Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 76 (8908 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 05-19-2019 12:18 PM
21 online now:
Hyroglyphx, PaulK, Percy (Admin), Tangle (4 members, 17 visitors)
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: WeloTemo
Upcoming Birthdays: Percy
Post Volume:
Total: 851,606 Year: 6,643/19,786 Month: 1,184/1,581 Week: 6/393 Day: 6/30 Hour: 0/2


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
Author Topic:   The Great Chain of Being
Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4146 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 16 of 29 (11498)
06-13-2002 3:42 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Andya Primanda
06-13-2002 5:13 AM


quote:
Originally posted by Andya Primanda:
OK, I want to make the debate straight. My opposition states that progress can be defined in neural complexity and stages of consciousness. He considers that his definition is the position of many scientists.

I'm new to this forum, although I used to participate in Percy's old yahoo! club...

The "position of many scientists" is just hand waving unless he names some. And since you can't get two scientists to agree on what the hell "consciousness" means, this guy really can't argue for any sort of consensus based on "stages of consciousness".

There's actually no particular expertise needed to answer this. There's plenty of evidence that evolution can result in lower neural complexity as well as higher. If a free swimming/moving organism evolves into a filter feeder, say (e.g., the sea squirt), or a parasite (e.g. tapeworm), you don't need a complex brain. The sea squirt is famous for eating its own brain, in fact - after passing through a brief free swimming developmental phase, it takes root in a nice spot, and absorbs its own brain - won't be needing that anymore! (This has been compared to the tenure process, by the way).

The fact that things are more complex, "on average", now than at the beginning of life can be fully explained assuming a random walk of increasing or descreasing complexity. Since you start at zero, you can only end up higher.

Imagine every new species is equally likely to be either more or less "complex" or "conscious" than its parent species. No direction here, right? Just random. Still, the highest "complexity" or "conscious" organism will tend to be more complex over time, even though there is no direction or systematic change. Indeed, the vast majority of life is and always has been bacterial, hardly a sign of an inherent drive towards greater "consciousness"!

So, if you want to argue that evolution is fundamentally progressive, you have to do more than say "look, humans have big brains, trilobites didn't".

Now, I think it's possible that there might be a statistical bias towards complexity along some measures. But even this wouldn't show a "great chain of being". What philosophical conclusions would one draw from a statistical walk through a continuum of complexity?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Andya Primanda, posted 06-13-2002 5:13 AM Andya Primanda has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by Zhimbo, posted 06-13-2002 3:46 PM Zhimbo has not yet responded
 Message 18 by Quetzal, posted 06-14-2002 3:39 AM Zhimbo has responded
 Message 26 by kofh2u, posted 03-11-2013 10:27 AM Zhimbo has not yet responded

  
Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4146 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 17 of 29 (11499)
06-13-2002 3:46 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Zhimbo
06-13-2002 3:42 PM


Oh, S.J. Gould (R.I.P.) develops many of these ideas in his book "Full House". He covers it in several essays as well, but I couldn't give you references on those without a bit of work.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by Zhimbo, posted 06-13-2002 3:42 PM Zhimbo has not yet responded

  
Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4146 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 19 of 29 (11593)
06-14-2002 12:29 PM
Reply to: Message 18 by Quetzal
06-14-2002 3:39 AM


quote:
Originally posted by Quetzal:
WRT your post: in other words, the rebuttal to Andya's opponent's position on intelligence is the same (roughly) as the rebuttal to the old Escala naturae - there's no evidence that nature is required to tend toward increasing perfection or complexity. It can, in fact, go either way. Did I catch it right?

Yeah, what you said!

And another point: Everything's been evolving for the same amount of time, and 99% of it is bacteria, fungi, plants, and protists. To characterize evolution in terms of "neural complexity" when nearly all life lacks a nervous system seems pretty misguided.

------------------
"Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." - Chomsky


This message is a reply to:
 Message 18 by Quetzal, posted 06-14-2002 3:39 AM Quetzal has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by kofh2u, posted 03-11-2013 10:10 AM Zhimbo has not yet responded

  
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:


Copyright 2001-2018 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.0 Beta
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2019