From the parts to the whole or from the whole to the parts.

Alan doesn’t believe that there are any other proposed explanations to rival ‘evolutionary theory’. At least none that so effectively account for the facts.

It is often said that there is no single theory of evolution, there are a group of mutually consistent theories. Be that as it may, I think we all understand the point Alan is making.

Evolution is a process whereby life has somehow emerged from a lifeless physical world and there is no overall teleology involved in its diversification. The reproductive processes produce a natural variety of forms which can take advantage of previously unoccupied niches. The basic sequence of events from primal to present are: lifeless minerals, water systems and gaseous atmosphere, followed by the arrival of simple prokaryote life forms, followed by multicellular organisms. Life is solely the product of physical and chemical processes acting on lifeless matter.

In this view life is nothing special, it just occurred because physical matter chanced to arrange itself in a particular way. And consciousness is just a by product of life.

But I suggest that there is an alternative way in which life as we perceive it could have come about.

Arthur Zajonc in the book Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind

Goethe was right. Try though we may to split light into fundamental atomic pieces, it remains whole to the end. Our very notion of what it means to be elementary is challenged. Until now we have equated smallest with most fundamental. Perhaps for light, at least, the most fundamental feature is not to be found in smallness, but rather in wholeness, its incorrigible capacity to be one and many, particle and wave, a single thing with the universe inside.

In the same way that in the above quote light is understood in its wholeness, so can life be understood as a whole. The variety of earthly life forms that have existed through time and space are individual expressions of an ever present archetypical whole. Life is one and many.

Daniel Christian Wahl writes

Holistic science attempts to get closer to the mystery of the dynamical emergence of the diversity of living forms within the unity of the continuously manifesting whole.

An arithmetical analogy between orthodox accounts of evolution and evolution as the unfolding expression of archetypal forms could be that the former is akin to addition while the latter is akin to division. Novel forms are an extra addition to what came before or novel forms are divided off from what already existed in potential. From the parts to the whole or from the whole to the parts. Which is it? Sense perception points to the former while the mind’s eye, perceiving with the mind, points to the latter. And Goethe was an expert at perceiving with the mind.

Instead of life emerging out of matter in an extended version of the spontaneous generation of mice from mud, it could at least be regarded as a possibility that physical organic life is a condensation or hardening of form out of a more subtle general condition which contained all physical forms in potential. This is analogous to crystals emerging out of solution. The perception of salt in sea water is dependent on the senses of the perceiver. Some forms of life have not descended as completely as others and thus retained more plasticity and because of this they are more adaptable to changes in their surroundings.

Life is and always was everywhere but it is only when it coalesces into gross material forms that it is perceptible to our everyday senses.

Convergent evolution is explicable not just by occupation of similar niches but by similar forms coalescing.

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416 thoughts on “From the parts to the whole or from the whole to the parts.

  1. OP

    Evolution is a process whereby life has somehow emerged from a lifeless physical world and there is no overall teleology involved in its diversification.

    Factually incorrect. Evolutionary theory does not address the origin of life.

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  2. Alan doesn’t believe that there are any other proposed explanations to rival ‘evolutionary theory’. At least none that so effectively account for the facts.

    Alan rather doesn’t know of any other scientific theory that explains the pattern of life’s diversity as we observe it. Not a matter of belief; a matter of fact.

    You may believe an alternative scientific theory with genuine explanatory power exists. You could support that belief by expounding it. There’s nothing in your OP that does that as far as I can tell.

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  3. Alan Fox:
    OP

    Factually incorrect. Evolutionary theory does not address the origin of life.

    Okay for ‘evolution’ read, ‘the origin and evolution of life’.

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  4. Alan Fox:

    Alan doesn’t believe that there are any other proposed explanations to rival ‘evolutionary theory’. At least none that so effectively account for the facts.

    Alan rather doesn’t know of any other scientific theory that explains the pattern of life’s diversity as we observe it. Not a matter of belief; a matter of fact.

