Evolution as Natural Drift

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William Irwin Thompson:

"Maturana and Varela have argued in The Tree of Knowledge that evolution itself can be thought of as ‘Natural Drift’, that is, a bifurcation with downstream consequences sometimes expressed as speciation in an isolated niche, but never simply Nature ‘selecting’ and the organism ‘adapting’ (Maturana and Varela, 1987, pp. 94–117). When one adds Baldwinian evolution that considers the feedback of culture on biology, in that the use of an organ — say, the brain or the hands — encourages its further development, then our understanding of evolution takes on a new dimension. If grannies and aunties start helping their primate offspring to survive, for example, by showing them how to wash tubers in the sea, then the process of Natural Selection is impacted by the cultural behaviour of Grannie and Auntie, and not just the genes of Mom and Dad."