What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

This offers the simplest “neutral” colloquial mixture of “design” and “evolution” that I’ve seen in a long time. The site is no longer maintained, but the language persists.

“As a designer it is important to understand where design came from, how it developed, and who shaped its evolution. The more exposure you have to past, current and future design trends, styles and designers, the larger your problem-solving toolkit. The larger your toolkit, the more effective of a designer you can be.” http://www.designishistory.com/this-site/

Here, the term “evolution” as used just meant “history”. The author was not indicating “design theory evolution”, but rather instead the “history of designs” themselves, which have been already instantiated.

The topic “design is history” nevertheless enables an obvious point of contact between “evolution” and “design”. They both have histories that can be studied. Present in the above meaning of “design” are the origin, processes and agent(s) involved in the “designing”. This differs significantly from the Discovery Institute’s version of “design theory”, when it comes to history, aim, structure and agency, since the DI’s version flat out avoids discussion of design processes and agent(s). The primary purpose of the DI’s “design theory”, meanwhile, is USAmerican religious apologetics and “theistic science”.

The quotation above likely didn’t come from an IDist, and it isn’t referencing “Intelligent Design” theory as a supposed “scientific theory”. The “designer” in the quotation above is a (more or less intelligent) human designer, not a Divine Designer. This fact distinguishes it “in principle” from the Discovery Institute’s ID theory, which is supposed to be (depends on who you’re speaking with in the IDM) about first biology, then informatics, and statistics. The DI’s ID theory is not actually focused on “designing by real designers”, but rather on apologetics using “design” and informational probabilism.

The Discovery Institute’s failure to distinguish or even highlight the differences and similarities between human design and Divine Design, and instead their engagement in active distortion, equivocation, double-talking, and obfuscation between them, are marks of its eventual downward trend to collapse.

0

885 thoughts on “What mixture of “design” and “evolution” is possible as the IDM collapses?

  1. Allan Miller: It’s hardly a killer for the concept.

    From what I can tell, not much would be, which makes it a rather vacuous concept.

    I understand that there are significant differences apart from the types of membranes involved.

    0

  2. phoodoo: Now you are just being farcically absurd, right?

    Just now?

    I like Gregory. I think he has many good and interesting things to say. Being on the receiving end of his attempts at mind-reading is amusing to me. I understand though, if not everyone feels that way.

    0

  3. Mung: From what I can tell, not much would be, which makes it a rather vacuous concept.

    Or an accurate depiction of the underlying reality.

    I understand that there are significant differences apart from the types of membranes involved.

    Sure. Lots of similarities too. We can’t just look at the differences and conclude from them that they are unrelated.

    0

  4. CharlieM: Me: So you’ll be able to articulate the difficulties with the notion of epigenetic inheritance as a long-term evolutionary force, then?
    Charlie: I don’t have to confine myself to exogenous controls by histone modifications such as methylationand de-methylation.

    So you big-up Jablonka as congenial to your view then immediately dump her? God you’re fickle.

    Changes to the visual abilities of blind cave fish are due to behavioural changes which are epigenetic.

    They behave like they can’t see? You’re making stuff up.

    Me: Glad we cleared that up.

    Charlie: The way you are thinking about genotype to phenotype in terms of cause and effect is a misapplication of the physics of dead, unresponsive matter to life.

    It’s entirely in accord with how things actually work. Which you’d know if you troubled to crack open a book before pontificating.

    To apply this linear type of thinking to living beings is to ignore what it means to be alive.Kick a dog and you will have much more than Newton’s laws to contend with.

    That’s due to instinctive, innate behaviours inherited genetically. Dogs bite, spiders spin, bindweeds spiral.

    Denis Nobel had good reason for using such metaphors as ‘dance’ and ‘music’.

    Our gracious host, who stands the expense of our ongoing chunner-fest, is a fan. Me, not so much. I’m not a massive fan of metaphors, you may have gathered. Genes resemble nothing more than genes; the relationship with phenotype is strikingly similar to the relationship with phenotype.

