The Half-Truth of Darwinism, a Personal Opinion

Darwinism is incomplete because it only takes account of matter and ignores spirit.

Evolution is a process of matter ascending and spirit descending. It is a process whereby physical substance goes through process that prepares it to accommodate the descending spirit. The continuity of living matter is sustained by hereditary and it takes on various forms due to adaptive radiation. But these forces come from the earth and they tie organisms to the environment and lead only to specialization. They take organisms down ever narrowing paths. The fossil record is a tableau of forms that are frozen in their specializations, evolutionary dead ends. These earthly forces radiate from the centre.

The spiritual forces work in the opposite direction drawing the living substance outwards, emancipating it from the earthly forces. Through these forces organisms separate out from the earth as a plant grows towards the sun. Emancipation is evident in such things as inner temperature control, freeing of the upper limbs to perform creative functions rather than them being used for locomotion or support and taking responsibility for care of offspring.

It is only in the human form that the self-conscious ego can occupy physical substance as a material individual. This is the place on earth where matter and spirit meet. In as much as each of us know ourselves, we know the spirit within. And this is only possible because our form has been prepared in such a way that it can accommodate our ego, the spirit within.

80 thoughts on “The Half-Truth of Darwinism, a Personal Opinion

  1. Robert Byers: i mean its a humbug to overthrow the original biblical boundaries for human identity and ego is just dumb dumb replacement from the dark ages.

    We are made in God’s image but God is not physical. So what is it about us that is this image. It is the rational, self-conscious ego. To deny the ego is to deny the I AM.

  2. .

    John Harshman: The part about how plants grow is to some extent true, though there are many exceptions to each element. The connection to evolution, however, is opaque.

    .
    Making connections doesn’t always come easy to a mind that is used to taking things apart and analysing the components in separation. Reductionism v holism.

  3. CharlieM: Making connections doesn’t always come easy to a mind that is used to taking things apart and analysing the components in separation. Reductionism v holism.

    Yes, and making even a little bit of sense doesn’t always come easy to a mind steeped in woo. But if you can’t make a rational argument for your position, there’s no point in posting here.

  4. John Harshman: I’d say that it would take a shrew less time to die if you put it in the ocean as it would take a beached whale. Though it wouldn’t be the wetness so much as the cold that would do it in. But perhaps I should have made the point more explicit: whales and shrews are both adapted to their environments and so are equally specialized. There is no clear progression from the generalized to the specialized as you claim. Let’s also remember that the ancestors of shrews started out in the water, and adaptation to land was an extreme bit of specialization, which whales have only partially reversed.

    There is only a progression from the generalized to the specialized in the dead ends of evolution.

    What about if we compare shrews, whales and humans? Do you think that these are all equally specialized?

  5. John Harshman: So? No matter how grotesque and distorted the form that vertebrates have assumed under natural selection they are still recognizable as vertebrates

    The difference here is that we know the reasons for the various forms of dogs because we are responsible for it. Your claim that all vertebrates came by their forms under natural selection is through your faith in the power of natural selection.

    Ernst Michael Kranich describes an alternative view:

    The way of thinking we have developed to understand inorganic nature is in fact inadequate for understanding and working with the world of living organisms. We need to develop a qualitatively different way of thinking. “Organic” thinking must have a mobility and plasticity capable of participating inwardly in nature’s formative processes just as causal thinking is required to grasp mechanical laws, a kind of precise, imaginative, “formative” thinking is required to comprehend the inner lawfulness of living organisms. In the same way that mechanical laws become evident to us only when we actually think them through logically. the inner lawfulness of evolution becomes evident to us only if we actually participate, through formative thinking, in evolutionary processes. Though the reader may not be accustomed to such exact imaginative thinking-this is what is required for a true understanding of vertebrate evolution…

    The concepts Darwin uses are creations of an intellect oriented toward form as finished product. This way of thinking dismembers forms into their parts because it cannot penetrate to the inner lawfulness of their formation, to the process of becoming. It knows the living only analytically and from the outside; it is therefore unable to apprehend the realm of organic life itself. A theory of evolution that operates with such concepts cannot satisfactorily explain how plants and animals have evolved, since it is unable to grasp them even as they exist at present.

