Biologische Evolution als Erscheinungsentwicklung
In this paper we look at biological evolution from a viewpoint that assumes concepts and ideas are structural as well as constitutive real causes. From this perspective, a biological organism is a lawful and active automorphic unit (law of inner nature) displaying a robust – i.e. stable-flexible – relation with its environment (law of outer circumstances). We call the lawfully acting forces inside an organism ‘law of organism’, referring to Goethe’s and Steiner’s archetype as the universal law of organismic existence.
We presuppose the concrete evidence for defined evolutionary processes and mechanisms acquired by evolutionary science under the Darwinian paradigm as facts and as a development of the manifestations of the law of organism. In each biological individual the range of the law’s appearance is constrained by the history of its predecessors via heredity; at the same time within this setting we assume the law of organism to be actively present in each living being. Out of this view, a complementary evolutionary theory arises yielding the possibility of constitutive inputs of all organisms into their own development.
In part two, based on a universal law of organism we specify general principles of development with reference to biological evolution. These are applied to common descent and the origin of species, genus and other taxonomic hierarchies.
Organismic diversity, and accordingly the multiplicity of appearances of the law of organism, is shaped in factual interaction of constituting instructions and modifying environmental conditions, or conditions of appearance, respectively. As exemplified in part three, concerning modification, the law of organism has the potential to react receptively to the medium of appearance by adaptation or variation. At the same time it productively operates in a constituting manner following the principles of acquisition or opening. A further differentiation of the concept of adaptation concerning the inner and outer conditional context is presented in part four by giving examples from evolutionary biology. For the sake of epistemic distinction, the simultaneously interacting processes governed by these principles are presented separately in a table. Part five deals with the degrees of freedom given to the law of organism while being constrained yet at the same time enabled by inner and outer conditions. In the context of these investigations, the genome belongs to the inner environmental conditions that the law of organism has to deal with when it self-actualises in each individual. Innovations can be realised by creative interventions of the law of organism which allow for the manifestation of novel principles from its universal potential. To attribute to the individual organism a driving force of evolution – as also some modern evolutionary biologists do – opens new explanatory ways for macroevolution.
The concept of the law of organism sheds new light on the question of purpose in evolution. From this perspective, evolution is the result of an interactive communication between the law of organism incorporated in each individual, and inner as well as outer environmental conditions. By means of opening (variation) and adaptation, the law manifests itself towards increasing perfection. This displays a lawful but not precisely determined directiveness.
The evolution of mankind as part and as a consequence of biological evolution is addressed in part eight. In view of the fact that no further speciation is possible,the human being has arrived at the end of its biological evolution. Each single human organism has developed the seed of autonomy by a culmination of automorphy and autoregulation. It is not only a manifestation of the law of organism but also of a being not constrained by the limits of this law, with the potential of self- determination and self-embodiment.