    Me: Haha. Without false dichotomy, IDists would have nothing!

    Charlie: Possibly, but I’m not an IDist.

    Really? You substitute some vague ‘intelligence of nature’ for a personal god; other than that, you seem to be an IDist in every respect. Evolution, commonly presented, is insufficient.

    So you agree that your creativity does not originate in your genes?

    The capacity to be creative does, on account of me being descended from a long line of humans whose brains are constructed (by genes) with that capacity. If I was descended from a long line of termites, it would be different.

    So where about in the genome of a termite is the innate creativity that is required to construct these architectural wonders?

    You cannot point to specifics but you know it must be there somehow.

    I don’t need to be able to name a gene in every case pulled up by an interlocutor before I can be confident that genes are ultimately responsible for innate behaviours. Why does every termite nest of a given species resemble every other? There are two possibilities: genes and ‘group memory’. On what grounds do you reject the first and invent a brand new, mechanistically unobservable phenomenon?

    True. But the history of science is a process where by the current thinking of one age is that which is superseded by later ages.

    Ah, the old Kuhn gambit. Paradigm shift does not mean every theory is wrong.

    1+
    Entropy
  5. CharlieM:

    In order to vocalise many genes involved in breathing and muscle movement of the syrinx need to be activated and deactivated as required. I’m sure many complex cellular processes are involved. Bird song is a good example to study because some vocalisation is innate and some of it is individually learned. If it is purely genetic why do they have to progress from a seemingly adequate generic trait to having to be individually learned?

    I used the cuckoo specifically because it never encounters members of its species until it mates with them. Males do not learn the call, and females do not learn to find it enticing.

    The main novelty in birdsong lies between groups whereas the main novelty in human song lies within the individual.

    What clearer illustration would one need that birdsong were genetic? The groups share genes. Why do we need to look elsewhere?

    it seems to me that from your point of view animals mate because their genes tell them to do so. I presume if your genes tell you it’s time for you to mate, why don’t you jump on the nearest woman who takes your fancy?

    That’s overextending the consequences of accepting a genetic basis – and, again, an example of false dichotomy. Either genes have no role or I’m engaged in perpetual rape? It’s clear that my attraction to women is fundamentally based in my genetics – the consequence, ultimately, of my Y chromosome. If I had 2 X’s, the opposite would most likely be true. Even though I can’t conceive of finding men attractive, one simple chromosomal swap during the formation of ‘my’ sperm would likely have achieved it.

    The physical and behavioural traits are two aspects of the ‘personality’ of the dogs. The breeders weren’t selecting genes, they were selecting for the traits they were looking for and these traits involved behaviour, appearance and genetics all mutually interacting.

    So why is ‘personality’ heritable and selectable in exactly the same way as form, if it isn’t actually inherited in the same way?

    0

  6. Gregory: Fairly asked. It seems to me that the DI’s version of ID theory requires both. Do you disagree? Or at least, that all of ID theory’s major proponents, leaving out unaffiliated internet voices, advocate and hold both of those types of “design universalism”.

    I don’t disagree at all — I think you’re right about that. I just wanted to make sure we clarified the distinction.

    0

  7. Allan Miller: Our gracious host, who stands the expense of our ongoing chunner-fest, is a fan.

    She certainly was. I think her enthusiasm has waned.

    0

  8. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM: Me: So you’ll be able to articulate the difficulties with the notion of epigenetic inheritance as a long-term evolutionary force, then?
    Charlie: I don’t have to confine myself to exogenous controls by histone modifications such as methylationand de-methylation.

    So you big-up Jablonka as congenial to your view then immediately dump her? God you’re fickle.

    I don’t dump her. She is a prime example of someone who sees the limitations of gene centred thinking. She argues that the gene is given centre stage and everything else is marginalised. She believes that variation is brought about by the complex interaction of genetic, epigenetic, physiological, ecological, behavioural and cultural processes. What is looked at in isolation for analytical purposes can never be isolated in reality.

    Changes to the visual abilities of blind cave fish are due to behavioural changes which are epigenetic.

