A radical reconsideration of evolution that emphasizes human intentionality.
Although evolution is accepted as scientific fact, there’s still considerable debate about the details. Debut authors Bob Zhang and Dongxun Zhang, a doctor of acupuncture, offer a new interpretation that posits a more directly participatory role for organisms as active catalysts, as well as subjects, of evolution. The study begins with a concise primer on evolutionary theory, which tends to focus on “external factors”—a living organism’s environment. However, the authors assert that there are also internal factors—a living being’s intentional activity—that can have just as much impact, if not more. Living organisms collect, organize, and store information on the basis of their interactions with the surrounding ecosystem, the authors say, and their internal systems can essentially remodel themselves with the decisions the organisms make. Zhang and Zhang posit that “the DNA that will be encoded in an organism’s offspring, can change on the basis of the organism’s intentions, although, of course, we do not know the details of how this is done or to what extent.” In effect, the authors are revising Charles Darwin’s views on the basis of implications contained within his own theory, as his important account of life’s natural-selection “struggle” presupposes some element of active agency and design. Part of this book is an exploration of the practical consequences of “intended evolution,” especially with respect to health and fitness. The authors candidly confess, however, that this book is only a general outline of their theory, and it doesn’t provide much in the way of mechanical detail or scientific evidence. This can be frustrating because its central concept of intentionality is left underdetermined, as it includes both single-cell organisms and human beings. Even at the level of human choice, the book lacks a searching analysis of the different modalities of intention. Still, there’s plenty of engaging philosophical provocation, and it presents a new understanding of consciousness, self-awareness, and death. But a general vagueness permeates the whole study, and the authors’ acknowledgement of it doesn’t entirely forgive it.
A theoretically inventive account of evolution that lacks a detailed, well-researched argument.