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What is Life? The scientific advances of the past few centuries have brought us a much better understanding of some of the attributes of organisms, but no closer to an answer to this elemental question. What can be said about Life is that it is more than the sum of its parts, synergistically expressing an alchemical quality that manifests as a true miracle. Although we do not know what Life is, there are observations we can make about it. One observation is that although Life expresses in myriad forms it is always recognizable. The distinction between a Living Thing and something that is not alive is usually immediately apparent – it is unique. Other observable qualities of Living Things correlate to stages of the progression of their species evolution and are specific to an organism’s optimizations for survival. These observable qualities are Life’s response to the potentials presented by characteristics of the surrounding environment. In noting qualities of the attributes of Living Things, we are also glimpsing attributes of the physical opportunities and liabilities of the space within which Life manifests, which may be obscured when simply observing the space itself. Characteristics of the interface between Living Things and their surroundings, enabled by the evolution of our reflexes, drives, instincts, emotions, and ego, as well as our physical structure, are described here as Archetypes. Although these archetypes do not answer the question of what Life is, they shed light on qualities expressed by the Living System, further illuminating the outlines of this question.
Life did not innovate Archetypes but rather discovered and embraced their intent as a means for the successful progression of the evolution of the Living System. The Archetypes discussed here are innate potentials of the space within which Life evolved and would be discoverable by any form of life at any time in our corner of the Universe. They serve as facets in the Gem through which we can observe the unknowable mystery of the essence of life and its expression. Mathematics and the Dimensional Paradigms discussed on this website are examples of this type of physics, governing the evolutionary potentials of creatures with an invisible hand. The Archetypes here delineated characterize the stepwise evolution of our lineage1. There are other apparent archetypal potentials expressed by species that are not of our lineage and are not discussed here. Also not discussed here are relevant Archetypal frameworks that are not essential to the evolution of our lineage, but which play an essential role in shepherding our human psyches (Jungian Archetypes, etc.) through Life’s journey. The essential archetypes discussed here illuminate the profound Intelligence of the system within which Life evolved as it relates to the evolution of our species.
As our species evolved it supplemented the Archetypes it utilized, adding increasingly contextually complex activities as potentials of these archetypes was revealed. For example, Vertebrates are animals that found great success in action or said another way, discovered the “Doing Archetype”. Vertebrates could not have done this if the Persistence and Creation Archetypes were not fully embodied in their neurophysiology and actions, establishing a successful foundation for exploring further specialization. In our species, at least five essential Archetypes can be identified that are fully and concurrently expressed. We know that we are not alone in embodying all of these Archetypes (Whales, Dolphins, and Elephants are some of the many examples of species that are social and/or intelligent).
It seems narrow-minded to think that we are masters of any of the archetypes our species has embraced, and it very well may be that we have merely scratched their potential. Examples include all of the machinery we have built to extend our capacity to do things, the emergence of the Internet as an extension of our access to the Social Archetype, and the Scientific Enterprise furthers our awareness of the landscape of the Intelligence Archetype. There is perhaps vast potential in all of the archetypes discussed here that has yet to be discovered. Expression of these archetypes can be blended in myriad ways, which we observe in the spectrum of cultures encompassing Aboriginal Australian to Western Capitalists. Optimizing the “blend” of these archetypes has relevance ranging from personal preference to the continuation of our species within this Living System. Clarification of qualities and characteristics of these archetypes, therefore, is an activity worthy of our focus, facilitating a more enlightened, less reactive response to the experience of being alive here. Modeling the evolution of our species through the lens of archetypes offers a meta-perspective viewpoint that assists with clarifying both where we are and further potentials for where our species evolution is going. This section on archetypes is a meager attempt to scratch at the surface of this subject.
1 Please note that the discussion of Evolutionary Trajectory on this website is always presented in the context of the evolution of our species, in the hope of better understanding both our structure and function. This narrow focus enables connections to be highlighted that are otherwise opaque when Evolutionary Theory is studied as a general theory.
The five Archetypes presented here organize hierarchically. The Archetypes further down the hierarchy are specializations of the more foundational, inceptive Archetypes:
Archetypal Characteristics of our Lineage
The “Persistence” Archetype discusses the foundational quality essential to the emergence of life. Although Persistence may seem glaringly obvious, upon examination it orients awareness to the most profound mystery of Life – that it actually exists.
The “Creation” Archetype discusses qualities essential to All Living Things. These are qualities Living Things discovered that enable Life to evolve in the closed system of our planet.
The “Doing” Archetype discusses qualities that enable the successful emergence of Animals – creatures that exploited the advantages of movement, and Vertebrates – Animals that push the boundary of the potential of movement.
The “Social” Archetype discusses qualities that enable Animals to function as a group, which vastly extends their potential beyond the evolutionary possibilities of the individual. It facilitates specialization of seemingly open-ended possibilities, based on cohesive group dynamics, which move evolution beyond the limitations of implicit form.
The “Intelligence” Archetype makes observations about the qualities of the “space” within which logic, mathematics, physics, and art exist. It is more likely than not that there is wisdom in the Intelligence Archetype that is beyond the capacity for our species to grasp.
Each Archetype provides a unique, essential function. The ratio of expression of each Archetypal function is revealed in our physical appearance. This ratio derives from both the context within which we develop and the context within which our ancestors thrived – in some situations some Archetypes afford more benefits than others. These ratios are simple to observe both in people’s gender and physiology and are discussed here:
OTHER MODELS PRESENTED HERE
Archetypes are a lens for examining the human experience. They are oriented to the energetic attributes of our evolution. Other lenses that have efficacy for expanding our human experience would be ones that orient to the spatial dynamics and the physiology that enabled the expression of life. Lenses that explore these perspectives can be found here:
THE FOUR CORES
Examining the Dimensional Paradigms from a physiological perspective reveals four distinct “Cores” that are both unique to our lineage and yet provide a direct line from us to the root of All Living Things. Analyzing human structure and function from the vantage point of these cores facilitates clarity of comprehension of their unique roles and facilitates more effective therapeutic interventions.
THE FOUR CORES
The evolution of human structure and function tightly correlates to the trajectory our lineage had to follow as our ancestors discovered and then explored dimensionally more complex settings. A discussion of this expedition of discovery our ancestors’ undertook is presented here: