Evolution of emotional literacy

Kevin Kelly (What does Technology Want? p196) quotes George Lucas:

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Just maybe that is about to change (Perhaps on December 21?? 🙂

I think we are in a rapid change right now. It will be more visible soon. I think the feminist consciousness, the decline of religion, urbanisation, education are all leading to a shift in consciousness that means there will be ever more psychotherapists.

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Evolution of consciousness

The book by Kevin Kelly “What does technology want continues stimulate my thinking.

He is eloquent on the evolution of tech. To make his case he draws on parallels in biological evolution. He comes up with principle after principle that are deep insights into any change process. He reminds me constantly of Frederick Engles and on the dialectics of nature. There are principles of change that go beyond one sphere.

Today it is this S curve that grabbed me.

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You would need to read the chapter to fully get it, but take the example of rail road air as the three levels of technology that work together to ensure that transport increased at a constant level, of say miles, speed and lower costs.

What I do is relate this to the evolution of psychotherapy. Or lets call it conscious intimate relationships. A mere 40 years ago there were about 10 therapists/counsellors in Christchurch, now it is more like 400. What is that curve about? The psyche is on the move!

I imagine the three technologies are:

Analytical psych
Humanistic Psych
And now still in the lower reaches of its s curve, relationship psych

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Coevolution, invention, creation of the psyche – the relational paradigm

There is a flow in the evolution process.

Grass had to exist before grazing animals could evolve, they in turn had to precede carnivores.

These examples perhaps are best expressed in the principle of the “next adjacent possible”.

A brief digression: I recently ran across a novel way to think about this question. In evolutionary theory, there’s a concept called the “adjacent possible,” coined by scientist Stuart Kauffman.

From this blog.

The “adjacent possible” refers to the change that’s available to you — i.e. adjacent, next door – versus the change that’s not.

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From Stuart A. Kauffman — Reinventing The Sacred Amazon

The process is holistically connected to the mutual adaptations in each species. Grasses develop ways to survive grazing. Herbivores evolve capacity to run, and carnivores develop sharper teeth and claws.

This idea is sometimes captured with the phrase co-evolution (Wikipedia):

In biology, coevolution is “the change of a biological object triggered by the change of a related object.”[1] Coevolution can occur at many biological levels: it can be as microscopic as correlated mutations between amino acids in a protein, or as macroscopic as covarying traits between different species in an environment. Each party in a coevolutionary relationship exerts selective pressures on the other, thereby affecting each other’s evolution.

Earlier postexaptation, a related concept.

I’m imagining this whole process as envisage the world of the psyche. The changing nature of how we relate to our being. Everything from collective rituals, art, monks meditating in a cave, group therapy, psychoanalysis, conjoint family week and couple therapy.

The investigations above, summed up as:

  • Adjacent possible
  • Coevolution
  • Exaptation

Imagine how these apply to the coevolution/invention/creation of the psyche.

(Why I say evolution/invention/creation is evident from this post about psyche this post about the nature of the psyche, about how it is not a thing, yet not nothing either, is relevant.)

Freud was before Jung. The idea of an unconscious and a method of working with it that was possible in the world was available to Freud as a medical clinician.

Moreno was in part a reaction to Freud. Group therapy and conjoint therapy was possible.

Moreno and Buber had found or invented an idea about the nature of the person being in the relationship.

Hendrix is pioneering the ice that being is relationship.

The relational paradigm is the now a niche that has opened, a shift in the culture and new ways of attending the the psyche are possible.

Moreno’s idea that this could well transform science is also on the cards as an I-Thou relationship with things is also possible according to Buber.

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The Silver Chord – Graphic Novel

I’m in the middle (still) of reading Kevin Kelly’s Book “What Technology Wants”. Enjoying it and finding it stimulating.


I’m reading the CBZ file in Comic zeal on the iPad. Nice. I’m about 50 pages into the 250.

Finding the free graphic novel, is interesting as it sort of ties in with his other themes. It is si-fi and the links back to the science are fascinating. I learned about Roger Penrose who I’d never heard of. There is a big debate obviously about consciousness, but from the wikipedia article I tend to go with Penrose. Thee is something weird about consciousness. I have an instinctive disdain for the value of neuroscience for psychotherapy – not for neuroscience but for the value people see in it for psychotherapy. However quantum science could change everything once we get the hang of it.

Its well done, a big collaborative production – with an interesting Kick-starter project for volume two.


Penrose has written books on the connection between fundamental physics and human (or animal) consciousness. In The Emperor’s New Mind (1989), he argues that known laws of physics are inadequate to explain the phenomenon of consciousness. Penrose proposes the characteristics this new physics may have and specifies the requirements for a bridge between classical and quantum mechanics (what he calls correct quantum gravity). Penrose uses a variant of Turing’s halting theorem to demonstrate that a system can be deterministic without being algorithmic. (E.g., imagine a system with only two states, ON and OFF. The system’s state is ON if a given Turing machine halts, and OFF if the Turing machine does not halt, then the system’s state is completely determined by the Turing machine, however there is no algorithmic way to determine whether the Turing machine stops.)


