminist thought meriting only 3 pages. This fact that homo to Anthropo scholarship or its semblance has been wildly skewed to men only must be implicated in their inability to gain any essential knowledge over the centuries. In order to cover, it is decided that there is nothing to be enlightened about (Steven Pinker). The verdict today from Brian Greene, Yuval Harari and others, with William James and Bertrand Russell before, is a categorical denial of any extant, sensible reality.

Grenz, Stanley. A Primer for Postmodernism. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996. Readable survey of its rejection of rational, objective modernity in favor of a plural, ever-changing, culturally relative world but which tends to exclude any discernible metanarrative or knowable reality.

Harris, Errol. Cosmos and Anthropos. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1991. Noted more in Current Vistas, Harris’ life work is a rare philosophical interpretation of an inherently self-organizing, spiritual oriented genesis.

Harrison, Peter and Ian Hesketh. Introduction: Evolution and Historical Explanation. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Online January, 2016. The University of Queensland historians are guest editors for a collection from two events, Contingency and Order in History and the Sciences, August 2013, and Evolution and Historical Explanation: Contingency, Convergence, and Teleology, July 2014, both at Oxford University. As the quote alludes, this ultimate question from Darwin’s day to the 2010s of to be or not to be remains a central, unresolved issue. Does life evolve by vicarious chance whence creatures appear with no cause or aim, or is there, must there be an intrinsic, oriented guidance. In his own paper (Abstract below), Harrison delineates a historical biology or lawful physics approach and refers to Thomas Nagel who avers that the simple fact people exist at all demands we must be written in. But the presentations often belie their authors predilection. While Michael Ruse and Daniel McShea may discount, entries by Nancy Cartwright, Allen Megill, and David Sepkoski reviewed both sides over the years. Simon Conway Morris and George McGhee gave new evidence of progressive emergence due to life’s persistence constraints and convergence. But each speaker has a puzzle piece, any resolution by an evolutionary transition to a humankinder coming to her/his own knowledge is not yet admitted.

Simon Conway Morris provides the final article in this special issue. Conway Morris has been one of the central figures in discussions about contingency in evolution. Remarkably, though, he has arrived at a completely different interpretation of evolutionary history to that proposed by (Stephen Jay) Gould. As noted at the outset, Gould emphasized the contingency of evolutionary pathways, insisting that life could have turned out very differently. Conway Morris has maintained to the contrary that evolution will navigate time and time again to similar solutions. The ubiquitous phenomenon of evolutionary convergence, as also argued in George McGhee’s article, provides us with evidence that evolution is tightly constrained and that the emergence of sentience on earth was written indelibly into the very possibilities that gave rise to life. For Gould, the probability of a humane like intelligence evolving was ‘vanishingly small’; for Conway Morris it was ‘a near inevitability’. It follows that human beings need not necessarily be thought of as accidental end products of a process that did not have them in mind. (6)

There is a long-standing distinction in Western thought between scientific and historical modes of explanation. According to Aristotle's influential account of scientific knowledge there cannot be an explanatory science of what is contingent and accidental, such things being the purview of a descriptive history. This distinction between scientia and historia continued to inform assumptions about scientific explanation into the nineteenth century and is particularly significant when considering the emergence of biology and its displacement of the more traditional discipline of natural history. One of the consequences of this nineteenth-century transition was that while modern evolutionary theory retained significant, if often implicit, historical components, these were often overlooked as evolutionary biology sought to accommodate itself to a model of scientific explanation that involved appeals to laws of nature. These scientific aspirations of evolutionary biology sometimes sit uncomfortably with its historical dimension. This tension lies beneath recent philosophical critiques of evolutionary theory and its modes of explanation. (Harrison Abstract)

Heylighen, Francis, et al. Complexity and Philosophy. www.uk.arxiv.org/abs/cs.CC/0604072. A working paper from the Evolution, Complexity and Cognition Group, ECCO, at the Free University of Brussels, (can be reached via Google) on the need for philosophical reflection on the novel holistic, fluid views and project of nonlinear science.

