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> > > If you wish. I'd like to regard it inherent and typical to evolutionary
> > > processes.
> > Utility is typical of evolution but certainly not inherent to it, as the panda's
> > thumb demonstrates.
> Do you mean to say that the panda's thumb doesn't have a function?
> According to this site
> it has:
> "The panda's "thumb" is a much enlarged sesamoid bone. Not only is it not
> a true thumb, but it can't move much. It is primarily a bony support for the
> pad above it, a support the panda's true thumb and fingers can squeeze
> against to hold bamboo (Endo et al 1996). "
Utilitarianism is the antithesis of evolution by natural selection. As
Darwin pointed out, in chapter 6 of *The Origin of Species,* "the notion
that every detail of structure has been produced for the good of its
possessor" is the essence of creationist thinking. "Such doctrines, if true,
would be absolutely fatal to my theory." Darwin argued persuasively that
life does not conform to utilitarian logic. If species were formulated
according to "rational" principles, we'd have to invoke some kind of cosmic
intellect to account for the utility of every little feature we find in morphology and behavior. Fortunately, they're not.
> > You're approaching life from the outside. Any physical system can be
> > comprehended according to its mechanics. For instance, a rotting
> > corpse can be understood entirely in the light of universal, physical
> > principles. To be alive is to operate according to intrinsic principles.
> > Life is intrinsically meaningful.
> The cardinal assumption of the life-sciences is that life is mechanical (in
> the sense of being free of metaphysical agents like souls etc.)
Souls are not necessarily "metaphysical," i.e. supernatural. Only *eternal* souls are supernatural. If it's merely personal consciousness and memory, there's nothing supernatural about the soul.
> so yes I do approach life with a mechanical mindset. The intrinsic
> principles you talk about to me are mechanical too.
The influence of past behavior on current behavior is probabilistic, not
deterministic. We're quite capable of shaking off old patterns and establishing new ones. When people do it, it's called free will. When animals and plants do it, it's called evolution.
> To me life is meaningful in the sense of carrying more information (or
> information with higher density) than life-less matter.
I applaud your willingness to follow the logic of mechanism to its inescapable conclusion. If life is mechanism, then we are superceded by our own machines, which surpass us in every utilitarian measurement (or soon will). Natural language must yield to mathematics, the original artificial language, and its cybernetic descendants. Mechanism is nihilism. Unfortunately, most people who subscribe to orthodox biology have no idea what the implications are: We literally don't exist (as conscious agents), and life has no fundamental meaning.
> > > Life is an expression or manifestation of solar-induced energy that
> > > happens to exists because of favorable conditions here on earth.
> > > Life is equally superfluous as it is spontaneous.
> > Life is self-expression. There's no physics of the self. It's hard to make
> > measurements and equations when the only number you've got is one.
> In that sense: yes. Self-reflection is hardly admissable in the department of
Only if science is essentially physics. No statement is physically
meaningful unless it can be expressed mathematically. Self-existence and self-reflection cannot be physical properties. It's not physics that explains the difference between life and nonlife or people and trees. If science is to tackle life, it must find its metaphysical roots.
> but it may, however, serve as a pointer to scientific discoveries.
> Measurements performed on a sole subject is impotent scientifically but
> when repeated on an ensemble of equivalent subjects (i.e. featuring the
> same psychological properties needed, for instance some mental illness)
> it does fall within reach of science. Isn't that what modern psychology and
> psychiatry is all about?
If eighteen out of a hundred people report symptoms of clinical depression,
we can see that depression is indeed a feature of the mind. If *one hundred* out a hundred people report symptoms of self-existence, we can confidently report that the self is indeed a feature of the mind.
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