Birnbaum’s Beethoven or Darwin’s Beethoven?
Birnbaum’s Beethoven or Darwin’s Beethoven?

How did we (the cosmic order) get to the point of Beethoven’s symphonies?

Did we get there simply by survival of the fittest?

Darwin presented his now mainstream theory of survival of the fittest as the root of human evolution. And Darwinism has demonstrated vitality as a theory. But did we get to Beethoven by survival of the fittest alone?

The 21st century has seen a rise in new theories of cosmology. At the forefront has been Potentialism.  The theory was developed by independent scholar David Birnbaum of Manhattan. It is explicated via his 3-volume treatise: Summa Metaphysica I: Religious Man (Ktav Publishing, 1988), Summa Metaphysica II: Spiritual Man (New Paradigm Matrix, 2005) and Summa Metaphysica III: Secular Man (New Paradigm Matrix, 2014). The theory is an iconic paradigm challenge.


Note these key terms:
Q4P = Quest for Potential  (infinitely iterated)    (see )
E+  = Extraordinariation ( see )

Potentialism’s primary edict is a simple formula: Q4P → E+.


This is a simple and straightforward proposition. In layman’s terms, it states that the universe inexorably strives towards greater Potential or Complexity/Sophistication, and thus heads towards a state Potentialists call Extraordinariation (E+ for short).

Once delineated, this simple theme/concept can be seen as pervasive across the cosmic order – from the macro to the micro level. Everything strives after its optimal potentials and the cosmos itself moves towards Complexity/Sophistication. For example, people learn, atoms conjoin into molecules. Advance – in multiple permutations. This is the primal dynamic of existence, which upon reflection, can indeed be seen all around us.

Potentialism takes issue with Darwinism. It does not do so because Darwinism is incorrect, but rather because Darwinism is radically incomplete. The Theory of Potential maintains that there are actual three interlocking components of Evolution:
1) survival-potential (classic Darwinism)

2) deploying an optimal array of potential
3) discerning the optimal route towards Extraordinariation

The line-of-genetics which optimizes all three of these components, will, according to Potentialism, be the ‘genetic mix’ which prevails. Looked at differently, Quest for Potential impacts genetic coding to get to this ‘optimal mix’.

The root of the deficit with classic Darwinism lies with two factors: group selection and higher evolution.

Group selection is a soft chink in the armor of Darwinism. Darwinism explains that everything evolves based on personal/individual survival traits. An individual is more likely to survive and pass on his or her traits for their individual advantage. However, the real natural world does not show this to be the only influence at work. There is group selection. Group selection represents those decisions made by individuals that actual harm oneself but benefit the group. In short, Darwinism does not account for altruism. Be it your family, tribe, species, or perhaps nature as a whole – the issue is that we have plenty of examples of group selection and Darwinism is dead silent on the cause of this.

While Potentialism recognizes  evolution, it understands full well that survival is not the only force at work. Potentialism recognizes the teleological nature of the universe. That is to say, Potentialism understands that not only do individual creatures work towards their evolution, or higher level of Complexity, but the species as a whole does as well. Following the precepts of Potentialism, life forms, in their totality, struggle as a group as well as on an individual level to maximize their Potential.

And this is where Beethoven comes in. Darwinism simply seeks a higher order of survivability. Potentialism, on the other hand, strives towards Complexity/Sophistication/Extraodinariness in its infinite, myriad forms enroute towards Extraordinaration. While Darwinism is only concerned with the individual survival of a species or sub-species, Potentialism takes a holistic approach to judge what is survival and progress. It is not enough for an individual to survive. Potentialism rules that a creature must strive for their species as a whole. But further, and this is where the huge difference occurs, Potentialism requires species not only to survive, but to increase in Complexity/Sophistication as they advance ever-onwards towards the extraordinary.

To Darwin, winning is simply about surviving, killing and procreating. To Potentialism, this is not enough. To Potentialists, one must also rise in Complexity/Sophistication to be winning the evolutionary game. And that is where humans excel. The necessary reflexes and basic instincts to survive are a basic principle of intelligent life. But for Potentialists, the true litmus test is development of the skills beyond survival: art, morality, intellectuality, the panoply of emotion, and abstract consciousness.

Darwin leaves no place for a creature to create art. It leaves no room for higher evolution – the learning beyond simple tools – of the more nuanced parts of cognition itself. Cognition is not directly associated with the skills to survive, so it should simply die out as some weird anomaly, per Darwinism – useless, in and of itself. Potentialism, by contrast, expects the rise of art and emotion. Art and emotion are considered a higher mode of cognition and are expected in the most advanced species – humans. Thus we see, Darwin leaves no room for Beethoven, art being simply an aberration of no useful (survival) value in humanity’s evolution. Potentialism, by contrast, foresees the birth of art and embraces it for what it properly is – the higher level of Complexity/Sophistication achieved by humankind, representing a tangible step forward in our evolutionary journey towards ultimate Extraordinariation.

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