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Archetypal Tendencies

I’ve been reading Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants. One of the central thesis of the book is that evolution is not only driven by adaptation. There are two other forces at work: structural forces, ie the laws of physics and contingency, luck. What if Beethoven did not have a piano?

I’ll post the picture that impressed me again:

Camera Roll-47

This is a central idea (from the book):

The progression of inventions is in many ways the march toward forms dictated by physics and chemistry in a sequence determined by the rules of complexity. We might call this technology’s imperative.

What is stirring me to write this post is that I listened to a podcast today on Tech Nation, Moira Gunn interviewing Adrian Bejan – details

Click to play & download Adrian Bejan


It is uncanny, and totally in line with the Kevin Kelly theory of what is inevitable that these tow come up with the same ideas. This is the time when we make a shift from classical darwinism, to incorporate something marx might have called dialectical materialism.


More about & by Adrian Bejan here:

His book on Amazon:

Design in Nature.


This theory, Bejan calls it “Constructal Law” governs everything. From his book:

The constructal law is revolutionary because it is a law of physics—and not just of biology, hydrology, geology, geophysics, or engineering. It governs any system, any time, anywhere, encompassing inanimate (rivers and lightning bolts), animate (trees, animals), and engineered (technology) phenomena, as well as the evolving flows of social constructs such as knowledge, language, and culture. All designs arise and evolve according to the same law.

What excites me is that the same law – or rules of complexity, a law about change really, governs the psyche too. I think Jung was onto this with archetypes. These structures hare universal across cultures.

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What Technology Wants. – Kevin Kelly


I’ve quoted a few things from this book on the blog already, so click the tag, Kevin Kelly and you will see my notes as I read the book.

I think its profound.

Its not just about the evolution of technology. He revises biological evolution in a radical way. Its not just him though, he draws on many latest developments in the field. The main thrust is captured in this image from the book.

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Exaptation – copy & paste in the evolution of tech and culture

Just got a name for something I have grasped for a long time. I used to call it accidental by products of evolution, and had this idea when I was doing biology aged 15. EG the piano is a by product of the evolution of fingers. We as humans have gone beyond what was biologically fittest, accidental by-products just heaped upon themselves and interacted with each other to enable creativity and consciousness.

From What Technology wants by Kevin Kelly page 50: “These inadvertent anticipatory inventions are called exaptations in biology.”

“Exaptation is a term used in evolutionary biology to describe a trait that has been co-opted for a use other than the one for which natural selection has built it.”

“It is a relatively new term, proposed by Stephen Jay Gould and Elisabeth Vrba in 1982 to make the point that a trait’s current use does not necessarily explain its historical origin. They proposed exaptation as a counterpart to the concept of adaptation.

For example, the earliest feathers belonged to dinosaurs not capable of flight. So, they must have first evolved for something else. Researchers have speculated early feathers may have been used for attracting mates or keeping warm. But later on, feathers became essential for modern birds’ flight.

It is a relatively new term, proposed by Stephen Jay Gould and Elisabeth Vrba in 1982 to make the point that a trait’s current use does not necessarily explain its historical origin. They proposed exaptation as a counterpart to the concept of adaptation.

For example, the earliest feathers belonged to dinosaurs not capable of flight. So, they must have first evolved for something else. Researchers have speculated early feathers may have been used for attracting mates or keeping warm. But later on, feathers became essential for modern birds’ flight.

(Perry, 2013)

In the evolution of technology and culture it is all exaptation. The reason is that the basis of tech and cultural evolution are not genetic, the information is carried by social means. Thus nothing goes extinct, and all innovations can be resurrected. In other words we can cut and paste to make new things, that process is far faster and more efficient than evolution in the biological sphere. Sexual reproduction is a form of cut & paste, but still far more primitive than what we can do with our inventions.

For example: Id love to graft the Graffiti handwriting system from the dead Palm onto a current smartphone.


Parry, Wynne. (2013, September 16). Exaptation: How evolution uses what’s available. Retrieved February 8, 2016, from http://www.livescience.com/39688-exaptation.html

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#Media & the evolution of the self.

Put together what Kevin Kelly says about the Internet being an extension of “The Self” and the following quote (I just found in an essay of mine) and we get a glimpse of the exponential evolution we are experiencing right now.

 Archetypes of Cyberspace:

A point was made in an obscure paper posted on the Net, author unknown, “Understanding Internet – Extension of Media” [1999?]. They propose that the Internet is not just a medium like radio and TV, it is a media of media. This alludes in an interesting way to Marshall McLuhan’s idea that media are an extension of the human. The Net did not exist in his time but several writers have assumed that if it had he would have seen it as an extension of the brain. This simple linear extrapolation of McLuhan does not do justice to the power of the Internet. The Internet extends media exponentially. Media squared, media to the power of two. This idea makes sense in a world where the power of technology doubles every year, where we are talking about increases in the rates of change and qualitative leaps and paradigm shifts.

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