Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Object and divine function

I have recently come across a good blog post on 13.7 about evolution, novelty, and emergence that reminds me of Meillassoux's Hyperchaos; in the sense that the Hyperchaos, being necessarily radically contingent, may serve as a mode of *empowerment* for objects within an ecological nexus by permitting the forming of "adjacent possible empty niches"(and so the Hyperchaos thus becomes another element in my system, possibly the third and final along with object and function).  

In the context of the article, which I copy in part below, ecology and theology continue to intertwine more tightly, as I see it.  The best line, I think, is this:  "We are enabled, but do not know what we enable."  It really captures that sense of Meillassouxian radical contingency, as it does that sense of Whiteheadian creative advance and novelty, both applicable to ecology and theology.  Note too in the post a link to another good 13.7 post on "enablement and radical emergence."

"The Worlds We Mutually Make"

Credit: 13.7, link HERE

Is all that happens in the universe logically entailed by means of Newton's mode of reason? Do differential equations of motion, initial conditions, boundary conditions, followed by integration — that is deduction, entailment — define our lives? ...

Darwin had part of the answer in his theory of evolution by natural selection. The winners will win. But selection acts at the level of the "whole" organism. Recall Kant said, roughly, that "In an Organized being the parts exist for and by means of the whole and the whole for and by means of the parts." Organisms, cells and us, are Kantian wholes. Selection operates at the level of the Kantian wholes.
Then the question is this: How do we Kantian wholes make — co-create — our worlds together? Stunningly, the evolving biosphere, without any selection at all, makes new "adjacent possible empty niches" — such as the swim bladder, evolved by Darwinian pre-adaptation from the lungs of lung fish. The swim bladders can become a new niche, a new possible direction of evolution. Worms may evolve to live in them. But, no selection acted to create these new niches. Stunningly, the biosphere actually creates its own future possibilities of becoming! This "enablement and radical emergence" is our co-creation of our worlds.
We live far from pure entailment. Because we cannot know even what can happen in the evolution of the biosphere, economy and cultural evolution, we live beyond command and control of nature and ourselves. We are enabled, but do not know what we enable.
What will we wisely do with this empowerment that knows not its consequences?