Evolutionary Flow

Alan Rayner
Alan Rayner

Evolutionary ecologist, painter, author, and poet

Nature is not selective

She fluidly includes all possibilities

Man is selective

And, to be so,

He rigidly constructs

Hard lines, boxes and pyramids

Which should we pay attention to?

(with appreciation of Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost)

Let’s try to get this clear in our minds from now on. Life evolves as a variably constrained flow of energy in variable spatial and energetic context, NOT as the result of a competition to fit into a box of predestination.

This is the insight that comes from an awareness of what I call ‘natural inclusion’: the mutual inclusion of space and energy in receptive-responsive relationship within all material bodies.

The way was opened for this insight by the meticulous observations of Charles Darwin, amongst others, who came to recognise the common ancestry and corresponding evolutionary kinship of all the diverse forms of biological life on Earth. This recognition gave rise to and was supported by the biochemical, genetic and molecular biological revolutions of the twentieth century. It truly is to be celebrated.

The explanation provided for this evolutionary kinship by Darwin and his followers to this day was, however, anchored in a logical premise dating back to ancient times and resulting from a partial view of reality. This view excludes the observer as a ‘spectator’ from what is observed externally as a set of spatially and temporally isolated ‘objects’ within an imaginary box-frame of three-dimensional space. This abstract exclusion of the observer from an imaginary box frame, and associated isolation of material form from spatial surround is deeply embedded in the foundations of objective scientific methodology and conventional mathematics, as may be clear from the following quotes:

“A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections — a mere heart of stone”

Charles Darwin

“The environment is everything that isn’t me”

Albert Einstein

Darwin himself described his resulting abstract concept of ‘natural selection’ as ‘the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life’. It is a very clear product of ‘box-logic’ and is neither consistent with our actual sensory experience of reality (which isn’t confined within a box) nor is it capable of making consistent natural sense (it engenders profound paradox). Its effect on the way we understand life, environment and people is dire — a cause of psychological, social and environmental harm and conflict that is all too evident in our recent history and current culture. It truly is NOT something to be celebrated, but rather something we desperately need to get over and recover from.

Awareness of ‘natural inclusion’ arises from a more comprehensive perception of Nature, which combines the view from inside-outwards with the view from outside-inwards over a sufficient interval to perceive and infer the flow of energy both within space and around local centres of space that is essential to the formation of all material bodies. With this awareness, we can recognise that ‘evolution’ and ‘the flow of life’ are synonymous. No imaginary ‘box’ is required for more than map-making purposes.

Further Reading:

Rayner, A.D. (2011). Space Cannot Be Cut—Why Self-Identity Naturally Includes Neighbourhood. Integrative Psychological and Behavioural Science, 45, 161–184. Rayner ADM (2011). NaturesScope: Unlocking our natural empathy and creativity. Winchester, UK; Washington USA: O Books. Rayner, A. (2012). What are natural systems, actually? Advances in System Science and Application 12, 328–347. Rayner, A (2017). The Origin of Life Patterns: In the Natural Inclusion of Space in Flux. Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer. Rayner, A (2018). The Vitality of the Intangible: crossing the threshold from abstract materialism to natural reality. Human Arenas 1 pp 9–20.

Rayner, A (2020). From Abstract Freeze-Frame to Natural Kinship

Rayner, A (2020).  Cold & Warm Geometry

Rayner, A (2020). The Natural Inclusion of Difference

Rayner, A (2020). Simplicity & Entanglement Rayner, A (2020). Permafrost & Fertile Ground Rayner, A (2020). Beyond Objectification

Postscript (added 17/02/2022)

Evolutionary Playtime (An Alternative Commentary for ‘the Green Planet’) Life evolves in response To the call To come out and play In the great openness Where opportunity abounds For imagination to run riot Dancing in moonlight and sunbeams Bathing in freshwater and sea Tunnelling through earth Flying in air Fired up by free spirit Called soulfully from within Those dynamic envelopes That give living form The chance to thrive Not merely survive In myriad expressions Fed, Not pressured, From outside But variably constrained Yearning and expanding from inside Into flowing movement Like a river that both shapes And is shaped by landscape In reciprocal relationship Creating and following Paths of least resistance Between source and outlet Neither opposing nor subservient To its neighbourhood Not in military confrontation Nor seeking victory But gathering in, conserving, exploring and redistributing With ergonomic proficiency In tune with circumstances . An evolutionary lesson That human abstraction Has yet to learn As it surveys the scene With objective detachment And jumps to concluding That life is a battlefield Projecting its own enmity On those it views through a camera lens Then complains bitterly About its own species’ ignorance In wrecking its habitat For the sake of monopoly Not sharing with care In the consonance and dissonance That together co-create This vibrant world

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