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Why do stars need us?
When that question surfaced in my mind I already had concluded
that the sun is burning itself out on our account. The nagging question
was, "Why?" And
then nature yielded its secret: It is because biological life constitutes
the larval phase of the stellar life cycle. We are star larvae.
"Still, it has been a bruising
battle. I've devoted most of my working life to Gaia. Most
of my research has been self-funded. I could never get a
grant. No surprise, though. If you start any large theory,
such as quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, evolution, it generally
takes about 40 years for mainstream science to come around."
— James Lovelock
That conclusion, formalized as the star larvae hypothesis,
might look like it lands out of bounds, violating categorical distinctions
between nature's animate and (seemingly) inanimate processes.
But this is what new paradigms do. They violate assumptions and reconstitute
categories. They redescribe the universe.
In elaborating the hypothesis, I've been grateful
for accommodations provided by the scientific community.
At every turn it delivers discoveries that fill in pieces of the puzzle: complex
organic chemistry in interstellar space, nuclear
catalysis inside stars, neuroplasticity
in developing brains, and, in 2010, the publication of "Evolution,
the Extended Synthesis." This sourcebook from MIT Press includes papers
from researchers across various fields of evolutionary biology. The findings
they present not only marginalize natural selection as a causal factor
in shaping phenotypes but also unintentionally recast
evolution as an instance of development, an implication that challenges
the neoDarwinian, modern synthesis.
The star larvae hypothesis introduces a paradigm
shift that, in Kuhnian fashion, gathers into a new understanding of nature
anomalies that have grown up around normal science. It removes their
anomalous qualities and normalizes them. In doing
so it also overspills science's usual boundaries. It drags in religion,
politics, and philosophy.
Anyone interested in inter-, multi-, trans-, ambi-, omni-, or metadisciplinary studies
owes it at least a passing glance.
Insofar as the hypothesis includes in its account
of evolution an ascent
of terrestrial organisms to a weightless
realm (outer space),
in which they become transfigured,
larvae hypothesis incorporates religious mythemes. It interprets
these mythemes as harbingers of biological development. Cherubs are
an example. Rendered as putti, or flying babies, they
portend extraterrestrial phenotypes, which the hypothesis expects weightlessness
to render neotenous. More generally, the hypothesis explores the notion of weightlessness as an ecological/evolutionary niche. The effects of weightlessness on human physiology are understood well enough, and for that reason weightlessness is seen as a threat to the health and fitness of bodies. But this concern grows from a psychological/emotional attachment to the (terrestrial) human form per se and the assumption that successful spacefarers always will end up back on Earth or some other lump of big geology. But that need not be,the case. Native extraterrestrials, those born into weightlessness, might not bemoan the loss of a terrestrial physique. Never knowing the depressive effects of gravity, they likely will relish living in a world of three-dimensional sensorimotor acrobatic freedom. Bones and biceps be damned when weightless flying is the natural mode.
on conspiracy theories conveys some of the hypothesis'
political concerns, "conspiracy theory" being a convenient gloss for unofficial narrative. The hypothesis has these concerns because politics keeps the hypothesis’ prescriptions
from being filled. The global elites seem to have little interest in opening
new frontiers for exploration and habitation. They seem content to sabotage the project
of creative evolution, which is nature's ongoing ontogenetic development,
which is the historical instantiation of God's will. The elites embody malfeasance on the
grandest scale. Comprising psychopaths, they can't do much else.
The ontogenetic, teleological,
aspect of the hypothesis entails that history have a preferred direction
and that biology be no special case of metabolic process. It is for
historians to sort out whether these and other assertions of the hypothesis
might be called true. As a philosophical pragmatist I have no dog
in that fight.
If the predictions of the hypothesis come to pass,
then the future skeptic will be free to ascribe the fulfilling events
to contingencies and coincidences. No one will be compelled to ascribe
the events to any kind of teleology that inheres in nature, though
the hypothesis proposes for nature a developmental direction.
And if events play out in much the same
way predictably across the universe, then that's just how things happen
to happen, as directed by directionless physical laws, the skeptic
will be free to claim. If outcomes in nature concur routinely with the
predictions of the hypothesis, then all that one will be able to say
is that the hypothesis outperforms its competitors. No settling of accounts
is to be had in terms of Truth, beyond agreements regarding best fit
to the data and whatever other justification criteria future critics happen to settle upon. The merits of the hypothesis,
from a pragmatic point of view, involve whatever efficacies it provides
as a conceptual and practical framework within which to formulate policies
that minimize the suffering and maximize the well being
of our descendants. Pragmatism tells us that we can pursue such goals
perfectly well without debating Truth.
In any event, surrounding the hypothesis' inherent universe-as-laboratory testability, is a thematic coherence (such as there is) and a logic (such as there is) that bind the ideas that constitute the argument, which stands as a curation. (A critic might call it a cherry picking.) The hypothesis constitutes an exposition, an objective of which is to repay with appreciation the time that interested readers invest in studying the exhibits.
The hypothesis strives to deliver
stellar-caliber infotainment value while it edifies.
"Because I do not think that philosophy is ever going to be put on the secure path of a science, nor that it is a good idea to try to put it there, I am content to see philosophy professors as practicing cultural politics. One of the ways they do this is by suggesting changes in the uses of words and by putting new words in circulation—hoping thereby to break through impasses and to make conversation more fruitful. I am quite willing to give up the goal of getting things right and to substitute that of enlarging our repertoire of individual and cultural self-descriptions. The point of philosophy, on this view, is not to find out what anything is 'really' like, but to help us grow up—to make us happier, freer, and more flexible. The maturation of our concepts, and the increasing richness of our conceptual repertoire, constitute cultural progress. "
— Richard Rorty
Philosophy as Cultural Politics: Philosophical Papers, Vol.4
Star Larvae Hypothesis:
a genus of organism.
The stellar life cycle includes a larval phase.
Biological life constitutes the larval phase of the stellar life cycle.
hypothesis presents a teleological model of nature, in which
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