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EVOLUTIONARY THEORY DEVELOPING

What Darwin actually said (and Mathew, Naudin, Blythe, and so on before him), to paraphrase, and repeat in general terms, was "give me the fecundity principle, heritable variation, and finite accessibility to resources, and natural selection will necessarily follow leading to the selection of the fittest or best adapted variants." Or in other words, give me the finite limitations of space and time with respect to obtaining resources, a population of reproducing living things with hereditary variation "striving to seize on every unoccupied or less well occupied space in the economy of nature" (Darwin, 1859/1937, p. 152), and natural selection of the fittest or most well-adapted variants will follow.

In short, what is immediately clear is that Darwin did not say give me mere order and I will give you the intentional ordering ("Design", in Dennett's terms, "purposeful" ordering, or the active, end-directed striving of living things), he assumed intentional ordering to begin with. Intentional ordering is an implicate of the fecundity principle and the fecundity principle is assumed in advance as a precondition from which natural selection follows as a consequence. This is a fundamental problem for Darwinian theory which, in its contemporary form, defines evolution as the consequence of natural selection. Since natural selection is a consequence of the intentional dynamics or intentional ordering of living things, the intentional ordering of living things is beyond the explanatory reach of Darwinian theory by definition. Darwinism in any of its forms, including Dennett's own extremized version, does not and cannot do what Dennett tries to make it do with these imaginary boasts of Darwin-an explanation of the intentional dynamics of living things, of the psycholological or epistemic dimension of the world, or of "mind" in nature, is beyond the explanatory framework of Darwinian theory, and this, in effect, undermines Dennett's scheme from the beginning.

THE IDEA THAT AGENCY CAME INTO THE WORLD WITH BITS OF PROGRAM TURNS THE EVOLUTIONARY FACTS UPSIDE DOWN,
INVOKES FALSE TELEOLOGY, AND BEGS THE BIG QUESTIONS

The idea that the physical world is inherently "dead", passive, or inactive, as noted above, was built into the foundations of the modern scientific world view with the dualistic metaphysics of Descartes which paved the way for the rise of modern science in the 17th century, a process which, as a consequence, Merchant (1980) has felicitously called the "death of nature". On the Cartesian view, and for ideological reasons that have been well-discussed by historians of science (e.g., see Swenson, in press-b), the epistemic dimension, or active psychological part of the world was taken out of the physical world by dividing the world into two incommensurable parts, a move which left psychology and physics defined at their modern origins by their mutual exclusivity (the "first postulate of incommensurability"; Swenson, 1996). The "dead" world of physics ("matter") defined exhaustively by its extension in space and time, and governed by deterministic law, was contrasted with the active, striving, psychological part of the world ("mind") that was said to be immune from physical law and to exist without spatial dimensions (or, as with Dawkins' selfish replicators, in time not space).

As seen from the foregoing, an immediate implicate of the Cartesian mechanical world view was that spontaneous ordering, intentionality, and meaning were theoretically eliminated from the physical world by definition, and needed to be extra-physically imposed upon the supposed meaningless dead world of matter from the outside (by "mind"). Cartesian metaphysics came full-blown into modern biology with Kant who, recognizing that the active, end-directed striving, the intentional dynamics, of living things (not just human minds) could not be adequately accounted for as part of a dead mechanical world, called for the autonomy of biology from physics, thus promoting a second major dualism, the dualism between biology and physics, or between living things and their environments (the "second postulate of incommensurability" (Swenson, 1996)). Kant, following Blumenbach, was a teleo-mechanist or vitalist, invoking an active principle special to living things that, in effect, ordered and brought dead matter to life, imparting to it the active, end-directed striving, or agency, that characterizes living things (e.g., see Lenoir, 1982).

Contrary to the work of Darwin's predecessors such as Chambers and Spencer, who promoted universal theories of evolution, the idea of the autonomy of biology from physics, the second postulate of incommensurability, was carried into evolutionary theory with the ascendancy of Darwinian theory which made no use of physics or the non-living part of the world at all in its theory. "Darwin," in Lewontin's (1992, p.) words, "completely rejected [the] world view [held widely at his time]...that what was outside and what were inside were part of the same whole system." "The fundamental dichotomy of evolutionary theory," as Levins and Lewontin (1985, p. 52) have put it, became "that of organism and environment," and in this way, through Kant and then Darwin, Cartesian metaphysics and its view of a "dead" mechanical world was effectively spread from the question of the nature of human minds and their relation to the world to life as a whole.

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