[Taxacom] Teleology Revisited

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Tue Mar 12 05:36:36 CDT 2013

It's not such a rhetorical question. After banning words and sentences one
can go for banning entire research programs. This has actually happened as
Waters et al have recently published an article in Systematic Zoology
calling for the banning of panbiogeography. Another example is a molecular
biologist (Stoneking) making a similar assertion about the publication of
non-molecular reconstructions that call into question what has been deemed
settled science by molecular theorists (in this case the supposed fact of
chimps as our nearest living relatives). This brave new science world is
already upon us (probably always has).

John Grehan

On Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 9:26 AM, <Robinwbruce at aol.com> wrote:

> 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
> genes.............
> 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?
> Robin
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