    They behave like they can’t see? You’re making stuff up.

    Here I am using epigenetic to include everything above the level of the gene. The group behaviour in frequenting these dark caves has brought about the changes to their visual systems.

    Me: Glad we cleared that up.

    Charlie: The way you are thinking about genotype to phenotype in terms of cause and effect is a misapplication of the physics of dead, unresponsive matter to life.

    It’s entirely in accord with how things actually work. Which you’d know if you troubled to crack open a book before pontificating.

    So can you point to the genetic origin of consciousness? Which genes cause consciousness?

    To apply this linear type of thinking to living beings is to ignore what it means to be alive.Kick a dog and you will have much more than Newton’s laws to contend with.

    That’s due to instinctive, innate behaviours inherited genetically. Dogs bite, spiders spin, bindweeds spiral.

    As Jablonka points out, inheritance involves much more than the genes.

    Denis Nobel had good reason for using such metaphors as ‘dance’ and ‘music’.

    Our gracious host, who stands the expense of our ongoing chunner-fest, is a fan. Me, not so much. I’m not a massive fan of metaphors, you may have gathered. Genes resemble nothing more than genes; the relationship with phenotype is strikingly similar to the relationship with phenotype.

    You will have noticed that your sentence, ‘I’m not a massive fan of metaphors, you may have gathered’, contains metaphors. 🙂 There is no getting away from them.

    Me: Haha. Without false dichotomy, IDists would have nothing!

    Charlie: Possibly, but I’m not an IDist.

    Really? You substitute some vague ‘intelligence of nature’ for a personal god; other than that, you seem to be an IDist in every respect. Evolution, commonly presented, is insufficient.

    I agree with many of their criticisms of evolution as it is usually portrayed. I do not agree with the tendency to equate living matter with machines.

    So you agree that your creativity does not originate in your genes?

    The capacity to be creative does, on account of me being descended from a long line of humans whose brains are constructed (by genes) with that capacity. If I was descended from a long line of termites, it would be different.

    Brains are not constructed by genes. Genes are used and manipulated in the process of brain development and function.

    So where about in the genome of a termite is the innate creativity that is required to construct these architectural wonders?

    You cannot point to specifics but you know it must be there somehow.

    I don’t need to be able to name a gene in every case pulled up by an interlocutor before I can be confident that genes are ultimately responsible for innate behaviours. Why does every termite nest of a given species resemble every other? There are two possibilities: genes and ‘group memory’. On what grounds do you reject the first and invent a brand new, mechanistically unobservable phenomenon?

    We do observe the group behaviour. And the behaviour of the group leads far beyond the capabilities of any individual within the group.

    True. But the history of science is a process where by the current thinking of one age is that which is superseded by later ages.

    Ah, the old Kuhn gambit. Paradigm shift does not mean every theory is wrong.

    No, but it does show up their limitations. Natural selection points to a reality, but it is limited in its scope. Not all genetic changes are accidental. Teleology is a factor of life.

    1+

  9. Alan Fox: No it isn’t. Neither is it a fact of life.

    Don’t be silly. You’d die in days without teleology, Alan. You can’t eat, drink or do almost anything without it.

    0

  10. CharlieM,

    Jablonka is an atheist. She is also quite openly anti-religious. Were you aware of either of these, CharlieM?

    0

  11. CharlieM: Brains are not constructed by genes. Genes are used and manipulated in the process of brain development and function.

    What manipulates and uses the genes?

    0

  12. phoodoo: I just want to know, what have you got against Monica Seles ?

    The same thing I press against your mother.

    0

  13. It’s funny that phoodoo thinks that typing ‘site:’ into google and doing a search for phoodoo+fitness is stalking

    It’s a remarkable mindset where simply quoting back his own words to demonstrate his obsessions is somehow forbidden.

    I suppose it’s the same mindset that Trump supporters have, even when faced with direct quotes from Trump they deny they were said or were taken out of context.