    In laying the foundation for a science of evolution, the chief need is not for a new theory, but for concepts that more beyond the finished product to what is becoming, that move beyond form to the process of formation. Decades before Darwin wrote his great book, Goethe, seeking to understand such processes had already developed a method by which human thinking can penetrate into the dynamic laws of organic formation. He first demonstrated this cognitive method in his treatise “The Metamorphosis of Plants” (1790). Here, Goethe showed how by reenacting the development of the growing plant in exact imagination, one comes to see its consecutive organs—seed, leaves, petals, stamen, and pistil-as arising through the transformation, or metamorphosis of the formative processes that shaped the previous organ. The various organs can be thought of as “snapshots” in which momentary stages in this process are held fast. By imagining the sculptural movement that leads from one “snapshot” to the next, we can create an inner picture of the generative process that gives rise to the physical plant. Goethe came to see the plant kingdom as a whole in a similar manner. The extraordinary diversity of plant forms revealed themselves to him as the particular expressions of a creative plant potential In the course oi evolution this archetypal plant {Urpflanze) gave rise to the various plant forms as it adapted to particular conditions, finallv attaining its most complete manifestation in the flowering plants But Goethe did not study only plants Just as his study of plant metamorphosis led him to discover the archetypal plant, so his study of animal morphology led him to the concept of the type Much of this book will be developed to characterizing and elaborating this dynamic concept. Here let
    it suffice to indicate that the type is to the animal kingdom what the archetypal plant is to the plant kingdom: a dynamic potential that, adapting to specific conditions, manifested in the most diverse forms, gradually giving rise to classes of more differentiated animals and finally attaining its most elaborated manifestation in the mammals and in the physical organization of the human being.

  6. Kantian Naturalist: 1. Observations are assertions.

    Yes they can be but not always.

    What one observes to occur is what one asserts to be the case based on one’s sense-perceptions.

    We can distinguish between seeing with the eyes and seeing with the mind. We do not observe evolution with our eyes but I would argue that we do observe it with the mind. In the same way that when something is explained to us we might reply, “Oh, I see.”

    2. This one is neither an assertion nor an observation. It’s a commitment to an a priori Neoplatonic metaphysics that CharlieM reads into the history of life — at the cost of great violence to the facts — because he wants consciousness to be special.

    Consciousness is special and I have already explained in what way here

    But neither science nor philosophy should be sops to human vanity.

    True enough

    Henri Bortoft expresses similar views to my own in this video.

    His explanation uses hidden images and illusions such as the well known duck/rabbit image here and he uses these to explain the difference between visual experience and cognitive perception.

  7. CharlieM: We can distinguish between seeing with the eyes and seeing with the mind.

    If we scraped out your brain, then you wouldn’t see anything with your eyes, either.

    The distinction you are trying to make doesn’t actually exist.

  8. Neil Rickert: If we scraped out your brain, then you wouldn’t see anything with your eyes, either.

    The distinction you are trying to make doesn’t actually exist.

    I take it you are currently looking at some sort of screen. Let’s say that there is a dog beside you and it is also staring at the screen. Do you imagine that there is no distinction between the experience you are both having? Can’t you see 🙂 that there is a difference between seeing with understanding and seeing without understanding.

  9. Kantian Naturalist: 1. Observations are assertions. What one observes to occur is what one asserts to be the case based on one’s sense-perceptions.

    Observations are assertions, to yourself?

    Who are YOU trying to convince, YOU?

  10. I hope everyone is enjoying the festive season however they celebrate it 🙂

    As can be seen below I have had several comments to the effect that I should provide evidence for my claims.

    John Harshman

    Do you have anything resembling evidence for any of the claims you make here? Some of us think evidence is important.

    Kantian Naturalist

    You’re not going to get any evidence from CharlieM. He’s not making claims; he’s just offering his personal

    Glen Davidson

    I’d like you to back up any of that “earthly forces” and “spiritual forces” prattle.

    graham2

    I want to know if its a spoof

    John Harshman

    You’re imposing a pattern you want to see on a real pattern that doesn’t actually fit…
    And of course not all bacteria have remained at this primitive stage. That’s why we have eukaryotes.

