Re: Me against the meme

From: Dace (
Date: Thu 10 Nov 2005 - 22:34:12 GMT

  • Next message: Dace: "Re: Me against the meme"


    > - --- Dace <> wrote:
    > >
    > [snip]
    > >
    > > Reductionistic biology cannot explain life. It can
    > > only explain what life
    > > would be like if it were actually machinery. In the
    > > effort to explain life,
    > > as opposed to mechanisms masquerading as life, we
    > > have no choice but to
    > > posit two things: field and memory. We must have
    > > holistic coordination of
    > > disparate activities, and we must have memory to
    > > guide the field. You have
    > > yet to offer any reason as to why a memory-based
    > > morphogenetic field is
    > > impossible. Since the memory/field hypothesis is
    > > the only hypothesis that
    > > can explain the basic features of life, including
    > > our own experience of
    > > being alive, the burden is on you to explain why
    > > it's impossible.
    > >
    > It's sheer hubris to demand that those following
    > standard accepted ideas have the onus on them to
    > demonstrate that ideas outside the mainstream are
    > impossible.

    It's sheer hubris to privilege machinery, a human creation, over our own experience of life as a model for biological theory. Science isn't about
    "standard accepted ideas." It's about identifying the truth, regardless of how popular or unpopular it may be.

    > I'd assume the burden of showing
    > importance goes the other way. If someone could show
    > mnemic fields to be a reasonable explanation for
    > natural phenomena based on evidence that supports the
    > idea, I would assume that this would become an
    > accepted view. I doubt there's a conspiracy afoot to
    > keep morphic resonance at bay. It's probably more the
    > case that convincing evidence has not been put
    > forward.

    It's not a conspiracy. It's a meme, specifically a virulent type of meme known as a taboo, which gains its power by exploiting our fear of being rejected by peers. A conspiracy is conscious. Rule by fear is unconscious.

    > > You must explain why there cannot be a memory-based
    > > morphogenetic field.
    > > What principles of existence are violated by such a
    > > field?
    > >
    > No. You need to offer compelling evidence for such
    > things that would pass muster in a peer reviewed
    > journal of developmental biology or other relevant
    > discipline. The onus is on you, not Derek.

    There's that word "peer." Hill's article has been printed in a peer reviewed journal, as has much of Elsasser's work. No doubt, if the anti-holistic meme lost its charge, a great deal more nonreductionistic research and theory would be published.

    The onus is on reductionism, which has never produced a coherent theory of life. Reductionistic philosophy goes back to Descartes, who proposed that the "soul," i.e. a homunculus, occupies the pineal gland in the brain. Without this homunculus, reductionistic or mechanistic brain theory makes no sense. If the brain is producing visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory and olfactory images, someone has to be tucked away in there to receive those images. But there is no homunculus. Consciousness is not simply another piece in a machine but an indicator of the holistic nature of the brain. What sees and hears and feels is not a little man in the brain but the whole person served by that brain. The problem for reductionism is even worse when it comes to thinking, which entails representation. We think *about* the world around us, that is, our thoughts represent things other than themselves. Clearly, we cannot reduce thinking to material elements, as material elements cannot refer to other elements but can only be themselves. Even if you draw an arrow pointing at something else, it's only in your mind-- in your interpretation of the arrow-- that it points. As far as the arrow itself is concerned, it's just a bunch of molecules arranged in a particular order. It has no intrinsic meaning. The meaning is in our mind. Though facilitated by neural activities, the meaning exists no more in the neurons than in the molecules that comprise the arrow. It exists within us.

    Machines have no "self." A machine is nothing more than the blind operations of its parts in accord with the laws of physics. Nothing dies when you take apart a machine. What lives is precisely that aspect of the organism that reductionsim can never account for, not now or in a million years.

    Machines have no freedom. A theory of life that treats it like machinery cannot account for our ability to make up our minds. A part in a machine just performs its task. It can't reflect and change course if that makes more sense. There's no capacity for intelligence in a machine any more than stupidity. A machine theory can't account for our individuality, which extends all the way down to the chemical composition of our blood. Why aren't we identical outside genetically induced variations? Why does embryogenesis proceed in a totally idiosyncratic way until gradually coming under the influence of species-wide patterns? How does machine-theory account for molecular diversity in the context of large-scale unity? Machines are uniform; organisms are individualistic.

    A machine theory depends on contact mechanics, which means heredity must involve the transferal of material code from one generation to the next. Never mind that again we have a homunculus, this time reading the code in the chromosome. Far worse is the fact that we can't alter our genes in the course of our lives and therefore have no input whatever on the future evolution of our species.

    The machine theory flies in the face of everything we know about being alive. We have no self, no mind, no freedom, no intelligence, no individuality, no capacity to define ourselves and pass on that self-definition to the generations that follow us.

    All we need for a rational theory of life is fields and memory. We need holistic organization that operates according to what has worked before. It must be probabilistic, not deterministic, in order to allow us to change course if we see fit. As this theory can account for life as we actually know it to be, reductionists must demonstrate why it can't be true. The onus is on you.


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