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Author Topic:   How is Natural selection a mechanism?
AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 1 of 191 (522519)
09-03-2009 7:02 PM


Aren't mutating genes the sole mechanism by which organisms are formed?

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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 6 of 191 (522586)
09-04-2009 7:01 AM


This question arose in a debate I was having on an unrelated forum about morality. The person I was arguing with said that morality was an epiphenomenon from the mechanism of natural selection.

In this characterisation natural selection just happens to conveniently produce the required survival mechanisms as if it willed it.

But I don't see how something could be selcted for if it wasn't already present due to a mutation?

If I was immune to aids then I could have already developed immunity before I caught the disease. If A species was hit by a deadly virus the survivors couldn't survive unless they were already equipped with immunity.

Someone wouldn't develop fire proof skin after having been burnt.

I am not a creationist advocate etc. I am just very skeptical about evo explanations.

I did a google for "How is natural selection a mechanism" and couldn't find an answer adressing the issue except a philosophical essay that you'd have to pay for.

Now my question appears sixth on a google search.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 57 of 191 (815363)
07-19-2017 1:34 PM


I am still puzzled here. I don't see how evolution explains the existence of the thing being selected.

The heart pumps blood around the body so it is going to be "selected" and survive. But that does not account for the dispositions and biochemical processes that create it and which it is made of.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 59 of 191 (815374)
07-19-2017 3:57 PM
Reply to: Message 58 by New Cat's Eye
07-19-2017 2:48 PM


If I create 5 different models of cars and only one of them works then in that way the environment has selected the successful car but it didn't create the cars.

In what sense is evolution creating new species.

For example if I am born with stronger than average arms that is a biochemical event. But if I don't have children that trait won't enter the gene pool.

Essentially the organism is a series of biochemical events and structures that are described by biochemical events. In what way are these biochemical events evolutionary?

If there is no disposition for me to be born with strong arms that disposition can't arise.

For example most known planets do not have adequate dispositions to create life. Once a chemical soup arises and has dispositions for emergent properties these properties may emerge based on the behaviour of chemistry and environment.But once a disposition starts to exist it already exist before it can be selected.

So how can selection explain somethings existence?

Edited by AndrewPD, : No reason given.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 63 of 191 (815392)
07-19-2017 6:57 PM


Another pertinent example is consciousness.

It is easy to imagine what the benefits of consciousness might be for survival but that doesn't translate into an explanation, causal or otherwise of consciousness.

If you think consciousness is an emergent property of the brain then that would suggest consciousness is a disposition available at some level of reality. It's not clear how evolution can explain consciousness and similar goes for any emergent property.

(However consciousness as an emergent property is controversial)

So if dispositions are emergent properties from chemistry and physics that seems independent of evolution.

What I am saying overall is what seems to be happening on the theory is a body is gradually created by mutations then it either survives or it doesn't but it's not clear why all these little changes happen and all these emergent properties and mechanisms arise

Personally I am a gay anti natalist so I am kind of the antithesis of the official narrative.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 69 of 191 (815543)
07-21-2017 8:39 AM
Reply to: Message 66 by Taq
07-20-2017 11:30 AM


Taq writes:

Consciousness is no different than the emergent properties of digestion or circulation. The brain produces consciousness, and embryonic development produces the brain. Embryonic development is guided by the genome of the embryo, and that genome is the product of evolution. How is this not a valid explanation?

There are lots of differences here. Digestion and circulation are visible phenomena that we can obejectively study and that we see emerging from their components we don't see any thing like consciousness and sensation and cognition emerging from neurons these are private subjective phenomena only accessible to one person directly.

The point is emergent properties in themselves aren't explained by evolution. If a property emerges that is because biochemistry (in the case of digestion) allowed a property to arise.

Consciousness is a deep topic. Defining it is controversial and it is inaccessible to group observation it also does not exhibit spatial temporal properties and exhibits semantics and qualia.

So even if consciousness is "selected" or thrives because it is survival aiding that doesn't explain or origin and it seems a rather trivial point to just list potential survival benefits of consciousness.

I may have raised this elsewhere but I think emergent properties or dispositions have to exist for a creature to emerge. And emergent properties are not created by evolution but are allowances from the nature of atoms/molecules etc So it doesn't matter if you stretch the procedure over billions of years if properties can't emerge.