    John Harshman

    If you see a pattern it’s up to you to provide evidence that it exists. So far, just assertion…
    You seem uninterested or unable to provide anything like evidence or argument.

    Kantian Naturalist

    It’s a commitment to an a priori Neoplatonic metaphysics that CharlieM reads into the history of life — at the cost of great violence to the facts

    John Harshman

    …if you can’t make a rational argument for your position, there’s no point in posting here.

    If my claims have any truth to them them there must be some research which supports them. I believe that there is.

    One book I have found in support is Developmental Dynamics in Humans and Other Primates by Jos Verhulst

    In the forward Mark Riegner writes:

    Admittedly, staunch neo-Darwinists will take issue with the teleological assumption that the human being emerges as the result of specific interacting developmental processes toward which biological evolution has progressed, which is implied by orthogenesis. From a materialistic, reductionistic standpoint, resistance to this view is expected. However, after a careful reading of Verhulst, and open-minded consideration of the numerous examples he offers, it is clear that this assumption cannot be refuted and is in fact well supported. To his credit, therefore, Verhulst directs the reader to a new context for understanding human evolution— and evolution in general—and especially to the related complex heterochronic processes that constitute the growth patterns of humans and other primates. The implications are far reaching: the watchmaker, after all, may not be blind and there may be more “grandeur in this view of life” than even the genius of Darwin could grasp…

    Following in a tradition as old as Darwinism, he proposes that, from the very beginning of animal evolution, these dynamics have led progressively toward the emergence of the human form. In this view, the gradually emerging human prototype is seen as the driving force and central trunk of the evolutionary tree

    Verhulst looks at relationships in ontology, phylogeny and heterochrony and gives evidence to support the view that various animal features are the result of divergence from the human line.
    For instance in the development of apes the foramen magnum begins from the position seen in adult humans and then as the animal matures it migrates to a different position . Also compared to other primates the human larynx is paedomorphic and thus unspecialized. This is also correlated with suppressed muzzle and prolonged tongue growth necessary for speech.

    I haven’t read the whole book but I will be doing so very soon. Fortunately there is a fairly lengthy selection available at the link I provided.

  11. CharlieM:
    For instance in the development of apes the foramen magnum begins from the position seen in adult humans and then as the animal matures it migrates to a different position . Also compared to other primates the human larynx is paedomorphic and thus unspecialized. This is also correlated with suppressed muzzle and prolonged tongue growth necessary for speech.

    I congratulate you for finally attempting to present some evidence. The long quote from the introduction was useless, as it merely repeats various assertions without offering evidence. But the little bit I quote above is better. Still, it has problems. It’s generally agreed that humans are paedomorphic in many respects, but you have made Haeckel’s mistake of equating early-arising features with primitive ones, and perhaps also von Baer’s mistake in equating primitive with unspecialized. And there is also the incoherence of supposing that humans are at once the pinnacle and goal of evolution and the most primitive. So every derived character proves your point as well as every primitive character, so that all conceivable data fit your a priori notion that Charlie is the center of the universe. So far, not convincing.

  12. CharlieM

    CharlieM: What about if we compare shrews, whales and humans? Do you think that these are all equally specialized?

    Hi John, I’d be grateful if you would answer this question I asked with maybe a short explanation for the answer you give, thanks.

  13. John Harshman: I congratulate you for finally attempting to present some evidence. The long quote from the introduction was useless, as it merely repeats various assertions without offering evidence.

    The quote was not intended to produce evidence, it was provided in order to give an indication, for those interested, as to where evidence could be found

    But the little bit I quote above is better. Still, it has problems. It’s generally agreed that humans are paedomorphic in many respects, but you have made Haeckel’s mistake of equating early-arising features with primitive ones, and perhaps also von Baer’s mistake in equating primitive with unspecialized. And there is also the incoherence of supposing that humans are at once the pinnacle and goal of evolution and the most primitive. So every derived character proves your point as well as every primitive character, so that all conceivable data fit your a priori notion that Charlie is the center of the universe. So far, not convincing.

    I’m not sure if you read any of the Verhulst link. If you had you may have read the following:

    A possible alternative to the fundamental biogenetic law, inspired by Aristotle and discovered by Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876), can be formulated as follows:
    The traits that appear earliest in the course of embryonoc development are the most universal and are characteristic of the broadest category of animals; these early traits are followed by specialized traits belonging to ever more restricted groups of animal species, and traits unique to the individual species appear last.

