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Defining, understanding selfishness...

christianity selfishness right and wrong

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#61 addx

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 08:57 AM

Ohhh I see what you're saying.
When I say universal morality, I don't mean "objective" in the sense that something exists apart from us that determines the value.  It's not "objective" is the sense that is opposite of "subjective", that's the wrong application of the word objective in "objective morality" which is another reason why I prefer to say "universal."  There is something I like to say sometimes that theists don't like: morality does not exist in a social vacuum.  It is contingent upon there being more than one entity.  Morality is defined in relation to other entities.
However the fact that we don't have perfect knowledge and don't necessarily agree on everything moral does not mean that we can't have universal morality. And I certainly agree that the golden rule is not the end-all of universal morals, it's not and I never meant to imply that it was when I was giving an example of it.  It's just one principle.
Relativism doesn't offend me, I used to be a relativist in the early days of my atheism before I started learning more about this topic.  So I can see where it's very easy to prefer relativistic perspective and from a strictly biological perspective, you're partly right.

It's not just biological but inherently also psychological

But in social species, there are a number of behavioral rules that are generally enforced by the group or its leaders because doing otherwise threatens the stability and survival of the group.  These are the simplest examples of universal morals and this is the root of morality.

I don't get this. If this group existed 3000 years ago and the leaders of it supported slavery because without slaves the group would not be as strong (compared to other groups) - what does this have to do with universal morals?

This is part of the reason Social Darwinism is actually toxic to social species (and thank goodness Darwin himself rejected it).  SD wouldn't do as much damage to solitary species, but that really just defeats the purpose of SD.

Well I do subscribe to social darwinism in a sense. I do not think humans should opt to perform "social darwinism" on purpose though, it doesn't work well that way, although we can try (as the nazis did). It mostly happens "spontaneously", we create value systems, ladders, we evolve at climbing them, our climbing proves or disproves our strategies for climbing, other people see them, learn from them, evolve them further. We're really just pawns for exploring different life strategies (and more basically different DNA configurations). It's the strategies that evolve against each other and battle for survival through us. This concept was (IMO poorly) introduced as "memetic selection/evolution" by Dawkins.

I don't know what to make of your slave/master argument except to say that from a strictly evolutionary perspective, there is no such thing as devolution.  From sociological perspectives have can have a "de-evolution" of sorts, where a culture seems to go backward, but this does not exist in biological context.  Evolution is not striving linearly toward some goal, nor is it about ever-increasing compexity, etc.

There is a goal towards which evolution moves towards (although spontaneously) - it's not complexity, but rather adaptability and so losing adaptability can be considered as deevolution IMO. It's not a very useful concept though, I used it to make a remark about a "negative adaptation" (negative because it the end it ruined those who made it), but that's about it.


"More evolved" and "less evolved" are not legit concepts in evolutionary biology; these are concepts that linger from the ladder of life concept and species hierarchy laid down by religionists (with humans at the top, of course), and in modern media, it never dies in the movies.

I can see what you're saying, but I can't agree that more evolved or less evolved are not legit concepts. More adaptable or less adaptable means more evolved or less evolved (towards surviving future circumstances). Increasing adaptability is increasing "fitness" which is a legit evolutionary concept.
All life is a reflection of past circumstances which accumulated "honed" (selected) biologic behavior (behavior of DNA life) and memetic behavior (behavior caused by synaptic knowledge embedded into DNA life) that promoted survival and thriving (replication). As said before, conscience or superego is a "cache" of memetic/synaptic knowledge of behavior stemming from the "id" that needs to be suppressed (actively extinct?) for the better of the group. Thus having a conscience/superegos within a social species is an advantage for that species because cooperating groups promote better survival.

Hollywood still likes to make its tyrannosaurs without feathers, says humans only use 10% of the brain, and that we can meet technologically advanced aliens that are "more evolved" than humans because they are just smarter, and all that whatnot.

