• MikeL
    644
    Togographically attractors could be thought of as minimas (enhancing survivability), as genomes converge on the minima or skirt the minima convergence could occur.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.5k
    No, I think you've missed the trick there Metaphysician. If we extrapolate the inteference from the paper, there are not billions and billions of different lifeforms on earth, there is only one organism covering the adaptive landscape like a mat. It slides through the valleys and around the edges all at once. And when it goes into the valley it is wiped out and when it goes around the valley it survives.MikeL

    Well, I see billions and billions of different living beings, and I don't see this "one organism", I think it's an unsubstantiated assumption. If I thought that this assumption answered my questions, I might make it. However, it doesn't answer the questions. How does this "one organism" foresee the other side of the valley, to inspire attempting to go around or through the valley to get there?

    I can imagine the inspiration as perhaps coming from inside the individual living beings, but I cannot imagine it existing in this "one organism" because I can't see what type of existence it has. So assuming one organism appears to be a step in the wrong direction.

    The philosophical danger lies in the denial of novelty: the genotype network must not be thought of in terms of a set of pre-existing possibilities that is here and there instantiated depending on environmental contingencies (Bergson's critique of possibility, if you're familiar with it, would be applicable).

    ...Paths that were once available now become closed off: phylogeny now becomes path-dependant, closing off certain evolutionary possibilities.

    However because the landscape is multidimensional, paths closed off by speciation in one dimension may open up paths along other dimensions. What is at stake here is the creation of new possibilities. In other words, the adaptive landscape is not just a series of possibilities but a series of changing possibilities, which are themselves dependent upon the actual paths of speciation.
    StreetlightX

    Something isn't quite right here, and I detect a degree of inconsistency. The process is described as "closing off", or limiting possibilities, yet the claim is that what is occurring "is the creation of new possibilities". So unless we assume two distinct types of possibility, one which is being limited, and the other which is being created, it appears to be contradictory to say that closing off possibilities is really creating possibilities.

    Can possibilities really be created? If it's a real possibility mustn't it have been there all the time? For instance, if I create for myself, the possibility of having a bath, by filling the tub, wasn't that possibility of me having a bath already there prior to me filling the tub? How could one actually create a possibility? Wouldn't it be more consistent to speak of creating actualities, by closing of certain possibilities?

    The issue would then be the question of how do existing actualities affect future possibilities. The actuality of the assumed "being" has closed off certain possibilities, but in doing this it has somehow enhanced others. In other words, it has directed itself away from certain possibilities, and toward others, and this is manifested in the actual forms of the individual beings.

    It appears like there would be a reason why the "being" would proceed in certain directions rather than others, and I do not think this reason is to found in it being shaped by the environment, for the sake of survival. "Survival" is a bland thing, it means simply to subsist, and as we see in the example of human beings, we want a lot more than to simply subsist. So the closing off of certain possibilities to create new actualities, cannot be directed by survival, because it's very clear from the case of human beings that we know we will die, therefore not survive, yet we directed our energy toward producing a certain type, or style of life, in our short time here.

    The fact of non-survival is already taken for granted by the individual living being, and this is evidenced by reproduction. So what the individual is trying to do by closing off possibilities and creating particular actualities, is to either create a style of life for itself, or for its offspring. In human beings we might see the principal intent as creating as creating a certain lifestyle for oneself, the good life, or what Aristotle called happiness, but we have to still respect the existence of the intent to create a certain lifestyle for one's offspring. Which is really more fundamental?

    If we are to assume what MikeL called "one organism", this anticipatory factor has to be accounted for. What I am talking about is the anticipation of the existence of the offspring. In order for the individual being to have inherent within itself, the inclination toward creating a lifestyle for its offspring, it must be already anticipating the existence of offspring. And perhaps this anticipation could validate the assumption of "one organism".
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    4.5k
    ONE THING IS CERTAIN - If life stopped evolving it would perish: It must mutate lest the crest it is on sink into the abyss. Is this Creative Evolution?MikeL

    I don't think that this is true, and that's why I reject "survival" as central to evolution. I think that simple single-celled organisms could continue to exist indefinitely, survive, without evolving. But life is doing more than just surviving hereon earth, it is thriving, and so we must look beyond simple survival to see the purpose behind evolution. Life is not here to survive. If it were, it would have evolved into a very simple organism which could very strongly withstand the pressures of time, it would not have evolved into complex, sophisticated, and extremely delicate organisms, if it only wanted to survive..
  • MikeL
    644
    Life is not here to survive. If it were, it would have evolved into a very simple organism which could very strongly withstand the pressures of time, it would not have evolved into complex, sophisticated, and extremely delicate organisms, if it only wanted to survive..Metaphysician Undercover

    This is a great point Metaphysician Undercover.

    I am still trying to figure it out as I go along too. You looked at the start of a chain of logic. There is one organism in the sense that they are connected in a single nodal network called life. To put it another way, if we look at the evolutionary tree we can trace it back to a single point (well, there is that tardigrade that doesn't fit in).

    Another way of looking at this point is the probability landscape of survival (the adaptive landscape) is full of related genomes that can be traced back to a single origin.