Why do these dispositions exist especially the ability for a hypothetical "physical reality" to allow self reflection and the observation of reality.?

These aren't trivial problems. Trying create a genuinely conscious robot that reports having experiences and can reflect on her existence. there is no evidence that robots are any more conscious than an abacus.

Edited by AndrewPD, : No reason given.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 74 of 191 (815649)
07-22-2017 11:01 AM
Reply to: Message 72 by RAZD
07-21-2017 11:15 AM


RAZD writes:

We can observe brain activity and the neuron patterns for different thoughts.

This is not true.

Observing brain activity is not observing consciousness. If you are in pain and someones is observing your neuronal activity do you think they have the same access to your pain as you.

Experiences are private and neural activity is correlated weakly with verbal reports of private experiences. These correlations are not identical with experience and the content of consciousness. Also correlation is not causation. But the correlations are much weaker than you are implying.

Some conscious experiences are correlated with numerous brain regions niot a one on one mapping with a reported phenomena. The activity of the neurons can be explained in different ways doing different tasks but none of them can be shown to produce consciousness in a direct way as an emergent property (there is a fundamental explanatory gap).

People here seem not to be acknowledging the privacy and scope of subjectivity. There has been a huge amount of information in this thread none of which would be accessible for brain scanners. A lot of knowledge about what we think other people think and feel is through the semnatics of language which can not be disposed of by or "reduced" neural correlations.

My degree was in Psychology and Philosophy of mind. I had to study articles on neural correlations and issues about the nature of components of mind ,semantics in language, the results of FMRI etc, localisation,definition of mind, role of consciousness, volitional movement, mental representation. So I have read a lot in this area and if you had read a lot in the area you would be skeptical about some of the blase claims being made here.

It will be quite tiring to go through each issue but I can do.. but there is nothing simple or uncontroversial about any facet of the mind.

People seem to demand less rigorous explantion of mind than they would in any other area of academia. Yet consciousness is our only access to reality, it is how we can do science and how we have any perception or belief in reality.

There is a big issue about how perception shapes theories and how valid perceptions are so that we have no transparent access to an underlying reality. And in the history of philosophy this has led from an early age to the realisation that we can always be skeptical about or perceptions but far less so about our conscious existence (cogito ego sum)

Edited by AndrewPD, : Spelling


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 75 of 191 (815650)
07-22-2017 11:11 AM
Reply to: Message 71 by Taq
07-21-2017 10:34 AM


The point is emergent properties in themselves aren't explained by evolution.

Taq writes:

Why not?

Emergent properties are properties created by atomic interactions they rely on prexistent dispositions or "availabilities" as explained or described through atomic and chemical theories (Physics/chemistry). None of these theories relies on Darwinian evolution.

There is limit as to what could happen on a planet with only one or two elements or just water.

I thought evolution was supposed to occur after a primeval soup had formed and this soup therefore has to have available dispositions that things can emerge from.

So in what way does evolution explain these available dispositions (ie dispostions that natural "laws" allow or control or do not prohibit")

So for instance if you diamond very little will happen to it over long periods of time. It doesn't have the suitable dispositions. In this way "Hair" could not evolve if chemistry did not allow it.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 76 of 191 (815652)
07-22-2017 11:23 AM


The idea that the brain "Prodcuces" consciousness is problematic. Consciousness is not like food being turned into waste product and emerging as faeces. What emerges is entirely private. Only I experience my headache.

Also giving things like dreams or thought a physical description is controversial or impossible they do not have spatial temporal qualities. So for instance what is the spatial temporal quality of a thought such as "I am going to regret being rude to my boss"

These kind of things , semantic and representational properties including mental representation is hard to explain. In what way can neuronal activty represent or capture experience and who does it represent to? (homunculi). I have vivid memories and these are not memories of neurons firing or neurotransmitter activity. So the brain looks like it contains neurons, support cells, blood and so on but not images that we experince or semantics. Where is the experincer (the undeniable subject of experice)


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 78 of 191 (815663)
07-22-2017 3:32 PM
Reply to: Message 77 by RAZD
07-22-2017 12:02 PM


In brain scanning what I remember is that they use statistics to estimate a brain region involved in behaviour and mental activity. So the ensuing graph is a representation over time not a one on one correlation.