    According to von Baer’s law, the embryo of a higher animal resembles the embryo rather than the adult form of a lower animal. Although neither the fundamental biogenetic law nor von Baer’s law holds good in all instances, von Baer’s law is generally considered more correct. Although clear examples of Haeckelian recapitulation exist in the animal kingdom, a short form of von Baer’s law sums up the actual course of development fairly well in most cases of ontogeny: “The embryonic development of a given species recapitulates the embryonic phases rather than the adult phases of its predecessors.”
    We are now in a better position to return to our discussion of the primate skull. According to Haeckel’s fundamental biogenetic law, the chimpanzee would have to be descended from humans because its skull passes through a humanlike phase in youth. If von Baer’s law is valid, however, we must conclude that the skull shape that persists in humans and in Cebus species has a more general character and that the chimpanzee has abandoned this general form. In both cases it is safe to say that the human form is more original and that the shape of the adult anthropoid skull is derivative and specialized. Characteristics that humans share exclusively with distant relatives must always be more primary characteristics. Closer relatives such as anthropoid apes have lost these characteristics by continuing to evolve away from the original pattern.

    There is a pattern here that need to explained. The embryos of humans, chimpanzees and capuchins monkeys all have very similar skull forms. Adult humans and capuchins retain the embryonic form whereas chimpanzees distinctly distort this form in maturity. (See image below.)

    What is your explanation for this pattern? Which is closest to the ancestral form and why?

    Here are 3 skulls. The skull of a chimpanzee, the skull of a tufted capuchin, and the skull of a human

  14. CharlieM:
    There is a pattern here that need to explained. The embryos of humans, chimpanzees and capuchins monkeys all have very similar skull forms. Adult humans and capuchins retain the embryonic form whereas chimpanzees distinctly distort this form in maturity. (See image below.)

    What is your explanation for this pattern? Which is closest to the ancestral form and why?

    The “biogenic law” has been shown to be wrong for quite a while. Embryos look much more alike because they’re less developed stages, and only later the specialization becomes apparent, but that doesn’t mean that embryos resemble “primitive” or “less evolved” or “ancestral” animals.

    I’d have to check around for many studies to see if any of those crania resemble more the adult crania of the common ancestral animals to humans, chimps and capuchin monkeys. Maybe neither does. Human adult crania are more “infantile” resembling than the crania of adult chimpanzees, not because humans are any less evolved than chimps, or viceversa, but because that’s the way our crania develops, thus accommodating our brains. The patter is due to changes in the way development of the crania is regulated. There’s a name for the proposal that our crania are more “infantile-like” than those of chimps and gorillas, but I don’t remember it. But it doesn’t matter. The “pattern” you’re asking about, if I read correctly what you wrote (biogenetic law?), does not exist.

  15. CharlieM,

    I wonder if your view comes down to saying that intelligence can only be the result of a guided process, and that there’s no good explanation for how an unguided process can give rise to intelligent organisms.

    This seems quite astonishing to me, since it seems quite evident that intelligence is an adaptive trait. No magic required.

  16. Entropy: The “biogenic law” has been shown to be wrong for quite a while. Embryos look much more alike because they’re less developed stages, and only later the specialization becomes apparent, but that doesn’t mean that embryos resemble “primitive” or “less evolved” or “ancestral” animals.

    The Verhulst quote I posted above gives a “possible alternative to the fundamental biogenetic law” so I’m not sure of your point in writing the words above which basically say the same thing.

    If common descent is to be believed all vertebrates had a beginning stage of a single cell and each individual vertebrate begins as a single cell. During evolution the single cell stage was superseded by a multi-cellular stage and in the individual the cell divides to become multi-cellular. In both cases we then have radiation into various types and forms. Amphibians demonstrate a transition from organisms which can only survive immersed in water to air breathing land dwellers. Viviparous terrestrial vertebrates leave their watery environment and become air breathers after their birth. There is a progression in both cases towards self regulation of body temperature. In this regard ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

    I’d have to check around for many studies to see if any of those crania resemble more the adult crania of the common ancestral animals to humans, chimps and capuchin monkeys. Maybe neither does.

