The origin of this document is in Evolution and Design, 1987 – as a continuation of that essay and as a complement to its approach and emphasis. In the earlier essay, evolution was used as a paradigmatic basis of understanding the world –cosmos and being– and of the nature of understanding and knowledge in general. The basis of Evolution and Design was, to some extent, material and temporal. It was atemporal in that evolution need not be seen as temporal but, instead, a system of explanation from the present. Evolution and Design focused on the material as fundamental but was not exclusive of the mental or of being-as-such. The primary alternatives to the approach described are in Being, Mind and the Absolute and in Being and the Elements of Being [these essays are outdated and replaced by Journey in Being]

This essay continues the move away from the material and the temporal while still focusing on the themes of evolution and design as explanatory. The first version of this essay will outline and comment on the set of themes below

The end result of the move away from the material and the temporal – a process that balances them with being but does not eliminate them – is in Journey in Being. The present essay continues to have interest to me as the continuation of Evolution and Design into the realm of the absolute and as a source for Journey in Being

Document status: June 11, 2003

Maintain: active

Long term: may develop, may incorporate into Journey in Being / Evolution and Design

Intrinsic interest




Life and Mind

Being and Knowing

Evolution and Design

Design: Two Models

The Absolute

Concepts of the Absolute

Some meanings

Historical sources

Evolution, Design and the Absolute

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1           Evolution

Evolution is the set of processes, from origins, that arrive at or produce the world – as it is. Origins refer to an earlier, simpler, state. The earliest, most simple state would be nothing or nothingness

We do not necessarily expect that the processes would be uniform in nature; thus we expect an initial phase of formation of the physical elements that might involve processes are not physical as currently conceived. There would then follow physical, chemical, biological and social evolution. This list is not meant to exhaust the possibilities but is given as an indication. We could, perhaps, include mental and spiritual evolution. Mental evolution may be considered to be part of biological evolution

Evolution as fact is distinct from a theory or mechanism of evolution – or a set of theories and mechanisms. There is an ideal in which there is continuity of explanation – one theory or body of theory or set of mechanisms would explain the facts of evolution

The explanatory mechanism of variation and selection may be such a universal mechanism of evolution from nothingness. It explains large portions of biological evolution and the work of Lee Smolin shows that it may also apply to physical evolution. My own writing [Metaphysics, map of my world] shows how variation and selection may apply to origins from nothing – the origins of causation, of time and space and of physical law. If it seems paradoxical to talk of the origin of time we may replace “time” by “time as we know it” or similar phrase

Evolution as fact and evolutionary modes of explanation. What metaphysics and epistemology can learn from evolution. The path to timeless explanation through evolution

Origins as a source of explanation. There is one and only one universe that extends beyond the known universe in known ways – duration, extension, modes of being… - and in, possibly, unknown ways. Consider that the universe may have originated from some simple state; the simplest such state is that of nothing or nothingness. Is this true? Even if the universe has not originated from such a state, could it have? How would this be shown? From the transactional nature of the universe – only in rationality is there an absolute split? From indeterminism and the co-eval origins of laws and being – being includes laws? From the relative nature of the absolutes that we assign to nature? What can be learnt from common origins? Note that indeterminism does not at all exclude structure: there is a selection effect for stable states. Such stability is relative rather than absolute. Indeterminism is the “mechanism” of change from stable form; selection is the persistence of newer stable forms relative to less stable forms

2           Life and Mind

Organisms as coding of the world

Adaptability as adaptation – the evolution of adaptability; evolution incarnate. Through adaptability, the organism affects its own destiny and evolution of the group. This is a characterization of mind: evolution internalized as part the organism’s own processing and function

Mind as Mind as having origins vs. mind as coeval with being and existence

The origin of mind in the efficiency of modeling [in combination with physical exploration] over mere physical exploration

3           Being and Knowing

Being-Meaning-Action… or entity-relationship-process as fundamental modes

The real meanings of knowledge and truth as essential to the understanding of being and the absolute. The modern meanings are a phase of the real meanings. Taking the latest elaboration or phase as the essence leads to limited concepts, understanding of being and possibilities for being

4           Evolution and Design

Evolution and Design considers relations between “blind” and conscious evolution… and origins of conscious evolution in mechanism

For detailed considerations see Evolution and Design, 1987

Design vs. mechanism. Design and mind. Design as having origins. The potential of design, even though origins are local, to pervade the universe: a catalytic or phase change

The origin of knowledge and design in the elaboration of process as action: feeling – will – knowledge – design – action

5           Design: Two Models

Linear models are of the type:

Awareness of needs - define problemsynthesize general or conceptual solution, specify solution parameters – analyze and optimizeevaluateimplement; repeat

Some further elements in complex, social or large scale projects: acceptance of the problem or consensus; information gathering; communication including persuasion. Finally, review of impact – reusable elements of design, contribution to general knowledge – science, technology and other disciplines; social and environmental impact; implications for policysocial, economic, political, technology

Priority models are multilevel models based in the elements of Linear design:

[Evolved intellect includes informal design from the nature of the function of intellect. Formal design, i.e., the manipulation of design follows closely.]

