[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
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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