Ken Wilber on Evolution

I am not alone is seeing that chance and natural selection by themselves are not enough to account for the emergence that we see in evolution. Stuart Kaufman [sic] and many others have criticized mere change and natural selection as not adequate to account for this emergence (he sees the necessity of adding self-organization). Of course I understand that natural selection is not acting on mere randomness or chance—because natural selection saves previous selections, and this reduces dramatically the probability that higher, adequate forms will emerge. But even that is not enough, in my opinion, to account for the remarkable emergence of some of the extraordinarily complex forms that nature has produced. After all, from the big bang and dirt to the poems of William Shakespeare is quite a distance, and many philosophers of science agree that mere chance and selection are just not adequate to account for these remarkable emergences. The universe is slightly tilted toward self-organizing processes, and these processes—as Prigogine was the first to elaborate—escape present-level turmoil by jumping to higher levels of self-organization, and I see that “pressure” as operating throughout the physiosphere, the biosphere, and the noosphere. And that is what I metaphorically mean when I use the example of a wing (or elsewhere, the example of an eyeball) to indicate the remarkableness of increasing emergence. But I don’t mean that as a specific model or actual example of how biological emergence works! Natural selection carries forth previous individual mutations—but again that just isn’t enough to account for creative emergence (or what Whitehead called “the creative advance into novelty,” which, according to Whitehead, is the fundamental nature of this manifest universe).

— Ken Wilber, “Re: Some Criticisms of My Understanding of Evolution”

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