The Spiralling Flow of Life

In this series of videos Johannas Jaeger gives us some very interesting things to consider. He considers proteins to be pleomorphic assemblies not molecular machines.
Jaeger doesn’t believe in, nor feel the need to propose any extrinsic form of vitalism, but he does accept what Denis Walsh called methodological vitalism. If organisms are purposeful then it is an intrinsic purposefulness.

If we are to gain a meaningful understanding of the organism the machine metaphor will in no way suffice. Life is self-sustaining at all levels. The symbol of the caduceus is apt at so many levels, from the double helix of DNA to the movement of the solar system as it travels around the galaxy. Here is a link to a gif of the motion of the planets relative to the sun. Our hearts take on their form by the layers of muscle being laid down in a helical manner as the blood spirals onward.

The late Gerald D.BuckbergMD, professor and pioneer in cardiac surgery had this to say:

Knowledge develops through analysis, differentiation, or taking things apart. Wisdom evolves by synthesis, integration, or by putting things together, to see with the eyes of the mind.
These steps are not very helpful unless we undertake one other action, which is wholeness: to bring together diversities, to have complementary activity. I believe that we, as cardiac surgeons, are particularly fortunate because we can learn, we can understand, and we can act on the part of our patients.

There are many very intelligent people who consider dynamic processes to be more fundamental than physical matter.

D’Arcy Thompson studied living forms and their morphogenesis and did a lot of work on various animals and plants, comparing forms and applying mathematical rules to determine how one form changes into another.

From the book, “On Growth and Form”, he wrote:

The fir-cone may be looked upon as a cylindrical axis contracted at both ends, until it becomes approximately an ellipsoidal solid of revolution, generated about the long axis of the ellipse; and the semi-ellipsoidal capitulum of the teasel, the more or less hemispherical one of the thistle, and the flattened but still convex one of the sunflower, are all beautiful and successive deformations of what is typically a long, conical, and all but cylindrical stem. On the other hand, every stem as it grows out into its long cylindrical shape is but a deformation of the little spheroidal or ellipsoidal or conical surface which was its forerunner in the bud.

I would say that plant growth is expressed in varying degrees between point-wise radial forces and plane-wise peripheral forces.

To learn about the construction and growth and working of the organism he believes that the physical sciences are our only guide, but in, “On Growth and Form”, he wrote:

Matter as such produces nothing, changes nothing, does nothing; and however convenient it may afterwards be to abbreviate our nomenclature and our descriptions, we must most carefully realise in the outset that the spermatozoon, the nucleus, the chromosomes or the germ-plasm can never act as matter alone, but only as seats of energy and as centres of force.

Life does not so much consist of matter but of processes of dynamic transformations. As the human genome project demonstrated, obtaining the sequences of DNA reveals very little about life. Understanding comes only with the grasp of the movements, transformations and interactions of living forms. And this is just as true whether it is populations of organisms or intracellular molecular complexes.

Life need not and does not break any of the rules of chemistry or physics.

Goethe could see and experience the reality of dynamic, living, nature. The living world should not be thought of as a production line, manufacturing organisms as objects of nature.

In ‘Pluto’s Republic’, Peter Medawar wrote:

When scientific research is studied on the hoof, so to speak, we find that very few theories are utterly discredited in the style of which (for example) Thomas Henry Huxley demolished Goethe’s and Oken’s Vertebral Theory of the skull.

Medawar had made the mistake of attributing to Goethe the same understanding of the archetype as Owen and Oken. But Goethe’s idea of the archetype should not be thought of in the same way. His archetype is not a physical, ancestral form available to be apprehended by the senses. His archetype was an all inclusive dynamic process that does not reside within any one specific manifestation.

This piece makes clear Huxley’s view:

Huxley highlighted that method in his 1858 Croonian lecture, “On the Theory of the Vertebrate Skull,” in which he rejected a theory proposed by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Lorenz Oken in Germany and by Richard Owen in England that the bones of the skull and of spine in vertebrates were serial homologous.

But Goethe did not consider their relationship to be as such. For Goethe a vertebra is as much a transformed skull bone as the bone is a transformed vertebra. It is not that one has developed from the other but that they both express the archetype in their individual way. He could compare them both and picture the reciprocal transformations in his mind’s eye.

He did not examine their static form, but he could see the movement in how they took on their various shapes.

In one of Jaeger’s videos he quotes Dan Nicholson:

Living forms are the expression of a perpetual stream of matter and energy which passes the organism and at the same time constitutes it.

Perhaps he meant something like, “passes through the organism”.

Anyway  John Dupré & Daniel J. Nicholson had this to say:

When considering a particular organism, there is a general tendency to privilege or prioritise the adult stage of its life cycle (for instance, in the context of taxonomic discussions), as this is the period during which the organism most closely resembles a thing by virtue of its relative stability. But we should not forget that the organism encompasses the entire life cycle; indeed, it is the life cycle itself that constitutes the organism. Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to speak of an egg developing into a frog, as the egg is really a temporal part of the developmental trajectory that is the frog.

Nicholson continues his argument here:

It is quite remarkable to observe that, despite the enormous empirical advances that have been made since 1962, our basic theoretical picture of the cell has remained essentially unchanged (see, e.g., Bray, 2009; Danchin, 2009). The standard view nowadays is that the cell coordinates its functions by virtue of a ‘genetic program’ encoded in the DNA that directs and controls the expression of a specific set of RNAs and proteins, which assemble deterministically into stable ‘molecular machines’ that reliably and efficiently execute predetermined operations according to the mechanisms of cell division, endocytosis, signal transduction, etc. Machine analogies and metaphorical references to ‘locks’, ‘keys’, ‘gates’, ‘pumps’, ‘motors’, and ‘engines’ continue to pervade the technical literature (e.g. Piccolino, 2000; Frank, 2011), as does talk of the ‘machinery’ (e.g. Goodsell, 2009) and ‘circuitry’ (e.g. Alon, 2007) that underlies the cellular organization. The machine conception of the cell (MCC) itself is seldom explicitly defended; it has become so engrained in our minds that we simply take it for granted…
As a result, critical reviews have begun to appear that explicitly challenge the reductionistic and deterministic presuppositions of mechanicism and question the coherence of the familiar clockwork image of the cell. Notable examples include Kirschner et al. (2000), Astumian (2001), Woese (2004), Cornish-Bowden (2006), Longo and Tendero (2007), Karsenti (2008), Huang (2009), Mayer et al. (2009), Kupiec (2010), Moore (2012), Bizzarri et al. (2013), Talbott (2013), Heams (2014), Longo and Montévil (2014), Soto and Sonnenschein (2018), and a series of articles by Kurakin (2005, 2006, 2009, 2010). Drawing and building on this burgeoning body of literature, the aim of this paper is to establish the inadequacy of the MCC. From a theoretical perspective, the MCC offers a poor and rather misleading representation of biological reality—or so I will argue.