    You may believe an alternative scientific theory with genuine explanatory power exists. You could support that belief by expounding it. There’s nothing in your OP that does that as far as I can tell.

    Goethe:

    There exists a delicate form of empiricism, which unites in its innermost with the object, making itself identical with it and thus becoming theory itself. Yet, this amplification of mental-spiritual capacity belongs to a highly educated time.

    The theory here is not something that is just proposed. It is actually perceived with the mind’s eye. The sense perception gives us a fragmented view, but the mind’s eye can actually perceive the whole which connects the fragments in a meaningful way.

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  5. Owen Barfield:

    What is it which, more than anything else, cuts us off mentally from the year 1749? It is the presence, implicit or explicit in practically all our thinking about everything, of this mental image of development, or evolution (for the two are really synonymous). I am not speaking of any particular theory of evolution; nor only of the evolution of species, but of ‘development’ in general, including the development of the individual from procreation to maturity. I am asking you to withdraw your mind from such things as arguments between Huxley and Wilberforce, or between Darwinians and Lamarckians and to direct it to the thing they were arguing about – this mental image, so familiar to us now, and yet, in itself, so strange, of one form gradually changing into another form and yet somehow retaining identity. This was the new thing that came into men’s minds between Goethe’s birth and his old age. This is still the important thing. By comparison with it the theory of, for example, natural selection, however true it may be, is little more than a stunt. For that was simply the transference to one set of observations of a well-established way in which men were already thinking about another. Whereas evolution simpliciter was a new way of thinking. And like all such new ways, its introduction was an act of man’s image-making faculty; sometimes called imagination. It sprang, not from theorising but from direct observation.

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  6. CharlieM: The theory here is not something that is just proposed. It is actually perceived with the mind’s eye. The sense perception gives us a fragmented view, but the mind’s eye can actually perceive the whole which connects the fragments in a meaningful way.

    How do you know that you are actually perceiving something real and not just fantasizing or imagining? There’s an epistemological problem here that Goethe hasn’t addressed. You need to think through what epistemology will allow you to advance the Neoplatonic metaphysics, and how that epistemology will address skeptical challenges from rival positions.

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  7. In this view life is nothing special, it just occurred because physical matter chanced to arrange itself in a particular way. And consciousness is just a by product of life.

    A matter of perspective, I guess:

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

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  8. Kantian Naturalist:

    CharlieM: The theory here is not something that is just proposed. It is actually perceived with the mind’s eye. The sense perception gives us a fragmented view, but the mind’s eye can actually perceive the whole which connects the fragments in a meaningful way.

    How do you know that you are actually perceiving something real and not just fantasizing or imagining? There’s an epistemological problem here that Goethe hasn’t addressed.

    Is a rose a brightly coloured flower? Is it a woody stem? Is it a hip? Is it a series of green leaves? No. It is a living combination of all of these things and more. These former features are aspects of the rose that are available to the senses and the latter is the aspect is available to the mind. But we need not just stop at linking the concepts. An image of the morphological process can be perceived in the mind and that is the beginning of perceiving the whole.

    This imagination of the transformational processes adds to the reality of the plant in its wholeness.

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  9. Corneel:

    In this view life is nothing special, it just occurred because physical matter chanced to arrange itself in a particular way. And consciousness is just a by product of life.

    A matter of perspective, I guess:

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

    Yes Darwin was a deep thinker and an excellent observer of nature.

    He gives a poetic vision of physical forms emerging out of the creative breath.

    Wind breath and spirit, fragmented language from a single whole. Life breathed into existence by the Word.

    From the Owen Barfield website there is this comment on the use of the words ‘spirit’ and ‘reath’:

    Probably most people read the first part of verse 8 as a metaphor comparing the spirit with the wind. But if we turn to the Greek, we find it is not so. The same word pneuma is employed throughout, though it has been (rightly) translated first as ‘spirit,” then as “wind” and then again as ‘spirit.” In Hellenistic Greek pneuma still conveyed the concomitant meanings; but the English translators had to split it into two words, one of which (‘spirit”) had since lost its outer meaning, while the other (“wind”) had lost its inner meanin

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  10. CharlieM:
    This imagination of the transformational processes adds to the reality of the plant in its wholeness.

