TED Conversations

Shaun Johnston

This conversation is closed.

Humanities approach to evolution

I believe evolution is the greatest discovery of all time, but in 200 years we've drawn from it almost no wisdom about ourselves at all. What's stopping us? I propose we start searching for that wisdom all over again.

Creationism is not the primary alternative to Darwinism. The primary traditional alternatives have been various combinations of mind and creativity. Alternatives like those help us make more sense of what it means we evolved. I am developing such a combination, supposing mind and creativity to have evolved into the genome, the genome then building them into us. The result is a discourse suited to creatives and members of the humanities, for whom Darwinism, and hence us having evolved, is mostly irrelevant.

Given we're unlikely to have already in hand all the concepts we need to understand something as revolutionary as having evolved, a mere discourse based on new principles may be invaluable for devising crucial paradoxes and questions.

I have written five books on the impact of evolutionary theory on our sense of self, and a play, "What it means we evolved". Would my concerns fit into any program you have in mind? I live in the mid Hudson Valley. The play I perform myself but at 90 minutes it's too long for your format.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jul 5 2013: I assume that the intent and purpose of Darwin's theory of Evolution is to explain some, or all, of the mechanisms and processes which brought about and control the ongoing development of all life on Earth. That being true I wish to understand your statement, QUOTE: "Creationism is not the primary alternative to Darwinism. The primary traditional alternatives have been various combinations of mind and creativity. ". I assume we agree that Humanities is not Science, and Science is not Humanities, as demonstrated by the existence of the Scientific Method, and the absence of any such rigid control process in the Humanities. Is your dismissal of Creationism based upon your expertise in the Humanities?
    • Jul 5 2013: There is no justification for assuming today's science is complete, its reach is always subject to its methods, apparatus and concepts. Therefore it can be an error to assume we have all the concepts needed to comprehend the mechanics of evolution. My experience of having consciousness and free will testifies to realities outside the reach of today's physics. That physics is not qualified to reserve for itself study of a process such as evolution that can generate creatures with the experience of being conscious and having free will. Religion has no concern for a process not involving its own doctrines. All that is left, the "disciplines" of the humanities, and individual exploration. And all that we have to work with is existing concepts such as mind and creativity, or design, and study of nature. We may use these to arrive at paradoxes and questions alerting us to the concepts still needed. Letting one's view be bounded by an inadequate science l see as worse than ignorance.
      • thumb
        Jul 5 2013: Good response Shaun, thank you. So, you do believe the Humanities have "disciplines", and you do dismiss Creationism on the basis of what you have learned by studying the Humanities? Good point that some things are worse than ignorance. In fact, there is a way to view ignorance as a positive thing, a wealth of opportunity to LEARN the truth!
        • Jul 5 2013: By error I posted a reply to you at the top level, see main thread. But I want to add, I am puzzled to find creationists reading posts on evolution. Is your concern primarily to look for opportunities to support the creationist point of view, curiosity about alternatives, interest in general trends, or...? Some of the most tolerant, well-informed commentators on evolution I've come across have been creationists. But at bottom we've had no common interest.
      • thumb
        Jul 6 2013: RE: "By error I posted. . ." You being puzzled by a Creationist showing interest in a conversation about evolution makes me think you advocate limiting one's intellectual pursuits strictly to what is in harmony with one's own beliefs. That is neither scientific nor logical. Is that really your modus operandii? Is that how you arrived at the conclusion that Creationism is unworthy of your attention?Asking a Humanities expert to explain evolution is not a good idea.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.