Rivers flow inexorably downwards, life flows inexorably upwards.

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232 thoughts on “The Spiralling Flow of Life

  1. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Which certain unobservable non-physical entities did I say my argument relies on?

    There are several, but here is an example from your current OP:

    His archetype was an all inclusive dynamic process that does not reside within any one specific manifestation.

    If I understand your argument correctly, this is not meant as an abstraction. You believe archetypes to be ultimately real. This is most definitely not something we agree on.

    Let me ask you which you think is more in keeping with reality, A still photo of a red rose or a movie showing a couple of rounds in the life cycle of the plant from the development of the hip, a seed germinating, and up to the mature plant and so on?

    CharlieM: Fair enough. So the zebra is the living actor and DNA is one of the substances that it acts upon.

    No, the DNA is part of the zebra. The point is that you can’t transfer attributes from the whole (“the zebra is alive”) to its parts (“therefore its DNA is also alive”). In order to qualify as “alive”, certain requirements need to met. Stuff like “has a metabolism” just does not apply to molecules.

    What about cells? Does it apply to cells?

    CharlieM: So do you think that only humans act with purpose or intent? Does purpose or intent require consciousness?

    Yes. To me, purpose and intent require consciousness so are restricted to animals. Attributing meaning to something may be a uniquely human thing, not sure.

    So having goals and purposes is a sign of more advanced forms of life?

    CharlieM: An Eppendorf cup is an object, it is not a process. PCRs are processes.

    Still LMAO.

    My grandkids are also easily amused 🙂

    CharlieM: So there is a difference between living and non living substance? Is a zebra alive and a phagocyte in its blood stream not alive?

    We discussed this before. “Living substance” is not a term I use.

    So is a phagocyte a living being?

    CharlieM: Well it is an integral part of the cell. DNA is extensively used in cellular processes.

    You are missing the point once again. You chide Allan for “trying to isolate components that do not belong in isolation”, but constantly refer to DNA being “acted upon” or “used in cellular processes”. It is only fair that Allan asked why it isn’t the other way around, yet you avoided that question.

    I have since answered it. Not isolated components but integrated processes.

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  2. dazz:

    CharlieM: So the zebra is the living actor and DNA is one of the substances that it acts upon.

    Yet DNA precedes the Zebra.

    Are you talking about evolution or development?

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  3. CharlieM: Let me ask you which you think is more in keeping with reality, A still photo of a red rose or a movie showing a couple of rounds in the life cycle of the plant from the development of the hip, a seed germinating, and up to the mature plant and so on?

    Unless one of them is misleading, I’d say they are both equally “in keeping with reality”. Incidentally, do you often have problems distinguishing representations from the objects they represent?

    CharlieM: Me: Stuff like “has a metabolism” just does not apply to molecules.

    Charlie: What about cells? Does it apply to cells?

    Yes

    CharlieM: So having goals and purposes is a sign of more advanced forms of life?

    Nope

    CharlieM: So is a phagocyte a living being?

    No, because phagocytes are somatic cells and not capable of autonomous reproduction.

    CharlieM: Me: It is only fair that Allan asked why it isn’t the other way around, yet you avoided that question.

    Charlie I have since answered it.

    Let’s have a look then

    Allan: Here are 2 statements:
    1. DNA products are meant to be produced by the DNA.
    2. DNA is meant to be used by its products.

    On what grounds is 2 the winner?

    Charlie: Proteins are not the products of DNA. Proteins are the products of a complex process. If you were to listen to a recording on an old Walkman you would be in error if you believed the sound was being produced by the tape. What you hear is produced by the process of reading the tape and transforming the magnetic data into sound.

    So the tape is meant to be played by the walkman, but the walkman is not meant to play the tape, because it is all integrated? One sure does live and learn.

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  4. CharlieM: Walkman

    Interesting to see you use this example right below the OP where you rail against machine metaphors BTW.

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  5. CharlieM: Yet DNA precedes the Zebra.

    Are you talking about evolution or development?

    Development, although it’s also true for evolution, obviously

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  6. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Let me ask you which you think is more in keeping with reality, A still photo of a red rose or a movie showing a couple of rounds in the life cycle of the plant from the development of the hip, a seed germinating, and up to the mature plant and so on?

    Unless one of them is misleading, I’d say they are both equally “in keeping with reality”. Incidentally, do you often have problems distinguishing representations from the objects they represent?

    So you think we could learn just as much about the reality of a plant from a still image than we would from a movie of its life, growth, decay and death?

    CharlieM: Me: Stuff like “has a metabolism” just does not apply to molecules.

    Charlie: What about cells? Does it apply to cells?

    Yes

    So the individual cells of a multi-cellular organism are on a par with prokayotes.

    CharlieM: So having goals and purposes is a sign of more advanced forms of life?

    Nope

    So in your opinion nervous systems which are frequently considered to be the most complex structures in the universe are no more advanced that the nervous systems of hydra?

    CharlieM: So is a phagocyte a living being?

    No, because phagocytes are somatic cells and not capable of autonomous reproduction.

    …there is now considerable evidence that tissue-derived macrophages retain a capacity to proliferate under suitable conditions.

    CharlieM: Me: It is only fair that Allan asked why it isn’t the other way around, yet you avoided that question.

    Charlie I have since answered it.

    Let’s have a look then

    Allan: Here are 2 statements:
    1. DNA products are meant to be produced by the DNA.
    2. DNA is meant to be used by its products.

    On what grounds is 2 the winner?

    Charlie: Proteins are not the products of DNA. Proteins are the products of a complex process. If you were to listen to a recording on an old Walkman you would be in error if you believed the sound was being produced by the tape. What you hear is produced by the process of reading the tape and transforming the magnetic data into sound.

    So the tape is meant to be played by the walkman, but the walkman is not meant to play the tape, because it is all integrated?

    Both the tape and the player only reveal their true reason to exist in the functioning whole involving them both.

    One sure does live and learn.

    That’s the beauty of being a highly advanced multi-cellular organism 🙂

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  7. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Walkman

    Interesting to see you use this example right below the OP where you rail against machine metaphors BTW.

    I’m not using it as a metaphor for life, I am using it as an example of an integrated functioning, dare I say, irreducibly complex, unit. In this case the machine has some aspects which cells have also, but it falls very far short of matching the cell in most aspects. Rather than living complexes being machine like, it is a case of the machine being very basically life like.

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  8. dazz:

    Dazz: Yet DNA precedes the Zebra.