    I think this misses the point a bit. I read a lot of science fiction, and one of the things the best authors do is called worldbuilding, that is, conjuring up detailed technologies and societies, with proper consideration to all of the interconnections. These authors are well aware that to be realistic and credible, their imaginary worlds need to be so integral that all changes will have ripple effects, many of them far from obvious. Also feedback effects, also not obvious.

    Anyway, the final result is a wholeness clearly visualized in the mind’s eye, all of the interlocking parts considered together, and ALL of it entirely imaginary. Our ability to imagine and visualize intricate detail doesn’t make it real. To some degree, everyone lives in a world of their imagination, corresponding more or less loosely to external reality. Hell, some people believe in gods and you can’t get much more imaginary than that.

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  11. CharlieM: Convergent evolution is explicable not just by occupation of similar niches but by similar forms coalescing.

    Or by the need to solve the same problems using the same resources.

    Forgive me if my mundane answer does not provide porn for your mental masturbation.

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  12. CharlieM: Okay for ‘evolution’ read, ‘the origin and evolution of life’.

    Not OK. Common descent is explained so well by evolutionary theory and supported by such a wealth of concilient evidence that it is overwhelmingly accepted as fact.

    Origin of life is a mystery.

    Please don’t conflate them.

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  13. CharlieM: Is a rose a brightly coloured flower? Is it a woody stem? Is it a hip? Is it a series of green leaves? No. It is a living combination of all of these things and more. These former features are aspects of the rose that are available to the senses and the latter is the aspect is available to the mind. But we need not just stop at linking the concepts. An image of the morphological process can be perceived in the mind and that is the beginning of perceiving the whole.

    It’s you, Charlie, not “we”.

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  14. CharlieM: The theory here is not something that is just proposed. It is actually perceived with the mind’s eye. The sense perception gives us a fragmented view, but the mind’s eye can actually perceive the whole which connects the fragments in a meaningful way.

    This is not a description of a scientific theory. You need to construct a model, preferably mathematically, that can be used to make testable predictions.

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  15. Flint:

    CharlieM:
    This imagination of the transformational processes adds to the reality of the plant in its wholeness.

    I think this misses the point a bit. I read a lot of science fiction, and one of the things the best authors do is called worldbuilding, that is, conjuring up detailed technologies and societies, with proper consideration to all of the interconnections. These authors are well aware that to be realistic and credible, their imaginary worlds need to be so integral that all changes will have ripple effects, many of them far from obvious. Also feedback effects, also not obvious.

    Anyway, the final result is a wholeness clearly visualized in the mind’s eye, all of the interlocking parts considered together, and ALL of it entirely imaginary. Our ability to imagine and visualize intricate detail doesn’t make it real. To some degree, everyone lives in a world of their imagination, corresponding more or less loosely to external reality. Hell, some people believe in gods and you can’t get much more imaginary than that.

    And I think you are missing the point of Goethe’s “exact sensory imagination”. It is not a case of building imaginary worlds in the mind. A prerequisite to the work of the mind is a very careful study of the phenomena it is concerned with, whether it be the observation of light and colour, the forms of a plant or the skeleton of a mammal. Once this process of acquiring mental images of the subject is carried out to a satisfactory degree only then is the imagination set to work on imagining these images morphing into each other.
    From the entry on systemic imagination in the Barfield encyclopedia they give it another name:

    Goethe called such imagination, which he sought to perfect as an instrument of his completely misunderstood morphological investigations, “exact percipient fancy”; and it may be thought of as the transfer of “the esemplastic imagination [Coleridge] from literature and art to science”

    Here is piece on Barfield and the imagination:

    Whereas the word “”imagination’ has come to mean, for most people, the faculty of inventing fictions, especially poetic fictions . . . ,” for Barfield imagination “in its deepest sense . . . signifies that very faculty of apprehending the outward form as the image or symbol of an inner meaning

    This activity does the opposite of escaping from reality.

