An intriguing scientific discourse which suggests that the way humankind understands the natural world may soon undergo a paradigm shift toward behavioral explanations.
Despite the tremendous strides humanity has made in the fields of scientific discovery, stretching back to the time of ancient Greece, van der Erve contends that it has basically been too focused on the idea of “things” as the basic building blocks of reality. According to the author, his entirely new worldview based on behavior patterns, rather than “substances or corpuscles,” more accurately reflects what humans experience. “The windows onto our world that Aristotle and Descartes had opened provide only a narrow perspective that is limited to what our senses record,” he writes. “A less egocentric perspective is needed to see existence as a wholly behavioral phenomenon.” While much of his argument is scientifically dense, the author does offer up a few pedestrian examples of his behavioral worldview that may resonate with lay readers. One involves flocks of migrating birds that appear to be traveling in heavily regimented V formations, evocative of the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels. At first blush, the birds’ thrilling demonstration might appear to be the result of some kind of uncanny, mysterious avian ability. On deeper analysis, however, the author adroitly explains that it’s understandable behavior: What we’re seeing is simply a group of migrating birds, inspired by falling temperatures and shortening daytime hours, quite predictably moving in the same direction. Each flies in the slipstream of his comrade ahead of him since that’s the best way to achieve the goal of getting where you need to be without expending needless energy. Van der Erve goes on to broaden his thesis, less successfully but no less engagingly, by applying it to the life cycle of successful corporations and Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the market.
A highly complex yet compelling treatise.