    CharlieM: Are you talking about evolution or development?

    Development, although it’s also true for evolution, obviously

    And therein lies the difference between reductionist thinking and Goethean thinking. A zebra is not just the adult form seen running around the Serengeti. It encompasses everything from the zygote to old animal lying dying with a lion clamped onto its windpipe. It is more of a dynamic movie than a still image.

    We might live in the moment but our rational thinking provides us with a much broader picture.

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  9. CharlieM,

    Then why can’t the archetype, or the meta-zebra or whatever you want to call it, act upon DNA to become anything but the exact zebra that the DNA is expected to produce? I know, I know, you don’t think that DNA produces anything, but you get the point. Somehow we can observe the DNA sequence and determine whether it belongs to a zebra, a raccoon, e-coli or whatever. Meanwhile, the archetype is nowhere to be seen

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  10. dazz:
    CharlieM,

    Then why can’t the archetype, or the meta-zebra or whatever you want to call it, act upon DNA to become anything but the exact zebra that the DNA is expected to produce? I know, I know, you don’t think that DNA produces anything, but you get the point. Somehow we can observe the DNA sequence and determine whether it belongs to a zebra, a raccoon, e-coli or whatever. Meanwhile, the archetype is nowhere to be seen

    Because the DNA is an integral part of the physical expression of the archetype. As soon as the organism takes on material form it remains within that form (please do not take ‘form’ to mean a static shape. It is dynamic). The archetype is not to be thought of as some outer force interfering with the organism.

    The form of an organism cannot be determined solely from its DNA sequence. Except maybe for very short DNA sequences, unless the form of a complex has been observed previously it cannot be determined from the DNA sequences that are used in its production.

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  11. CharlieM,

    That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed as false without evidence

    In your case, I would swap false for bullshit

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  12. dazz: CharlieM,

    That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed as false without evidence

    In your case, I would swap false for bullshit

    You could have also accused me of spouting bullshit in the form of verbal diarrhea. Then I might have given you a pat on the back for your proficiency in the use of metaphorically fluid prose. 🙂

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  13. Revealed: the extraordinary flight of the dandelion

    The writer of this piece enthuses over the wisdom of evolution.

    It’s an example of how evolution can produce ingenious solutions to the most finicky problems, such as seed dispersal.

    Previous to that it was written:

    Here’s the surprising part — the mechanism of this dispersal was unknown until now. As researchers write in Nature this week (C. Cummins et al. Nature https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0604-2; 2018), the bristles are arranged so that when the pappus falls, air flows between them and creates a low-pressure vortex, like a smoke ring. This vortex travels above the pappus and yet is not attached to it, an invisible yet faithful familiar that generates lift and prolongs the seed’s descent.

    The key lies not in the bristles of the pappus, but in the spaces between them. If projected on to a disc, the bristles together occupy just under 10% of the pappus’s area, and yet create four times the drag that would be generated by a solid disc of the same radius. The study shows that air currents entrained by each bristle interact with pockets of air held by its neighbours, creating maximum drag for minimum expenditure of mass. The pappus’s porosity — a measure of the proportion of air that it lets pass — determines the shape and nature of the low-pressure vortex.

    Dandelions are masters of aerodynamics.

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  14. CharlieM: Proteins are not the products of DNA. Proteins are the products of a complex process.

    This is you playing the deliberate-obfuscation card again. The means by which proteins are produced is complex. This does not negate the statement ‘proteins are products of DNA’. They are simply products of DNA produced by a complex process.

    If you were to listen to a recording on an old Walkman …

    Oh yippee, another irrelevant analogy. DNA is not a tape recording.

    It isn’t any of the substances that do the producing, it is the processes.

    The substances do the producing by process. This seems a painfully strained semantic objection. Is anything ever produced without a process? Unless DNA produced things without process, it would not have a primary role? Poppycock.

    If a prospector is lucky panning for gold will produce isolated nuggets of gold. Does DNA ever appear in such isolation in nature?

    By golly no. But then, I said back at the beginning of August that this is not a relevant objection to gene centrism. See #1, also #2.

    I’ve also said: do you seriously think its proponents, and your opponents, are so goddamned thick as to be unaware of this?

    Me: That doesn’t make DNA an abstraction.
    I never said that DNA was an abstraction.

    OK, I missed off the word ‘isolated’, but that’s not an abstraction either.

    What about the time when Plato lived? Was isolated DNA an abstraction then?

    I don’t think it was ever an abstraction, so no.

    I’m happy to stop this endless refrain here and now because you have acknowledged for anything further to come from the DNA sequences, the process of transcription is essential. Processes are not a property or attribute of any single element, they are an activity of interacting, coordinated elements.

    DNA does not create proteins, cellular processes do. Proteins are not held in DNA sequences, nor are sequences of amino acids held in DNA sequences. The message is held waiting to be processed.

    DNA creates proteins by means of cellular process. Your objection does not work.

    But again: gene centrism is actually not a physiological stance. It is an evolutionary stance. That is: however complex the means by which it affects survival/reproduction, that which is sorted by evolutionary processes is gene sequence, not ‘the system’. The system only changes by virtue of change in the genome. And that includes the vast bulk of epigenetic change, before you saddle up that tired old horse.

    The subtlety of this distinction will eternally elude you. But I’m a trier.

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  15. CharlieM:
    The point is that the organism is built by inner activity.

    Sure it is. It’s hardly built by outer activity. Nonetheless, it is built, in a fundamental sense, from transcribed genome sequence. This is why, from a common toolset, the enormous diversity of life is formed: genetic difference.

    Me: This is gibberish.

    Charlie: Mandarin is gibberish to me.

    Sure, but you were attempting to communicate in our common language.

    The physical matter of the galaxy can be idealised as a two dimensional spiral. Projecting out of this plane is a cone of what they describe as very energetic gamma rays. They also say, “We don’t fully understand their nature or origin.” This is a very familiar image generated by projective geometry using the polarity of point and plane..

    No help at all.

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  16. Archetypes seem a particularly fluid and hierarchically-arranged bunch of … whatever-they-ares. And when they change, they make sure to inform the genotype that it should change also. Otherwise it might get ‘used’ in the wrong way.

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  17. CharlieM: So you think we could learn just as much about the reality of a plant from a still image than we would from a movie of its life, growth, decay and death?

    Dunno. What is “the reality of a plant”?

    CharlieM: So the individual cells of a multi-cellular organism are on a par with proka[r]yotes.

    In what respect?

    CharlieM: So in your opinion nervous systems which are frequently considered to be the most complex structures in the universe are no more advanced that the nervous systems of hydra?

    I don’t see how that follows. I mean, those dandelions do pretty advanced stuff as well.

