Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Thu Dec 28 14:35:47 MST 2000

>>> furuhashi.1 at osu.edu 12/26/00 08:54PM >>>
Carrol wrote:

>(And the oak is only *potentially*,
>NOT necessarily, in the acorn.)

This point has been repeatedly made by Richard Lewontin & Stephen Jay
Gould, among others, in the course of their arguments against DNA
fetishists, but evidently it has yet to stick in the minds of


CB: This is "backward" logic, and impoverishment or reduction of the dialectic of
chance and necessity to only contingency, as usual.

The correct statement is that the acorn is a necessary condition of the oak, not that
the oak is a necessary result of the acorn.  Contra Carrol's formulation, the acorn is
necessarily "in" the oak ( not "the oak is necessarily in the acorn").

You cannot get an oak without an acorn. I'm sure Lewontin and Gould will affirm that.
The DNA within the acorn is a necessary , but not sufficient ,condition for creating
an oak. That is a correct, not fetiishized , statement of the role of DNA.  If
Lewontin and Gould took the impoverished approach to this problem ( "everything is
contingent; there is no necessity")  they would be out of a job, because natural
scientists ( scientists period) don't go around discovering chance events. They
uncover necessities within the welter of seemingly chance and random events. ( See
Engels final section of _The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State_,
and elsewhere)

Modus ponens: p implies q ; therefore not q , not p.

q is a necessary condition of p.
p is a sufficient condition of q.

Oak implies acorn. therefore not acorn, not oak.

An acorn is a necessary condition of an oak.
An oak is a sufficient condition of an acorn.

Capitalism implies feudalism; therefore not feudalism, not capitalism

Feudalism is a necessary condition of capitalism.
Capitalism is a sufficient condition of feudalism.

Feudalism is to capitalism as an acorn is to an oak.

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