On Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 5:48 PM, John Clark <johnkcl...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Telmo Menezes <te...@telmomenezes.com> wrote:
>
>> > The theory of evolution as proposed by Darwin is non-reductionist. It
>> > relies on the concept of "natural selection", which is an holistic concept.
>
>
> That is entirely false. Natural selection is local, not just spatially but
> temporally as well.

Natural selection is an emergent phenomena arising from local interactions.

> Evolution doesn't make decision based on the species as
> a whole but rather on whether this particular animal right here survives
> long enough to get its genes into the next generation.

Evolution doesn't make decisions at all. It's an emergent phenomena.

> And Evolution has no
> foresight, it doesn't understand one step backward 2 steps forward, it only
> understands if there is a advantage to the animal right now.

That is debatable. There is the possibility of the evolution of
evolvability, in which one can imagine that certain genetic
configurations are selected because they are more maleable for future
adaptations (because they have been more maleable to past
adaptations). This is speculation, but within the realm of
possibility. Some computational simulations give credence to the idea.
It's also one of the theories for why there is so much junk DNA.

> Natural
> selection works on what is happening right here right now.

This is true but at the same time misses the point. Your version of
evolutionary theory only gets us so far as to making trivial
statements like: "I am live because all of my ancestors successfully
reproduced before dying". The interesting questions are more
ambitious:

- Why are there so many species?
- Why do different species exist to begin with?
- Why only two genders?
- Why are some species more altruistic and others more selfish?
- ...

You're going through intellectual contortions to avoid facing the
reality that one of the most amazing insights of science ever is a
theory about emergent behaviours, about how things can be explained by
creating a layer of abstraction and that for this step to be possible
we have to necessarily accept our ignorance about, not only many of
the details, but also about many of the (non-linear) interactions that
give rise to what we generically call evolution.

>> > Finding a cure for cancer or understanding exactly how the brain works
>> > resist the reductionist approach to this day.
>
>
> Richard Dawkins has said that in today's pop culture admitting to being a
> reductionist is like admitting that you like to eat babies, but the fact is
> that every disease science has found a cure for it has done so with a
> reductionist approach,

This is entirely not the case. The most obvious example is the field
of psychiatry, using drugs for which mechanisms of operation are not
understood combined with therapy techniques that are completely based
on practioner's experience and intuition. Yet it manages to get
results above placebo for some classes of diseases, like depression.

Many of the modern drugs are discovered by brute force. The "let's see
if molecule X cures disease Y" brute-force approach. A large chunk of
modern medicine is based on epidemiological research. A modern version
of "tasting the forest", like Platonist Guitar Cowboy would say.

Another very common disease: hypertension.

>From wikipedia:
"In almost all contemporary societies, blood pressure rises with aging
and the risk of becoming hypertensive in later life is
considerable.[13] Hypertension results from a complex interaction of
genes and environmental factors. Numerous common genetic variants with
small effects on blood pressure have been identified[14] as well as
some rare genetic variants with large effects on blood pressure[15]
but the genetic basis of hypertension is still poorly understood."

Treatment for hypertension is also holistic, typically consisting of a
combination of diet, lifestyle changes as mushy as "stress avoidance"
and sometimes medication like beta-blockers: another class of drugs
with a complex and not fully understood mechanisms of action.

> and you're only going to know that you really do
> understand how the brain works if you can duplicate it,

Being able to duplicate the brain does not imply that we understand
it, nor does understanding it imply that we can replicate it.

> and that means
> knowing all the billion little details, and that means reductionism.

Actually understanding how the brain works means exactly the opposite:
not having to consider all the billions of little details but instead
understanding the fundamental principles -- which are holistic for
sure.

> However "holistic" is a great buzz word that will impress the rubes and make
> you a hit at parties.

Hey, we don't all look like Brad Pitt. We have to play the hand we're dealt.

>>> >> I can give a example of a effect with no cause at all, the creation of
>>> >> virtual particles.
>>
>>
>> > One could argue that they are the result of some condition created by
>> > the Big Bang.
>
>
> On the contrary, one could argue that the Big Bang itself was caused by the
> creation of virtual particles that became actual for no reason whatsoever.
> Quantum Mechanics says that the probability of that happening is mind
> bendingly small, but if you're dealing with a infinite amount of time you
> can be certain it will happen. That being said I do admit that when infinity
> is involved the meaning of probability becomes very fuzzy, so although there
> are hints I can't claim that we have a firm understanding of why there is
> something rather than nothing.
>
>> > Causality is just a human concept anyway.
>
>
> Unless ET exists all concepts are human concepts because the universe can't
> think but humans can.

How do you know that the universe can't think?

>>> >> there is either a infinite regress of causes and effects like the
>>> >> layers of a infinite onion with no fundamental layer, or there is a 
>>> >> effect
>>> >> without a cause. Neither of those possibilities is emotionally 
>>> >> satisfying to
>>> >> some people but one of them must be true.
>>
>>
>> > Unless we question causality itself. Which we should.
>
>
> Well, if we don't know what "causality" means then there is nothing to talk
> about; it's like those silly debates about if people have "free will" or not
> when they have no idea what the term is supposed to mean and so very
> literally don't know what in hell they're debating about.

My view is that the difficulty in defining certain terms is a hint
about where our ignorance lies. Suppressing discussion about these
definitions is a form of mysticism.

>> > Science is not the only way to pursue knowledge
>
>
> True, induction also works. Usually.
>
>> > Philosophy is necessary.
>
>
> Philosophy is necessary but philosophers are not.

I don't know what to say here. Isn't philosophy a human endeavour? How
can it exist without humans engaging in it? Unless I don't understand
what you mean by "philosopher"?

I suspect you see terms as "scientist", "philosopher", "artist" as
classes of human beings -- almost like an extensions of the biological
ontology, as opposed to activities that humans can engage in.

Telmo.

>  John K Clark
>
>
>
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