    Charlie, I have a pretty good idea what you were getting at, but you should really stop asking loaded questions; I will not answer them.

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  18. CharlieM: …there is now considerable evidence that tissue-derived macrophages retain a capacity to proliferate under suitable conditions.

    There are much better edge cases if you were looking for them, such as individual cells in Volvox colonies. Macrophages are terminally differentiated, so will not develop into a new organism. The vast majority of somatic cells do not continue their lineage, which disqualifies them from being acknowledged as individual living beings.

    CharlieM: I’m not using it as a metaphor for life, […]

    Yes you are.

    CharlieM: […] I am using it as an example of an integrated functioning, dare I say, irreducibly complex, unit. In this case the machine has some aspects which cells have also, but it falls very far short of matching the cell in most aspects. Rather than living complexes being machine like, it is a case of the machine being very basically life like.

    Yeah, in the sense that the parts are “meant to” work together, right? Surely you have been on TSZ long enough to realize why this argument doesn’t fly? The parts of a walkman were intentionally put together by humans in order to perform a predefined function. As far as I am aware, the parts of a zebra are not. Hence the zebra DNA does not “belong in” a zebra and was not “meant to” function in a cellular context.

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  19. Allan Miller: Archetypes seem a particularly fluid and hierarchically-arranged bunch of … whatever-they-ares. And when they change, they make sure to inform the genotype that it should change also. Otherwise it might get ‘used’ in the wrong way.

    We can confidently conclude that archetypes are made of jello.

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  20. Corneel: There are much better edge cases if you were looking for them, such as individual cells in Volvox colonies.

    My favourites are the slime mo[u]lds. I can’t quite get to grips with the rationale of unrelated cells coming together in a fruiting body in which only certain cells get to replicate. The constitutional clone of zygotically- (or gametically-)derived somas makes sense, due to common ‘interest’ in a shared genome and a specialised gametic exit, but not that.

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  21. Allan Miller,

    A couple of years back, someone posted a link to an article that showed that (in the wild) the cells were in general very closely related, so the opportunities for ‘cheaters’ in a chimaera were very limited.

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  22. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: Proteins are not the products of DNA. Proteins are the products of a complex process.

    This is you playing the deliberate-obfuscation card again. The means by which proteins are produced is complex. This does not negate the statement ‘proteins are products of DNA’. They are simply products of DNA produced by a complex process.

    I think we are failing to come to any agreement because we both have polar opposite prior assumptions. You believe that material ‘stuff’ is fundamental and I believe that activity is more fundamental than ‘stuff’.

    If you were to listen to a recording on an old Walkman …

    Oh yippee, another irrelevant analogy. DNA is not a tape recording.

    But do you believe they are both similar in that they store information?

    It isn’t any of the substances that do the producing, it is the processes.

    The substances do the producing by process. This seems a painfully strained semantic objection. Is anything ever produced without a process? Unless DNA produced things without process, it would not have a primary role? Poppycock.

    In order for any sort of production to occur there has to be relationships and coordinated, combined activity between substances. And there are various levels of activity. Just as phosphorus is more active than gold so to RNA is more active than DNA.

    If a prospector is lucky panning for gold will produce isolated nuggets of gold. Does DNA ever appear in such isolation in nature?

    By golly no. But then, I said back at the beginning of August that this is not a relevant objection to gene centrism. See #1, also #2.

    As far as I can see gene centrism is not saying much of interest.

    I’ve also said: do you seriously think its proponents, and your opponents, are so goddamned thick as to be unaware of this?

    No. But familiarity breeds contempt as they say. People become very well acquainted with a topic, they begin to think that there is nothing more of interest than that which they know already; or think they know.

    Me: That doesn’t make DNA an abstraction.
    CharlieM: I never said that DNA was an abstraction.

    OK, I missed off the word ‘isolated’, but that’s not an abstraction either.

    But the greater reality is when it is its natural habitat. I exaggerated for emphasis. DNA in isolation is certainly not natural.

    What about the time when Plato lived? Was isolated DNA an abstraction then?

    I don’t think it was ever an abstraction, so no.

    So there was in reality unattached, isolated DNA molecules free from any organism or virus?

    I’m happy to stop this endless refrain here and now because you have acknowledged for anything further to come from the DNA sequences, the process of transcription is essential. Processes are not a property or attribute of any single element, they are an activity of interacting, coordinated elements.

    DNA does not create proteins, cellular processes do. Proteins are not held in DNA sequences, nor are sequences of amino acids held in DNA sequences. The message is held waiting to be processed.

    DNA creates proteins by means of cellular process. Your objection does not work.

    So would you say that DNA has integral activity?

    But again: gene centrism is actually not a physiological stance. It is an evolutionary stance. That is: however complex the means by which it affects survival/reproduction, that which is sorted by evolutionary processes is gene sequence, not ‘the system’. The system only changes by virtue of change in the genome. And that includes the vast bulk of epigenetic change, before you saddle up that tired old horse.

    The subtlety of this distinction will eternally elude you. But I’m a trier.

    You seem to have move past genetic centrism to genetic determinism.

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  23. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:
    The point is that the organism is built by inner activity.

    Sure it is. It’s hardly built by outer activity. Nonetheless, it is built, in a fundamental sense, from transcribed genome sequence. This is why, from a common toolset, the enormous diversity of life is formed: genetic difference.

    So, as I say, the genome sequence is used by the transcription complexes.

    Me: This is gibberish.

    Charlie: Mandarin is gibberish to me.

    Sure, but you were attempting to communicate in our common language.

    The fact remains that Mandarin is gibberish to me only because I do not understand it.

    The physical matter of the galaxy can be idealised as a two dimensional spiral. Projecting out of this plane is a cone of what they describe as very energetic gamma rays. They also say, “We don’t fully understand their nature or origin.” This is a very familiar image generated by projective geometry using the polarity of point and plane..

    No help at all.

    The plane is no less fundamental than the point. So why do people think that the fundamental will be found by reducing everything to the smallest common denominator while ignoring the opposite pole.

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  24. Allan Miller: Archetypes seem a particularly fluid and hierarchically-arranged bunch of … whatever-they-ares. And when they change, they make sure to inform the genotype that it should change also. Otherwise it might get ‘used’ in the wrong way.

    You are still thinking of the archetype and its physical expression of somehow separate entities. That would be equivalent to say that my skeleton is separate from my body.

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  25. Corneel:

    CharlieM: So you think we could learn just as much about the reality of a plant from a still image than we would from a movie of its life, growth, decay and death?

    Dunno. What is “the reality of a plant”?

    Well from the movie we can determine many attributes of the plant. Attributes such as growth, decay, upward movement, cycles of generation, regeneration and so on. These all belong to the reality of the plant.

