• Bitter Crank
    6.7k
    Agriculture stopped evolution? Nonsense. Think...

    Plagues continued after agriculture, and those who were most resistant to plague survived
    Chronic diseases existed before and after agriculture and have continued to shape the species (very little that we can observe over a short period of time)
    Agriculture sometimes fails to feed the people who practice it. Famine is a culling event.
    Etc.
  • Andrew4Handel
    714


    So what are these new traits humans have?
  • Bitter Crank
    6.7k
    So what are these new traits humans have?Andrew4Handel

    I highly doubt we have acquired new traits - de novo. Traits are generally developed from previously existing traits, or potentials. (Like, writing and reading uses traits previously existing.)


    "Traits" might be to wide a concept for evolution over a relatively short period of time, but an example of a "trait" emerging would be this: Certain people in a particular area of Europe were not susceptible to Yersinia pestis, the plague-causing organism. Descendants of those people (carrying two copies of the mutation in question) were also highly resistant to HIV. When exposed to the HIV they did not go on to seroconvert or if they seroconverted, to develop symptoms of AIDS. (This mutation or something similar probably exists among some groups in Africa too, because there are some cases--prostitutes, for instance--who should have been infected, all things being equal, but were not.)

    Maybe -- just speculating -- agriculture and urbanity required the existence of a (possibly new) trait that allowed for settlement and living among large groups of people. Neither our primate relatives nor our hunter/gatherer ancestors lived in large groups (more than 50 to 100). In a very short period of time, we shifted from mobile to settled people, from widely distributed to compacted populations.

    Would stone age homo sapiens been able to live in New York, London, Calcutta, Tokyo...?
  • 0 thru 9
    694


    I don’t know if @bloodninja or @Andrew4Handel are referring specifically to it, but there are similar theories espoused by Daniel Quinn and others. That put basically posits that human evolution slowed dramatically with the advent of “totalitarian” agriculture, the process of turning all land into human food, and thus more humans. This would be more applicable the more absolute the agriculture in the area was. Quinn discusses it at the end of his novel Ishmael. His ideas kind of build to a point, so it’s a little difficult to “cherry-pick” one of his conclusions without his reasoned arguments.

    But in a nutshell, he says that when humans remove themselves from the conditions in which they evolved, they cease to evolve. Or perhaps the evolution is greatly hampered. Maybe now humans are not so much evolving as selectively breeding, kind of like with dogs. :wink:

    (Quinn’s ideas were discussed in this thread.)
  • Banno
    3.5k
    Ableism.

    should we let evolution do what it does best which is filter out the weak?intrapersona
    Us, not them; the disabled don't get a say in this, because... they are disabled. They are not us. We are not disabled, despite wearing glasses, needing medication to reduce our blood pressure or surgery after that incident with the knee.

    There is a nasty lack of self reflection in the OP that reeks of a lack of breadth of experience.

    Together with the simple misunderstanding of evolution evident in the phrase
    filter out the weak...intrapersona

    Go read Martha Nussbaum. Get some experience of disability before you presume to discuss disability issues.

    You disgust me.
  • javra
    609
    Simply put, should we let evolution do what it does best which is filter out the weak?intrapersona

    I strongly disagree with this notion. But I’ll just address it in this way:

    The Mike Tyson’s of the world can pulverize the world’s Einsteins; therefore we should let ear-biting boxers rule and do away with the Einstein’s (the guy had a weird kind of dyslexia or some such, which, naturally, is a disability). For evolution is about the culling of the weak.

    Love is a weakness via which to manipulate others to one’s own will, say the unloving and self-proclaimed strong. Let all humans that love be enslaved by those who don’t till only the strong remain. For evolution is about the death of the weak.

    Victims of rape were responsible for their own victimization, for they were not strong, say those rapists who are. Let all humans change into rapists or perish, for evolution is about the annihilation of the weak.

    … And among this horrendously long list are those where born, or else become, disabled.

