The hyperzoic era
As noted I am going to accelerate the look at Bennett, by jumping toward the end of volume four, for his views on evolution, at which point we can wrap up our consideration of his work.
Bennett’s views on evolution are highly exotic, speculative, and open at any given point to the charge of pseudo-science. At the same time he is one of the most devastating critics of Darwin, despite some serious goofs of his own, because he attempts to do what Alfred Wallace suspected was needed, which is to explicate the nature of human potential (consciousness, creativity, will, etc..) that can never evolve by natural selection.
The result is something that I must say that I can’t easily accept, but which is interesting anyway because it states what others are too timid to declare, which is that human evolution is about the mind, ‘soul’, and consciousness, and these appear suddenly, as biologists now acknowledge, in a coordiination that is visible in the notable ‘great explosion’ of homo sapiens sapiens sometime after 100k years ago.
Read at your own risk, then, but at the same time it is important to examine these views, whether for the provocation, or their rejection in a critique.
I have cut to the end, with a short quote on the hyperzoic era.
Note that Bennett finds that human evolution straddles two eras: the era of life, and the onset of real man, as the ‘third chimpanzee’ enters the hyperzoic era.
This passage will explain this point, a bit.
I will note the reference to the ‘hyparxic future’, one of Bennett’s most exotic ideas, which might be thought of as the ‘virtual future’.
If you have a project for the future, say, writing a book, that lingers in your mind prior to any action, then the project exists in the virtual future.
Bennett’s thinking on the hyparchic future here is speculative science fiction, but the point he is making is that much of what we see is the realization of a teleological system.
Despite the objectionable formulation, the notion of the hyperzoic era remains for consideration. We tend to see mind and consciousness as the fruits of ‘life evolution’. Bennett is claiming that a new stage is reached with man, as significant as the origin of life: the hyperzoic era.
Note that for Bennett ‘conciousness’ is a cosmic energy, while what we normally call ‘consciousness’ he calls ‘sensitivity’, a life energy.
Chapter 17. THE HYPERZOIC ERA
Our first task must be to explain what we mean by the ‘Hyperzoic Era’. In Vol. I we divided existence into the Hyponomic, Autonomic and Hypernomic realms. Life lies entirely within the second; In Vol. II we similarly distinguished three tetrads of Energies: Material, Vital and Cosmic. Consciousness (E 4) is the coarsest of the four cosmic energies. Sensitivity (E 5) is the finest energy of life, so that the separa¬tion, organization and refinement of sensitivity all fall within the Auto¬nomic Realm. When, however, consciousness is added we enter the Hypernomic realm, and for that reason the stage of evolution in which consciousness appears will be called the Hyperzoic Era-not because it leaves life behind, but because it adds something that goes beyond life. We retain the form ‘-zoic’ to indicate that we are concerned with a stage in the evolution of life; but from henceforward, the emphasis will be upon mind leading to soul. The immense significance of the penetra¬tion of consciousness into the sensitivity of living organisms is not only that this makes possible the arising of selves, but that it is an awakening of the Mind of the Biosphere. Through the human mind, we see that the Biosphere begins to acquire the faculty of reflection, so that the earth becomes related to itself in a new way that goes beyond life alone.
The study of the Hyperzoic Era presents us with a new problem inasmuch as we are in the midst of it, and therefore cannot study the totality of this stage of evolution through its traces, as we have done with the others. We have adopted the view that the part cannot be under¬stood without reference to the whole. We must, therefore, make at least some attempt to construct a picture of the whole Era, even though we cannot say how events will turn out.
We have a few elements to help us:
I. The concepts of hyparchic plan and eternal pattern.
2. The notion of Demiurgic Intelligences working in the Hyparchic Future.
3• The traces of earthly life during the last few million years.
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