    CharlieM: So the individual cells of a multi-cellular organism are on a par with proka[r]yotes.

    In what respect?

    Regeneration by cell division, cell metabolism, enclosed by an external membrane, susceptible to attack by viruses.

    CharlieM: So in your opinion nervous systems which are frequently considered to be the most complex structures in the universe are no more advanced that the nervous systems of hydra?

    I don’t see how that follows. I mean, those dandelions do pretty advanced stuff as well.

    But not advanced enough to show any signs of being aware of their own existence.

    Charlie, I have a pretty good idea what you were getting at, but you should really stop asking loaded questions; I will not answer them.

    Loaded or awkward? I’ll keep asking them even if you keep any answers to yourself. And I don’t mind if other readers respond to questions that I ask individuals.

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  26. Corneel:

    CharlieM: …there is now considerable evidence that tissue-derived macrophages retain a capacity to proliferate under suitable conditions.

    There are much better edge cases if you were looking for them, such as individual cells in Volvox colonies. Macrophages are terminally differentiated, so will not develop into a new organism. The vast majority of somatic cells do not continue their lineage, which disqualifies them from being acknowledged as individual living beings.

    So by your reasoning female worker bees should not be classed as individual living beings.

    CharlieM: I’m not using it as a metaphor for life, […]

    Yes you are.

    No I’m not. I am comparing their capacity to carry information.

    CharlieM: […] I am using it as an example of an integrated functioning, dare I say, irreducibly complex, unit. In this case the machine has some aspects which cells have also, but it falls very far short of matching the cell in most aspects. Rather than living complexes being machine like, it is a case of the machine being very basically life like.

    Yeah, in the sense that the parts are “meant to” work together, right?

    In the sense that the parts do work together. Although the parts of living beings are much more integrated.

    Surely you have been on TSZ long enough to realize why this argument doesn’t fly? The parts of a walkman were intentionally put together by humans in order to perform a predefined function. As far as I am aware, the parts of a zebra are not. Hence the zebra DNA does not “belong in” a zebra and was not “meant to” function in a cellular context.

    If a zebra could speak I’m sure it would say, “My DNA belongs in me and not in the stomach of a lion? How am I meant to exist without it?” 🙂

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  27. Corneel:

    Allan Miller: Archetypes seem a particularly fluid and hierarchically-arranged bunch of … whatever-they-ares. And when they change, they make sure to inform the genotype that it should change also. Otherwise it might get ‘used’ in the wrong way.

    We can confidently conclude that archetypes are made of jello

    I admire your confidence in your confidence 🙂

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  28. CharlieM: Attributes such as growth, decay, upward movement, cycles of generation, regeneration and so on. These all belong to the reality of the plant.

    Yes, we can usually learn more about the attributes of a plant from a movie then from a still image. I am curious how this proves that archetypes exist.

    CharlieM: CharlieM: So the individual cells of a multi-cellular organism are on a par with proka[r]yotes.

    Me: In what respect?

    Charlie: Regeneration by cell division, cell metabolism, enclosed by an external membrane, susceptible to attack by viruses.

    Not sure what you mean with “on a par”, but yes, except for the regeneration part, these terms apply to both groups.

    CharlieM: Me: I don’t see how that follows. I mean, those dandelions do pretty advanced stuff as well.

    Charlie: But not advanced enough to show any signs of being aware of their own existence.

    Sure, but we are not advanced enough to do that a low-pressure vortex thing.

    CharlieM: Loaded or awkward?

    Loaded. There is a lot of extra baggage in terms like “advanced”.

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  29. CharlieM: So by your reasoning female worker bees should not be classed as individual living beings.

    Charlie, this is getting repetitive. No matter how many edge cases you are going to mention, molecules are never going to be living beings.

    CharlieM: If a zebra could speak I’m sure it would say, “My DNA belongs in me and not in the stomach of a lion? How am I meant to exist without it?”

    I’ll bet it would say that, but it would be wrong. Zebras are meant to be eaten by lions.

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  30. CharlieM: Me: This is you playing the deliberate-obfuscation card again. The means by which proteins are produced is complex. This does not negate the statement ‘proteins are products of DNA’. They are simply products of DNA produced by a complex process.

    Charlie: I think we are failing to come to any agreement because we both have polar opposite prior assumptions. You believe that material ‘stuff’ is fundamental and I believe that activity is more fundamental than ‘stuff’.

    We are both making statements about this ‘stuff’ in action. Clearly, activity is part of the way the ‘stuff’ works. You are insisting that control resides outside the genome. I’m saying that is incorrect.

    Me: Oh yippee, another irrelevant analogy. DNA is not a tape recording.

    Charlie: But do you believe they are both similar in that they store information?

    And there the similarity ends. Pursuing such analogies is fruitless. We have the actual, physical system to consider.

    Me: The substances do the producing by process. This seems a painfully strained semantic objection. Is anything ever produced without a process? Unless DNA produced things without process, it would not have a primary role? Poppycock.

    Charlie: In order for any sort of production to occur there has to be relationships and coordinated, combined activity between substances. And there are various levels of activity. Just as phosphorus is more active than gold so to RNA is more active than DNA.

    Another dreadful analogy.

    Me: By golly no. But then, I said back at the beginning of August that this is not a relevant objection to gene centrism. See #1, also #2.

    Charlie: As far as I can see gene centrism is not saying much of interest.

    And yet here you are in a 3 month argument against it. And nor did August Weissmann, nor Francis Crick, nor Gregor Mendel, I suppose. The only people saying anything ‘interesting’ are your pet revolutionaries.

    No. But familiarity breeds contempt as they say. People become very well acquainted with a topic, they begin to think that there is nothing more of interest than that which they know already; or think they know.

    Contempt? People are fascinated by the natural world, me included. How did people get to ‘know’ gene centrism? Where was it c1950? I certainly didn’t kick off my university career with a gene-centric viewpoint. It was being developed, by very knowledgeable biologists, fully aware of ‘whole organisms’, while I was there.

    You have an arse-about-face view of the development of theory, that once people thought genes were isolated things and you revolutionaries had to point out the holistic aspect of living things to these stick-in-the-muds. Gimme a break.

    Me: DNA creates proteins by means of cellular process. Your objection does not work.

    Charlie: So would you say that DNA has integral activity?

    I don’t know what that means.

    You seem to have move past genetic centrism to genetic determinism.

    Utter bollocks. How do you get that from an emphasis on the evolutionary argument? You thonk evolution is deterministic? See #8

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  31. CharlieM:Me: Sure it is. It’s hardly built by outer activity. Nonetheless, it is built, in a fundamental sense, from transcribed genome sequence. This is why, from a common toolset, the enormous diversity of life is formed: genetic difference.