The science of complexity is based on a new way of thinking that stands in sharp contrast to the philosophy underlying Newtonian science, which is based on reductionism, determinism, and objective knowledge….Its central paradigm is the multi-agent system. Agents are intrinsically subjective and uncertain about their environment and future, but out of their local interactions, a global organization emerges. (Paper abstract)

Our research focuses on the evolution of organization: How does a collection of initially autonomous, but interacting, agents self-organize? How does it evolve to an increasingly cooperative, adaptive and intelligent system, able to tackle problems too complex for individual agents? (ECCO home page)

Johnston, John. The Allure of Machinic Life. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2008. An Emory University humanities professor delves into the “machinic” realm as …forms of nascent life that have been made to emerge in and through technical interactions in human-constructed environments. We note the work here as an instance today of how philosophical themes of a mechanical nature, a postmodernism accepted without question, along with nonlinear complexities, can entangle and intertwine yet ever sans an inkling of plan or purpose. Along the way, the author does provide a concise tour of cybernetics, autopoiesis, cellular automata, digital life, autonomous agents, and so on, with a take on Darwinian evolution soon to be revised by its self-organizing dynamics.

In these terms the contradiction between self-organization and natural selection appears to be resolved. If complex dynamical systems with the capacity to self-organize are widespread throughout the natural world, then the outcome of evolutionary processes would not be a simple matter of “chance and necessity,” as Jacques Monod famously put it. Rather, spontaneous tendencies to self-organize and produce order for free would introduce another determining factor in the evolutionary process, one that Darwin could not have foreseen. (226)

Kahn, Jennifer. The Man Who Turned the World On to the Genius of Fungi. New York Times. June 6, 2023. A human interest essay which n most part is a warm acquaintance with Merlin Sheldrake, the Cambridge University biologist author of the award winning volume Entangled Life (2021, search). But in so doing, his especial British family and naturalist countryside receives a grand appreciation. Merlin is the 33 year old son of Rupert Sheldrake, now 80 years, who also has a Cambridge doctorate and best known for his organic Morphic Resonance milieu that is exemplified by forest flora. In 1980, Rupert returned from India and met Jill Purce who was an operatic artist and author of The Mystic Spiral. I heard Rupert speak then at Harvard as a welcome but suspect sensitivity beyond accidental mechanism, which his sons Merlin and Cosmo continue to enhance four decades on. See below an affinity with Alfred North Whitehead’s organic philosophy a century earlier.

(Merlin) Sheldrake’s own quest is both dreamier and more ambitious — to make us see the world, and our place in it, differently. There’s a yearning that runs through “Entangled Life,” a desire to merge with these alien lives that explore the world with millions of tendrils, each of which functions, simultaneously, as an independent brain, mouth and sensory organ. We imagine ourselves to be individuals, Sheldrake observes, when we are in fact communities, our bodies so thoroughly inhabited by, and dependent on, microbes that the very concept of individuality begins to seem bizarre. Why do we think of a “self” when it’s more accurate to identify ourselves as a walking ecosystem?

Shortly before my visit, Sheldrake flew to California for a conference (ctr4process.org/50years) on the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. Whitehead was what’s known as a process relational philosopher: He believed that reality is more about interactions than objects. He also believed that everything in the universe — people, cats, planets, atoms, electrons — can “experience” existence. “I have a lot of time for Whitehead’s views,” Sheldrake told me later. “He saw the whole universe as an organism, with organisms living within organisms living within organisms.” He recently began collaborating with the Whiteheadian philosopher Matt Segall to study “ways fungi might help us to think through different philosophical possibilities.”

Karenga, Maulana. MAAT: The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt: A Study in Classical African Ethics. New York: Routledge, 2004. From his extensive Wikipedia biography, the author is chair of Africana Studies at California State University, initiator of the pan-African holiday of Kwanzaa, and a veteran social activist. We include four quotes for the edition is an astute integration not only of African wisdom, but its affinity to a wide range of companion cultures. From our global 21st century, a scholar can access an expanse of knowledge not possible before of how perennial traditions, as they seek to express one encompassing creation in their certain way, converge on the same vision and source. If to broach a common capsule, an abiding organic cosmos is paternal and maternal in nature, life’s evolutionary genesis is an development gestation. At once static and dynamic, human persons are exemplary sons and daughters. This gender complementarity and familial trinity, which repeats in kind from universe to human, is its iconic soul secret.

