Darwin’s dilemma: Evolution needs a psychoid principle
Just as Newton was embarrassed by his accurate mathematical description of gravity because it seemed to require an explanation of action-at-a-distance that he could not supply, so Darwin was embarrassed by the fact that his Origin of Species accounted only for “natural selection,” the fi ltering process whereby unfi t organisms are excluded, and that he had no way to explain how new species come into being. The source of novelty in evolution has been called “Darwin’s Dilemma.” The so-called “Modern Synthesis” that allies natural selection with genetics has described the mechanism whereby inheritance is highly dependable and also how mutations can occur from time to time that may occasionally give rise to new species. But what the Modern Synthesis knows is a haphazard mechanism that seems inadequate to describe the rapidity with which new species develop after certain “bottlenecks” have caused massive species die-offs, such as at the end of the Permian period, 251 million years ago, or the end of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. It really looks as though evolutionary theory needs the notion of psychoid process to support the facts in the fossil record, whereby meaningful change can occur much more accurately and quickly than the slow accumulation of random mutations would seem to allow. Even with the discoveries of the Modern Synthesis, Darwin’s Dilemma has not been solved, for it leaves us with an image of evolutionary novelty that resembles the efforts of a thousand monkeys banging away at keyboards while an observer waits for Othello to emerge from one of them. A psychoid principle suggests that things happen meaningfully because what we see as isolated facts belong to the process of an organism. There is a whole organizing its parts, analogous to the fabric of space-time giving rise to galaxies and solar systems. To understand this way of seeing things, we shall examine how organisms behave. Jung was already on the path that led to his “psychoid” proposal in 1933, when he expressed regret that, “We Westerners can only see psyche as an appendage of the brain” (CW8: ¶743). In his view, even protozoa have a primitive psyche, which is “the quintessence of life in the body,” where “mind and body [may] ultimately prove to be the same thing” (1926: CW8: ¶621). In 1927, he made it most explicit:
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This whole psychic organism corresponds exactly to the body . . . still preserves elements that connect it with the invertebrates and ultimately with the protozoa. Theoretically, it should be possible to “peel” the collective unconscious, layer by layer, until we come to the psychology of the worm, and even of the amoeba.