Re: Macguffin

Date: Sat Aug 04 2001 - 19:55:58 BST

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    Subject: Re: Macguffin
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    On 4 Aug 2001, at 10:32, Dace wrote:

    > Hi Vincent,
    > Hope your pile of emails isn't too high when you get back. Will try
    > to keep this short.
    > > <Complexity of genetic interactions works against mechanistic
    > > biology. Where
    > > > is the inherited information according to which this interaction
    > > > is governed? As Harry Rubin of UC Berkeley points out, there are
    > > > 1000
    > genes
    > > > influencing the production of penicillin in the mold, Aspergillus.
    > > > Assuming there are two types of each gene, a wild type and a
    > > > mutated type, then
    > the
    > > > number of possible gene interactions involved in this process is 2
    > > > to
    > the
    > > > 1000th power. This can also be expressed as 10 to the 300th
    > > > power. By contrast, the total number of particles in the universe
    > > > is only 10 to
    > the
    > > > 80th power. At least the world's most powerful supercomputers
    > > > would require only 100 years to perform a complete protein-folding
    > > > computation. By contrast, calculating the interactions of genes
    > > > in the production of penicillin is "transcomputational," meaning
    > > > that it cannot be calculated in an infinite amount of time. Yet
    > > > this is a simple, haploid organism. In drosophila, there are
    > > > 10,000 genes involved in the production of an eye. There's no
    > > > possibility that a mechanical system, natural or
    > technological,
    > > > could control this process. There's no possibility that the
    > > > information encoding the steps of this process could somehow fit
    > > > into our genes. If the genome were large enough to contain all
    > > > this information, its own interactions would be so complex that
    > > > the information stored in it couldn't possibly account for its
    > > > functions. 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 acitivity.>
    > > >
    > > Genes don't contain blueprints, all they do IIRC is code for
    > > proteins.
    > Hold on, there. DNA provides a template for RNA, which provides a
    > template for a sequence of amino acids. In other words, a sequence of
    > nucleic acids is mechanically translated into a sequence of amino
    > acids. There's no "code" involved, as there's no interpretation, just
    > a simple process of stamping the form of one material onto another
    > material. No one has ever demonstrated any link between the linear
    > structure of DNA and the complex, four-fold shape of a protein
    > crystal.
    > If DNA doesn't contain a design of the body, what's the source of our
    > form? It's not as if the functions of the body are entirely explicable
    > in terms of mechanics. There's no school of biology that makes that
    > assertion. It's long been understood that organic processes cannot
    > disobey mechanical principles but at the same time are not bound by
    > those principles. The folding of amino acid chains is a perfect
    > example. For each sequence of amino acids, there are numerous
    > mechanically correct configurations. The one type of protein the
    > amino acids fold up into is no more mechanically necessary than scores
    > of others. So why does the amino acid chain fold into the correct
    > configuration?
    Because in the cases wher such chains fold into other
    configurations, they fail to subserve the lock-and-key functions
    necessary to interconnect them with contiguous amino acids and
    proteins, and the entity unlucky enough to be born inflicted such a
    malady dies before reproduction; that is, such entities have been
    selected against.
    >Now extend this principle through every level of
    > bodily activity, right up to the cognitive functions facilitated in
    > the brain. Again, we can't decide to do things that disobey the laws
    > of physics. But there's still a lot of room for choice within the
    > context of those laws. From proteins to humans, life is not
    > mechanically determined.
    But the only alternatives that survive are those that permit the
    individual that possesses them to survive through reproduction, and
    allow that reproduction itself to successfully proceed.
    > This is why biologists developed the notion of genetic blueprints or
    > programs. Something must be telling the proteins and cells and
    > tissues and organs what to do. It either arises from somewhere inside
    > the body, or it comes about through the resonance of the body with its
    > species form. Ultimately it boils down to to a question of space
    > versus time. Is there a design of the body spatially located within
    > the body? Or is the source of current form "located" in the body's
    > past form? No scientist on earth can demonstrate that it's the first
    > possibility. The question is entirely open.