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  16. Fair Witness:

    CharlieM: Convergent evolution is explicable not just by occupation of similar niches but by similar forms coalescing.

    Or by the need to solve the same problems using the same resources.

    Forgive me if my mundane answer does not provide porn for your mental masturbation.

    Have you looked at many examples of convergent evolution? That answer may seem satisfactory in some cases but if you are satisfied with that answer in all cases then you seem to be very easily convinced.

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  17. dazz:
    Where’s the projective geometry? So disappointed

    You’ve made a connection in your mind. That’s a good start 🙂

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  18. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: Okay for ‘evolution’ read, ‘the origin and evolution of life’.

    Not OK. Common descent is explained so well by evolutionary theory and supported by such a wealth of concilient evidence that it is overwhelmingly accepted as fact.

    Does that mean that your mind is just a compendium of your ancestor’s minds?

    Origin of life is a mystery.

    Please don’t conflate them.

    Can we not even discuss life’s origin?

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  19. CharlieM: Does that mean that your mind is just a compendium of your ancestor’s minds?

    I have no idea what you are asking here.

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  20. CharlieM: Can we not even discuss life’s origin?

    Of course. Just don’t confuse OOL hypotheses and TOE.

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  21. Alan Fox:

    Fair Witness: Forgive me if my mundane answer does not provide porn for your mental masturbation.

    Harsh but fair! 😉

    Well I do get a thrill out of thinking. Don’t you? I also really enjoy the full intercourse I get here 🙂

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  22. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: Is a rose a brightly coloured flower? Is it a woody stem? Is it a hip? Is it a series of green leaves? No. It is a living combination of all of these things and more. These former features are aspects of the rose that are available to the senses and the latter is the aspect is available to the mind. But we need not just stop at linking the concepts. An image of the morphological process can be perceived in the mind and that is the beginning of perceiving the whole.

    It’s you, Charlie, not “we”.

    Well you can’t say I didn’t try to get you to take the next step 🙂

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  23. CharlieM,

    There has to be some meat in the sandwich, Charlie. I mean, you could start with a mechanism. What explains adaptation, change over time?

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  24. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: The theory here is not something that is just proposed. It is actually perceived with the mind’s eye. The sense perception gives us a fragmented view, but the mind’s eye can actually perceive the whole which connects the fragments in a meaningful way.

    This is not a description of a scientific theory. You need to construct a model, preferably mathematically, that can be used to make testable predictions.

    That’s not the way it’s done in Goethean science which is complimentary to modern science. I would even say it is an advancement on modern science..

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  25. CharlieM: That’s not the way it’s done in Goethean science which is complimentary to modern science. I would even say it is an advancement on modern science.

    Complementary, I think you mean. In which case not an alternative but an extension. Can you expand on advancement?

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  26. CharlieM: Is a rose a brightly coloured flower? Is it a woody stem? Is it a hip? Is it a series of green leaves? No. It is a living combination of all of these things and more. These former features are aspects of the rose that are available to the senses and the latter is the aspect is available to the mind. But we need not just stop at linking the concepts. An image of the morphological process can be perceived in the mind and that is the beginning of perceiving the whole.

    I think it is simply false to divvy up “the senses” and “the mind” in this way; it neglects all the ways that perception is itself a holistic process. For starters, you might read the Wikipedia entry on Gestalt psychology.

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  27. CharlieM: Harsh but fair! 😉

    Well I do get a thrill out of thinking. Don’t you? I also really enjoy the full intercourse I get here 🙂

    Thinking is only the first step.
    1) Think
    2) Model
    3) Test
    4) Go to back and adjust 1 and 2

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  28. CharlieM: I also really enjoy the full intercourse I get here 🙂

    It’s rather sad that you think you are getting “the full intercourse” here. At best, you only manage axillism; frottage is more like it, really.
    😮

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  29. physical organic life is a condensation or hardening of form out of a more subtle general condition which contained all physical forms in potential.