The truth really is simple as explained above, evolution increases adaptability (not necessarily of an individual, but also of a group, species, or entire food chains - meaning there's many levels on which adaptability increases - they all feed into the root level - DNA life - meaning evolution created 100000000s of strategies by which DNA life replicates - some of those strategies will survive almost any events, some of them will survive some other events and so on)

In any case, biological evolution is just change, so for example if a small group of one fish species becomes trapped in a dark cave, and after a good chunk of generations the body starts redirecting energy from making eyes that are only wasteful in darkness toward more useful physical traits.

It's change on top of change on top of change. It accumulates changes, this stops history of changes from repeating itself.

If the new fish species ceases to grow eyes, that fish did not evolve backward, or devolve, or become "less evolved" than its sighted cousins.  It just became something different, it evolved.
The other problem with that concept is that we always apply our own values to what constitutes a "better" trait in another species.

I do agree with that remark, which is why I said, only time will prove what's better. We can apply our own ideas, but we're not perfect, far from it, at predicting future.

We're nearly always wrong when we do this.  So this perfect example of the fish, we highly value our own sight, and we see all these other species that have eyes, so we decided having eyes is the current gold standard.  Nature does not care about our cognitive biases.

I agree. But I stress that our inability to perfectly determine what's better does not negate the fact that species evolve and become better (more adaptable towards "survival and thriving")

Another reason this is wrong is because what is "better" depends on the environment; there are relatively few traits that could be considered universally advantageous regardless of environment and having eyes is not one of them.

I agree with that as well, which is why evolution is about increasing adaptability (to various environment stressors). And in that sense, humans can easily be seen as the pinnacle of evolution. Humans adapted to basically to any circumstances on earth and could even survive in space or relocate to a different planet. Most of our evolution today is "memetic" meaning we evolve knowledge rather than our DNA configurations.

I did try an explain my view of these things in a long complicate thread/post http://www.longecity...e-2#entry654353 I changed some ideas since then, but the gist of it remains.

Edited by addx, 28 July 2015 - 08:57 AM.

#62 addx

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 01:39 PM

**I also didn't mean to imply that "moral norms of the past" did not exist.  They certainly existed, but that doesn't mean they were moral.
Spousal rape was only recently made a crime in our generation.  So before the 1970s, a guy could rape his wife and never be arrested or charged with anything because it wasn't considered rape or any crime of any kind.  Husbands were entitled.  That was the moral norm, but that doesn't mean it was actually moral, or that it wasn't really rape.  It was rape and it was wrong.

I could agree that there are cases where a lot of suffering is inflicted onto someone for someone elses pleasure, I guess such cases could form some universal moral rule book.

Things like this are why I was forced to abandon relativism.

I get it, it seems moral universalism you talk of is based around inflicted suffering and so maybe it better translates into having more "empathy" rather being more "moral".

Sometimes it is moral to inflict suffering, so there is a slight difference. Having more empathy makes that difficult.

I think we also should delineate between it actually being rape, on it actually being immoral, and the degree of responsibility the perpetrator has for his actions.   I should have noticed that earlier because it would have avoided some of the miscommunications here on my part; I consider these two different things and you seem to blend them together.   That's something you keep bringing up, is that people in antiquity have less accountability for their actions.   I was agreeing, but was also saying that that doesn't take away from the immorality of their actions.

As said, I can't see what purpose does such an "objective" assessment of immorality of their actions serve? Taking ancient people out of their context can only serve to prove that ancient societies were "less moral" than todays societies, not individuals. I tend to think that people were always and are always people, capable of good and bad just the same within any context. Some go above the norm, some below the norm which is why the norm is important in determining who was/is relatively good and who was/is relatively bad.

A good person (above the norm) back then might have been considered universally immoral, but if the same person was somehow raised in todays times, they would perhaps be universally moral because todays moral norms could be considered closer to universal morality and being above them makes you even closer to it. That's my point.

And these men in Islamic Middle East and upper Africa, are they less responsible for their martial rape crimes or upholding these codes of conduct?  Maybe.  Does marital rape at any time become something other than rape?  No.  Does it increase the morality of rape?  No.

