VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies
7. Systems History: Personal and Planetary Individuation
Von Franz, Marie-Louise. Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche. Boston: Shambhala, 1997. An esteemed protege of Carl Jung envisions an historic manifestation of the Cosmic Person.
But whether today, now that we are at the end of at least five thousand years of the development of consciousness, we must take a step backward into a primal barbaric state, or whether the Self of humanity will evolve further in the consciousness of the individual, I do not know. The only thing that seems sure is that today this archetype is trying to manifest in many individuals, and that now everything depends on how many of them will be able to understand this occurrence consciously and will undertake efforts for their own individuation, that is for the liberation of the homo altus, the greater inner person. (153)
Watson, Peter. The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. This 700+ page book sees its overarching theme as the convergence of disparate scientific and psychological disciplines into a single but ambiguous cosmic and earthly evolutionary scenario. At century end, a new fractal complexity promises to set aside a sterile physics and reveal a deep living order. But a dissonance remains within the subjective humanities, which have somewhat been on the sidelines. Again almost every person Watson chronicles is male. A 21st century resolve begs a reunion of gender and cultural complements.
Can There be a Quantitative Theory for the History of Life and Science?
Cliodynamics: Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History.
The LANL physicist philosopher has worked over some years with ecologists James Brown and Brian Enquist to discern the presence of self-organizing, scale-invariant, network principles across multi-level complex biological and social systems. Lately, with Luis Bettencourt and colleagues, the project has moved on to discern their continuity with human settlements from hamlets to a metropolis. An extension is broached of such “generic, mathematical properties” to a grand sweep of history and evolution, so as to again unite physics and life via a creative universality.
Wright, Robert. Nonzero. New York: Pantheon, 2000. A well-researched argument for a consistent evolutionary penchant for cooperation among entities whence all benefit, rather than the popular view of zero-sum, win/lose competition. With this insight, biological development and human history attain a directional trend toward self-awareness and sociality, along with immense responsibilities.
In this view, the entire 3-billion year evolution of plants and animals is a process of epigenesis, the unfolding of a single organism. And that single organism isn’t really the human species, but rather the whole biosphere, encompassing all species. The human species - not to belittle the job - is just the biosphere’s maturing brain….Just as an organism’s brain, upon maturing, has stewardship of the body, the human species has now been given - for good or ill - stewardship of the biosphere. (316)