    I’m not sure how you are going to find this out as other than speculating does anybody know what this common ancestral animal looks like?

    Human adult crania are more “infantile” resembling than the crania of adult chimpanzees, not because humans are any less evolved than chimps, or viceversa, but because that’s the way our crania develops, thus accommodating our brains. The patter is due to changes in the way development of the crania is regulated. There’s a name for the proposal that our crania are more “infantile-like” than those of chimps and gorillas, but I don’t remember it. But it doesn’t matter.

    I think the word you are trying to remember is neoteny. Of course another way of looking at it is that chimps and gorillas are ageing too quickly.

    The “pattern” you’re asking about, if I read correctly what you wrote (biogenetic law?), does not exist.

    You’ll need to more specific about what does not exist.

  17. Kantian Naturalist:
    CharlieM,

    I wonder if your view comes down to saying that intelligence can only be the result of a guided process, and that there’s no good explanation for how an unguided process can give rise to intelligent organisms.

    This seems quite astonishing to me, since it seems quite evident that intelligence is an adaptive trait. No magic required.

    IMO to say that intelligence is an adaptive trait is the same as saying that termites build their mounds instinctively. It doesn’t actually tell us how these abilities came to be. This is more in keeping with them appearing by magic.

  18. CharlieM: The Verhulst quote I posted above gives a “possible alternative to the fundamental biogenetic law” so I’m not sure of your point in writing the words above which basically say the same thing.

    Even the “possible alternative” is plainly wrong. There’s no such thing as recapitulation during the embryo development.

    CharlieM: If common descent is to be believed all vertebrates had a beginning stage of a single cell and each individual vertebrate begins as a single cell. During evolution the single cell stage was superseded by a multi-cellular stage and in the individual the cell divides to become multi-cellular. In both cases we then have radiation into various types and forms. Amphibians demonstrate a transition from organisms which can only survive immersed in water to air breathing land dwellers. Viviparous terrestrial vertebrates leave their watery environment and become air breathers after their birth. There is a progression in both cases towards self regulation of body temperature. In this regard ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.

    Sorry, but no. It’s not proper to twist embryonic stages into “recapitulation,” because that only invites confusion. The cell divides, etc, but it does not recapitulate phylogeny.

    CharlieM: I’m not sure how you are going to find this out as other than speculating does anybody know what this common ancestral animal looks like? [this was about which skull resembled more the ancestral animal’s skull]

    Then why did you even ask if any of those skulls resembled the ancestral animal’s one? Anyway, I agree that it’s very hard to tell if any of those are more like the ancestral animal’s skull. The most we could use as a guess is maybe the “consensus” shape, or the “majority rule.” I doubt any could be proven correct unless there’s something about anatomy and development that I don’t know, which is why I said I’d have to check around, meaning checking the appropriate literature to figure out if there’s something better. In the end, it doesn’t matter, does it?

    CharlieM: I think the word you are trying to remember is neoteny. Of course another way of looking at it is that chimps and gorillas are ageing too quickly.

    I don’t think it was neoteny because that word refers to abnormal development [Edit: after a second look around, maybe you’re right and the same term is used for the proposal that our skulls are more infantile-like, and for the developmental abnormality]. Chimp and gorilla skulls don’t age too quickly, they just develop in a different pattern to human, with human looking more infantile. That doesn’t mean that our skulls remain young, it’s just about its shape. You seem to be reading too much into this.

    CharlieM: You’ll need to more specific about what does not exist.

    I was. There’s no such thing as ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny.

    So what pattern were you asking to be explained about skulls, if not a misconceived one about crania and their resemblance to ancestral forms?

  19. CharlieM: IMO to say that intelligence is an adaptive trait is the same as saying that termites build their mounds instinctively. It doesn’t actually tell us how these abilities came to be. This is more in keeping with them appearing by magic.

    Here’s the point, though: evolution by natural selection is sufficient to explain why adaptive traits, however they emerge, don’t disappear and also why an adaptive trait that confers greater fitness on the organisms that have it tend to do better, over the long run, than organisms whose traits make them less well adapted to their environments.