The northern Africa corpus is akin to the Zulu concept of ubuntu, whence a relational reciprocity between person, community, and bioplanet can accrue. Maat, while an ethical teaching, conveys an immaterial generative spiritual agency. We are moved, if we may, to broach a modern “Maathematics” which would be genetic in its biological, algorithmic procreativity. And how tragic is it that many centuries later, a mechanical ignorance rife with weaponry has swept away, denies, and forbids these ageless moralities, with such cradle civilizations engulfed by internecine conflict. Search herein for Egypt: Ancient History of African Philosophy by Theophile Obenga and Facing South to Africa by Molefi Kete Asante. See also The Sage Learning of Liu Zhu: Islamic Thought in Confucian Terms (Murata, 2009) for a similar volume.

Given this, in its essential meaning, Maat is rightness in the spiritual and moral sense in three realms: the Divine, the natural and the social. In its expansive sense, Maat is an interrelated order of rightness which requires and is the result of right relations with and right behavior towards the Divine, nature and other humans. As moral thought and practice, Maat is a way of rightness defined especially by the practice of the Seven Cardinal Virtues of truth, justice, propriety, harmony, balance, reciprocity and order. Finally, as a foundation and framework for the moral ideal and its practice, Maat is the constantly achieved condition and requirements for the ideal world, society and person. (10)

Likewise, in spite of the obvious differences among Indian, Chinese and ancient Persian philosophy, as well as the differences among Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist thought, they are generally called Asian philosophy. And as Tu Weiming states, it is based on the notion of “shared orientations.” Therefore, to say African philosophy is to assume certain shared orientations based on similar cultural experiences. Among these shared orientations are: centrality of community, respect for tradition, high level spirituality and ethical concern, harmony with nature, the concept of the sociality of selfhood, veneration of ancestors, and the concept of the continuity of being. (27)

In fact, Kemetic theology contains such conception which, in an important way, are contributive to the more equal conceptions of and relations between male and female. In this theology, the Creator in his name of Atam contains both female and male principles as an expression of his name and essence – completeness. It is merely convention to say “he” when speaking of the Creator, for in reality s/he is neither male nor female, neither dual nor androgynous. Rather s/he is an expression of “the fullness and completeness in which the masculine and the feminine principles are combined into one unity in order to express the singleness and wholeness of the creative force.” (344) It is this central ideal which expresses itself in concepts of male/female complementarity throughout the literature, a complementarity of equality and shared responsibility in society and the world. (344)

A second central question in this theological analysis of the moral status of women is the status of women in the creation process and in Maatian anthropology. That is to say, are women in any way derivative, secondary or less in the image of God? In other words, is Maatian anthropology divided into two spheres – male and female – or is a single anthropology for both? Again, there is no division between female and male in Maatian anthropology. Unlike in Genesis 2.33, there is no separate and derivative origin of woman, no “rib theory” which marks an initial marginalized conception and resultant status for women as the subordinate other. (346)

Kebede, Messay. Africa’s Quest for a Philosophy of Decolonization. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004. An Ethiopian philosopher now at the University of Dayton provides a broad review of how intellectuals have sought to distinguish a uniquely African worldview. Drawing especially on the writings of Leopold Senghor, former president of Senegal, a “complementarity” is noted between European “rationality” and the emotional and mythic qualities of African “negritude.” Rather than outward “sign,” a deeper reality is sensed and known by intuitive perception. At a time when Africa suffers so from an imbroglio of colonial abuses, militarist corruption and stressed environments, when most aid goes to waste, an appreciation of intrinsic South/North complements might inform a rehabilitation of the village milieu that sustained its civilization for so long. Also noted in Part VI: The Complementarity of Civilizations.

Keller, Catherine and Anne Daniell, eds. Process and Difference. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002. A volume in the SUNY series in Constructive Postmodern Thought initiated by David Ray Griffin, the book explores convergences between the organic cosmic philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead and the discursive fluidity of poststructuralism. In so doing, it attempts to reconcile a pervasive relationality with an intrinsic spontaneity.

Keller, David, ed. Environmental Ethics: The Big Questions. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. We include this volume not for itself but to illustrate the state of philosophical thinking in the 21st century. For there isn’t any. Not only has the humanist Renaissance, Enlightenment project to understand a discernible creation been abandoned, the very idea now seems unthinkable. A sample section might be “Environmental Metaethics: The Axiology of Nature,” which means a study of “values.” But it is never recognized that how can there be any, if no greater reality or basis exists. This work is from the publisher’s “Big Questions” series, typical titles are Metaphysics or Epistemology. Wiley-Blackwell (search for Philosophy) publishes hundreds of such works, which seem caught up in academic jargon sans any permitted sense of an encompassing cosmos to provide a modicum of guidance.

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