Evolution in the minor key, or, the Soul of Wisdom

poster for Pari Center's Longing for Wholeness

This is an excerpt from one of the presentations featured in the Pari Center’s event Longing for Wholeness, in Pari from August 27 to September 3, 2024.

There are two kinds of science. One imagines a world of particles that combine in ever more complex configurations. The other starts from a material plenum, in which forms are produced by folding and crumpling surfaces and volumes. Following Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, I refer to these respectively as major and minor science. Though neither is possible without the other, the mainstream theory of evolution, by variation under natural selection, is written unequivocally in the major. In this presentation, inspired by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, I set out its complement in the minor key. This is an evolution of mind as much as of life. In the major, the mind is described as an intelligence, configured as a facultative property of the individual self. But in the minor, it is a process, an infolding and unfolding of affective relations. The mind infolded is what we call the soul, and the soul unfolds in wisdom. Thus, as intelligence is to wisdom, so the self is to the soul. My proposal is to bring wisdom back into our thinking about evolution through a focus—inspired by anthropological studies of animism—on the life of the soul. 

TIM INGOLD photo © Serena Campanini

Tim Ingold is Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He has carried out fieldwork among Saami and Finnish people in Lapland, and has written on environment, technology and social organisation in the circumpolar North, on animals in human society, and on human ecology and evolutionary theory. His more recent work explores environmental perception and skilled practice. Ingold’s current interests lie on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. His recent books include The Perception of the Environment (2000), Lines (2007), Being Alive (2011), Making (2013), The Life of Lines (2015), Anthropology and/as Education (2018), Anthropology: Why it Matters (2018), Correspondences (2020), Imagining for Real (2022) and The Rise and Fall of Generation Now (2023). Ingold is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2022 he was made a CBE for services to Anthropology.