    To address your question on:

    The process is described as "closing off", or limiting possibilities, yet the claim is that what is occurring "is the creation of new possibilities". So unless we assume two distinct types of possibility, one which is being limited, and the other which is being created, it appears to be contradictory to say that closing off possibilities is really creating possibilities.Metaphysician Undercover

    I think it is important to understand the context of the statement which is about the adaptive landscape. If we consider a landscape that is undulating up and down and place a ball on it. If it rolls into a dip, that is good. If it climbs a hill it will die. On the flat (left, right, backward, forwards) it is neutral. These represent evolutionary pressure on an organism. When on neutral ground there is none.

    So a probability network spread out over the ground closely mirrored by the populations of genomes that follow it. Everyone will avoid the hill. But what about if the ball is caught in a bowl that is suddenly thrust upward. Everything in the bowl will die. When the bowl returns to the neutral position we have all the surrounding probability combinations that created the initial genomes inside the bowl. They will once again grow into the bowl, but they will not necessarily follow the same combination they did the first time. New possibilities are being created. Where before the combination led to tigers, now they may lead to meercats. As it gets closer to the centre of the bowl though the probability combinations close off.

    I hope I didn't masacre StreetlightX's quote.

    I am also having difficulty with the model Metaphysician Undercover. It works, but there are areas that I am having great difficulty getting to fit. For example the Creative Slope I spoke of - to get around your idea of intentionality, can't exist because that would mean there could be no devolution. Instead if there is a Creative Slope it would have to be at 90 degrees to the terrain (a gravity). Even invoking a spherical nodal network, I am still having problems with matching some observations of life with the idea, like how the parasite that creates the zombie snail fits in. Nonetheless, I think it's a good heuristic.
  • T Clark
    3k
    When we consider that a series of mutations has occurred to create the kangaroo, we must also remember that the kangaroo is now a different species. Life on this earth is a colllection of species, and thus the genetic map that is overlaid on the adaptive landscape can be thought of as continuous, just as it is continuous for the kangaroo and possum.MikeL

    It is my understanding that kangaroos and opossums had a common ancestor, and that kangaroos did not evolve from opossums.
  • MikeL
    644
    Hi T Clark,
    I'm just calling it a possum for convenience. It was a possum like marsupial ancestor at science's best guess.

    This page has a good image of it

    If we consider that every lifeform has a nucleic acid code (DNA or RNA), then by comparing the similarity and variance between codes we can construct a sphere (the nodal sphere) that shows how they are related. This collective tumbleweed of nodes would constitute the single entity or organism - life.

    There is so much strange behaviour though and adaptations of lifeforms that suggest an active awareness of the environment rather than sequential stepping through genome combinations, that unless there is communication through the nodes of the nodal network (a biological hacking of the system) the network itself has no applicable value other than to illustrate connections. A lack of communication through the nodes would also suggest that it is not one life form, as the nodal model would suggest.

    In biology I believe that if you can conceive of it, and it makes logical sense, it happens. I wonder what nodal communication would look like (gene sharing perhaps?), but true communication would mean that an outerlying node could obtain information about an inner lying node by routing through several intermediary nodes. It could then use this information to sabotage it, as parasites do so remarkably well when they hijack the inner workings of organisms.
  • T Clark
    3k
    There is so much strange behaviour though and adaptations of lifeforms that suggest an active awareness of the environment rather than sequential stepping through genome combinations, that unless there is communication through the nodes of the nodal network (a biological hacking of the system) the network itself has no applicable value other than to illustrate connections.MikeL

    Well, that's the heart of the matter right there. You belong to a large group of people who believe that the history of life shows the actions of an "active awareness." Others of us, including the professional consensus of living biologists, says no. We can go back and forth through the elements of evolutionary theory, but it comes down to that - you do not believe the consensus of scientific opinion. Which is fine, but it doesn't leave us much to talk about.
  • MikeL
    644
    A difference of opinion leaves everything to talk about unless one is closed minded.
  • T Clark
    3k
    A difference of opinion leaves everything to talk about unless one is closed minded.MikeL

    Well, we can talk about sports, the weather (but not global warming), Game of Thrones, your favorite recipe for Chicken Marsala, and lots of other things.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2k

    I (and I think @T Clark) don't see how you and Rich can believe in a life force, and y'all don't see how we can't.

    If there's some common ground, there's a basis for discussion. What's our common ground?
  • T Clark
    3k
    Not quite right. I do see how they can believe in a life force, but I don't see any evidence for it myself.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    2k

    Dang. I knew it was a mistake to speak for someone else.
  • Rich
    3.2k
    but I don't see any evidence for it myself.T Clark

    There is the observation of the every day creative mind that is self-organizing and working to continue its existence so to create, learn and evolve. In other words, every day existence would be the evidence.

