anclondon at gn.apc.org
Tue Apr 18 22:09:34 MDT 1995
From Lisa Rogers
Hi Ron and Rahul, and any others interested,
I would never want to paint evolution as god-like, god forbid!
And me a card-carrying atheist? Never!
And so on.....
Sorry misunderstanding . I was not implying the above.
I think we are very close in fact on a number of issues.
a) About the growth of the human brain and the question of
bipedalism. The theory or scenario I paraphrased was from a
lecture by a Anthropologist Leslie Aiello (University College
London), who is part of a school of thought together with a chap
They were not implying that walking on two legs was the
necessary and sufficient. They were saying that when apes
started to adopt the upright mode of living that this set in a
chain of events and consequences that resulted in a larger
This was successful in assisting the species to adapt and
One of their points is that a small change can result in a
process coming into operation which results in large changes
over time. The so called butterfly effect in non-linear
Rusty Bernstein, the one who recruited me into the SACP in 1955
once said of Mao. He was a good man who went slightly wrong.
Nobody corrected him and he went disastrously wrong.
b) The other point I was trying to make is as follows.
There are layers of complexity. For example.
Protein molecules > viruses > unicellular organisms >
multi-cellular ones> Multi-organ animals >
I agree that there is a fossil record which indicates that this
sequence is not only in complexity but also in time.
I agree that each subsequent level of complexity has survived
within a changing environment and has been shaped by this
Now some people say that the pattern is due to the plan proposed
and executed by god. I think this is avoiding the answer and
merely posing another question in it's place. Got is merely the
full stop under the question mark.
Others say that the survival of the fittest in the law in
control. Evolution is the motive force. I have some sympathy
with this view. But it can deify evolution.
Now as I tried to say, perhaps unclearly, in my last
contribution. There is a school of thought that indicates the
1) Evolution proceeds in a relatively smooth manner but that
there are sudden explosions of species, sudden divergencies,
sudden emergence of new complexities.
There was no smooth change from proteins to viruses, there was
no slow smooth change from viruses to un-cellular and then to
The so called punctuated evolution. This seems to me to enlarge
and expand Darwins theories not refute them. It also seems to be
consistent with the very often repeated idea of quantitative
changers leading to qualitative jumps.
The idea of a evolutionary tree where the branches smoothly
split from the trunk and the twig from the branch is too
simplistic. Even taking into account that some branches fall off
or are struck by lightening or meteorites. Why are some twigs
much more complex that the trunk they come from. It seems to me
that humans have not so much evolved, as incorporated what has
Again I digress
This idea of a system when it becomes very complex of itself
giving rise to a new system of higher organisation seems viable.
When the primeval soup of proteins rose to a degree of
complexity, a new system arose, ie the self replicating protein
or virus. And so up the ladder that I indicated before.
2) The idea of emergence through self organisation seems to
supply the motive force for the appearance of life, of
multi-cellular organisms, the brain etc. Without the
intervention of either god or evolution.
Or perhaps evolution in internalised at those stages when
punctated evolution occurs.
c) I raise these points because I am concerned that Marxists,
and that includes many on this list and elsewhere, seem to have
forgotten the basic tenet of marsism that it is not a religion
but a method of discovery and development. Science in recent
years has given us so many new areas of thought and action and
yet we trundle on analysing what the great master said. The
social sciences, the physical and structural discoveries about
the human brain, and the Phycologists deepening understanding of
how we work should be adding so much to our understanding and
action. We seem to leave the fields of information technology
and the digital revolution to those bastards so that they can
fashion new chains for us.
Again I digress.
>>>>>>>>>> It did not evolve as a response to the environment
within an environment
By this I mean that an organism can change by some inner
mechanism not connected with external pressures for survival or
otherwise. If these internal changes then assist it in surviving
the external environment the organism will be better able to
continue its line.
If one considers the human brain. I believe that at some stage
the brain of some species, presumably an ape, reached the stage
of complexity that consciousness emerged. This did not happen
due to external pressure, of evolution or god. But having
developed consciousness the new species could better survive and
Ie it did not evolve as a response to the environment but having
come into being then evolved within the environment.
I am sure one of the philosophers on the list will take me
apart. But so be it.
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