    Charlie: perhaps a little less word salad and a little more evidence eh ?

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  30. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: Does that mean that your mind is just a compendium of your ancestor’s minds?

    I have no idea what you are asking here.

    If you believe that the body is the result of common descent, what about your mind? How much of that can you claim as your own and how much belongs to your ancestors?

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  31. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: Can we not even discuss life’s origin?

    Of course. Just don’t confuse OOL hypotheses and TOE.

    But they are unquestionably linked. I can trace my individual development back to its beginning and that was as a fully functioning fairly complex cell. Prior to that its prehistory gets even more complex.

    The whole reflected in the parts. I am proposing that evolution as a whole may have a similar trajectory.

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  32. Alan Fox:
    CharlieM,

    There has to be some meat in the sandwich, Charlie. I mean, you could start with a mechanism. What explains adaptation, change over time?

    There is an interesting book by Jos Verhulst entitled, “Developmental Dynamics in Humans and Other Primates”

    In the foreward Mark Riegner writes:

    The second major theme of the book builds on the theme of heterochrony just discussed. Because ‘Homo sapiens’ appeared last in the fossil record of hominids and other primates, it is customary to refer to modern humans as evolutionary modifications of presumed ancestral forms. Verhulst, however, supports a radically different view, namely that human evolution was already prefigured in the appearance of early hominids and even other primates. In other words, modern humans and anthropoid apes, for example, did not descend from a common ape like ancestor-which Verhulst shows is anyway unsubstantiated-but rather the great apes descended from a hominid-like ancestor. In fact, the evolution of all primates points to the same relationship. The forward (i.e. Human-like) location of the foramen magnum in monkey fetuses, as well as many other features, makes biological sense only to the degree that it heralds a future evolutionary condition-that of modern humans. The notion of “preadaption,” as Verhulst maintains, explains nothing and in fact begs the question: for what is it preadapted? Thus, human evolution is paradoxical in that Homo sapiens appeared last in time but is also the guiding principle of primate evolution.

    This accords with Goethe’s view that instead of evolution having a linear temporal dimension he sees “evolution as the progressive development of a central gestalt, that being the generalized human-like image.” Riegner continues:

    With its archetypal quality, this gestalt contains the potential for expression of one-sided, specialized animal forms, which take specific shape according to outer (i.e. environmental) circumstances. This “typological” explanation has unfortunately been misunderstood by many modern critics who utterly fail to grasp the dynamic quality of its expression and dwell instead on static representations.

    Of course this allows for adaptation over the generations. But this is limited and the more one-sided the organism becomes the less it is able to adapt to the changing environment.

    Verhulst has examined in detail how the various primates develop from fetus to adulthood and he makes clear how humans retain basic forms throughout while the forms exhibited by other primates develop in a one-sided manner.

    Why is the more human-like form of primate fetuses not retained during development as it is in humans? And why is this ‘so called’ derived form prefigured in their development?

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  33. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: That’s not the way it’s done in Goethean science which is complimentary to modern science. I would even say it is an advancement on modern science.

    Complementary, I think you mean. In which case not an alternative but an extension.

    Yes sorry for the typo.

    Can you expand on advancement?

    There is no need to build a model when the formative forces can be perceived directly. The archetype is not put forward as a proposal, it is an actual perception.

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  34. Kantian Naturalist:

    CharlieM: Is a rose a brightly coloured flower? Is it a woody stem? Is it a hip? Is it a series of green leaves? No. It is a living combination of all of these things and more. These former features are aspects of the rose that are available to the senses and the latter is the aspect is available to the mind. But we need not just stop at linking the concepts. An image of the morphological process can be perceived in the mind and that is the beginning of perceiving the whole.

    I think it is simply false to divvy up “the senses” and “the mind” in this way; it neglects all the ways that perception is itself a holistic process. For starters, you might read the Wikipedia entry on Gestalt psychology.

