On the Ambiguity of Firsts


The author, Stanley Shostak, on his article “On the Ambiguity of Firsts: Symbiogeny and Evolutionary Creativity”, states that he want to take issue with static concepts of origins. Predecessors of what exists at present are not necessarily what came first.

The abstract of the article says: It isn’t as if the problem of identifying origins is unique to biology. Western culture is dominated by concepts of origins firmly rooted in the present. Historically, Western religions have assigned priority to what exists by anointing it with attributes of origins and characterizing these attributes as fundamental. God, after all, is said to have created man in his image amounting to a first among firsts. At the expense of God’s image, symgiogeny theory flies in the face of the rule that what is must have its origin in something similar that came before.

His object was to examine how originary prejudices distort questions of origins and the attributes of ancestors. He was especially eager to strip away notions of original characteristics from present organisms. He wanted to imagine what was different in the past.