    It’s not hard to find screeds against fitness from phoodoo going back years. And yet if I dare to point that out I’m somehow equated to a violent stalker.

    Rather, I think, it shows how insecure he actually is in his position, to have it demonstrated that it has not developed in at least half a decade must be something of a shock to the system. Hey, phoodoo, got anything new to say about fitness? Why not publish it?

    0

  14. Allan Miller:

    CharlieM:

    In order to vocalise many genes involved in breathing and muscle movement of the syrinx need to be activated and deactivated as required. I’m sure many complex cellular processes are involved. Bird song is a good example to study because some vocalisation is innate and some of it is individually learned. If it is purely genetic why do they have to progress from a seemingly adequate generic trait to having to be individually learned?

    I used the cuckoo specifically because it never encounters members of its species until it mates with them. Males do not learn the call, and females do not learn to find it enticing.

    Yes and if these traits do not need to be learned but can be transmitted through the genes, why in other species does birdsong have to be learned by the individual? Genetics can be a very convenient answer. Cuckoos know how to behave as cuckoos because it is in the genes. Some birds learn to sing by imitating their parents. Starlings also imitate other species. Many times have I heard a ‘curlew’ singing from my roof. Just as innate behaviour is ‘in the genes’ so too is learned behaviour ‘in the genes’.

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that cuckoo song is purely genetic in origin. Moving on to Darwin’s finches, their song is individually learned. Starlings not only learn their own calls, they also learn many other sounds:

    They have a lively, joyful song, which is even said to have inspired Mozart who kept a starling as a pet. They’re also truly amazing impressionists. A starling defending its territory and trying to impress a potential mate will work a variety of sounds into its song. Among a mix of clicks, wheezes and rattles you might hear buzzards, curlews, owls, cats, dogs and frogs! One has even been heard impersonating, with great panache, a captive white-faced whistling duck.

    There is an obvious progression here from the generic to the individual. And human vocalisation is at a whole new level. We not only vocalise through innate abilities such as in babies crying, we learn languages by imitation and we progress towards creating our own individual stories with unlimited potential for conveying information.

    The main novelty in birdsong lies between groups whereas the main novelty in human song lies within the individual.

    What clearer illustration would one need that birdsong were genetic? The groups share genes. Why do we need to look elsewhere?

    And can we put purely down to genetics our vocal skills and understanding thereof?

    it seems to me that from your point of view animals mate because their genes tell them to do so. I presume if your genes tell you it’s time for you to mate, why don’t you jump on the nearest woman who takes your fancy?

    That’s overextending the consequences of accepting a genetic basis – and, again, an example of false dichotomy. Either genes have no role or I’m engaged in perpetual rape? It’s clear that my attraction to women is fundamentally based in my genetics – the consequence, ultimately, of my Y chromosome. If I had 2 X’s, the opposite would most likely be true. Even though I can’t conceive of finding men attractive, one simple chromosomal swap during the formation of ‘my’ sperm would likely have achieved it.

    So how do you explain the LGBT community?

    The physical and behavioural traits are two aspects of the ‘personality’ of the dogs. The breeders weren’t selecting genes, they were selecting for the traits they were looking for and these traits involved behaviour, appearance and genetics all mutually interacting.

    So why is ‘personality’ heritable and selectable in exactly the same way as form, if it isn’t actually inherited in the same way?

    Because the traits selected for are shared generic traits. Artificial selection takes the generic in which there is always embedded slight individual differences and develops these peculiarities in a one sided way. This is an artificial narrowing of the niche of the type to a point where the original group plasticity is lost. Genomes play a large part but only in the way that they are being manipulated from without instead of within the group.

    0

  15. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: Teleology is a factor of life.

    No it isn’t. Neither is it a fact of life.

    So bird’s nests serve no purpose?

    0

  16. Gregory: CharlieM,

    Jablonka is an atheist. She is also quite openly anti-religious. Were you aware of either of these, CharlieM?

    That makes it even more telling that she can see how limited the current orthodox view of evolution is. What better place to criticise it than from within.