Heh, martial rape :)

The purpose of marriage was making and raising children and within a society that doesn't allow divorce or children out of wedlock, raping your wife is the only thing that can get you children if she doesn't consent to sex. At such a time, marital rape is not exactly the same as raping any woman for pleasure only. Quran was written with generational continuity in mind in a time where generations were short lived, child mortality was very high and life expectancy was short. Women were essentially not allowed to refuse to bear children which effectively produced some of these rape situations and legislation about it. This is what we evolved from and IMO should not be looked at with moral indignation but rather an understanding. Some parts of the world are still evolving from this, we each have our pace and our way. The fact that you (think) you are further ahead does not mean you can dictate anything (universal rules) to anyone. You can feel obliged to help those you think are behind you, but without passing judgement or using force to condition them to suit your ideas. The universal morality scale seems to serve exactly that - it seems to be a mechanism of passing judgement on actions or societies without having to understand contexts behind them - which translates into -> passing judgement out of ignorance. It creates a tool that's ready to easily condemn entire nations or religions of immorality, similarly to what shadowhawk is trying to pull off with the "evidence for islam thread". Such reasoning then justifies military action and things get worse from there. I don't like where such reasoning goes and can't appreciate it. People are people.

Edited by addx, 28 July 2015 - 01:41 PM.

#63 Duchykins

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 05:18 PM



I'm sorry I don't have much energy or time to deal with SD or your misconceptions about biological evolution, the modern evolutionary synthesis, and evolutionary psychology.  All this plus the moral philosophy is really too much here for me to get into all at once.


One thing is clear throughout your arguments, however: your beliefs on this matter are coming from a concept of evolution that is founded more on Lamarckism than Darwinism.  This includes Social Darwinism, linear evolutionary path with a goal or implying unnatural design, evolutionary goal of increasing complexity, "more" or "less" evolved,  "increasing adaptability," or that selection is at all goal-oriented, etc.  


SD was largely pioneered by Herbert Spencer who was operating within a Lamarckian evolutionary framework; the concept of SD predates Darwinism and does not fit within either Darwinism or the modern evolutionary synthesis.  This is one of the reasons Darwin rejected it.  As part of my studies for my degree in evolutionary biology, I did a research paper on Social Darwinism a few years ago and still have my notes and outlines around here somewhere and can pull them out if you wish.


I can see what you're saying, but I can't agree that more evolved or less evolved are not legit concepts. More adaptable or less adaptable means more evolved or less evolved (towards surviving future circumstances). Increasing adaptability is increasing "fitness" which is a legit evolutionary concept.


You are misunderstanding what fitness is, and how fitness is defined in relation to the organism's environment.  


There is no such thing as biological devolution; the very term has virtually no scientific usefulness.  Almost like creationist's use of animal "kinds."  Or the public's definition of "survival of the fittest."





The term "devolution" is sort of a misnomer as evolution and natural selection do not have a definitive path forward so there can't really be backward evolution - Although biological evolution is guided by natural selection, the selection process is not goal oriented but rather favors adaptation to the current local environment, which itself is subject to change and evolution. In this sense, evolution can be an unguided process. As a result, the concept is usually a plea to emotional attachment that humans may have for their own perceived superiority. In the cold, reasoned light of science, however, such a notion doesn't hold, and unguided evolution - neither forward nor backward - is the dominant theory.


If changes to a species were specifically controlled in a way that each change was reversed in order, it might be accurate to call the act "devolution",[1] but this would require a perfect history of the organisms genetic makeup by each generation and a flawless mean to control the changes. This would make for excellent research into genetics... were that knowledge not already necessary for such exotic manipulations. Even so, this is no more "un-evolving" something than flattening Play Doh into a pancake and rolling it back into a ball is "un-pancaking".


The concept of devolution is similar to that of "dysgenics," in which eugenicists bemoaned the decline of humanity as the rabble were supposedly outbreeding the better stock.








Devolutionde-evolution, or backward evolution is the notion that species can change into more "primitive" forms over time. In modern biology the term is redundant:evolutionary science deals with selection or adaptation that results in populations of organisms genetically different from their ancestral forms. The discipline makes no general distinction between changes leading to populations of forms less complex or more complex than their ancestors, and in such terms the concept of a primitive species cannot be defined consistently. Consequently, within the discipline such a word is rarely useful.