    That being said, once you admit that intelligence is an adaptive trait, then there’s no need for explanation other than what is explained in terms of evolution by natural selection. And since evolution by natural selection does not posit any teleology to that process, then there’s no need to posit teleology to explain the evolution of intelligence. There’s no more need for teleology in the explanation of the origins of intelligence than there is for teleology in the explanation of the origins of photosynthesis.

  20. Entropy:: Even the “possible alternative” is plainly wrong. There’s no such thing as recapitulation during the embryo development.

    Sorry, but no. It’s not proper to twist embryonic stages into “recapitulation,” because that only invites confusion. The cell divides, etc, but it does not recapitulate phylogeny.

    It doesn’t really matter what name we use, both individual development and the evolution of life are processes of becoming, they are linked, and it pays to consider the relationship between them. Nothing in life is static.

    As Ernst-Michael Kranich wrote:

    The simplification inherent in Darwinism gives its operation concepts a certain character. They are concepts derived from perception by a process both of limitation and generalization. The concept of a plant or animal species is arrived at by selecting from all of its innumerable features only those that are identified as characteristic of this particular species. Such a concept is an impoverished representation composed of a sum of single characters. It does not help us gain a living understanding of what a plant or animal species actually is. The inner relationship of the characteristic traits of a rose, for example, or of a horse, remains an unsolved riddle.

    The concepts Darwin uses are creations of an intellect oriented towards form as finished product.

    Genetics takes this static picture of organisms even further. But now we are beginning to understand how this static view is false. A gene which is represented by a sequence of letters is an abstraction which in reality is never isolated. So the reality being uncovered has forced us to move on from this fixed view of the gene to an understanding of networks of communication, ever rearranging elements, purposeful transportation of substances and morphogenetic fields.

    Then why did you even ask if any of those skulls resembled the ancestral animal’s one? Anyway, I agree that it’s very hard to tell if any of those are more like the ancestral animal’s skull. The most we could use as a guess is maybe the “consensus” shape, or the “majority rule.” I doubt any could be proven correct unless there’s something about anatomy and development that I don’t know, which is why I said I’d have to check around, meaning checking the appropriate literature to figure out if there’s something better. In the end, it doesn’t matter, does it?

    I don’t think it was neoteny because that word refers to abnormal development [Edit: after a second look around, maybe you’re right and the same term is used for the proposal that our skulls are more infantile-like, and for the developmental abnormality]. Chimp and gorilla skulls don’t age too quickly, they just develop in a different pattern to human, with human looking more infantile. That doesn’t mean that our skulls remain young, it’s just about its shape. You seem to be reading too much into this.

    I was. There’s no such thing as ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny.

    So what pattern were you asking to be explained about skulls, if not a misconceived one about crania and their resemblance to ancestral forms?

    I am looking at relationships between primal form and derived form. Obviously during individual development the adult forms are derived from the juvenile and change is much more pronounced in the chimpanzee. It is interesting to think about how in each developing animal the bones are being reshaped in space and time in relation to the animal as a whole.

    It is common to hear or read that we humans have evolved from ape-like ancestors. I would like to establish if this belief is justified.

    I would like to know how derived forms in individual development are related to derived forms in the evolutionary path of the type or species?

  21. CharlieM:
    I am looking at relationships between primal form and derived form. Obviously during individual development the adult forms are derived from the juvenile and change is much more pronounced in the chimpanzee. It is interesting to think about how in each developing animal the bones are being reshaped in space and time in relation to the animal as a whole.

    It would appear that changes are more pronounced in the chimpanzee, but the skull doesn’t deform, its parts grow differently, so our skull is more infantile-like, the chimps more “derived”-like. But both are developed from the growth of the bones, not reshaping.

    CharlieM:
    It is common to hear or read that we humans have evolved from ape-like ancestors. I would like to establish if this belief is justified.

    Well, we’re are apes ourselves. Since there’s other apes, it makes sense that our most recent common ancestors were apes. I think you’re overcomplicating your search for such justification.

    CharlieM:
    I would like to know how derived forms in individual development are related to derived forms in the evolutionary path of the type or species?