    Give me an honest atheist over a hypocritical Christian any day 😉 (This comment is not directed at you, I am making a generalisation)

    0

  17. newton: What manipulates and uses the genes?

    The organism to which they belong. Apart form instances such as artificial selection which I mentioned above. And of course heterotrophs indirectly control the genes of the organisms they consume.

    As an individual organism I controlled my genes from the time I existed as a single cell up to this point and hopefully beyond.

    0

  18. CharlieM: So bird’s nests serve no purpose?

    Depends what you mean and whether you are wanting to clarify or equivocate. Birds’ nests function as receptacles for their eggs and developing young. Nests, being inanimate, lack purpose. Birds are motivated, in the breeding season, to build nests, find a mate, breed and raise young. The ultimate purpose of that and where it rests, I couldn’t say. But don’t let me stop you.

    0

  19. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: So bird’s nests serve no purpose?

    Depends what you mean and whether you are wanting to clarify or equivocate.

    Exactly!

    Birds’ nests function as receptacles for their eggs and developing young. Nests, being inanimate, lack purpose.

    Knives and forks are inanimate. Do they serve a purpose?

    Birds are motivated, in the breeding season, to build nests, find a mate, breed and raise young. The ultimate purpose of that and where it rests, I couldn’t say. But don’t let me stop you.

    I’m not talking about ultimate purposes. I am talking about entities built and used by living beings

    0

  20. CharlieM: I’m not talking about ultimate purposes. I am talking about entities built and used by living beings

    We often calls these artefacts, more simply tools. You seem to be circling into, well, circularity. Bring in a bit of teleology and make the circle complete.

    0

  21. Alan Fox:
    Gregory, Your dictionary definition must differ from mine.

    Gregory isn’t wrong to use teleology as he does; he’s just using the word differently from how you do. There’s a serious lack of clarity about divergent uses of the same word (well, that’s perhaps true in a good deal of philosophy).

    There’s a perfectly legitimate use in which Gregory is right to insist that teleology is obvious; and there’s a perfectly legitimate use in which you’re right to deny it entirely.

    I’m trying to spend less time on TSZ these days (too many real-world commitments) but very briefly put, the question is whether teleology is an ontogenetic concept or a phylogenetic concept.

    Evolutionary theory correctly denies the usefulness of teleology for phylogeny, but it is silent on the usefulness of teleology for ontogeny & physiology.

    0

  22. CharlieM,

    Ok, so you weren’t previously aware about that. That was the question, nothing more.

    She’s a hardcore evolutionist, CharlieM. She’s not yours & Steiner’s distorted and twisted “spiritual science” ally here.

    0

  23. Kantian Naturalist: very briefly put, the question is whether teleology is an ontogenetic concept or a phylogenetic concept.

    No, that would be the ideologically scientistic route, certainly not a requirement, and imo far from the best way to approach “teleology”. “Ontogenetic” in contrast with “phylogenetic” isn’t leading edge; it is outdated to Gould 1977. 40 years later, we need better explanations than just being frozen in time.

    KN is still stuck in a whole whack of ideologies, from Marxism and naturalism to scientism. This makes him an trustworthy voice speaking about “teleology”. He’s an agnostic/quasi-atheist secular-ish philosopher whose answers do not inspire because they seek no inspiration. KN’s philosophy of life is a personification of Weber’s “disenchantment of the world”. So, “natural vs. natural” is the only kind of meaning of “teleology” one will get from such a worldview.

    0

  24. Alan Fox:

    CharlieM: I’m not talking about ultimate purposes. I am talking about entities built and used by living beings

    We often calls these artefacts, more simply tools. You seem to be circling into, well, circularity. Bring in a bit of teleology and make the circle complete.

    Well we do have to be careful in distinguishing between external causation and inner processes when we are talking about teleology in relation to organisms. Goethe was against the use of teleological language when discussing living forms. Talking in terms of purpose invokes the concepts of cause and effect between separate entities, whereas the Goethean point of view looks at the whole, the unity, and talks about the relationships within this unity.