    Um, nope; none of this sounds right to me. But it always was and always will be fodder for those who are waiting for the worms to come (a Pink Floyd reference). Whenever we are altruistic toward each other, we are strong; when we cull each other out, we become weak—this at the expense of a few who ultimately implode due to lack of social infrastructure. Or so evolution has selected to be the norm for social species. It’s why the “cheaters” among mankind that do things like bite off others' ears in a fair fight, lack love, or rape are not much liked.

    Yes, evolution and ethics is a complex issue. Still, it’s not the ethics of a society verses biological evolution. Our ethics—with its cheaters and all—has evolved to so be. The only way to deny this is to deny biological evolution to begin with. And, to be clear, I do say this as someone who upholds something along the lines of an omega point.
  • Bitter Crank
    6.7k
    ... humans are not so much evolving as selectively breeding, kind of like with dogs.0 thru 9

    Evolution operates through breeding, whether it's kind of choosy or a free-for-all (my favorite kind). I haven't read Quinn; is he a rivetingly good author?

    The only conceivable way we could remove ourselves from the process of evolution is IF a) we had a complete understanding of which genes did what (understood the entire genome) AND b) tightly controlled breeding was directed toward precise goals (such as achieving the ideal human physical form along with brilliant intelligence and laid back personal affect).

    Were we, a la Brave New World, to carefully redefine our species from one that evolved randomly to one that changed according to a very specific plan) we could say evolution (as it is understood, at least, had ceased to operate. Fortunately for us, we don't have anything even remotely resembling complete understanding of the human genome, and thus we do not have the information needed to precisely direct our future condition. In addition to not having highly detailed genetic knowledge, we also do not have a clear understanding of what our future in the cosmos should be. Our ideal physical form and intelligence would presumably be suited for a particular role.

    Would a laid-back personality be a good thing? Not if in the future we had to fight alien species from "out there in space". Aggressive personalities would be more important. Whether ideal bodies would matter would depend on how we had to fight. Hand to hand combat? Quality bodies would be important. Robotic and death ray weapons? Intelligence would matter much more than muscle.
  • bloodninja
    294
    Yes Daniel Quinn's Ishmael is where I read about natural selection and (totalitarian) agriculture. I'm no scientist but Daniel Quinn's arguments seemed plausible to me at the time. They still do actually. However I would like to learn more about evolution and how people think it is possible to evolve in an unnatural world.
  • Baden
    6.8k
    Expecting the principles of evolution to be of use in defining social policy is like expecting an earthquake to be of use in redesigning your house.
  • javra
    609
    However I would like to learn more about evolution and how people think it is possible to evolve in an unnatural world.bloodninja

    I haven’t heard it formally addressed by name so far in this thread, though it’s been more or less directly alluded to: sexual selection is an important aspect of biological evolution in all species in which sexual reproduction occurs. For humans, for example, were all women to solely choose type X males to have sex with, and where all men to likewise solely choose type X women to have sex with, then our species would biologically evolve to eventually consist of only type X people (together with the variations that naturally ensue due to givens such as non-lethal mutations, recessive alleles, and the like). What I’ve expressed is the extremely simplified version, and it does presuppose the reality of biological evolution. That said, for as long as humans will have sex via any mode of choice in who we have sex with, and for as long as reproductions occur via sexual intercourse, the species will continue its "natural"--and typically very gradual--biological evolution. But again, there are a lot of additional factors involved in this; as one among very, very many: that of changing contexts leading to different attributes being most beneficial and, hence, potentially attractive.

    Think I'm just re-expressing what Bitter Crank has in mind, just in more formal terms.
  • intrapersona
    557
    You're conflating a biological theory with an ethical principle - which it isn'tWayfarer

    Dont get me wrong, im not saying there is an ethical principle within evolution, that wouldn't make sense. There is only a "practical methodology" that is self-serving as forms the very foundations for survival

    Besides, appealing to evolutionary fitness as a basis for ethics is close to 'eugenics' which is 'the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.Wayfarer

    eugenics requires human preferences for it to be called eugenics. natural selection only requires what is favorable in terms of survival.

    this is the distinction between the two so it is incorrect to claim I am advocating eugenics as my "preference" isn't a preference at all, it is simply a realisation that these types of disabled people WILL not survive on their own under the conditions we have accustomed to evolve in, so why should we spend effort keeping them alive or allowing their life for no good reason (especially when a lot of their lives are miserable/confusing/painful etc).

