RE: Macguffin

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Fri Aug 03 2001 - 12:27:02 BST

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    From: Vincent Campbell <>
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    Subject: RE: Macguffin
    Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001 12:27:02 +0100 
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    I see what you're saying here Kenneth, but what's being missed is the
    importance of three factors in the development of an organism from the
    'ground floor' as you put it (nice phrase). They are: location, i.e. the
    physical position of the different genes within the genome; time- not
    everything works all at once in developing things in the body (I believe I'm
    right in saying no-one really knows how that works yet, e.g. how the
    apparently identical cells of an empbryo start to differentiate themselves
    into organs etc.); and external environment to the developing organism (e.g.
    temperature in the nest affects the gender of crocodiles, or is it
    alligators?), which I believe may have an impact on features like hair
    colour (IIRC in New Scientist a few months ago they mentioned a study of
    mice where they were testing to see just how hereditary fur colour was, and
    I belive they suggested there were quite a few developmental influences on
    fur colour).

    You add these kinds of things into the mix, and it helps get you to that
    final organism, without needing the genes to be smarter than Deep Thought
    (sorry, the BBC are running Hitch-hikers repeats on TV). There's nothing
    particularly holistic about wanting to see organisms as somehow entirely in
    control of their evolution and the environment around them, in fact in some
    ways it's more reductive that mechanistic metaphors for evolution.

    This'll probably be my last post for a week or so (hoorahs from the gallery)
    as I'm on holiday all next week (just to cover all the cultural bases that's
    en vacances, on vacation, going OS, on leave etc.). I'm off to Malta, where
    I'm looking forward to seeing lots of history (particularly the
    pre-stonehenge megalithic structures), and not at all looking forward to it
    being very hot.

    Feel free to completely demolish my views, I shall respond when I get back.


    > ----------
    > From: Kenneth Van Oost
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Thursday, August 2, 2001 4:10 pm
    > To:
    > Subject: Re: Macguffin
    > Hi Vincent, Dace,
    > The problem is that the hypothetical
    > > > function of genes-- storage of design information-- is incompatible
    > with
    > > > their actual function, the complex interactions with proteins and with
    > > > each other that provide the ground floor of cellulary activity.
    > You're
    > > confusing the components with the end product. The genes do not,
    > > individually, store information about all the possible interactions with
    > > other genes need to create an organism.
    > << Vincent, I think to be aware to what Dace is aiming at, and in a
    > sense I understand his point of view.
    > To get an organism up from the ground floor in nine month the complex
    > interactions of genes are not compatable with their own contents, with
    > the actually information stored in them.
    > There is a gene to make you a eye, but there is no gene to make that
    > eye blue. That information is not in the gene. Where is it than !?
    > Somewhere in some interactions of some sort of genes !?
    > In a way, the components layed flat out on the ground can 't make the
    > whole, so what is needed for making up the whole !?
    > Interactions between genes !? Ok, which and how !?
    > In a sense, I think, Dace is aiming at a holostic existence of information
    > by which the whole finally can be made up.
    > In a way, hypothetical of course, he is aiming at the existence of infor-
    > mation on a level where it can exist as it were in a superposition,
    > an " expression- site " of the gene as you will.
    > Put in one more other way, he is tacklin' the Hard Problem _ what makes
    > us alive !?
    > I think....
    > Best regards,
    > Kenneth
    > ( I am, because we are) physiological processes
    > ===============================================================
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