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18533Re: [evol-psych] Degrading Darwin

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  • H.M. Hubey
    Apr 30, 2002
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      Ian Pitchford wrote:

      > Spiked Online
      > 23 April 2002
      > Degrading Darwin
      > by Stuart Hobday
      > Darwin's lament was that nobody seemed to understand that natural selection is
      > a process without purpose - without a preordained outcome and without an active
      > selection process as in 'Man's selection'. I believe that this aspect of
      > Darwin's idea has never become widely understood - and that instead, history
      > and culture have dictated that evolution, as an active conscious selector and
      > an inevitably progressive force, is widely thought to represent natural
      > selection.

      I think there is a way to re-write this so that it is more correct.

      1. There is active selection. The environment selects.

      2. The concept of "purpose" is misdirected. We think of purpose as something
      possessed by intelligent beings. Ditto for "intent". In both cases it means that
      the future is somewhat controllable since both purpose and intent imply an
      occurrence sometime later that we "want". But nobody succeeds 100% of
      the time when things are complex. For example, children rarely turn out
      to be exactly what their parents intended and yet parents really intend
      for their children to possess some characteristics.

      3. The fossil record shows that the animals that show up later have larger brains.

      Putting all together it seems to me that a Markov process may be said
      to be "intended" since there is some predictability. The only thing missing
      seems to be the "intender". But the intender is the environment and nowadays
      we are a part of the environment so it is very complex.

      PS. Some readers will have problems with #2, but even there the concept of
      "intent" (as the lay person understands it) is something that may be thought
      of as akin to that of environment. After all, what if the "intent" which is a
      product of the mind/brain is something as uncontrollable as the environment.
      In other words, if the brain/mind is a machine then it works just like the
      environment (e.g. an impersonal and complex interaction of millions of
      entities). In other words, they are both "machines" mostly out of control
      of us! So do we really have "free will"? No wonder the problem is really
      difficult to understand.