    I think this is a very complicated way of looking at this. How would changes in, say, comparative growth between one bone related to another, give you a justification for our common ancestry with the rest of the apes? Isn’t it enough that we share all of those bones? That our developments are so similar? That the oldest hominid fossils are found in Africa? That their appearances shows intermediary features between chimp-like and human-like features? That we share inserted viruses in exactly the same positions in our chromosomes? Inserted transposons in the very same positions? That we can talk about the “same positions” in our chromosomes at all?

    What would make it better if you understood where our skulls diverge in development? Doesn’t the variation, just within human beings, show that differences in development exist? Doesn’t it suggest how easily a sub-population would show differences in skull development, or in other anatomical features, if isolated from the rest of the population?

    Happy new year.

  22. Kantian Naturalist: Here’s the point, though: evolution by natural selection is sufficient to explain why adaptive traits, however they emerge, don’t disappear and also why an adaptive trait that confers greater fitness on the organisms that have it tend to do better, over the long run, than organisms whose traits make them less well adapted to their environments.

    Adaptive traits do come and go at the mercy of the environment. And it all depends on what we mean by organisms doing better. Are animals that do best those that retain the attributes to allow them to survive in the most diverse of environments? Or are animals that can change with changing environments considered better survivors? What level should we be looking at, individuals, species, phyla or what? These things need to be made clear when talking about fitness. Would you say that coelacanths are more fit than humans because they have survived in a relatively stable form for very much longer than humans?

    That being said, once you admit that intelligence is an adaptive trait, then there’s no need for explanation other than what is explained in terms of evolution by natural selection. And since evolution by natural selection does not posit any teleology to that process, then there’s no need to posit teleology to explain the evolution of intelligence. There’s no more need for teleology in the explanation of the origins of intelligence than there is for teleology in the explanation of the origins of photosynthesis.

    It all depends on what you mean by intelligence. IMO intelligence is ubiquitous throughout the living world and always has been.

    As Stephen Talbott puts it:

    There is an unbroken continuum of active intelligence at work from our cells upward through our organs and whole bodies, to our fully conscious ruminations…

    Who could ever have doubted the discovery of intelligence anywhere in the biological realm?” After all, we never see anything but intelligence. It’s what biologists are always trying to understand, what they are forever talking about. No organism — when looked at as a living performance rather than a dead weight — is ever not displaying intelligence in every aspect of its being. Whether we speak about instinct, or adaptive processes, or learning, or communication, or behavior in general, or the development of form, or circadian rhythms, or stress responses, or immune responses, or wound healing, or growth processes, or any other organic functions — it is impossible to avoid the conviction that we are dealing with expressions of an active intelligence…

    I have often thought that if every biologist were required to spend ten minutes just once in her career truly contemplating any one of the molecular performances of the cell — contemplating it as the wisely narrated story it is, rather than in terms restricted to the isolated and momentary lawful interactions usually investigated in the laboratory — we would have a biology scarcely recognizable by today’s professionals. The isolated interactions are physics; the profoundly wise stories are biology — or, at least, the biology we ought to have.

    So, no, the phenomena cited above shouldn’t surprise us for their intelligence. It’s just crazy that so much fuss should center on the fact of intelligence (“Is this or that behavior really intelligent?”) given that nothing organic lacks intelligence. The real and sorely vexed issues arise when we ask about the different ways intelligence can be expressed in organisms.

    Human individual intelligence is meagre compared to the collective intelligence of social insects or the intelligence manifest in the growth and maintenance of any single organism.

  23. Entropy: But both are developed from the growth of the bones, not reshaping.

    Obviously you have never heard of osteoclasts.

    Happy New Year to you too. I’ll leave it there for now as I have to dash.

  24. CharlieM: Human individual intelligence is meagre compared to the collective intelligence of social insects or the intelligence manifest in the growth and maintenance of any single organism.

    Sure, if you want to use the same word to mean many different things so that you end up speaking sheer nonsense.

    But if you want to talk nonsense, that’s your business. It doesn’t cause any harm. Have fun with it!

  25. Entropy:
    Well, we’re are apes ourselves. Since there’s other apes, it makes sense that our most recent common ancestors were apes. I think you’re overcomplicating your search for such justification.

    Well it’s just a human convention to lump us in with apes. Some people like to class humans outwith apes, I am one of those.