Design elements: e.g., the elements of the linear model

Value and priority elements:

Allocating resources for design

Priorities: selecting and acting upon element[s] of current focus; includes design and second order elements; may be formalized with especial distinction between design and second order elements; default: linear design

Reviewing the nature of design, the elements – first and second order

Learning [feedback] and branching are automatically included

6           The Absolute

A variety of meanings of the absolute; relationships among the meanings – the meanings of the absolute are elaborated in a number of documents. Timeless. Living in the here-now. Accepting a limit is the first step to overcoming; the absolute does not begin at an infinite place or time but here-now “I am here in this mountain meadow; here and now begins my universe…” The whole picture: integration over all time and space – extension and duration or change are more fundamental than space and time

The being that is and knows all; the meaning of this depends on the meaning of “is” and “knows.” Relation of the absolute to perception. There is a timeless “is” and a flowing “knows” that allows for the immediate, as in the previous paragraph, to be absolute… and, perhaps, identical, even, to the temporal, and critical meanings the “all” and the infinite as determinate

Some other words: atemporal, all, one, infinite, and eternal

Opposition to the characteristics of Evolution. Beyond, containing evolution

Sources for the absolute include the literature; Being, Mind and the Absolute and Being and the Elements of Being: First Local Edition:

Concepts of the Absolute

The Absolute has meanings in logic, ethics and aesthetics… here I am concerned with the real or metaphysical meaning

Some meanings

That which does not express relationship e.g. “Plato” but not “teacher;” intrinsic, perfect vs. comparative; real vs. appearance; not subject to conditions or reservations

In philosophy and metaphysics: that which is independent of or unconditioned and unconstrained by anything else – self-sufficient, fundamental, ultimate; the autonomous; primordial, uncaused – at once cause and no cause; substance; necessary truth; that which permits meaning and its continuity

Substance whose necessary mechanisms and transformations produce the world – is there a role for combinatorial growth; substance is undifferentiated or minimally differentiated, enduring, not transmutable in its intrinsic nature but variable in its forms

Absolute being: has no being, no essence, and no quality but is the source of all being, essence and quality; for whom originating the world is not an effort or an action

The absolute has no being, no essence, no quality but is the source of all being, essence and quality. God as eternal, as cause, as creator is absolute…

Historical sources

The idea of the absolute is present in Plato and the idea and the term in Aquinas, Benedict Spinoza, Bruno… its vogue is due to the German Idealists – Fichte, Schelling, Hegel…

Patristic and scholastic Christianity: the creator God, the Ens Realissimum, Ens Perfectissimum, Sui Causa, and the god of mysticism generally – Erigena, Hugo of St. Victor, Cusa, Boehme, Bruno

Ens – being in its most general sense, with least possible qualification and determination

Sui Causa – self-creation, causing itself

Nicholas of Cusa: referred to God as “the absolute”

Spinoza described substance as absolutely infinite “self-existing, independent, unconditional ground of all that exists” in contrast with its ultimate attributes which are each infinite in their kind

Vaihinger – the ultimate fiction | Hamilton, Spencer – the unknown… the unconditioned, therefore unknowable real

Kant – unknowable… the Ideas of reason seek both the absolute totality of conditions and their absolutely unconditioned ground

Theists – God; pantheists – universe

Schopenhauer – will | Bergson – life force characterized by creative evolution | Fecher – consciousness | Bradley – experience | Joel – the potential of all that is real | Lotze and Royce – self-conscious personality | Alexander – space time matrix of all reality | Fichte – the Ground of the Real is the Absolute Ego

Schelling – primordial World Ground, unity behind all logical and ontological oppositions, self-differentiating source of both Mind and Nature

Hegel – universal spirit, which by dialectic process takes on one predicate after another until it manifests itself as an objective world in perfect harmony with reason

India: Atman [Self] and Brahman [Real] … and many others which are identical to the western ideas

Primal being has existential answers… negated in the delusions of modernism which is the opposite of magic i.e. the absolute separation of word and object

Science: universe = nothing

Vivekananda – the eternal religion behind all religions, recognizes the Absolute as a state of pure consciousness identical with the true self without a second

7           Evolution, Design and the Absolute

Change vs. constancy or temporality vs. timelessness. In the sense that a temporally indeterministic universe –the future evolution is not determined by the present state– may visit all possible states, the universe is given or deterministic

An outline: Origins, Knowledge, Design, Evolution, Philosophy, Dynamics, Experience, Action and Learning, The Absolute, Destiny

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ANIL MITRA PHD, COPYRIGHT © 2001 AND REVISED Wednesday, June 11, 2003 11:56:04 PM