Monday, August 24, 2009

David Loye - The Evolutionary Outrider

This is an interesting new article from the Integral Leadership Review.

The Evolutionary Outrider
David Loye

david loye

In The Evolutionary Outrider: The Impact of the Human Agent on Evolution, in 1998 I introduced the concept of the evolutionary outrider. The term was meant to capture the situation of those who boldly scout on ahead of us to explore potentially revolutionary as well as evolutionary prospects for a better future. These evolutionary outriders, I see now, are of two kinds.

One set is of the theorists, who seek to better understand, and teach, and thereby help guide evolution scientifically or spiritually. The other group, however—orienting, although without knowing it, to Darwin’s long ignored top or completing half for his theory of evolution—simply set aside the often alien tangle of the theory part of it to listen to their hearts, and go ahead and work to advance evolution along the paths into the future that came to seem obvious to them. The history of our species further shows that the activists lead the way for theory to follow.

It might seem that from this relationship one might ask the question often raised by those making the case for action versus theory. Why bother with the fusty delay of theory? Why not just go ahead and get done what needs to be done?

This takes us to the open pit of the hole in the modern mind to which my trilogy Darwin and the Battle for 21st Century Mind is addressed. The problem is that because of our lack of a sufficiently updated, expanded, and unquestionably progressive theory of evolution both kinds of evolutionary outriders were and still are being checked in place, sidelined, or driven backward by political and economic as well as scientific fixation on the well known, firmly entrenched initial or “bottom half” theory Darwin outlined in The Origin of Species, rather than being both inspirationally and operationally driven ahead by the long ignored completing or “top half” for his theory Darwin outlined in The Descent of Man.

Underneath all the present confusion about what is and what’s not evolution, on one hand lies the fact of a “bottom half” theory of natural selection and variation valid to prehuman evolution—but which became degraded into the politically and economically overwhelmingly destructive idea of “survival of the fittest” and “selfish genes” as the prime drivers for both prehuman and human evolution. On the other hand lies the fact of Darwin’s long ignored “top half” insistence that love and moral sensitivity, emergent within prehuman evolution, overwhelmingly became prime drivers for human evolution.

Out of this truncation of theory and dysfunctional contradiction came the power of an over-riding mindset functioning to either hold us in place or drive us backward in evolution. Out of the contradictory thrusts of Origin and Descent came the battle for 21st century mind I write of in the first book for the trilogy Revolution and Counter-Revolution: the critical social and environmental battle between revolutionaries pushing for freedom, equality, and expansion of mind and paradigm, and counter-revolutionaries pushing for control, inequality, and diminishing of mind and paradigm, upon which the future for our species and our planet rides.

At the core of this conflict lies the task for the evolutionary outrider and the tremendous potential for both theory and action if theorist and activist can move ahead together. For the theorist the task is to join the known first half with the lost but now regained second half for Darwin’s vision. For the activist the task is to force theory in this direction through the real world example of what becomes possible through a partnership between natural and social science, and between progressive science and progressive religion.

What’s possible, for example, was foreshadowed in 1978. In that year, in an old house in Princeton all covered with vines, three evolutionary outriders gathered for a week-long brainstorming house party. There was no great fanfare or audience, just the three of them, three women who loved and admired each other, with big plans for the future.

The three were Hazel Henderson, with significant impact lying ahead on the fields of futures studies, a major critique of economics, and global television advancing the cause of an ethical marketplace; Jean Houston, who became a charismatic founder of the human potentials movement; and Barbara Marx Hubbard, who in evolving herself became a visionary driver of the new field of conscious evolution.

Their rollicking talks were tape recorded and a transcript made but never published. As so often happens in these stories, however, thirty years later the transcript was dug out of the proverbial attic and because of their prophetic exploration of issues that have come to matter in our time was published as The Power of Yin.

Here’s a sense of how these evolutionary outriders explored their sense in common of a mission and paths opening into the better future.

