Integral Manifesto Pt III(5) Integral Politics?/Evolution and Enfoldment: Towards a Naturalized Evolution

Development, as we know it, entails enfoldment. Ontogenesis entails enfoldment of structures along axes that are symmetric to species (radially, laterally, bi-radially, bi-laterally). The primary body structures are enfoldments of endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm tissues. Organs of the body, as well as organelles of the cells, are likewise enfolded structures. Developmental psychographs present pictures of the enfolded self– as self stages become subsumed, transcended and integrated into maturing forms. Even the very notion of a self, arising as a cognitive occasion in the theory of Cognitive Microgenesis, is an enfolded occasion. Furthermore, the self-system’s values and roles are present to the subject as a series  of innner and outer elements. Development entails enfoldment — but development also  entails change in an enduring individual along a trajectory from nascent potnetial to highest possible realized actual. This highest possible realized actual is a combination of borrowed constraints and unactualized new potentials in a dynamic dance of change from birth to the apex of an individual’s lifetime. Development then, is always already continuous within an enduring individual. No matter how far or how fast the changes occur, the individual herself does not get replaced by a new unit of being. Enduring identity is the hallmark of developmental change.

On the contrary, the hallmark of evolutionary change, is the emergence of completely novel forms. The history of evolution might be narrated as a continuum, but evolutionary forms emerge discretely– there are “identity” gaps, as it were. Recent attempts by integral theorists to posit a transcendently lurking identity “beneath, behind or beyond” evolution, a kind of semi-virtual being with a teleological imperative of its own — fail to address the sine qua non of “naturalized version” (i.e. an a- onto-theo-logical version) of evolution — that variability and novelty are more important than optimization and survival. An a- onto-theo-logical evolution tends toward increased diversity and creative emergence of novelty over deep time — periods of increasing diversity interspersed with extinction events. Time and again in throughout the historical record, evolution has shown that it does not proceed on the shoulders of prior forms in the way a developmental sequence does — the most evolutionary advanced species rarely become the founding families upon which new species advance after extinction cycles. We did not, for example, descend from the spetacular fishes of the Pre- Cambrian explosion, but from the lowly worms following the great Cambrian waves of extinction.

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