    This sounds like the same newage whitelight fluffybunniness that
    claims that the entire history of the universe is bound up in what is
    called 'the akashic record', to be found in the minute growth lines
    on the surfaces of quartz crystals - faugh! Our minds must be
    open not only to accept the counterintuitive concept when evidence
    corroborates it, but also to reject the self-contradictory, that which
    contradicts contiguous truths, and that for which counterfactual
    evidence exists. It is not a corroboration of a long-standing
    assertion X that its disproof has yet to be found, in the absence of
    any evidence FOR assertion X; more likely, neither proof nor
    disproof is empirically possible, and assertion X resides within the
    realm of belief rather than the realm of knowledge (metaphysical
    rather than ontological).
    > > The brake disc of a formula one car doesn't contain the blueprint
    > > for the entire car, it doesn't have to, all it has to do is make the
    > wheels
    > > stop turning when applied. One of the disadvantages of line
    > > production,
    > is
    > > that it de-skills workers who went from being able to build an
    > > entire car, to being able to construct, and latterly to simply stick
    > > together
    > particular
    > > parts of the car. In other words, the guy who puts the brakes on a
    > > road car, probably doesn't know how to put the whole car together.
    > > 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.
    > Unlike a production line, organic processes do not blindly follow
    > mechanical necessity. There's always choice along the way, and
    > something has to govern the process to ensure that the right choice is
    > made.
    The components of replicating, evolving systems tend to mutually
    regulate in the sense that deviations beyond certain parameters
    preclude functional fit between system components. Those that
    breach these parameters tend to die or render themselves sterile or
    unreliable as replicators (their offspring are too unlike them to count
    as replicants). High replicational fidelity is the necessary
    background of a mutation/selection based evolutionary process.
    > > <The key to a genuine biology is the concept of "self." All organic
    > > > processes are self-controlled. There's no division between
    > > > program and execution of program. Life is self-creative and
    > > > self-regulating. This
    > is
    > > > the basis of our intuition of selfhood. Mechanistic biology
    > > > substitutes the human being with Homo macguffin.>
    > > >
    > > Was there a "self" in the primordial soup? Isn't self a macguffin
    > > (Blackmore thinks it's a memetic macguffin, or more accurately
    > > concurs
    > with
    > > Dennett's notion of the self as a benign user illusion).
    > If the world is limited to purely physical interactions, then there
    > cannot be such a thing as self-existence. Physical existence is
    > relative. Nothing exists intrinsically. Everything is a function of
    > relations with its parts, with space and time, and with other objects.
    > Blackmore and Dennett are following the logic of physicalism to its
    > ultimate conclusion. We do not exist. Blackmore does *not* think the
    > self is a memetic macguffin for the very simple reason that Blackmore
    > doesn't exist. If the self is a benign user illusion, then the "user"
    > is the illusion itself.
    "We do not exist" are the four most semantically absurd words, in
    that particular sequential relation, ever to issue from the ideational
    faculty of a self-deluded entity, for not only their very production (by
    a self), but also the intention motivation such production
    (communication to other selves), puts the apodictically self-evident
    lie to the substance of the contention. As I have said before; if
    there are selves, than the assertion that there are selves is no
    delusion, but if ther are no selves, then there exist no deludable
    entities, and since delusion requires a deludee, once again, there
    is no delusion. It is, however, a mechanistic delusion to blithely
    assume that all the plethora of myriad complex feedback and
    feedforward recursive demilevels of interactions are limited to the
    serial and linear, rather than including the parallel and/or
    circular/recursive. Physical existence is relative? Relative to
    what? Parts of existence subsist in dependency relations with
    other parts, but existence as a whole cannot be considered
    relative, for there is nothing left, once the whole is postulated, for
    that whole to be relative TO. The philosophy of wholes and parts
    comprises a discipline called mereology. And spacetime is a
    single perceptual and physical manifold; it is a phenomenological
    error to illegitimately linguistically bifurcate this manifold into
    'space' and 'time', as if 'either' is ever found in the absence of the
    > Ted Dace
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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