    Charlie: So, as I say, the genome sequence is used by the transcription complexes.

    The ‘transcription complexes’ are themselves produced by DNA. Thus, DNA provides the means by which it is expressed. This is a self-replicating entity, not a ‘tape’ being played (by a machine, yet! 🤣).

    The plane is no less fundamental than the point. So why do people think that the fundamental will be found by reducing everything to the smallest common denominator while ignoring the opposite pole.

    Perhaps you really do think you’re being profound and meaningful. I can derive no sense from it whatsoever.

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  32. CharlieM: You are still thinking of the archetype and its physical expression of somehow separate entities. That would be equivalent to say that my skeleton is separate from my body.

    I can investigate both your skeleton and your body – neither has the quality of being made-up. Archetypes, not so much.

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  33. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Attributes such as growth, decay, upward movement, cycles of generation, regeneration and so on. These all belong to the reality of the plant.

    Yes, we can usually learn more about the attributes of a plant from a movie then from a still image. I am curious how this proves that archetypes exist.

    I’m not trying to prove the reality of archetypes. I am emphasising the fact that organisms are beings in time as well as in space. So if you go to the zoo you might see a stripy horsy looking thing and recognise it as a zebra, but that is just one very small part, from our narrow human perspective, of what it is to be a zebra.

    CharlieM: So the individual cells of a multi-cellular organism are on a par with prokaryotes.

    Me: In what respect?

    By both being single celled entities. Multi-cellular animals also go through a single cell stage, but then they advance further than this. Creatures such as the aforementioned slime moulds can be thought of as an intermediate form between the two.

    Charlie: Regeneration by cell division, cell metabolism, enclosed by an external membrane, susceptible to attack by viruses.

    Not sure what you mean with “on a par”, but yes, except for the regeneration part, these terms apply to both groups.

    By regeneration I mean reproduction by cell division which can happen in both groups.

    Me: I don’t see how that follows. I mean, those dandelions do pretty advanced stuff as well.

    Charlie: But not advanced enough to show any signs of being aware of their own existence.

    Sure, but we are not advanced enough to do that a low-pressure vortex thing.

    Advanced enough to be able, by the use of aerodynamic forces, to transport ourselves round the planet, which amounts to the same thing. And of course in doing this we are not reliant on the movement of the atmosphere.

    CharlieM: Loaded or awkward?

    Loaded. There is a lot of extra baggage in terms like “advanced”.

    And that is why I qualified it. We have a more advanced individual awareness than dandylions. Do you agree? Or is that an awkward question? 🙂

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  34. Corneel:

    CharlieM: So by your reasoning female worker bees should not be classed as individual living beings.

    Charlie, this is getting repetitive. No matter how many edge cases you are going to mention, molecules are never going to be living beings.

    So what about arrangements of molecules? How complex do they have to be before they are classed as living? It matters not how close to the edge you considered worker bees to be, they still fall within the set of living beings.

    CharlieM: If a zebra could speak I’m sure it would say, “My DNA belongs in me and not in the stomach of a lion? How am I meant to exist without it?”

    I’ll bet it would say that, but it would be wrong. Zebras are meant to be eaten by lions.

    And the difference between a freshly suffocated zebra and a living one lies not in the DNA molecules in its cells. They remain the same. It lies in the system that is supplying the cells with what they need to remain viable. The living processes have been interrupted.

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  35. CharlieM: The living processes have been interrupted.

    So you can have molecules without the life processes, but not the other way around. Which one is primordial then?

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  36. Allan Miller:

    Me: This is you playing the deliberate-obfuscation card again. The means by which proteins are produced is complex. This does not negate the statement ‘proteins are products of DNA’. They are simply products of DNA produced by a complex process.

    Charlie: I think we are failing to come to any agreement because we both have polar opposite prior assumptions. You believe that material ‘stuff’ is fundamental and I believe that activity is more fundamental than ‘stuff’.

    We are both making statements about this ‘stuff’ in action. Clearly, activity is part of the way the ‘stuff’ works. You are insisting that control resides outside the genome. I’m saying that is incorrect.

    No. I am saying the genome lies within the control system.

    Me: Oh yippee, another irrelevant analogy. DNA is not a tape recording.

    Charlie: But do you believe they are both similar in that they store information?

    And there the similarity ends. Pursuing such analogies is fruitless. We have the actual, physical system to consider.

    Why would we have to pursue the analogy, it is there right in front of us. Pursuing it any further would be taking it to far. I too think that the differences are far more interesting than the similarities.

    Me: The substances do the producing by process. This seems a painfully strained semantic objection. Is anything ever produced without a process? Unless DNA produced things without process, it would not have a primary role? Poppycock.

    Charlie: In order for any sort of production to occur there has to be relationships and coordinated, combined activity between substances. And there are various levels of activity. Just as phosphorus is more active than gold so to RNA is more active than DNA.

    Another dreadful analogy.

    No just another limited analogy.

    Me: By golly no. But then, I said back at the beginning of August that this is not a relevant objection to gene centrism. See #1, also #2.

    Charlie: As far as I can see gene centrism is not saying much of interest.

    And yet here you are in a 3 month argument against it. And nor did August Weissmann, nor Francis Crick, nor Gregor Mendel, I suppose. The only people saying anything ‘interesting’ are your pet revolutionaries.

    Ever since genes were equated with specific DNA sequences in the ’50s their prominence has been becoming gradually undermined by further discoveries. They are becoming regarded more and more (please excuse the metaphors) as vital contributors to a collective effort rather than as autocratic leaders.

    No. But familiarity breeds contempt as they say. People become very well acquainted with a topic, they begin to think that there is nothing more of interest than that which they know already; or think they know.

    Contempt?

    The saying puts it rather strongly but it gets a point across.

    People are fascinated by the natural world, me included. How did people get to ‘know’ gene centrism? Where was it c1950? I certainly didn’t kick off my university career with a gene-centric viewpoint. It was being developed, by very knowledgeable biologists, fully aware of ‘whole organisms’, while I was there.

    Research brings new discoveries, viewpoints are developed further, they come and go. People are slowly coming round to a more holistic understanding of life.

    You have an arse-about-face view of the development of theory, that once people thought genes were isolated things and you revolutionaries had to point out the holistic aspect of living things to these stick-in-the-muds. Gimme a break.

    No. I thought that people had overestimated the amount of knowledge that would be gained from mapping the entire genome of organisms. The context in which they are used is proving to be just as important as the sequences themselves, if not more so.

    Me: DNA creates proteins by means of cellular process. Your objection does not work.

