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EVOLUTIONARY THEORY DEVELOPING

"Won't any process be an algorithm?" asks Dennett (1995b, p. 57). "Is the surf pounding on the beach an algorithmic process? Is the sun baking the clay of a dried-up river bed an algorithmic process? The answer is that there may be features of these processes that are best appreciated if we consider them as algorithms!" he says. But the faulty segue is obvious since Dennett's answer avoids answering his own question which is won't any of these processes "be an algorithm?" not can any of these processes "be considered as an algorithm?" The answer to the actual question is a simple, no. Dennett also gives the example of annealing a piece of metal, and, finally comes to natural selection itself which is no more an algorithm or an algorithmic process than any of the others. All of these processes may certainly be modeled (for better or worse) by algorithms, but there are no grounds at all for asserting that a single one of them is an algorithmic process.

"The pattern of cracks that appear in the sun-baked clay" says Dennett (1995b, p. 57),"may be best explained by looking at chains of events that are not unlike the successive rounds in a [chess] tournament". That they are "best explained" is certainly false since the main point crucially avoided in this and other like statements made by Dennett is that both a model of this kind and a chess tournament are rule-based while the dynamics producing the patterns in sun-baked clay are not. The main point to summarize is precisely that the patterns that appear in sun-baked clay do not require algorithms, or steps of instructions, to appear, but are a kind of spontaneous order that follows directly from laws and initial conditions. Likewise, natural selection simply occurs lawfully or necessarily, as Popper and others have pointed out, if the conditions of the fecundity principle, heritable variation, and the finiteness of space-time are present-no step-by-step set of instructions, or rules is executed, needed, or present.

Life Is Autocatakinetic Not Algorithmic
(Your Grandmother's Grandmother Was Not A 'Macro')

As noted above, the roots of Cartesian dualism and the postulates of incommensurability in modern science, where a "dead" or deficient material or physical world is contrasted with an active, ideal, or immaterial world, go back through Plato to the Pythagoreans. The dualistic doctrine of the Pythagorean Brotherhood, a mystical sect founded in the Greek city of Croton in the 6th century B.C., pitted form against matter, or the ideal against the physical, holding that the physical or material world was transient, and illusory, while what was true, the true stuff or substance of the world, and that which motivated it, the active principle, was a hidden world of ideal, eternal, or immortal, immaterial forms. The Pythagoreans construct and motivate "physical bodies out of things having no mass," wrote Aristotle (Philip, 1966, p. 84), and "[i]n this respect they seem to be discussing some other universe than ours." In the same tradition, Anaxagoras, a prominent dualist following the Pythagoreans, and known particularly from Aristotle's famous criticism of him, held that mind (nous), a kind of universal substance, while remaining absolutely separate, permeates the otherwise inactive or inert matter of the world and orders it. Aristotle's (1961, p. 63) criticism was that Anaxagoras used mind in his theory "as a sort of deus ex machina to produce order" or anything else for which he did not have a real explanation.

Subsequently, the Greek atomists, through the writing of Democritus, proposed a dead physical substrate of propertyless particles which had to be ordered and animated by "soul particles", and later, Plato, whose Pythagorean roots are well-recognized, proposed that the perceived world of change (Becoming), which he took as illusory, results from the action of true reality (Being) comprised of immortal, immaterial, or ideal, forms acting on a dead material substrate (Not-Being). The problem of how eternal, or immortal, and hence static forms could first act, how something conserved could be implicated in animating the world, and how immaterial forms, even if they could act, could in any case interact with a material substrate-the general problem of dualist interactionism-forced Plato to invent the "Demiurge" (or artificer).

What the Demiurge did was miraculously bridge the form-matter dualism and, in Plato's (1949. p.13) words, "finding the whole [world in a] disorderly fashion, out of disorder [brought] order." The mechanical world of Descartes, built out of a "dead" material substrate incapable of ordering itself was the repackaged offspring of this dualist tradition with "mind" as the active ordering agent, a view, as noted above, expanded by Kant and Blumenbach to include a special vital principle or force peculiar to living things. In the Dawkins-Dennett repackaging, the job is done by "macros" or algorithms, immaterial and immortal forms in true Pythagorean tradition, "abstract instructions" existing, in Dawkins' (1995, p. 8) words, in "time not space", working on a dead physical substrate that inherently goes otherwise to disorder.

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