First, I want to contest the equation of evolution with advancement of any sort, or the idea that modernity is hindering evolution. Evolution has three components: reproduction, mutation, and selection. Any process with these components can be rightfully called evolution. Now, it is true that this combination has, over the past 3.5 billion years, created systems with increased complexity, from self-replicating organic macromolecules to humans. And that the domain of evolution, as a process grounded in physics, has increased. But this increase is an incidental characteristic of evolution, not intrinsic to it. Abiogenesis means that life now exists when it once did not, so as long as life exists, we are in a net positive. But this “advancement”, this increase in complexity, is subject to a global speed limit — the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Beneath any hope of “sustainability” or self-preservation of life is the dirty little secret of heat death. Negentropic stability that of a well-fed flame, not that of Platonic existence.
NRx/DE, in its empirical mode, notices a eugenic trend of humanity within the last century or so, hidden (encouraged?) by technical progress. Is this a failure of evolution, a lack of evolution? I don’t think so. Recall my definition of evolution: reproduction, mutation, and selection. If evolution selects for lack of intelligence, that is not evolution being “wrong”. Not even in the context of evolution having selected, in general, for intelligence, for 3.499999 billion years before then. It is simply a misalignment between the desired outcome and that which evolution selects. Evolution is in one sense tautological – if gene x persists and gene y does not, x is being selected for by evolution, period. Nyan notes a major (pre-)historical example of “bad” evolution, agriculture:
Agricultural Civilization won not because it was “better” in our sense, but because 100 malnourished toothless peasants with sticks beats one of even the healthiest and best trained tribal warriors.
(Perhaps there is a parallel to be drawn between the effects of agriculture and modern technology? Do any of you read Land’s pre-Neoreactionary material, or is that too contenental for NRx? I get the feeling I’m gonna have to pursue this line of thought myself, wade into the strange waters of media studies, Baudrillard, and Marxists.)
Hurlock is correct in saying “When you neglect the laws of evolution and indeed the laws of Gnon, it will lead to your own demise.” However, a forgetting of evolution should not be conflated with a lack or reversal of evolution.
Where does this leave humans? Perhaps Nyan overextends in proposing a “bottling” of techno-commercialism. I am not familiar with Austrian Economics (next on my reading list), and Nyan has a follow-up in plan, but I think Hurlock is right to caution against non-catallactic mechanisms. We all agree that humanity must align itself with Gnon, but not on how, or what it means to do so. My understanding: while Gnon is universal and absolute, the local maxima is pushes a particular thing towards is contingent on what it is pushing. Evolution is a relationship between a particular thing and the global Law. That different things are affected differently, does not invalidate the law. Land’s teleoplexy is not a rejection of natural law, but a recognition that dynamical attractors can be themselves attracted: a second order teleology. Whatever leads to an alignment of human values with gnon, top-down or spontaneous, should be pursued. The hard work, as Nyan notes, is enumerating these things. To the extent we can shift the attractors, do so. To the extent we can modify our values, do so as well.