    Charlie: So would you say that DNA has integral activity?

    I don’t know what that means.

    If you believe that DNA is an active participant in protein production, where is this activity? In drosophila development we can see that bicoid and hunchback are actively arranged within the cell. What activity within the genome allows the genes to be activated?

    You seem to have move past genetic centrism to genetic determinism.

    Utter bollocks. How do you get that from an emphasis on the evolutionary argument? You thonk evolution is deterministic? See #8

    I meant to say ‘moving towards genetic determinism’.

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  37. CharlieM: I am emphasising the fact that organisms are beings in time as well as in space. So if you go to the zoo you might see a stripy horsy looking thing and recognise it as a zebra, but that is just one very small part, from our narrow human perspective, of what it is to be a zebra.

    OK

    CharlieM: Multi-cellular animals also go through a single cell stage, but then they advance further than this. Creatures such as the aforementioned slime moulds can be thought of as an intermediate form between the two.

    OK

    CharlieM: By regeneration I mean reproduction by cell division which can happen in both groups.

    OK. Nothing shocking so far. Is there a point to all this?

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  38. CharlieM: Me: Sure, but we are not advanced enough to do that a low-pressure vortex thing.

    Charlie: Advanced enough to be able, by the use of aerodynamic forces, to transport ourselves round the planet, which amounts to the same thing.

    Unless you have your pilot’s license, I don’t think you can. You can be transported, sure. So can the lowest organism on the face of this earth. Big deal.

    Face it, Charlie. When it comes to dispersing offspring, dandelions are way more advanced than you.

    CharlieM: And that is why I qualified it. We have a more advanced individual awareness than dandylions. Do you agree?

    Nope. You equate “complex” with “advanced”, but since I do not share your conviction that there is a drive towards more complex, I do not consider it progress.

    CharlieM: So what about arrangements of molecules? How complex do they have to be before they are classed as living?

    They do not have to be complex. Once something satisfies the criteria I linked to a dozen times, I consider it alive. You are seeking a hard divide between living and non-living, but this sharp boundary does not exist. I am perfectly fine with that, but you seem to be struggling with it.

    CharlieM: And the difference between a freshly suffocated zebra and a living one lies not in the DNA molecules in its cells. They remain the same. It lies in the system that is supplying the cells with what they need to remain viable. The living processes have been interrupted.

    Perhaps the living process of a zebra is meant to be interrupted. Perhaps the zebra DNA is meant to be taken up by the lion and incorporated into the lion’s body. And perhaps some of the DNA is meant to become lion poop and then incorporated into poop bacteria. Perhaps the remaining DNA is meant to degrade and be lost. All part of one big happy living process.

    Nah, poppycock. DNA is not alive, belongs nowhere and is not meant to do anything. You are just caught up in a very elaborate is-ought fallacy.

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  39. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:Me: Sure it is. It’s hardly built by outer activity. Nonetheless, it is built, in a fundamental sense, from transcribed genome sequence. This is why, from a common toolset, the enormous diversity of life is formed: genetic difference.

    Charlie: So, as I say, the genome sequence is used by the transcription complexes.

    The ‘transcription complexes’ are themselves produced by DNA. Thus, DNA provides the means by which it is expressed. This is a self-replicating entity, not a ‘tape’ being played (by a machine, yet! ).

    The self-replicating entity is the cell. Or, in the case of early drosophila development, the nucleus. The coordination of DNA, RNA and proteins are the minimum requirement for replication.

    The plane is no less fundamental than the point. So why do people think that the fundamental will be found by reducing everything to the smallest common denominator while ignoring the opposite pole.

    Perhaps you really do think you’re being profound and meaningful. I can derive no sense from it whatsoever.

    Have you even examined projective geometry in any depth? George Adams and Olive Whicher have done so in relation to plants. Their book The Plant Between Sun and Earth, and the Science of Physical and Ethereal Spaces testifies to this.

    You would need to study work like this to be able to make any sense of it.

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  40. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: You are still thinking of the archetype and its physical expression of somehow separate entities. That would be equivalent to say that my skeleton is separate from my body.

    I can investigate both your skeleton and your body – neither has the quality of being made-up. Archetypes, not so much.

    So you are basing your idea of reality on what you can perceive directly through, say, vision and touch.

    We need more than just sense perception to have knowledge of an organism such as the rose I spoke about above.

    Which is more real and informative, a skeleton lying on a bench or the living process of bone formation that I can understand though a combination of observing and thinking? We can understand the dynamic processes of bone formation by using the same method of inner perceiving that Goethe used in perceiving the archetype. Through his imaginary experience he was able to envision all the various plant forms morphing into each other in the same dynamic way that forms develop in projective geometry.

    Examining a skeleton on a bench misses out the most important element and that is the time element. Gaining an understanding of Its history is not determined by sense perception. It is achieved by being able to recall previous sense experiences in the memory and combining them into a meaningful story.

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  41. dazz:

    CharlieM: The living processes have been interrupted.

    So you can have molecules without the life processes, but not the other way around. Which one is primordial then?

    Obviously molecules exist both within and without life. We can believe that life is more primal or we can believe that non living matter is more primal. But as to having a definitive answer, the question can be left open.

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  42. CharlieM: No. I am saying the genome lies within the control system.

    I have invited you to point to an element of control which does not root in the genome. I gave an extensive, though not exhaustive breakdown of the kinds of things I mean. All you can do in response is repeat your mantra.

    Everything you imagine ‘controlling the genome’ is actually a product of it. RNA polymerases, spliceosomes, ribosomes, all the ‘protein complexes’ you wave a hand at. All of it.

    Me: And there the similarity ends. Pursuing such analogies is fruitless. We have the actual, physical system to consider.
    Charlie: Why would we have to pursue the analogy, it is there right in front of us. Pursuing it any further would be taking it to far. I too think that the differences are far more interesting than the similarities.

    So why even mention it? DNA is different from a can of beans too.

    Me: Another dreadful analogy.

    Charlie: No just another limited analogy.

    Which is nothing like the things being analogised. Just more rabbit holes. DNA is capable of exactly the same catalytic repertoire as RNA. It just happens not to be used catalytically, in life forms that have protein enzymes and ribozymes at their disposal. The only differences between DNA and RNA are an oxygen atom and a methyl group (CH3) in roughly 50% of random base pairs in the former.

    Ever since genes were equated with specific DNA sequences in the ’50s their prominence has been becoming gradually undermined by further discoveries. They are becoming regarded more and more (please excuse the metaphors) as vital contributors to a collective effort rather than as autocratic leaders.

    Nope. They were never viewed as ‘autocratic leaders’. What they are (and no discovery has undermined this) is the source of protein sequence – those proteins that you imagine ‘sit above’ the genome’ and ‘use it’ are simply its products.