    Steiner gives an account of Goethe’s view of nature in Goethean Science

    If every animal being existed only in accordance with the principles lying within the archetypal animal, then they would all be alike. But the animal organism members itself into a number of organ systems, each of which can arrive at a definite degree of development. This is the basis now for a diverse evolution. Equally valid among the others as idea, one system can nevertheless push itself forward to a particular degree; it can use for itself the supply of formative forces lying within the animal organism and can deprive the other organs of it. The animal will thus appear as particularly developed in the direction of that organ system. Another animal will appear as developed in another direction. Herein lies the possibility for the differentiation of the archetypal organism in its transition to the phenomenal realm in genera and species.

    The real (factual) causes of this differentiation, however, are still not yet given thereby. Here adaptation and the struggle for existence come into their own right — the former causing the organism to shape itself in accordance with the outer conditions surrounding it, the latter working in such a way that only those entities survive that are best adapted to existing conditions. Adaptation and the struggle for existence, however, could have absolutely no effect upon the organism if the constituting principle of the organism were not of such a kind that — while continuously maintaining its inner unity — it can take on the most manifold forms. The relationship of outer formative forces to this principle should in no way be regarded as one in which, for example, the former determine the latter in the same way one inorganic entity determines another. The outer conditions are, to be sure, the stimulus for the typus to develop in a certain form; but this form itself cannot be derived from the outer determining factors, but only from the inner principle. In explaining the form, one should always seek the outer factors, but one should not regard the form itself as resulting from them. Goethe would have rejected the derivation of the developmental forms of an organism from the surrounding outer world through mere causality, just as much as he rejected the teleological principle according to which the form of an organ is traced back to an external purpose it is to serve.

    In the case of those organ systems of an animal in which what matters is more the external aspect of the structure — in the bones, for example — there that law which we saw in the plants appears again, as in the forming of the skull bones. Goethe’s gift for recognizing the inner lawfulness in purely external forms manifests here quite especially.

    The difference between plant and animal established by these views of Goethe might seem meaningless in face of the fact that modern science has grounds for justifiable doubt that there is any definite borderline between plant and animal. Goethe, however, was already aware of the impossibility of setting up any such borderline. In spite of this, there are specific definitions of plant and animal. This is connected with Goethe’s whole view of nature. He assumes absolutely nothing constant, fixed, in the phenomenal realm; for in this realm everything fluctuates in continuous motion. But the essential being of a thing, which can be held fast in a concept, cannot be derived from the fluctuating forms, but rather from certain intermediary stages at which this being can be observed. For Goethe’s view, it is quite natural that one set up specific definitions and that these are nevertheless not held to in one’s experience of certain transitional forms. In fact, he sees precisely in this the mobile life of nature.

    With these ideas, Goethe established the theoretical foundations of organic science. He found the essential being of the organism. One can easily fail to recognize this if one demands that the typus, that self-constituted principle (entelechy), itself be explained by something else. But this is an unfounded demand, because the typus, held fast in its intuitive form, explains itself. For anyone who has grasped that “forming of itself in accordance with itself” of the entelechical principle, this constitutes the solution of the riddle of life. Any other solution is impossible, because this solution is the essential being of the thing itself. If Darwinism has to presuppose an archetypal organism, then one can say of Goethe that he discovered the essential being of that archetypal organism. It is Goethe who broke with the mere juxtaposing of genera and species, and who undertook a regeneration of organic science in accordance with the essential being of the organism. Whereas the systems before Goethe needed just as many different concepts (ideas) as there were outwardly different species for which no intermediary existed, Goethe maintained that in idea all organisms are alike, that they are different only in their manifestation; and he explained why they are so. With this, the philosophical foundation for a scientific system of organisms was created. It was then only a matter of implementing this system. It would have to be shown how all real organisms are only manifestations of an idea, and how they manifest themselves in a given case.

    When looking to explain organisms and organic systems we should not be thinking in terms of purpose but individual expression of the overarching type.