    I am not arguing against it being a holistic process. I totally agree that we never experience pure sense impressions. But this does not prevent me from discussing the way in which sense impressions are received by us disregarding for the sake of analysis our activity. What are the bare objects of our perception?

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  35. CharlieM: Yes Darwin was a deep thinker and an excellent observer of nature.

    Good, so will you retract your bogus claim that through the lens of evolutionary theory life is “nothing special”?

    CharlieM quotes Owen Barfield: […] the English translators had to split it into two words, one of which (‘spirit”) had since lost its outer meaning, while the other (“wind”) had lost its inner meanin[g]

    As far as I can tell, the word “wind” didn’t originally have the secondary meaning of “spirit” in Proto-Germanic or Proto-Indo-European. In Dutch, we still use the word “waaien” of the same root for “to blow” (only of wind). I suspect his ardent anti-reductionism was leading mr. Barfield astray on etymology, just as it is leading you astray on biology. 😉

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  36. Fair Witness:

    CharlieM:

    Harsh but fair! 😉

    Well I do get a thrill out of thinking. Don’t you? I also really enjoy the full intercourse I get here 🙂

    Thinking is only the first step.
    1) Think
    2) Model
    3) Test
    4) Go to back and adjust 1 and 2

    Perceiving reality directly forgoes the need for a model. And the human being is the perfect instrument with which to do this.

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  37. DNA_Jock:

    CharlieM: I also really enjoy the full intercourse I get here 🙂

    It’s rather sad that you think you are getting “the full intercourse” here. At best, you only manage axillism; frottage is more like it, really.
    😮

    Who mentioned sexual intercourse? 🙂

    Although the link between sexual intercourse and intercourse through language is interesting.

    Through sexual intercourse we have, in a way, the power to create. A much more advanced and higher power of creation is through the Word.

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  38. graham2:

    physical organic life is a condensation or hardening of form out of a more subtle general condition which contained all physical forms in potential.

    Charlie: perhaps a little less word salad and a little more evidence eh ?

    Well, look at what I wrote above if it is applied to individual development. A multicellular organism is a condensation or hardening of form out of a more subtle general condition which contained the adult form in potential.

    The human zygote contains nothing solid. The hardening process is drawn out with most bones forming out of cartilage beginning in the first few weeks of development. The hardest substance, enamel, is deposited on the teeth which begin to form during the third month. Enamel is laid down and

    Unlike other tissues, enamel does not remodel after it forms, leaving those microstructures intact after deposition.

    It hardens into an unchanging form. In other words it loses any plasticity it may have once possessed.

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  39. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Yes Darwin was a deep thinker and an excellent observer of nature.

    Good, so will you retract your bogus claim that through the lens of evolutionary theory life is “nothing special”?

    Yes, if you will agree that life is much more than just physics and chemistry.

    CharlieM quotes Owen Barfield: […] the English translators had to split it into two words, one of which (‘spirit”) had since lost its outer meaning, while the other (“wind”) had lost its inner meanin[g]

    As far as I can tell, the word “wind” didn’t originally have the secondary meaning of “spirit” in Proto-Germanic or Proto-Indo-European. In Dutch, we still use the word “waaien” of the same root for “to blow” (only of wind). I suspect his ardent anti-reductionism was leading mr. Barfield astray on etymology, just as it is leading you astray on biology. 😉

    I wasn’t discussing the root of the word, ‘wind’. Barfield was referring to the word “pneuma” as it is used in St John’s Gospel. One word to which modern translators have given two different meanings depending on the context. Barfield studied English language and literature at Oxford University so I think he was quite familiar with the etymology of these words.

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  40. CharlieM: Who mentioned sexual intercourse?

    Why, you did, silly.
    Or have you already forgotten the context?
    I was just extending your analogy. I would have thought that you of all people would be sympathetic to that. <ggg>

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  41. DNA_Jock:

    CharlieM: Who mentioned sexual intercourse?