    Research brings new discoveries, viewpoints are developed further, they come and go. People are slowly coming round to a more holistic understanding of life.

    People always kept holism in mind. No-one studied biochemistry or genetics as if reduction were the only game in town, but in order to see how it fit together as a whole. Naive holism – thou shalt not break apart so much as a cell – is no use to anyone.

    No. I thought that people had overestimated the amount of knowledge that would be gained from mapping the entire genome of organisms. The context in which they are used is proving to be just as important as the sequences themselves, if not more so.

    Funnily enough, gene centrism doesn’t have much to do with mapping the genome, a point you will remain eternally impervious to. Dawkins’s ‘gene’ is not the molecular biologist’s, which we have discussed.

    If you believe that DNA is an active participant in protein production, where is this activity?

    The sequence of RNA polymerase is held in DNA. The sequence of RNA polymerase is extracted from DNA … by RNA polymerase. Now, you may insist that the ‘actor’ here is RNA polymerase, and not its DNA sequence at all. But without that sequence, where’s RNA polymerase? It cannot come into being without its DNA sequence. So, pretty obviously, DNA sequence comes first. RNA polymerase is dependent on it for its very existence. I doubt this was the primordial state, of course. But in modern cells, that’s largely how nucleic acid ‘acts’: via protein intermediates, which it produces with the aid of protein intermediates.

    Me: Utter bollocks. How do you get that from an emphasis on the evolutionary argument? You thonk evolution is deterministic? See #8

    Charlie: I meant to say ‘moving towards genetic determinism’.

    Still no. Gene centrism /= genetic determinism.

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  43. CharlieM:Me: I can investigate both your skeleton and your body – neither has the quality of being made-up. Archetypes, not so much.

    Charlie: So you are basing your idea of reality on what you can perceive directly through, say, vision and touch.

    I don’t think it unreasonable to regard some means of perception or detection as a requirement for accepting the reality of something. “There are these archetypes”, says Charlie. “Oh, you can’t detect them …”

    ” But if there were no archetypes, could I do this? [Holds up a dandelion]
    🤣

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  44. CharlieM: Me: The ‘transcription complexes’ are themselves produced by DNA. Thus, DNA provides the means by which it is expressed. This is a self-replicating entity, not a ‘tape’ being played (by a machine, yet! ).

    Charlie: The self-replicating entity is the cell.

    It isn’t though. The DNA replicates; the rest of the cellular material is simply divided, typically in half. Then it grows, ultimately organised by the replicated genome.

    Me: Perhaps you really do think you’re being profound and meaningful. I can derive no sense from it whatsoever.

    Charlie: Have you even examined projective geometry in any depth?

    No, but I’m doubtful it would shed much light on your obscurantism.

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  45. Corneel:

    CharlieM: I am emphasising the fact that organisms are beings in time as well as in space. So if you go to the zoo you might see a stripy horsy looking thing and recognise it as a zebra, but that is just one very small part, from our narrow human perspective, of what it is to be a zebra.

    OK

    CharlieM: Multi-cellular animals also go through a single cell stage, but then they advance further than this. Creatures such as the aforementioned slime moulds can be thought of as an intermediate form between the two.

    OK

    CharlieM: By regeneration I mean reproduction by cell division which can happen in both groups.

    OK. Nothing shocking so far. Is there a point to all this?

    Firstly I was highlighting the difference between an outer sense experience which is a momentary, subjective representation and the inner conceptual experience which is lasting, objective and real. The rose and the zebra are equally valid examples.

    Secondly I was pointing out why multi-cellular organisms can be understood as advancing beyond single-cellular organisms. It is because multi-cellular organisms go through a stage of single-cellularity but they pass beyond that. In the same way that slime moulds pass beyond it to a lesser degree.

    Your second ‘ok’ reveals that you agree some creatures are more advanced than others.

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  46. Corneel:

    CharlieM: Me: Sure, but we are not advanced enough to do that a low-pressure vortex thing.

    Charlie: Advanced enough to be able, by the use of aerodynamic forces, to transport ourselves round the planet, which amounts to the same thing.

    Unless you have your pilot’s license, I don’t think you can. You can be transported, sure. So can the lowest organism on the face of this earth. Big deal.

    I’m not so sure that the lowest organism could have any choice in which long range location it might travel to.

    At first I though you were being very pernickety here. I may not have the means to personally fly the plane although I could possibly do it illegally if I had a mind to. The ability does not depend on paperwork.

    But then I could see that you were bringing to light a major distinction between humans and dandylions. How humans have such a high degree of individuality. Dandylions do not have this individuality. Their skills are group wide whereas ours are very individual.

    Face it, Charlie. When it comes to dispersing offspring, dandelions are way more advanced than you.

    Yes they are. Darwinian evolution should come much more easily to them with the amount of offspring they produce..

    CharlieM: And that is why I qualified it. We have a more advanced individual awareness than dandylions. Do you agree?

    Nope. You equate “complex” with “advanced”, but since I do not share your conviction that there is a drive towards more complex, I do not consider it progress.

    I certainly do not equate “complex” with “advanced” Below is a diagram of two gas turbine engine fuel control units. The one on the left was designed in the ’50s. It’s full of levers, springs, bellows and fluid chambers. The one on the right designed much later. As you can see the more advanced unit is much less complex mechanically.

    CharlieM: So what about arrangements of molecules? How complex do they have to be before they are classed as living?

    They do not have to be complex. Once something satisfies the criteria I linked to a dozen times, I consider it alive. You are seeking a hard divide between living and non-living, but this sharp boundary does not exist. I am perfectly fine with that, but you seem to be struggling with it.

    No, I’m fine with that too. Physical life requires material substances, but more importantly it requires the intrinsic activity of metabolism to maintain homeostasis while the actual substances are constantly changing. Metabolism does not feature in non-living objects.

    CharlieM: And the difference between a freshly suffocated zebra and a living one lies not in the DNA molecules in its cells. They remain the same. It lies in the system that is supplying the cells with what they need to remain viable. The living processes have been interrupted.

    Perhaps the living process of a zebra is meant to be interrupted. Perhaps the zebra DNA is meant to be taken up by the lion and incorporated into the lion’s body. And perhaps some of the DNA is meant to become lion poop and then incorporated into poop bacteria. Perhaps the remaining DNA is meant to degrade and be lost. All part of one big happy living process.

    Nah, poppycock. DNA is not alive, belongs nowhere and is not meant to do anything. You are just caught up in a very elaborate is-ought fallacy.

    Okay, so DNA serves no purpose 🙂 But is it active? Are ribosomes active? Are cells active, are organisms active?

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