    0

  25. Gregory:
    CharlieM,

    Ok, so you weren’t previously aware about that. That was the question, nothing more.

    She’s a hardcore evolutionist, CharlieM. She’s not yours & Steiner’s distorted and twisted “spiritual science” ally here.

    I know she is an evolutionist who thinks that the evolutionary synthesis should not be discarded altogether. She would like to extend it. I didn’t see her as being particularly religion, but her religious views don’t concern me. I prefer to read, listen and try to understand to what she has to say about evolution.

    Sometimes our closest allies are those that disagree with and challenge our views. The ‘great war’ between Owen Barfield and C.S. Lewis spring to mind. Not that I put myself in the same league as Barfield, Lewis or Jablonka.

    0

  26. Gregory to:

    Kantian Naturalist: very briefly put, the question is whether teleology is an ontogenetic concept or a phylogenetic concept.

    No, that would be the ideologically scientistic route, certainly not a requirement, and imo far from the best way to approach “teleology”.

    Well it is a question that’s worth looking into.

    It would be hard to deny that individual organisms exhibit teleological behaviour. We can even see teleological behaviour within cells. Mitosis cannot happen without the directed coordinated behaviour of the organelles and other complexes within the cell.

    At what level do processes stop being goal directed? Leon R. Kass M.D. is worth a read. I’ve quoted him below.

    The Permanent Limitations of Biology

    The emphasis on mechanism is an expression of the nonteleological character of modern biology, a fifth feature not true to life. As I have argued elsewhere,5 living things must be regarded as purposive beings, as beings that cannot even be looked at, much less properly described or fully understood, without teleological notions. Organisms come-into-being through an orderly, self-directed process of differentiation that reaches an internally determined end or completion. At each stage, but most fully when mature, each is an organic and active whole, a unity of structure and function, the parts contributing to the maintenance and working of the whole. Wholeness is preserved through remarkable powers of self-healing, each organism acting unconsciously from within to restore its own integrity which it somehow both knows and wants. Other characteristic activities of each organism stretch above and beyond mere self-maintenance. Living things display directedness, inner striving toward a goal, activities that transcend confinement to the here and flow (sic):

    I take it that last word is a copying error and it should read, ‘now’.

    I came across Kass while reading the book, ‘From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again’:by Etienne Gilson, which is also worth a read.

    0

  27. Also from the foreword to ‘From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again’, this is written:

    Though there is today a growing debate about the mechanisms of evolution, the reigning orthodoxy still credits accidental mutation and natural selection as the major means of evolutionary change. Yet very few people have noticed that this nonteleological explanation of change not only assumes but even depends upon the immanent teleological character of all living organisms. The desire or tendency of living things to stay alive and their endeavor to reproduce, both of which are among the minimal conditions of Darwinian theory, are taken for granted and unexplained. It is only part of an explanation to say that those beings with no tendency to maintain and reproduce themselves have died out. Why are the other ones, the self-maintaining and reproducing beings, here at all? They are not teleological because they have survived; on the contrary, they have survived (in part) because they are teleological. Can evolutionary biology tell us why a nonteleological nature would generate and sustain teleological beings? Or why, over time, it would give rise to higher organisms, with a fuller range of powers of awareness, desire and action? Do we really understand what we are claiming when we accept the view that a mindless universe gave rise to mind.

    All good questions to ask.

    0

  28. And yet more from Kass

    We are beginning to notice that power over nature is power that can be restricted and withheld from some, misused and abused by others; that even the benevolent uses of humanitarian technologies often have serious unintended and undesired consequences; that as old diseases are conquered, new and often worse ones spring up to take their place;…

    This is very apt considering our present situation.

    0

  29. Mung:

    CharlieM: So bird’s nests serve no purpose?

    Teleology and purpose are not the same thing.

    But they are intimately linked. Would you agree that there is an end-directed goal in nest building? The builder need not be conscious of this goal.

    0

  30. CharlieM: Would you agree that there is an end-directed goal in nest building?

    It certainly appears that way.

    CharlieM: The builder need not be conscious of this goal.

