Make your own free website on Tripod.com

SPONTANEOUS ORDER, EVOLUTION, AND NATURAL LAW

Anexagoras, Democritus, and Plato, to mention a few of the most prominent names, and built into the foundations of modern science in the 17th century with the bifurcated metaphysics of Descartes. The problem is that, despite Dennett's loud protestations against skyhooks and various actual or alleged dualists, his own theory by which he brings "mind", agency, and meaning into an otherwise meaningless "dead" world of physics is paradigmatic dualism.

Following Boltzmann's hypothesis of the second law of thermodynamics (the "entropy law"), Dennett's theory rests on the assumption that according to universal law the physical world is expected to become increasingly more disordered (call this "the river that flows downhill"). This leads him to conclude that life, its evolution, the evolution of culture, or of "mind" in nature, which, in contrast, is characterized by progressive ordering (call this "the river that flows uphill"), thus defies the laws of physics (e.g., Dennett 1995b, p. 69). If this view is accepted the deduction is simple. It is that to get active ordering into the world requires the invocation of extra-physical or ideal ordering, and this is, in fact, the generic dualist or Cartesian deduction which in Dennett's case takes the form of "macros" or algorithms, an idea, not surprisingly concordant with the view of strong AI that "mind" is constituted by algorithms. We have descended from, and all agency and meaning comes into the universe, acording to Dennett (e.g., pp. 156, 203), with immaterial, potentially immortal, abstract bits of program or algorithms, like computer viruses.

Even putting the fatal logical problems of dualist schemes in general aside, Dennett's algorithmic theory collapses on empirical grounds. Both the idea that algorithms are the ancestors of living things and the source of all agency in the world, and the idea of the two incommensurable rivers carried over from 19th century thermodynamics are empirically false. Rather than defying universal law, the river that flows uphill, the epistemic or psychological dimension of the world, as shown later, can now be understood as a direct manifestation of universal law. In contrast to a logically flawed and empirically untenable incommensurable or Cartesian theory such as Dennett's, this provides the basis for placing the epistemic dimension of the world in its universal context, and providing a commensurable or ecological theory of living things and their environements or of "mind" in nature.

Dennett's Darwinian Pedigree, "Whig" History, and the Evolution Revolution

If Darwin's Dangerous Idea were entitled Selfish Algorithm Theory, or The Algorithmic Theory Of Mind, or The Algorithmic Theory Of Evolution, or Dennett's Dangerous Idea, or something similar, a demonstration of the empirical failure of its core principles would be the end of the story. After stating that "Darwin's theory has been abused and misrepresented by

 back

 contents

 next