There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.

Richard Fuller.


Charles Robert Darwin was born in 1809 in England, the son of Robert Waring Darwin, a doctor with the largest medical practice outside London. Even at a young age he was keen in collecting specimens and at 16 years old he attended Edinburgh University. Darwin’s lack of interest in medicine disappointed his father, a Church of England member, who then sent him to the University of Cambridge to study divinity.


In August 1831, Darwin was invited to sail as an unpaid naturalist on HMS Beagle. The ship was to survey the east and west coasts of South America and continue to the Pacific islands to establish a chain of chronometric stations. The voyage lasted five years, instead of the planned two, during which Darwin kept meticulous notes and sent back geological and biological specimens.


In 1859, at a time when most people were deeply religious and believed that God created the world in seven days, Darwin published ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’. The book was extremely controversial because the logical extension of Darwin’s theory was that man was simply another form of animal. It made it seem possible that people might have evolved, quite possibly, from apes, and it destroyed the prevailing religious view on how the world was created. Darwin was vehemently attacked, particularly by the Church. However, his ideas soon gained favour and have now become widely accepted.


Theory and approach

During his voyage on the Beagle, Darwin read Lyell’s ‘Principles of Geology’ which suggested that the fossils found in rocks were actually evidence of animals that had lived long ago.


These ideas were reinforced by Darwin’s discoveries in the Galapagos Islands which lay west of South America. When he returned to England in 1836, Darwin tried to understand his observations and how species evolve. He proposed a theory of evolution which occurred by the process of natural selection. He said that the animals and plants best suited to their environments were more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on the characteristics which helped them survive to their offspring. Gradually, the species would change over time.


In psychology Charles Darwin’s theory is considered as the Biological Approach, as it states that change takes place as a biological process, and it is based on the notion of the survival of the fittest. Darwin’s Biological Approach extended beyond perceiving the savagery of the animal world, noted by other scientists who had observed the lion killing the zebra.


Darwin discovered the competition between individuals of a single species. He saw that within a small population the individual with the sharper beak, the longer horn, or the brighter feather might have a better chance to survive and reproduce than other individuals. If such advantageous traits were passed on to new generations, they would eventually be predominant in future populations. Darwin focused his evolutionary analysis within species. Later, biologists came to understand variations within a species as variations in the genes of its individual members, and they explained evolution as the action of natural selection upon genes responsible for advantageous traits.


Keen to verify his approach and theory of natural selection, Darwin enlisted the help of animal breeders. With their experience of artificial selection he could determine how natural selection worked.


Although he still faced many difficulties, Darwin’s theory of evolution solved many problems in anatomy, embryology and among other sciences. It also gave us a valuable insight into human evolution.


The next step in evolution

Darwin’s theory can also be considered to be the basis of an approach in metapsychology – taking the evolutionary theory of natural selection to the next stage. It is now established that plants and animals are all affected by competitive stress in their environment. Living beings change not by choice, but in response to their environment. Only those who are fit to, pass on their advantageous genes to the next generation.


Even humans have physically changed from the early Homo Ergaster to the emergence of Homo Sapiens. They have evolved from other hominids, apes, placental mammals and even from single celled crystalloids in the primordial mud – all in the process of anthropogenesis.


According to evolutionary metapsychology, the physical maturity of the human body has arrived, and now the development is of a different kind. As the body benefits according to its activity and the quality of food individuals eat; nutritious food and regular exercise create better, healthier bodies. It is now the Self that seeks to advance in this stage of evolutionary development.


The Self is the human personality and it seeks to realise its potential for development. The Self does not come into being through the natural process of procreation but is activated by the spark of human action. It seeks and acquires an identity through an individual’s actions. Good (munificent) actions progress its development and bad (regressive) actions impede it. Only actions prompted by ethical choices affect it; other actions have no bearing on it.


Individuals who live by higher standards and values accelerate their development. For example, to an athlete following a strict regime of a good diet and training each day, the benefits become obvious. The athlete who does not is likely to be a loser.


Similarly, an individual who imposes ‘value-orientated’ restrictions on his/her Self does it for the sole purpose of turning things to the best account – i.e. to develop the Self. Discipline and restrictions do not detract humans from being free agents; the metapsychologist states that freedom, properly channelled, is the necessary condition for human Self-development.


A person who is consistent and has integrity and strength of character will have no problem in this progression. However, a weak personality, with its ever-changing attitudes, can never be a candidate for success in this evolutionary process.


According to the evolutionary metapsychologist, the body is disposable and interchangeable: nails can be clipped, hair can be cut, amputations occur and dead cells are replaced; also, heart transplants and kidney transplants are common. These are everyday practices in modern times. The body, they say, is only an ephemeral instrument in the evolutionary process that provides an environment for the Self to develop. Actions carried out by the physical body change the nature of the Self: they either develop it or it stagnates, in which case, for all practical purposes, it becomes extinct. However, the developed Self becomes resilient and survives what we call death, progressing to the next stage of life.


As such, the process of evolution that Charles Darwin discovered carries on, except that the present stage of evolution is not by natural selection but by self-determination. The individual has the opportunity to make choices (i.e. what action to take – progressive or regressive), and it is only when the choice is made that subsequent results become inevitable, as the laws of cause and effect take place.[1]


[1] The Self develops successfully only in the right social environment and only with the correct attitude towards life.This is how evolution progresses, stage by stage and only the fittest, the developed Self can proceed to the next level of life. C.S. Lewis described this succinctly: It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be harder for it to fly while it’s still an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you can’t go on forever being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” The developed Self will soar and the weak and feeble Self will wish it could.