Re: Clincher?

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Sat Sep 01 2001 - 00:08:13 BST

  • Next message: Lawrence DeBivort: "RE: Logic"

    Received: by id AAA18857 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Sat, 1 Sep 2001 00:10:43 +0100
    X-Originating-IP: []
    From: "Scott Chase" <>
    Subject: Re: Clincher?
    Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 19:08:13 -0400
    Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
    Message-ID: <>
    X-OriginalArrivalTime: 31 Aug 2001 23:08:13.0322 (UTC) FILETIME=[CF458EA0:01C13271]
    Precedence: bulk

    >From: "Dace" <>
    >To: <>
    >Subject: Re: Clincher?
    >Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 12:16:40 -0700
    >Hi Scott:
    > > >As long as we assume that genes in some way contain the structure of
    > > >body, then the passing on of acquired characteristics is impossible.
    > >
    > > Genes can exert influence on development of structure without containing
    > > some sort of homuncular "blueprint".
    >That genes merely exert influence on development is precisely what
    >is saying. According to standard theory, genes are the guiding principle
    >development, which implies a blueprint of some kind.
    > > >Acquired traits can't directly change the genome. But keep in mind
    > > >Darwin rejected the notion of units of "germ-plasm" coding for units of
    > > >bodily structure.
    > >
    > > I have in mind that Darwin put forth a shaky speculation about particles
    > > from various modified parts of the body (gemmules) somewhow influencing
    > > gonadal structure and allowing for acquired traits to be passed to
    > > offspring. Was he aware of Weismann's doctrine of the germ-plasm?
    >Darwin died in 1882, five years before Weismann published his theory.
    >Darwin would certainly have rejected the "atomistic determinants" that code
    >for particular traits. But Weismann's theory was double-stranded.
    >Intertwined with his notion of particular germs coding for particular
    >structures was the idea of germ-plasm as a kind of "central directing
    >agency." While the atomistic view was developed by Dawkins into "selfish
    >genes," the more holistic approach came to be known as the "genetic
    >program." By the end of the 20th century, the notion of a "gene for this
    >and a gene for that" was mostly discredited. Darwin would have approved.
    >The really interesting question is how he would have reacted to the news
    >that phenotype cannot directly influence genotype, thus banishing gemmules
    >forever. This would have required him to reject either the centrality of
    >the passing on of acquired characteristics or the necessity for strictly
    >material inheritance. Since he was committed equally to both views, it's
    >impossible to say which way he would have gone. And, as Chris pointed out,
    >it really doesn't matter. But it's significant that all of this has been
    >airbrushed out of the history books. Pretending as if Darwin would have
    >given any kind of unambiguous seal of approval to "neo-Darwinian" theory
    >served to reinforce the dangerous and illegitimate notion that all rational
    >people are in agreement about the basic issues.
    >As neo-Darwinism steadily loses its grip, the old uncertainties are
    >beginning to bubble up to the surface again. It's fast becoming clear that
    >all the great questions, right back to the very core, are still open to
    >dispute. Welcome to the 21st century.
    > > IIRC Gregory Bateson considered Lamarck a great biologist who turned a
    > > similar to the Copernican revolution in that L. inverted our views of
    > > versus biology. Before Lamarck it was Mind first from on high. After
    > > the mind emerged from the realm of biology itself. Lamarck was also a
    > > pioneer of comparative psychology, however crude his attempts by our
    > > standards.
    >So Lamarck would be the origin of the genuine study of mind. Fascinating.
    Whenever I can get around to giving _Zoological Philosophy_ another more
    careful re-read, I'll have to keep Gregory Bateson's assertions in mind. On
    page 456 of _Steps to an Ecology of Mind_ it seems he's saying that Lamarck
    was the founder of comparative psychology, 2/3 of L's book being devoted to
    this pursuit.

    Whether Lamarck's approach to behavior was "the origin of the genuine study
    of mind" is an open question. It's also of interest to look at him as a
    transformist or proto-evolutionist, though he may be subject to derision
    when wearing the blinders of hindsight. His name has become a label to brand
    opponents with due to his putting forth ideas of use/disuse and inheritance
    of acquired characters which I'm not sure were entirely original with him.

    Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sat Sep 01 2001 - 00:15:26 BST