Applying the Theory of Evolutionary Process, by Frank E. Barr, M.D.
The brilliant and endearingly eccentric genius, Arthur M. Young, in discovering—(or as he modestly put it, re-discovering)—the Theory of Evolutionary Process, has contributed perhaps the greatest breakthrough in the history of mankind toward understanding the purpose, the structure and the dynamics of the Universe, including our particular role as human beings in this incomparable process.
Having known Arthur Young since the publication of his books, The Reflexive Universe and The Geometry of Meaning in 1976, having lived and worked closely with him in his Berkeley home from 1985 until his death in 1995 and having researched the Theory for 22 years, I have had countless occasions to read papers and to listen to extensive dialogues proposing to advance the Theory of Process. These “applications” and “extensions” of the Theory typically fall into three major categories:
1. Incorrect or erroneous applications of the Theory due to a variable lack of understanding of the Theory
This most frequently occurs when someone has discovered or is excited about a series of 7’s (or of 4’s) that they would like to “force fit” into the Theory. Erroneous applications also occur when someone is equally attracted to both the Theory as well as to another esoteric system or inharmonious set of beliefs and is determined to force them together, regardless of the lack of fit as judged by the essential criteria of the Theory (presented below).
Sometimes, when pointed out that the essential criteria simply cannot be met with their application or extension, some persons reply that the criteria (and hence the Theory itself) are wrong and should be modified. Not uncommonly, they may feel free to just add another stage or another level to the Theory. For example, I’ve heard on more than one occasion that: “if the 7 stages represent the Universe, then the 8th stage must represent that which is beyond the Universe” or “8 represents the boundary and 9 is everything else”. This, of course, represents total ignorance of the elegant, “necessary and sufficient” ontological foundations of the Theory.
2. Commonsense and/or trivial applications of the Theory
This second category is more innocuous and often represents worthwhile, practical applications of the Theory. These applications include using the Theory as an organizational device, such as setting a business or corporate goal and appropriately following the stages of the Theory in order to achieve this goal.
More trivial applications include various NewAge truisms such as labeling the “stages of healing”. Such applications are frequently so general or platitudinous or unverifiable as to be essentially worthless.
3. Serious and, unfortunately the most rarely encountered applications, are attempts to solve mankind’s major problems
I have given much thought to how the Theory should best be applied in order to reap the greatest benefits, and clearly I believe that Young’s Theory of Process is so elegant, so integrative and so predictive that it should be applied to the “Big Questions” of mankind. These include:
- How can the established scientific facts in the various scientific disciplines – mathematics, quantum and relativistic physics, astronomy, chemistry, molecular biology, genetics, cell biology, botany, embryology, zoology, phylogeny, anthropology, developmental psychology, developmental psychopathology, neuroscience, medicine, pharmacology, immunology – be integrated with no “forced fit“? How can the best and most productive working theories in these various disciplines be integrated?
- How can the currently formulated enigmas, agreed-upon impediments or obstructions to further major progress in each of these disciplines be (re)solved?
- How can the major ancient comparative myths and religions likewise be integrated?
- How can the ancient religions & myths and the spectrum of modern sciences be integrated without depriving either science or religion of its best attributes?
- Can ancient esoteric symbol systems such as astrology, alchemy, and the Hindu-Buddhist chakra system be integrated with modern scientific research (such as neuroendocrinological phase-timing systems and psychoneuroimmunology) via Process Theory?
- How can the mystery of life be explained?
- How can conscious experience or subjective “qualia” be explained?
- What is the solution to the mind-body or mind-brain problem?
- How can memory be explained (including implicit memory, working memory, procedural memory, semantic memory, and episodic/autobiographical memory)?
- Can an understanding of human memory via Process Theory be re-applied to understand other complex “memory” systems, such as immunological memory and potential transpersonal or cosmic memory?
- How can diseases and illnesses be prevented and cured? Can medicine be advanced based on a cross-disciplinary understanding of the Theory?
- Can the current hodgepodge of categories and data relating to psychopathology – from compulsive disturbances and self/personality disorders to schizophrenia and manic-depression – be elegantly explained?
- Can we finally resolve whether ontogeny (embryologically developed functional systems) does indeed recapitulate phylogeny (the sequential development of animals)?
- Can Process Theory be effectively used to map the stage development of anthropological (prehistorical and historical) man and to map the neuropsychological developmental stages of individual man? Does psycho-ontogeny recapitulate psycho-anthropology?
- How can Process Theory be used to explain altered mental states (AMS’s), such as the recurrent phenomenological experiences of mystical and meditational states, psychedelic experiences, near-death experiences (NDE’s), and dream states?
- Can all the above be used to accurately predict the future substage and (sub)-substage development of mankind?
- How can an understanding of all the above be used to provide clear goals and values (as well as expeditious research projects) for mankind, both individually and as an evolving human race?
By reading voluminously over many years on the diverse scientific and comparative religious literature pertaining to the above questions, by becoming up-to-date on the controversies pertaining to these topics and by strictly applying the structure and dynamics of the Theory, I believe that I have been able to make significant progress in answering these questions.
Successful application of the Theory of Process requires thorough knowledge of the Theory. To fit a proposed entity into a particular Level or stage requires that it clearly fit the definition of that level or stage. It must be shown to have evolved in the sequential order in which it is placed; it must fall on the proper level, such as being time-like, charge-like/emotive, or 1-dimensional for Level II categories and space-like, mental, or 2-dimensional for Level III categories; if placed on the left side of the arc, it must be shown to be primitive, random or uncontrolled; if placed on the right side of the arc, it must exhibit choice or control or demonstrate advanced attributes over its counterpart on the left side of the arc. It must then be shown to flawlessly “superimpose” on all the similar (sub)stages – (all 6th (sub)-stages, for example) – and to unambiguously augment them. It is essential that it must also fulfill the requirements of the seven triadic dynamics, manifesting the appropriate degrees of freedom and constraint, dynamically responding to the other components of the triad in an accumulative way. And finally it must have an unambiguous basis in reality: It must be verifiable, integrative, and predictive.
©1998 Frank Barr, M.D.