[Taxacom] Teleology Revisited

Robinwbruce at aol.com Robinwbruce at aol.com
Mon Mar 11 08:26:19 CDT 2013

For my part I have found this a fascinating thread.
The idea of banning words would have perplexed Alice. Just which  
rabbit-hole did she go down she must wonder!  And after banning words, do  we ban 
sentences? And then......?
The problem to me seems to be just what is the theory of evolution? Is it  
science, belief or metaphysics, or a combination of two or three, or yet 
more  unstated categories?
Popper some time ago categorized evolution as a  'metaphysical  research 
programme'. This categorization did not last I  believe, for reasons I do not 
know, but I have not pursued its  demise.
To me evolution seems to be a cosmology or a cosmogony, or perhaps more  
precisely a geo-gony, as we have no empirical evidence for life beyond the  
Earth. Life seems to be immanent on Earth. And how does life present itself on 
 Earth? Always, it seems to me, as organisms, not as liquids, gasses,  
compounds, molecules, ideas, information or dreams, but as concrete  organisms. 
And organisms  - what is their nature? Well they come into being  from 
previously existing organisms, and go out of being, hopefully leaving issue  in 
the form of... well you have guessed it........organisms. One can of course  
take a gene-centric view of the organism, but equally one can take an  
organism-centric view of the gene. The world of organisms revolves  around the 
exclamation of 'the king is dead, long live the king'; this is  true for royal 
houses but also kingfish and king snakes, otherwise no  kings........... no 
It is easy (and fun) to parody excessive pan-selectionism,  Dr.  Pangloss 
again. But what would excessive pan-structuralism look like? Would it  be a 
world where nothing changes? This suggests to me that we are  looking at the 
problem from the wrong viewpoint.
All of this reminds me of the conversation between Wittgenstein and  
Anscombe, about the shift from a geocentric world view of the heavens to a  
heliocentric one, based on analyses by three-dimensional geometry. What had  
changed in the change of world view..........the heavens, or our perception of  
the heavens?
In 1916, E. S. Russell wrote;  'It may well be that the intransigent  
materialism of the 19th century is merely an episode, an aberration rather, in  
the history of biology - an aberration brought about by the over-rapid  
development of a materialistic and luxurious civilisation, in which man's  
material means have outrun his mental and moral growth.'  Form and  Function, a 
Contribution to the History of Animal Morphology. Well, 100 years on  we are 
in the same hole, and still digging..............time methinks to  look over 
the edge of the hole, perhaps?

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