    I wouldn’t go that far, if you’re talking about purpose. There is end-directedness in non-biological species but we don’t speak of them as being purposive.

    Just making the point that there’s a difference is all.

    0

  31. Kantian Naturalist: Evolutionary theory correctly denies the usefulness of teleology for phylogeny, but it is silent on the usefulness of teleology for ontogeny & physiology.

    Indeed, it was the biological definition that I was working with. Though notwithstanding, I think Gregory is flat wrong with this statement:

    You’d die in days without teleology, Alan. You can’t eat, drink or do almost anything without it.

    0

  32. Alan Fox: I think Gregory is flat wrong with this statement

    And I think you’re in no position to judge whether he is right or wrong. For starters, you don’t appear to have a clue what he’s talking about.

    0

  33. Alan Fox: I think Gregory is flat wrong with this statement:

    You’d die in days without teleology, Alan. You can’t eat, drink or do almost anything without it.

    I take Gregory to be talking about what would happen if there were no such things as hunger or thirst — and similar biological drives.

    0

  34. Neil Rickert: I take Gregory to be talking about what would happen if there were no such things as hunger or thirst — and similar biological drives.

    Of if biochemical processes that always or almost always produce the same result failed to do so.

    Teleology is a fact of nature and a fact of life. Science even depends on teleology in order to “do” science. It’s absurd to deny it.

    0

  35. Neil Rickert:

    I take Gregory to be talking about what would happen if there were no such things as hunger or thirst — and similar biological drives.Sure. But experience of hunger and thirst and the drive to satiate it is not explained by flinging out a word. I might just as usefully describe it as the hunger fairy.

    0

  36. Mung: Teleology is a fact of nature and a fact of life.

    No it’s a word that doesn’t explain anything biological.

    0

  37. Alan Fox: No it’s a word that doesn’t explain anything biological.

    It does! A mind did it! It explains that!

    0

  38. Alan Fox: No it’s a word that doesn’t explain anything biological.

    And yet:

    The manifest appearance of function and purpose in living systems is responsible for the prevalence of apparently teleological explanations of organismic structure and behavior in biology. Although the attribution of function and purpose to living systems is an ancient practice, teleological notions are largely considered ineliminable from modern biological sciences, such as evolutionary biology, genetics, medicine, ethology, and psychiatry, because they play an important explanatory role.

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/teleology-biology/

    0

  39. Mung: because they play an important explanatory role.

    You’ve quoted a respectable philisophical source. I see it starts with a discussion about function and purpose. I doubt biologists start with or refer to teleology when trying to understand and explain biological phenomena. First observe.

    You emphasize “because [apparently teleological explanations] play an important explanatory role” in your quote. I’d be interested in learning how teleological ideas enhance our understanding of biology as my impression is they don’t, not a tiny bit.

    0

  40. Alan Fox: I’d be interested in learning how teleological ideas enhance our understanding of biology as my impression is they don’t, not a tiny bit.

    The key word is ‘apparently’ in that quote, I feel. Perhaps the intent is as Dawkins.

    0

  41. Alan Fox to Mung: I’d be interested in learning how teleological ideas enhance our understanding of biology as my impression is they don’t, not a tiny bit.

    Because it helps us to ask the right questions in our attempt to understand what we observe.

    Think about a bird’s nest and try to understand it using Aristotles four ’causes’. As you probably know these the material, the formal, the essential and the final. Although I prefer to think of them as four aspects of existence.

    The material cause is self-explanatory as is the formal. Both vary greatly depending on species. The form can be anything from a scrape in the ground to an intricately woven masterpiece. Its essential cause would be the bird/s that constructed it. And its final cause has to do with its purpose, the reason for its existence. It is built to provide a safe place to lay and brood a clutch of eggs.

    Getting the right answers will enable us to distinguish between, say, witches broom and a bird’s nest.

    If you cannot see that a nest is extrinsically teleological in the same way that human artefacts are then there is little point in discussing intrinsic teleology with you.

    0

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.