    On another note, it wouldn't be accurate to say evolution offers a form of eugenics either.

    it is a mistake to project conclusions about what amounts to 'successfulness' on that basis; when you do, it always will sound very like eugenics or the justification of 'dog eat dog' capitalism on the basis of 'survival of the fittest'.Wayfarer

    But successfulness is something directly apparent in the world. survival (and to a lesser extent 'reduced suffering') in its own right isn't a conclusion i have projected out of my own desires, it isn't something like a choice of hair color. it is something "inherently" valueable to the organism and species removed from any personal preference. It is impossible to claim natural capacities of 'survival' a trait of eugenics. That is just a natural occurrence, not a preference.
  • intrapersona
    557
    For one thing, there is rarely genetic determinism when we are discussing people's intellectual abilities or character traits.LD Saunders
    This is where you have misunderstood the OP. It was about mental retardation and chronic disability that cause suffering. Not variation of intellectual abilities and character traits.

    This is one reason we see so many extinct species --- evolution does not always lead to optimum outcomes.
    Therefore, the argument here is based on a faulty premise.
    LD Saunders

    It is true evolution doesn't always lead to optimum outcomes but it also doesn't favour negative ones either (at least in terms of survival) because eventually time causes them to disappear. One factor that always remains is if it is ABLE to survive, then it will. If it isn't, then it won't. The only reason disabled people are able to survive is because we have a (in my opinion) unjustified desire to keep them alive for some reason. Mainly brought about due to our fear of whether it is wrong to kill any innocent thing, and this of course may due to our violent history as a species and the changes that have come to be within our psychology over the last century.
  • intrapersona
    557
    what the OP is suggesting is a distorted view of the idea of survival of the fittest. It fails to understand that it is through evolution that we have recognized the need to take care of the sick, disabled, etc. To suggest otherwise implies a retardation (perhaps, a disability).BrianW

    It is through evolution we have recognized we need to take care of the disabled (caring for the sick is another matter entirely). But that doesn't necessarily mean that just because we have evolved to care for the disabled that that is a good thing purely because it arose from evolution. Evolution (as has already been mention) has both good and bad outcomes.

    Evolution filters out weaknesses not lives. The increase in the number of disabled people in productive fields both physical and intellectual, implies that we can learn to overcome inability in disability. Initially, way back in 'em days, we considered the disabled as failed human types and, in our ignorance, caused them a lot of suffering but, fortunately, presently, we have arrived at the realisation of how primitive that designation is. By incorporating deliberately directed and well-filtered human interactions with the disabled, we help them overcome the major limitation and threat which disability poses - social ostracism, which in turn leads to a larger host of issues. Finding ways to involve the disabled in all human activities has served as a therapeutic measure which has helped to counter some discomfitures. There is no doubt that the way to the future is through more integration and the outlook promises further success. Such is the true path of human evolution.

    Isn't the statement, 'Disability is not inability!' a testament to our capacity to evolve?
    BrianW

    it's a testament to our stupidity in thinking that seeing them as "capable" will ever actually make them be. How can you ever throw a full blown autistic person in the jungle and let them survive?

    You want to claim that through our ignorance we have arrived at some new and improved paradigm shift that allows for disability to be "ok", yet it is self evident by its possibilities that it isn't. Granted for low level retardation then much of what you say IS true, and IS applicable. It is a good thing to remove social ostracism in such cases as they posses BOTH the capacity to offer a benefit to society and enjoy life. But for the retardations and chronic disability that i speak of that is a parasitic drain and a torture for the participant then it calls in to question our contemporary moral understanding as humans.
  • intrapersona
    557
    Is it the severely disabled continuing to live that bothers you, or is the "taxpayer supplied checks"?Bitter Crank

    It is both, but only in the context of deficiency in money and therefore spent potential energy and also cost of suffering to the individual because we prolonged their life due to our ethical uncertainty (inherent public opinion that all life is good life).