Hazel: “We are, all three of us, trying to play midwife to evolutionary growth processes, and in so doing we subject ourselves to almost intolerable levels of stress...I’ve accepted the fact that the stress is going to be there until I die because I’m doing what I ought to be doing. I’m throwing myself into the stream of the process—and it’s okay.”

Jean: “What I learned from our experience was the power of creative loving and of the mutual eliciting that takes place at that level of communality...And this is something that—at least at this point in time—seems to be much more possible among women...I am a member of many top-heavy, hierarchical organizations—many of which I sit on top of! To come into a situation in which there is so much love, so much sharing, listening and mutual eliciting—and laughter!—was probably the most democratizing experience of my life!”

Barbara: “We have reached ‘critical mess.’ A perfect crisis!...Evolutionary women are on the rise. And we seem to create a new context in which evolutionary men are freer to release themselves from the bonds of patriarchy and join together in new forms of real partnership. We are giving birth to a new human and a new humanity within ourselves.”

Same year, 3,000 miles away on the West coast in Los Angeles, a new deep thinking activist rising out of the women’s movement had just met a man to “release from the bonds of patriarchy” so together they might explore “new forms of real partnership.” The man was myself. Ahead for Riane Eisler was the global impact of major books on cultural evolution, sex, politics, economics, and spirituality published in 24 languages.

For above all, this gylanic world will be a world where the minds of children—both girls and boys—will no longer be fettered,” she wrote of her vision of the better world in The Chalice and the Blade.

It will be a world where limitation and fear will no longer be systematically taught us through myths about how inevitably evil and perverse we humans are. In this world, children will not be taught epics about men who are honored for being violent or fairy tales about children who are lost in frightful woods where women are malevolent witches. They will be taught new myths, epics, and stories in which human beings are good; men are peaceful; and the power of creativity and love—symbolized by the sacred Chalice, the holy vessel of life—is the governing principle. For in this gylanic world, our drive for justice, equality, and freedom, our thirst for knowledge and spiritual illumination, and our yearning for love and beauty will at last be freed. And after the bloody detour of androcratic history, both women and men will at last find out what being human can mean.

Earlier, in 1948, one of the most powerful thrusts inspiring evolutionary outriders was released to probe paths into the better future. In that year, with publication of Toward a Psychology of Being, as is well known, Abraham Maslow launched the field of humanistic psychology. But what now also may be seen is how in doing this Maslow and his companions and successors were developing a true rather than false evolutionary psychology to match and advance Darwin’s lost “top half” vision.

Behind Maslow lay a psychology focused on pathologies of the detour from and evasion of evolution. Ahead lay the excitement of a shift from sickness to health, with the goal of the Good Person and the Good Society. Of the earlier fixation, he observed, “It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” Also: “What shall we think of a well-adjusted slave?" Of what lay ahead: "The good society is one in which virtue pays."

Move ahead to 1993. The Vatican had forbidden the teaching of progressive theology by one of the greatest living theologians. Now the German heretic, Hans Kung, waited to see what was going to happen to his draft for a Global Ethic during the once-every-decade historic meeting in Chicago of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Reception for his proposal for a moral code in common worldwide was a big question mark, for now it can be seen this was a daring statement of P-attractor principle (Partnership) sure to run smack up against the global entrenchment of the D-attractor (Dominator).

Read the whole article.

David Loye is a psychologist, evolutionary systems theorist and activist, and author of many books bearing on the nature and function of the evolutionary outrider. Revolution and Counter-Revolution, The Battle of the Books, and Up Against the Paradigm are titles for Loye’s new trilogy Darwin and the Battle for 21st Century Mind. In advance of publication, chapters and excerpts from all three books are currently available for free reading and downloads on the website: Publication by Benjamin Franklin Press is scheduled for fall 2009 and winter 2010, with distribution through online book sellers worldwide. The Evolutionary Outrider, with chapters by Ervin Laszlo, Fritjof Capra, Karl Pribram, Riane Eisler, Ralph Abraham, and Hazel Henderson, was published by Praeger in 1998. Contact:

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