The history of philosophy has been studied as if it were a long discussion between participants of differing opinions living in different ages, but all in the same world. Though Heraclitus and Descartes can no longer respond to new questions or current attacks on their positions, nevertheless, to the degree that we are all human, and all live in the same world, such questions and attacks are reasonably fair. Until recently. In the last 50 years, the significance of the qualifier "to the degree that" has changed radically. What if it turns out that, as far as living in the same world goes, we today actually have very little in common with Heraclitus, or even Descartes? Then we are attempting to carry on discussions with participants who are not our contemporaries, and the world they were speculating about is not the same world we today are speculating about. Then the nature of the discussion - the history of philosophy - takes on a very different character. Philosophy and the Evolution of Consciousness takes talk of "alternative conceptual schemes" current in philosophy today and applies it in the very place most likely to warrant the change: the history of philosophy itself.
This volume provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the emerging concept of the evolution of consciousness. It presents an overarching model that moves us to a new level of meaning and understanding of our place in the world.
From the alpha to the omega, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin offers an evolution-of-consciousness paradigm of the universe and a triumphant vision of humankind and its future. Guided by a creative process that motivated Teilhard, Vincent Frank Bedogne aims to unite matter with consciousness, science with spirituality. He looks beyond Darwin and the big bang; beyond traditional ideas of God, religion, and the human role in existence. As he does, we realize that the universe is crossing the most profound threshold in its evolution since the dawn of reflective thought a thousand lifetimes ago; and, like the threshold to reflection, this blossom of transcendence is unfolding within us. The book philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin would have written had he lived another fifty years.
When Alice stepped through the looking-glass, she encountered a peculiar world where she meets animated chess pieces, characters from nursery rhymes, and talking animals. Everything there is inside out and upside down: so it is with consciousness. Reflecting on the inception of consciousness, it is natural to suppose that there are just two alternatives. Either consciousness appeared in living beings suddenly, like a light switch turning on, or it appeared gradually, like the biological development of life itself, through borderline cases which became the collective experience over time. For the former theory, consciousness is an on/off matter, but once it was there it became richer over time, like a beam of light becoming brighter and broader in its sweep. For the latter theory this is not the case, and there are shades of grey in how consciousness develops. Unfortunately, both alternatives face deep problems. The solution to these problems lies in the realization, strange as it may be, that a key element of consciousness itself was always here, as a fundamental feature of micro-reality. Varying conscious states were not, however: they appeared gradually. In Vagueness and the Evolution of Consciousness, Michael Tye addresses the questions that this raises. Where in the brain is consciousness located? How can consciousness be casually efficacious with respect to behaviour? What is the extent of consciousness in the animal world? How can all of this be so?
In recent years, the relation between contemporary academic philosophy and evolutionary theory has become ever more active, multifaceted, and productive. The connection is a bustling two-way street. In one direction, philosophers of biology make significant contributions to theoretical discussions about the nature of evolution (such as "What is a species?"; "What is reproductive fitness?"; "Does selection operate primarily on genes?"; and "What is an evolutionary function?"). In the other direction, a broader group of philosophers appeal to Darwinian selection in an attempt to illuminate traditional philosophical puzzles (such as "How could a brain-state have representational content?"; "Are moral judgments justified?"; "Why do we enjoy fiction?"; and "Are humans invariably selfish?"). In grappling with these questions, this interdisciplinary collection includes cutting-edge examples from both directions of traffic. The thirty contributions, written exclusively for this volume, are divided into six sections: The Nature of Selection; Evolution and Information; Human Nature; Evolution and Mind; Evolution and Ethics; and Evolution, Aesthetics, and Art. Many of the contributing philosophers and psychologists are international leaders in their fields.
The two dominant theories of consciousness argue it appeared in living beings either suddenly, or gradually. Both theories face problems. The solution is the realization that a foundational consciousness was always here, yet varying conscious states were not, and appeared gradually. Michael Tye explores this idea and the key questions it raises.
This volume is a newly revised and updated edition of Evolution and Consciousness (Brill, 2019) and provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to the emerging concept of the evolution of consciousness. It presents an overarching model that moves us to a new level of meaning and understanding of our place in the world.
Contributors to this volume include Robert Bellah, Raimundo Panikkar, Susan Griffin, Robert C. Solomon, Hubert L. Dreyfus and Stuart D. Dreyfus, Francisco J. Varela, Steven Rockefeller, Bruce Wilshire, Huston Smith, Joanne Ciulla, Michael Murphy, Tyrone Cashman, Naomi Scheman, Don Hanlon Johnson, Robert A. McDermott, Roger Walsh, and David Appelbaum.