    Evolution led us to be care-givers as well as perfect survivor specimens. Evolution doesn't have a plan. It just grinds along powered by random mutations. It's not heading anywhere. We are not the apex of creation, and evolution wasn't trying to get us there (unless you entertain some teleological ideas about the omega point, etc.).Bitter Crank

    Yes, i agree with all of that. It doesn't bear any argument against what I said. Survival is just a natural process, nothing more.
  • intrapersona
    557
    I do not think evolution is an entity that can make decisions rather it is posited to be a process of change. I think the idea that evolution weeds out the weak is very pernicious. There is no intent supposed to be involved in evolution.Andrew4Handel

    It doesn't NEED intention in order to weed out the weak, it does so with out it. Its just a natural process with causal reactions just like any other physical process.Not sure where intent got brought in to this.

    Anything that fails to survive and reproduce is weak regardless of physical abilitiesAndrew4Handel

    Exactly my point.

    Fitness defined by survival is banal and vice versa unfitnessAndrew4Handel

    Curious. Why so?

    Also we are part of nature so anything we do is tautologously a part of nature. there are no natural laws for human behaviour that we have to follow humans are massively flexible and creative.Andrew4Handel

    Good point. However all I am pointing out is how our choice to keep a disabled person alive when it is a cost to us, serves us no purpose and for the most part is not an enjoyable experience for them is not only completely contrary to good reason but contrary to what has enabled us to survive. All of this withstanding in nature and being a product of nature. So in that sense the naturalistic fallacy can be removed, albeit still 'appealing' to it.
  • intrapersona
    557
    Evolution is a theory about the origin of species. The 'idea of progress' is another matter altogether.Wayfarer

    Yeah, but just because it is a theory about the past doesn't mean it is not still occurring. There is even evidence that it is still occuring, both genetically and morphologically.
  • intrapersona
    557
    Can I just point out this is a really stupid understanding of evolution? That's not what fitness is.MindForged

    Do you want to point it out by just stating what you believe without any evidence or argumentation? Or should i remind you that you are on a philosophy forum *rolleyes*
  • intrapersona
    557
    Us, not them; the disabled don't get a say in this, because... they are disabled. They are not us. We are not disabled, despite wearing glasses, needing medication to reduce our blood pressure or surgery after that incident with the knee.

    There is a nasty lack of self reflection in the OP that reeks of a lack of breadth of experience.
    Banno

    You clearly didn't keep reading to see what encompassed the term disabled in this context. Furthermore i suggest you actually reply with arguments rather than vitriol. I would expect more from someone with 3.3k posts on here...
  • intrapersona
    557
    But in a nutshell, he says that when humans remove themselves from the conditions in which they evolved, they cease to evolve.0 thru 9

    interesting, but how would evolution take place if humans never removed themselves from the conditions in which they evolved? It is kind of a non-starter.
  • intrapersona
    557
    The Mike Tyson’s of the world can pulverize the world’s Einsteins; therefore we should let ear-biting boxers rule and do away with the Einstein’s (the guy had a weird kind of dyslexia or some such, which, naturally, is a disability). For evolution is about the culling of the weak.javra

    Remember i said that this is about chronic mental retardation. Einstein I am sure would be smart enough to be able to stop mike tyson from doing that in one way or another, through the use of invention, money or control via spatial proximity. Physical power and mental power are not distinct in this context, nor is dislexia any kind of detriment to the survival of einstein.
  • Baden
    6.8k
    The only reason disabled people are able to survive is because we have a (in my opinion) unjustified desire to keep them alive for some reason. Mainly brought about due to our fear of whether it is wrong to kill any innocent thing, and this of course may due to our violent history as a species and the changes that have come to be within our psychology over the last centuryintrapersona

    It would be much more justified to kill the morally disabled as they are not just very often stupid but potentially dangerous. Whereas people with Down syndrome, for example, can and do lead happy and productive lives.

    I first thought this discussion was some kind of devil's advocate or provocation. Now that it appears that you are actually proposing the genocide of a minority, I'm shutting it down.

    (Edit: For the record intrapersona disagrees with my interpretation of his position. I stand by it. You can judge for yourself.)
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