    Why, you did, silly.
    Or have you already forgotten the context?
    I was just extending your analogy. I would have thought that you of all people would be sympathetic to that.

    I don’t know what you are talking about.I would never stoop so low as to mention these things. 😉 🙂

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  42. CharlieM:

    Perceiving reality directly forgoes the need for a model. And the human being is the perfect instrument with which to do this.

    Well, excuse me! I didn’t realize I was intercoursing with the Great Oracle.

    I suppose you type without ever looking at your keyboard, too, eh ?

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  43. CharlieM: Yes, if you will agree that life is much more than just physics and chemistry.

    Then you first need to explain why life needs to be more than physics and chemistry in order to be special. Don’t we agree already it is special?

    CharlieM: I wasn’t discussing the root of the word, ‘wind’. Barfield was referring to the word “pneuma” as it is used in St John’s Gospel. One word to which modern translators have given two different meanings depending on the context.

    That’s an interesting tidbit of information to be sure, but I got the impression you were trying to make a point with regard to the topic of the OP. Was I mistaken?

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  44. Fair Witness:

    CharlieM:

    Perceiving reality directly forgoes the need for a model. And the human being is the perfect instrument with which to do this.

    Well, excuse me! I didn’t realize I was intercoursing with the Great Oracle.

    I suppose you type without ever looking at your keyboard, too, eh ?

    You too have the means to forgo the model. If you understand the concept (idea) (law of the) ‘triangle’, you don’t need to construct any model, you already have the reality.

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  45. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Yes, if you will agree that life is much more than just physics and chemistry.

    Then you first need to explain why life needs to be more than physics and chemistry in order to be special. Don’t we agree already it is special?

    Yes it is special. It is special in that it can exhibit inner consciousness in a way that non-living matter cannot do.

    CharlieM: I wasn’t discussing the root of the word, ‘wind’. Barfield was referring to the word “pneuma” as it is used in St John’s Gospel. One word to which modern translators have given two different meanings depending on the context.

    That’s an interesting tidbit of information to be sure, but I got the impression you were trying to make a point with regard to the topic of the OP. Was I mistaken?

    No you weren’t mistaken. When written language was in its infancy the ancient Greeks used single words where we would use more than one, because they thought of these things as a unity. They did not distinguish between breathe and wind in the way we do because the saw the essential unity in them. They had no concept of them as being distinct. They had a more participatory, holistic view of reality. We understand these things to be separate because of our analytical, intellectual way of thinking. We see the parts where they saw the whole.

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  46. CharlieM:….That’s not the way it’s done (constructing a model) in Goethean science…..
    ….Perceiving reality directly forgoes the need for a model….

    “Knowing Is Not Enough; We Must Apply. Wishing Is Not Enough; We Must Do.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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  47. CharlieM: When written language was in its infancy the ancient Greeks used single words where we would use more than one, because they thought of these things as a unity. They did not distinguish between breathe and wind in the way we do because the saw the essential unity in them. They had no concept of them as being distinct. They had a more participatory, holistic view of reality. We understand these things to be separate because of our analytical, intellectual way of thinking. We see the parts where they saw the whole.

    Well, this is just nonsense.

    First, written language had been around for a few thousand years before anyone had the idea of using the Phoenician alphabet to represent Greek phonemes. The Greeks were a bunch of upstart barbarians compared to the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean, and they knew it. Ancient Greek is not “written language in its infancy” unless one’s understanding of human history ignores non-European cultures.

    Second, it’s not a general truth that the Greeks always used one word where we would use more than one. Here are some Greek words for mind in the Illiad: kardia, noos, phrenes, and thumos. None of those mean the exact same thing and none have the same sense as psyche or pneuma.

    So by CharlieM’s reasoning, we should conclude that the ancient Greeks saw these things as being distinct because of their analytical, intellectual way of thinking, and we use one word — “mind” — because it is we who have a way of thinking that is more holistic and participatory.

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