It is not clear however what this brain activity is doing, so claims of finding brain regions resonsible for X have to taken with a pinch of salt. Brain lesions have showed that lots of "thoughts" or perceptions and cognitions break down in weird ways. So for example people can lose the ability to name living things but not inanimate objects. United perceptions that we take for granted break down so there is no simple single perception to be mapped on the brain.

Also motions including blinking, breathing and environmental effects brain activity so there are always confounding factors in analysing brain activity and a brain region may just carry a connection from one region to another and not be the source off a function.

Here is a bizzare example of 90% brain loss and normal functioning.

https://www.sciencealert.com/...derstanding-of-consciousness


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 80 of 191 (815710)
07-23-2017 2:18 PM
Reply to: Message 79 by RAZD
07-22-2017 3:57 PM


Re: How would you design an experiment/test?
RAZD writes:

As a person with a "degree was in Psychology and Philosophy of mind," how would you design an experiment/test to learn more about the relation of brain activity to consciousness?

If it is an emergent facility, how could we define the threshold? using animals with different levels?

It all depends on your definition of consciousness.

I personally differentiate between consciousnesss and the contents of consciousness.

Brain injury can effect the contents of your consciousness however so can stubbing your toe or eating an ice cream.

I don't know what would class as a minimal state of consciousness with limited content but consciousness needs a perceiver to be subject of experience.

We speculate about other minds through analogy.

This is problematic in terms of anthropomorphism but also having exagerated confidence in our knowledge of others minds.

Psychology and neuroscience (to a lesser extent) ultimately are dependent on verbal feedback. You do something to someone or their brain and then ask questions. (or simply have conversation with no brain scans (psychiatry etc))

I don't think language locates conciousness, for instance you can read my post without having any information about my location or body. So if on poking someones brain they say "I saw a red flash" does not locate their consciousness but it does show some relationship with the brain region and the induced experience.

I accept Thomas Nagel's claim that "Objectivity is a view from nowhere"
There is no objective way to percieve the world.
10 people observing a tree does not make its existence more concrete as each person is having a personal perception.
And we now know that trees are composed of complex physical interactions like quantum physics phenomena, more empty space than it seems and are possibly colourless. So perception is posited to create models of the world in each mind making us trapped in our own mind (mental representations) on this model.

What would an unobserved tree appear like? Also the word tree is a concept that doesn't capture essences so you have to imagine an observed world with no observer interference, no input from constructive perceptual mechanisms or conceptual division.

Consciousness is indisposable to science and it is minds that see purpose and function and patterns etc. A reality with no consciousness would be irrelavant. Like an invisible machine doing irrelevant but inexplicable things noone cared about. The problem with successful pattern spotting by humans is it goes overboard foisting problemtic paradigms on us including religions.

Unfortunately some people are trying to foist that model on humans.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 86 of 191 (815815)
07-24-2017 5:40 PM
Reply to: Message 85 by RAZD
07-24-2017 4:13 PM


Re: How would you design an experiment/test?
Razd writes:

So let's take a level of consciousness and see what happens: the ability to recognize self in a mirror. Chimps can, cat's don't. What is the difference in their brains?

Persistent vegetative state is an example of the difficulty in assessing states of consciousness. There also other states where it is not possible to assess whether people are conscious.

There have been several disturbing cases where anesthesia failed, people were paralysed by medication and operated on whilst consciousness.

Razd writes:

Unless they independently describe the tree is such detail that one description can be verified in another, that the details in common for all 10 observers show consilience and the probability of valid descriptions.

The Müller-Lyer illusion is an example of a persistent illusion almost everyone experiences (identical lines appear different length). You can have a collective illusion and collectively accepted false theory. (Sun revolving the earth) It only take one persons conscious state or theory to discover something new or correct a misaprehension.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 89 of 191 (815822)
07-24-2017 7:46 PM
Reply to: Message 87 by Taq
07-24-2017 5:49 PM


Re: How would you design an experiment/test?
Taq writes:

Yet more evidence that consciousness is a product of a physical brain. Anesthetics bind to receptors on neurons which can alter consciousness.

No it only proves consciousness can interact with the brain. It doesn't prove it is being produced but that it is being prevented or altered.

The classic analogy is a radio. A radio doesn't create a radio programme but interacts with it and damaging the radio affects the transmission.

If someone stands in front you that alters your consciousness as does stubbing your toe.