    I think this is a very complicated way of looking at this. How would changes in, say, comparative growth between one bone related to another, give you a justification for our common ancestry with the rest of the apes? Isn’t it enough that we share all of those bones? That our developments are so similar? That the oldest hominid fossils are found in Africa? That their appearances shows intermediary features between chimp-like and human-like features? That we share inserted viruses in exactly the same positions in our chromosomes? Inserted transposons in the very same positions? That we can talk about the “same positions” in our chromosomes at all?

    What would make it better if you understood where our skulls diverge in development? Doesn’t the variation, just within human beings, show that differences in development exist? Doesn’t it suggest how easily a sub-population would show differences in skull development, or in other anatomical features, if isolated from the rest of the population?

    Happy new year.

    I’m not arguing against apes being our closest relatives. I’m looking at the processes involved in forming the various skulls. Here are a couple of quotes from one paper on the subject:

    Hand in glove: brain and skull in development and dysmorphogenesis”
    by Joan T. Richtsmeier and Kevin Flaherty

    The relative movements of facial processes and pharyngeal arches are controlled by strict temporal and spatial signaling, so that initially separate mesenchymal condensations come together to form bones that eventually articulate into the face and palate…

    This short summary of brain and skull provides at least a suggestion of the complexity of their individual development. The cells of each tissue derive from different cell populations and the timing of major developmental events differs within each tissue. Still, any snapshot of development reveals tight synchrony in their changing shapes. Below we summarize mechanisms proposed to contribute to this coordination.

    It is a very tightly controlled, coordinated process. It is not enough to consider the bones in isolation, the meninges and brain itself, indeed the whole functioning organism, must be taken into account.

    It is said that the human brain is the most complex object in the known universe. Well if we want to look at it from that point of view I know something that is even more complex. The average adult human individual is necessarily more complex than the brain because s/he is not just a brain but much more than a brain.

  26. CharlieM: Well it’s just a human convention to lump us in with apes. Some people like to class humans outwith apes, I am one of those.

    Not just a human convention. Every analysis ends up making us part of the “team.” There’s no way around. If we tried to make humans a thing apart, we’d end up saying that chimps and bonobos are humans, then that gorillas are humans too, then that oran-gutans are also humans, etc. This is why having an ape ancestor, in common with the rest of the apes, is a no brainer. There’s also all the evidence I talked about.

  27. Kantian Naturalist: Sure, if you want to use the same word to mean many different things so that you end up speaking sheer nonsense.

    But if you want to talk nonsense, that’s your business. It doesn’t cause any harm. Have fun with it!

    Or just maybe your view of intelligence is too restricted.

    microbial intelligence is one instance of non human intelligence that I would not call nonsense.

  28. Entropy: Not just a human convention. Every analysis ends up making us part of the “team.” There’s no way around. If we tried to make humans a thing apart, we’d end up saying that chimps and bonobos are humans, then that gorillas are humans too, then that oran-gutans are also humans, etc. This is why having an ape ancestor, in common with the rest of the apes, is a no brainer. There’s also all the evidence I talked about.

    From the book “Thinking Beyond Darwin”, by Ernst-Michael Kranich, page 139:

    When type I (paedomorphic) organs of the human beings are compared with the corresponding organs of the mammals and are arranged in a sequence from simpler to more differentiated, the human organs are usually at the beginning. They appear as undeveloped initial stages of a further development, which in the human being is restrained.

    This places the human being, in terms of physical organisation, in a peculiar relation to the vertebrate type. The type, after all, is a being that preexists all special, one-sided developments-but that contains the potential for all of these. If we look for a being that corresponds to the type in that it precedes any one-sided formation-an organism consisting of the restrained dispositions of all possible animal formations-we arrive at the human being. Insofar as the formation of the human organs is restrained relative to that of the animals, the bodily organization of the human being is the unspecialized vertebrate type.

    The dawning of this idea can already be seen in Herder’s statement “that among the animals, the human being holds a central position, that is, the human form is fashioned in such a way that within it the traits of all the surrounding genera are gathered in their purest essence.”

    He provides examples of these organs in the book

    Looked at in this way, your statement is correct, these apes are humans. They are humans that have matured too quickly and so have developed in a one-sided way, not allowing time for the brain to develop in a way that allows it to achieve a higher function.

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