Re: Me against the meme

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 09 Nov 2005 - 02:06:54 GMT

  • Next message: Derek Gatherer: "Re: Me against the meme"

    --- Dace <> wrote:
    > Human self-determination is the product of an
    > evolutionary process
    > stretching back to our prokaryotic ancestors.
    > Self-determination has
    > existed every step of the way. The meaning of
    > evolution is that species are
    > self-determined in the context of environmental
    > pressures. What humans do
    > is to extend this capacity to the level of the
    > individual. Where plant and
    > animal species define themselves in the context of a
    > physical environment,
    > people define themselves in the context of a
    > cultural environment.
    > To posit human self-determination without organic
    > self-determination is to
    > leave it hanging in the air, as if it were a gift
    > from a benevolent deity.
    Birds have feathers plus wings. Rattlesnakes have venom and fangs. Plants and bacteria don't have quite the same features (though plants can have toxins and thorns). I don't see why a human feature needs to be extrapolated across all the species of life to achieve some misplaced sense of consistency. Maybe some species with cortical complexity have similar attributes (elephants come to mind), but we are still only talking about species in the mammalian branch. Some invertebrates, like the octopus, may have very highly advanced neural processing capacity, but we are talking about a limited segment of the invertebrate spectrum here. Overall, things like intelligence and self-determination are not applicable across all the branches of life.
    > To define itself, a population breaking off from the
    > main body of its
    > species doesn't have to know it's generating a new
    > evolutionary lineage.
    > Self-consciousness is not a prerequisite for
    > self-determination. A species
    > is self-determined to the extent that an
    > intelligently chosen functional
    > adaptation has generated a structural variation to
    > be selected or not by the
    > environment. This brings us back to holistic
    > information transferal across
    > the generations.
    Intelligently chosen? If I shop for a new television set I might read as much consumer info as possible and make a choice based on my knowledge base. Maybe this choice is an intelligent one, but the possibility of it being so stems from my uniquely human mental capacity shared with other members of my species. We wouldn't want to go making evolutionary generalizations based on bird flight or crotalid envenomation would we? Why the inmportance of uniquely human attributes? Why do psychological features that evolved within one branch of great apes apply to distinct branches such as plants or bacteria? I just don't get it.

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