New Narratives – A draft on evolutionary philosophy from zygots to zombies 



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:

  1. 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
  2. Daniel Dennett’s From bacteria to Bach (2017). Not too bad but not my cup of tea
  3. Cognitive archeology – new field I attended a conference on in Canberra 2019  
  4. The Archeology of Mind (2012), Jaak Panksepp’s grand book on affective neuroscience.
  5. Linguistic evolution
  6. Ken Wilber’s holyarchy and quadrant evolution
  7. Deleuze and Guattari’s translinear history.  Adkins, Holland, anthology
  8. Manuel de Landa’s theories of non-linear history and social assemblages
  9. John Vervake’s video series  on awakening and writings on zombies, cognitive science and wisdom traditions
  10. The Bard and Söderqvist  Futurica project/Ecotopia
  11. Sweeny and Bard’s video talks
  12. Two recent books by historian Tom Holland, Dominion and Persian fire
  13. Kajsa and Jonathan Friedman’s global systems anthropology 
  14. Swedish cognitive scientist Peter Gärdenfors
  15. Swedish financial writer Tomas Björkmam, The world we create and his Perspectiva project
  16. Yuval Noah Harari’s trilogy (the 1st is the best)
  17. Daniel Schmachtenberger’s project
  18. Ashkan Fardost  
  19. 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
  20. Maybe Hegel, Marx, Nietsche, Freud and Heidegger. But no Foucault,  no Negri. 
  21. Peter Slojterdijk’s Spheres trilogy
  22. Prigogine/Stengers
  23. Autopoesis
  24. Gregory Bateson 
  25. Lene Andersen’s projects in Denmark
  26. Rebel Wisdom
  27. Paul Ricoeur by way of Swedish scholar Bengt Kristersson Uggla
  28. Michel Serres
  29. James K. A. Smith’s postmodern Christianity
  30.  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).

He has written eleven  books (in English and Swedish). A presentation on the blog   Contact at 


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