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Re: Theory and Ideology was Re: Luke Rondinaro's world system theory
by Nemonemini
15 August 2002 17:53 UTC
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In a message dated 8/15/2002 12:12:44 PM Eastern Daylight Time, joshuahoward24@hotmail.com writes:

In their _The Dialectical Biologist_, Levins and Lewontin, if my memory
serves, claimed that Darwin's theory of variation of species and the
interplay between organism and environment exhibited dialectical methods of
science.  The theory of natural selection, however, and I tend to agree,
crosses the ideological border.  Even if fittest is not construed to mean
strongest, fastest, smartest, i.e. something tending towards an ideal
perfection, it seems that the competition model Darwin described mimics the
market with some direct metaphors dealing with this.  Additionally, there
may be some voluntarism or a hint of an external relationship between
organism and environment due to the framework of choice.  Hence the all too
easy slippage into Social Darwinism.

This, I think, is about right. The problem is we don't really know how evolution happened. That puts top dollar on some reifiable like natural selection. And natural selection, here's the confusion, must always by default be part of the answer. If someone gets run over by a truck, the gene frequencies of homo sapiens change instantly in Platonic Math heaven. OK. But will an endless succession of traffic accidents produce bigger brains?
That's silly, but we don't see that Darwin's theory (apart from the different sexual selection theory, also flawed) is potentially equally silly.
How do we decide? That's really my problem. I can accept an operational hypothesis, but the degree of dogma her is remarkable in Darwinians. How am I to decide? Where's the evidence things evolved that way? The problem is that the evidence of evolution is almost insuperably difficult to track in deep time. What's worse, if you study my eonic effect, you will suspect this inability is fatal, because they can be unknown processes acting over short intervals of time. And the data for these is probably lost forever. Lost forever!
So in that sense what are we to conclude if a group of people adopt an all too conveninet 'survival of the fittest' interpretation with lack of evidence, one easily adapted to and resembling economic justification of ethics free mayhem in the market, and verily so adapted day in and day out, etc? What indeed can we conclude except ideology lurking behind theory. It's supposed to be science!

The value of my eonic effect is that it shows how these fast transformations are present, barely detectable, operating at high speed, visible in history, and therefore able to be closely tracked, etc...
You may say this has nothing to do with organismic evolution, but that is not the point. It is a reality question, finally, and one hopelessly mired in debates over materialism and spiritualism.  I simply bypass that.
Although deficient and incomplete, and with its own problems, the work on such things as self-organization show that processes beyond natural selection but within the bounds of the natural are neither wild speculation nor theoretical mysticism. They are just hard.
The works of Gould such as his recent Structure of Evolutionary Theory show someone in the field coming to the well and balking, won't drink. But the issue is concealed behind his search for the 'level of selection' and/or muddled punk eek stuff, but it is there, despite Gould's assurances that punctated equilibrium doesn't contradict natural selection, etc... Gould is trying to put his finger in the dyke, and that's not surprising since people like Dembski are drooling at the opportunity for any break in the ranks with their design divinities.

Dembski is nice (I don't share his views!) and quite clear. He says that his argument collapses if something like the claims of the teleomechanists are true (those forgotten fellows in the era before Darwin and in the tradition of Kant). So that's probably the counterattack to the Creationists (lately quite sophisticated): consider the issues of the teleomechanists (another post here, maybe). That boils down to seeing the 'directionality' in some 'necessity' in the Monodian 'chance versus necessity". Kant clearly saw the problem and glimpsed the solution.

The problem is we can't handle teleology, and therefore never see evolution! So we suspect.
Elaborate tracking methods, a la my eonic model, are the only way. We cannot handle telelogy, but we can see traces in intermittent directional data, maybe.

John Landon
Website on the eonic effect
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