    Compare this to the chemicals that spontaneously came together and created it all - the God parable. Yes this is what science it's proposing which then begs the question how much faith should we put in conventional biological science?
  • MikeL
    644

    Others of us, including the professional consensus of living biologists, says no. We can go back and forth through the elements of evolutionary theory, but it comes down to that - you do not believe the consensus of scientific opinion. Which is fine, but it doesn't leave us much to talk about.T Clark

    If you only wanted the answers to empirical questions, I think you would not be in the Philosophy Forum. That either leaves one of two options, the first is you want to prove that everyone is wrong and science is right, or you know yourself that something is not quite right. Either way, that's great.

    Prove me wrong. Show why my thinking is wrong, and I'll try and do the same back. That's the fun of the Philosophy Forum, and how we acquire a deeper and more fulfilling understanding of our world.

    To begin, considering we are talking about evolution in this thread, let me ask you which you think may be the more likely purpose of life? Is life about experiencing, as Rich would suggest, or is it about reproduction so we conserve the species through consecutive generations against a changing environmental backdrop?
  • T Clark
    3k
    If you only wanted the answers to empirical questions, I think you would not be in the Philosophy Forum. That either leaves one of two options, the first is you want to prove that everyone is wrong and science is right, or you know yourself that something is not quite right. Either way, that's great.MikeL

    Neither. I'm here to fight for truth, justice, and the American way. I'm here because I like to think, write, and argue. I'm here because I am a competent recreational thinker and I want some competition. I'm here because there are so many bad ideas for me to hone my blade on. That's not intended as a reference to you or Rich. That's it - I'm here to hone the blade.

    To begin, considering we are talking about evolution in this thread, let me ask you which you think may be the more likely purpose of life? Is life about experiencing, as Rich would suggest, or is it about reproduction so we conserve the species through consecutive generations against a changing environmental backdrop?MikeL

    Life is not about anything. It's life. Living is what we do and we're doing it.
  • MikeL
    644
    Neither. I'm here to fight for truth, justice, and the American way. I'm here because I like to think, write, and argue. I'm here because I am a competent recreational thinker and I want some competition. I'm here because there are so many bad ideas for me to hone my blade on. That's not intended as a reference to you or Rich. That's it - I'm here to hone the blade.T Clark

    Truth, justice and the American way. Cool, me too, and I'm not even an American! - Aussie. Bring it :)
  • T Clark
    3k
    Truth, justice and the American way. Cool, me too, and I'm not even an American! - Aussie. Bring itMikeL

    "We'll save Australia, wouldn't wanna hurt no kangaroos. We'll build an All-American amusement park there. They've got surfing too!"
  • MikeL
    644
    Are you an Aussie too?
  • T Clark
    3k
    Are you an Aussie too?MikeL

    No, I'm GMT -5 (actually, -4 right now)
  • MikeL
    644
    Life is not about anything. It's life. Living is what we do and we're doing it.T Clark

    So how does evolution and the passing on of the genes fit into the picture? Why not just be and then be stamped out of existence? Why bother passing on the genetic code?
  • T Clark
    3k
    So how does evolution and the passing on of the genes fit into the picture? Why not just be and then be stamped out of existence? Why bother passing on the genetic code?MikeL

    Passing on the genetic code is just something that tends to happen while you're living.
  • MikeL
    644
    Passing on the genetic code is just something that tends to happen while you're living.T Clark

    So why do animals get the urge to do it so badly? It seems like a lot of work and effort has gone into the process. But for no reason? Not even a scientific one?
  • T Clark
    3k
    So why do animals get the urge to do it so badly? It seems like a lot of work and effort has gone into the process. But for no reason? Not even a scientific one?MikeL

    They, and we, do it because we're built that way, whether we're built by God or Darwin.
  • MikeL
    644
    Why are we built that way? I understand why animals have eyes and legs and stuff, but reproduction seems a bit silly, don't you think? A bit wasteful of resources we could have spent elsewhere?
  • T Clark
    3k
    Why are we built that way? I understand why animals have eyes and legs and stuff, but reproduction seems a bit silly, don't you think? A bit wasteful of resources we could have spent elsewhere?MikeL

    From an evolutionary point of view, sex mixes up the genes, increases genetic variability. Variability is the fuel of evolution. Being able to evolve better has evolutionary benefit.
  • MikeL
    644
    But what's the point of evolution, evolutionary speaking of course.
  • MikeL
    644
    What's the evolutionary benefit?
  • BlueBanana
    900
    Life is not here to survive. If it were, it would have evolved into a very simple organism which could very strongly withstand the pressures of time, it would not have evolved into complex, sophisticated, and extremely delicate organisms, if it only wanted to survive..Metaphysician Undercover

    Life doesn't want to survive; each individual being does. If there's an empty ecological niche, then it's the fittest form due to the lack of competition. What I imagine when I think of the organism you described, is a simple plant of some sort duch as moss or algae. But these are also very defenseless if a more complex predator appears.
  • T Clark
    3k
    But what's the point of evolution, evolutionary speaking of course.MikeL

    No point. Like I said, living things live. Evolution is just something that happens along the way. No purpose, not direction, no meaning. What's the point of the wind, or neutrinos, or chicken marsala? Ok, marsala chicken has a point.
  • MikeL
    644
    But a very tough seedlike organism, without a need to evolve into anything else could hunker down in the soil and just count to a billion.
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