[Marxism] Re: Re: Scopes redux

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Sun Dec 26 17:33:19 MST 2004

mds wrote:

> Indeed, Dawkins provides quite an interesting rational perspective; the
> problems begin to emerge when attention is turned towards the
> biological/genetic determinism that I understand underwrites parts of
> his approach to the question of evolution, and led to conflict with
> Gould.

Dawkins used Blind Watchmaker to show that simple rules of mutation and
development yields some quite complex (geometric) forms starting from
somewhat arbitrary initial conditions. He then argued by analogy for
biology. it seems to me the analogy is only a plausibility argument. i
think its widely recognized (at least privately) that such reductionism in
biology wont wash. in fact, such adaptive computations works far better in
engineering discplines, mainly in the way it forces solution schemes to
explore a wider range of possibilities than more traditional methods.

i don't remmeber Dawkins take on genetic determinism -- i can't recall, for
example, if it was explicit in Blind Watchmaker -- but i think he had a
nice analysis of the (amazing) human eye as a "designed" form. The Triple
Helix is well worth reading on this matter. Mike Friedman suggested some
other good books. When i get a chance, i want to write about Polycystic
Kidney Disease, a common inherited disorder whose mechanisms of development
highlight the problems with genetic determinism. a friend of mine has it so
i studied up on it and talked with Mike some about it.

Les Schaffer

More information about the Marxism mailing list