A draft on narration and evolutionary philosophy from zygots to zombies
by Jan Sjunnesson, Stockholm, Oct, 2019 (updated April 4, 2020)
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I got the idea on this rather megalomanic writing project from podcaster and thinker Andrew Sweeny’s excellent brief overview of our current meaning crisis Towards a grand narrative in July 2019 in the web journal Medium.
His jottings on contemporary thinkers could be expanded into 30 or so chapters on evolutionary thinking across disciplines.
I have thought about the need for new narratives after the demise of postmodernism in the 1990s, with its paradoxes of Grand versus Small Narratives pace French philosopher J-F Lyotard. His colleague Gilles Deleuze’s project of constructing something rather than deconstructing everything has always been a more interesting way of thought. But very hard to understand, especially in the colloborative works with Félix Guattari.
Anyways, here is my reading list/chapters:
- Erich von Neuman’s The origins and history of consciousness (1949). A book that laid the base for Jordan Peterson’s Maps of Meaning (1999). I just got the book and know it is quite dated scientifically but can’t be omitted
- Daniel Dennett’s From bacteria to Bach (2017). Not too bad but not my cup of tea
- Cognitive archeology – new field I attended a conference on in Canberra 2019
- The Archeology of Mind (2012), Jaak Panksepp’s grand book on affective neuroscience.
- Linguistic evolution
- Ken Wilber’s holyarchy and quadrant evolution
- Deleuze and Guattari’s translinear history. Adkins, Holland, anthology
- Manuel de Landa’s theories of non-linear history and social assemblages
- John Vervake’s video series on awakening and writings on zombies, cognitive science and wisdom traditions
- The Bard and Söderqvist Futurica project/Ecotopia
- Sweeny and Bard’s video talks
- Two recent books by historian Tom Holland, Dominion and Persian fire
- Kajsa and Jonathan Friedman’s global systems anthropology
- Swedish cognitive scientist Peter Gärdenfors
- Swedish financial writer Tomas Björkmam, The world we create and his Perspectiva project
- Yuval Noah Harari’s trilogy (the 1st is the best)
- Daniel Schmachtenberger’s project
- Ashkan Fardost
- Trungpa was on Sweeny’s list but I don’t see how he fits into an evolutionary thinking. Maybe Stephen Batchelor’s early and secular Buddhism is better, if Buddhism is relevant
- Maybe Hegel, Marx, Nietsche, Freud and Heidegger. But no Foucault, no Negri.
- Peter Slojterdijk’s Spheres trilogy
- Gregory Bateson
- Lene Andersen’s projects in Denmark
- Rebel Wisdom
- Paul Ricoeur by way of Swedish scholar Bengt Kristersson Uggla
- Michel Serres
- James K. A. Smith’s postmodern Christianity
- Ed Gibney
Each could make a chapter but it will not be possible to make a coherent line of thought through all of them, sadly. Narration is the key element though that runs through ideas of the meaning crisis, evolutionary theories, selforganization, non-linear science etc.
I would like to invite people to comment and write chapters themselves. Mabye an anthology is a better idea. Or five anthologies . . . or a web portal with podcasts.
Reading and commenting on all this will take years. And I myself will not make a good case for each writer. Just repeating their thoughts is not an option.
Rather finding a personal way to them and use them. Bard and Söderqvist do this well and with a great amount of original thinking, which I am not able to.
So what remains? Just leave it ? Or narrate +30 stories of how man finds meaning in the world ? Evolutionary philosophy is a new brand of thinking that needs something like this project, I am sure of.
Jan Sjunnesson, born 1958, is a writer, teacher, folk educationalist and journalist based in Stockholm with a MA in philosophy (on Deleuze’s philosophy of time) and a M.Ed (on metadata mapping in education).