The issue I raised here is whether evolution explains emergent proprties. I don't personally think consciousness is an emergent property. There are dualist positions and panpsychics and idealists in the literature.

Now if consciousness is some kind of emergent property leaking out of neuronal synapses that is still a mystery and I don't see what role evolution has in explaining that, or natural selection. Consciousness is just one of the most unusual properties of reality being private, subjective and non spatial temporal but any property in reality is not logical neccessary and is essentially mysterious.

If only one atom existed you could wonder why.

Anyhow as I posted earlier there are cases like the man with 90% of his brain missing which make large areas of the brain redundant for consciousness or neural correlates.

Whatever the brain mind relatonship is it is not simple or reductive


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 90 of 191 (815823)
07-24-2017 8:05 PM
Reply to: Message 88 by Modulous
07-24-2017 6:37 PM


Re: How would you design an experiment/test?
[Modulous]Does the perceiver have consciousness - and if so - does the consciousness of the perceiver have a perceiver? And if so - does the perceiver of consciousness' perceiver have consciousness?[/qs]

I suppose you are alluding to the homuncular regress problem.

I am simply differentiating between being conscious and what we are conscious of.

If I look to my left I might see a tall green tree, then I look to my right and see a red car. The contents of my consciousness have changed but I haven't. The perciever is the consciousness. It is a subjective self perspective, self reflection nonetheless is another issue.

I don't know what consciousness other than reflecting on my experiences so I couldn't give an answer on what, but I can know when it is being misrepresented and does not match my experiences.

On common theories of perception everything is modeled in the mind leaving us with no direct access to the external world which is implausible and also raises fatal skepticism I suppose, but it follows from perceptual models and tracking sensory organ pathways. There is some evidence from brain lesions that reality can involve construction.

A dualist would say consciousness interacts with the brain to get access to this reality. Rather like we have invented devices like microscopes to heighten or fine tune our perceptions.

Idealism and panpsychism somehow see consciousness as a fundamental property suffusing or replacing "matter" These ideas challenge Physicalism and materialism as positions. Materialism has a problem with consciousness because it doesn't describe conscious qualities or account for subjectivity (this may have changed somewhat with Q.P.). The problem with volitional movement and non epiphenomenal consciousness is explaining mind-body interaction.

So eliminativist materialists try to eliminate the mental from descriptions (but clearly fail) Behaviourism tried something similar. So attempts to claim mind and body interaction either lead to atempts to eliminate the mind, a return to dualist or idealism. I think idealism is the strongest position because it favours only the mental and doesn't have a model of matter as inanimate balls bumping each other ruthlessly.


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AndrewPD
Member (Idle past 1159 days)
Posts: 133
From: Bristol
Joined: 07-23-2009


Message 91 of 191 (815826)
07-24-2017 8:25 PM
Reply to: Message 85 by RAZD
07-24-2017 4:13 PM


Re: How would you design an experiment/test?
Razd writes:

To people. It would not be irrelevant to organisms living in it in spite of a lack of consciousness.

I said consciousness is indisposable to science. I don't see how an unconscious organism can said to be have concerns or knowledge.

We have created models of animals behaviours and species classifications etc with our minds so we are impose concerns on them. And the validty of our constructs is at stake.

For example species can get named twice or be discovered to be unrelated. so what we observed or said at one time wasn't true. There has being biased (sexist/homophobic) culturally relative descriptions or selective observations of animal conduct. Racist and some social Darwinist made heirachies of racial features and the closeness of races to other specices.

(This happened in 1920's Rwanda by Belgian ethonologists (skull measurements etc)and was one basis for the identification cards they were given that helped fuel genocide)

The best example is the atom. There have been several models of the atom and none of them reflected the reality exactly (The plum pudding model par example). At what stage does our word atom capture an essential property of reality and stop being a construct?

If consciousnees was a thin layer on the brain a lot hangs on its abilities to accurately repesent the world. If you start to doubt consciousness then there is less grounds for certainty about its contents (ie everything we know)

It can't be more true or certain that the moon exists than that I do but the reverse is true (cogito ergo sum). I think there is a common misapprehension that science has somewhat transcended consciousness with it's "objectivity."

When I was deeply unconscious I did not know whether the universe continued to exist nor did I care. Some might say that was a blessed state.


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