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it requires the dissipation of potential energy (or the production of entropy) in order to occur. Denial of perpetual motion of the first and second kind is taken by many to be the most unassailable fact of physics (e.g., Eddington, 1958). Irreversible processes, both locally, and on a cosmic scale, in principle, and empirically as far as anyone knows, always come to an end at some point. To make the claim for the potential immortality of replicators, one would have to come up with a cosmic perpetual motion machine to justify the theory. Without it, the theory is premised on ongoing miracles.

Life At Its Terrestrial Foundations Is A Planetary Prokaryotic Process

Another problem with the idea that living things die while replicators persist, the case of the salmon swimming upstream to spawn being an exemplar for Dennett, is that it is premised on the erroneous anachronistic view that life at its core is eukaryotic. Darwinian theory is largely a discussion about the kind of life that became visible after the Cambrian, particularly life that is somewhat like us, namely, sexually reproducing eukaryotes, and especially animals, with discrete life span and body size. But such creatures, which have appeared only during the last fifteen percent of evolution on Earth are not at all typical in these respects of life on Earth writ large. The dominant form of life in the sense of making up not only the greatest amount of biomass over evolutionary time, but establishing, and maintaining, life as a continuous autocatakinetic planetary process on which the eukaryotic forms at the heart of the Darwinian discourse depend, is prokaryotic (bacterial) (Margulis, 1981).

If humans and other eukaryotes were taken off the Earth prokaryotic life would still carry on and evolve, but if prokaryotes were taken off the Earth all the rest of life would die. Prokaryotic life, reproducing by fission of one individual into two, has been continuous, as far as anyone knows from its beginnings on early Earth, and to this extent has never "died". Life on Earth from its beginning has been a single continuous process of autocatakinesis which developed to a coherent planetary scale at least by two billion years ago when the redox state of the Earth became primarily oxidative rather than reducing. As noted earlier, all the higher-ordered forms of life that are the typical objects of Darwinian study, as well as human cultural ordering which themselves are differentiationsn out of this larger planetary system, are absolutely dependent on the prior and continued persistence of the planetary system as a whole for their existence. The idea that living things die while replicators persist is based on a reductionistic conception of life which denies the empirically undeniable and fundamental planetary nature of life. Although countless numbers of genes have come and gone, life, at the planetary level has been functionioning without interruption for some four billion years, and in principle will remain so as long as the solar system, and the Earth system in particular, remain within tolerance ("potentially immortal within tolerance").

Which Replicators?

Finally, the idea that evolution is for the benefit of selfish replicators as captured by Dawkins' (1995, p. 120) statement that "[t]he great universal Utility Function [a term he borrows from Dennett], the quantity that is being diligently maximized in every cranny of the living world is, in every case, the survival of the DNA responsible for the feature you are trying to explain," flags another major problem. If evolution is for the benefit of replicators then this begs the question of "which replicators?", and Dawkins' answer from the above is those responsible for the feature you are trying to explain. But, even putting aside the subjectivity of such an observable (the replicator responsible for the feature you , and not I, for example, are trying to explain), how can this be? Suppose the feature you are trying to explain is one that went extinct. How can it be that evolution was acting to maximize the replicators responsible for this feature. Clearly evolution acted to minimize them-going extinct, or to zero, being the extreme case, and ninety-nine percent of all species on Earth, it should be noted, are believed to have done so, and so presumably with a good portion of their genes.

The problem with the claim concerning a universal utility function is a particular instance of the problem for Darwinism in general with universal statements, or statements about what evolution as a whole is about, or the directed nature of evolution. Evolution for Darwinian theory is about fitness, but fitness is relativized to members of breeding populations. The fitness of a member of one breeding population (e.g., a zebra) cannot be compared to the fitness of a member of another breeding population (e.g., an ameoba), and this makes fitness an incommensurable observable with respect to evolution writ large (e.g., see Fisher, 1930/1958; Sober, 1984; Swenson & Turvey, 1991; Swenson in press-a). Darwinian theory has no observables from which it can draw conclusions or make statements about evolution as a whole.


Living Things as Things That "Defy the Laws of Physics"

The idea that life in general, and "mind" in particular is organized in the service of a battle against the second law of thermodynamics is central to Dennett's idealist reductionist scheme in which extra-physical orderers in the form of selfish algorithms are required to bring agency, or active, end-directed ordering into a world otherwise collapsing to disorder. In fact, in answer to his own question "What then are living things?", he says that they are things that "defy" the second law of thermodynamics by orchestrating a "systematic reversal" of it (Dennett, 1995b, p. 69). The idea that the active agency of living things captured in the fecundity principle, or the intentional dynamics of living things, or of "mind" in nature, works against the second law follows, in modern times, from the bifurcated mechanical world view coming out of Cartesian metaphysics, and a physics that was built, in effect, to justify it. This section reviews the newer understanding of the relevant laws of thermodynamics and shows why, rather than working against the universal principles of physics, living things and their intentional dynamics, or the epistemic or psychological dimension of the world, are a direct manifestation of them. This new view undermines the old bifurcated Cartesian view at the core of Dennett's theory, obviating the need for ad hoc ordering agents, and situates living things and their environments, knower and known, as parts of a commensurable world, explicated by a deeper, more robust, and comprehensive evolutionary view.

The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics

"[E]ntropy," says Dennett (1995b, p. 68) in Darwin's Dangerous Idea, "is simply disorder, the opposite of order," and according to the second law, "things run down..." or become more disordered. What he fails to mention, however, is that this meaning of entropy is a meaning that comes out of Boltzmann's statistical interpretation of the second law, a hypothesis that Boltzmann put forward in an attempt to save the mechanical or Cartesian world view. It is not the meaning of entropy or the second law as classically defined. The second law as classically stated by Clausius (1865) and Thomson (1852a), who formulated it following the work of Carnot (1824/1960), says nothing about order or disorder at all. It is about minimizing the "availability", as Carnot called it, or potential of energy for doing work.
Following the work of Davy and Rumford, the first law was formulated by Mayer, then