Re: Teleology

Date: Sun Aug 05 2001 - 23:50:42 BST

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    Subject: Re: Teleology
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    On 5 Aug 2001, at 12:06, Dace wrote:

    > > > 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.
    > Joe, this is a teleological explanation. You're accounting for the
    > behavior of the amino acid chain in terms of final cause. It folds up
    > into one protein in particular because that's the one that will
    > function correctly in the cell. It's as if the future protein already
    > exists, acting like a magnet to draw the amino acid chain into its
    > correct configuration.
    No, they originally, I believe, could have folded in all sorts of
    directions (mutation, variation), but the unsuccessful ones have
    been eliminated by being environmentally (and this includes the
    internal environment of the rest of the organism) selected against.
    This is not a teleological explanation, but an evolutionary one.
    > Sure, the correct protein is selected over alternative models. But
    > that doesn't tell us what actually causes the chain to fold up
    > correctly. What we're looking for is not a final cause but the
    > *efficient* cause. Think of it like a game of pool. When a ball goes
    > into a hole, is it because that's the correct place for it to go? Or
    > is it because it was physically pushed into the hole? We need to know
    > what pushes the amino acid chain into the correct protein, as opposed
    > to any of the numerous incorrect configurations. Sure, if the wrong
    > protein appears, it will be useless. But how is the amino acid chain
    > supposed to "know" which one is correct? Since the process doesn't
    > follow from mechanical necessity, something must be informing the
    > chain. There are two possibilities. According to neo-Darwinian
    > theory, the chain is informed by genes. According to Sheldrake, the
    > current chain is informed by past chains that have already undergone
    > the same process. It simply follows the "grooves" (chreodes) already
    > established by similar organic systems. This is a fancy way of saying
    > that organic memory is not a function of stored information. It's the
    > influence of one system over another across a temporal distance. We
    > can be certain that causation works from past to present. The
    > question is whether the present is influenced solely by the immediate
    > past or if it can also be influenced by the deep past.
    This is where I get the mystical woo-woo vibes, kinda like the
    newage 'akashic records in quartz crystals' contention gives me.
    Those that sisn't fold up correctly didn't survive, and neither did the
    gene that instructed them to incorrectly fold, as the organism died
    prior to reproduction. Different proteins with different locks and
    keys are made, according to genetic instruction, and those whos
    locks don't fit into the others' keys simply don't join when they
    bump into each other. Nothing has to be pushed; there are certain
    ionic and covalent bonding possibilities that serve as attractors
    once candidates drift close.
    > > > 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!
    > Fallacy of association.
    You'd rather insist on some sort of subspace ether connection with
    our species ancestors that instructs the young grasshoppers in the
    Configurational Tao, ayy?
    > > It is not a corroboration of a long-standing
    > > assertion X that its disproof has yet to be found,
    > Indeed, scientific statements must be falsifiable. It's quite an easy
    > matter to falsify the notion of holistic memory. Simply demonstrate
    > that organisms of a given species do not improve their performance of
    > a particular task from generation to generation. If you test a group
    > of rats in a maze, when the test is repeated with a different group of
    > rats, there should be no difference in the average time taken to
    > complete the maze. In fact, this is not the case. There is *always*
    > improvement from the first group to the second. It doesn't matter
    > whether or not the second group is descended from the first, so
    > there's no Lamarckian explanation for this.
    They should try building new mazes with the same configurations,
    so there's no chance of spoor or wear markd providing clues.
    > > > 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
    > Harsh but true. I thought it was clear that I was speaking
    > critically. When you start with an incorrect premise (physicalism)
    > logic can only lead to absurdity. Dennett has done us all a great
    > favor by rigorously pursuing physicalism to its pathological
    > conclusion.
    And Blackmore with him. They need to take another look at
    emergent cognitivism. This does not require Descartian duality of
    body and soul. A good book to look at George Lakoff and Mark
    Basic Books, 1999 pb HarperCollins).
    > > 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.
    > Exactly. But what is the whole? It can't be physical. The lesson of
    > 20th century physics is that there's no center, there's no ground,
    > there's no whole, there's no essence, and there's no substance.
    > Physicalism is nihilism. Yet, as Aristotle pointed out, you can't
    > have accident without substance. Since the concept of substance has
    > no meaning in physics, it must be metaphysical. The error is to
    > equate physical with natural and therefore metaphysical with
    > supernatural. The task is to find a natural object whose existence is
    > absolute.
    This is to confuse the microphysical with the macrophysical.
    While it is true that indiividual quantum particles demonstrate a
    statistical probability of existing or of occupying a location, once
    you take dodecadrillions to the nth power of them in the aggregate,
    the weight of all those individual cases multiplied by each other
    resolves the probabilities into something prohibitively approaching
    certainty. That is why light measurement can affect the energy
    state and location of an electron, and positron-electron pairs can
    blink into and out of existence, yet viewing a thrown baseball does
    nothing measureable to its speed, location or existence.
    > > 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 'other'.
    > Physics isn't concerned with time except in relation to space and
    > matter. "Space-time" is simply time from the point of view of space.
    > This says nothing about time as a thing in itself.
    No, matter/energy creates/curves spacetime by means of gravity.
    > Ted Dace
    > ===============================================================
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