Evolution/Rahul Lisa

Ron Press 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
  mathematical theory.

  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.

  I digress

  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
  multicellular organisms.

  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
  gone before.

  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
  then evolved.

  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.

  Ron Press

     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list