Current non-technical application of the concept of "devolution" is based largely on the fallacies that:

  • in biology there is a preferred hierarchy of structure and function, and that
  • evolution must mean "progress" to "more advanced" organisms with more complex structure and function.

Those errors in turn are related to two misconceptions: that:

  • evolution is supposed to make species more "advanced", as opposed to "primitive"; and that
  • modern species that have lost some of the functions or complexity of their ancestors must accordingly be degenerate forms. (Note however that degeneracy in this context has little to do with the current technical use of the term degeneracy in biology).







From a biological perspective, there is no such thing as devolution. All changes in the gene frequencies of populations--and quite often in the traits those genes influence--are by definition evolutionary changes. The notion that humans might regress or "devolve" presumes that there is a preferred hierarchy of structure and function--say, that legs with feet are better than legs with hooves or that breathing with lungs is better than breathing with gills. But for the organisms possessing those structures, each is a useful adaptation.








Additionally, we have some evidence that "backward" evolution, or "undoing" changes, or going back to a "more primitive" state, or whatever this devolution stuff means to the public, may not even be pos sible.



Since these misconceptions either fuel or reinforce your moral philosophy, I cannot go forward with the moral discussion until they are resolved.

Edited by Duchykins, 28 July 2015 - 06:14 PM.

#64 Duchykins

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 06:08 PM








Nice paper published in Nature:





One of the most profound discoveries of evolutionary biology is the fact that all living species are connected through descent from a common ancestor. Thus, there is an underlying unity to life. At the same time, however, there is tremendous diversity in the living world, which is the result of the accumulation of different traits in different organisms. Thankfully, the tree metaphor not only offers a way to keep track of the features of different organisms, but it also provides guidance in how to conceptualize the broad sweep of biological diversity.


Since the time of the ancient Greeks, the prevailing guide to thinking about nature was the so-called "ladder of life," also known as scala naturae. This idea imagines that living species represent various degrees of perfection, with humans as the "most perfect" species and therefore at the top of the ladder (see, for example, Figure 5). Although the ladder of life idea was central to the evolutionary theories advanced by many of his predecessors, Charles Darwin largely rejected the ladder concept in favor of a tree; indeed, the only figure in Darwin's Origin of Species was a tree, reproduced here as Figure 6. Darwin's view of the evolutionary tree is beautifully expressed in the following quote:



The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree. I believe this simile largely speaks the truth... The green and budding twigs may represent existing species; and those produced during former years may represent the long succession of extinct species . . . [T]he great Tree of Life . . . covers the earth with ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.(Darwin 131–132) 


In the years following Darwin's work, biologists formally rejected the ladder of life in favor of the tree concept. Nonetheless, many current discussions of evolution, especially in the general media, retain vestiges of the ladder view. This is often betrayed by the perception that some organisms are "advanced," whereas others are "primitive." Unfortunately, this ladder-based way of thinking about diversity is not just inefficient, but also positively misleading.


Why is this the case? For one, "ladder thinking" leads to statements that incorrectly imply that one living species or group is ancestral to another; examples of such statements include "tetrapods (land vertebrates) evolved from fish" or "humans evolved from monkeys." But, is the goldfish an ancestor of any living tetrapod? And is the howler monkey really an ancestor of you or any other human? Clearly, the answer to both of these questions is no. Why, then, does a statement like "tetrapods evolved from fish" seem reasonable at first glance?


"Tetrapods evolved from fish" might be intended to imply that the last common ancestor of a fish clade and a tetrapod clade was itself a fish. However, this is not strictly true, because while the last common ancestor of both clades may have had more obvious physical similarities to living fish than to living tetrapods, it was not identical to any living organism (fishlike or otherwise). Both lineages—the one leading to living fish (e.g., goldfish) and the one leading to living tetrapods—have been evolving independently for hundreds of millions of years, and during that time, evolution has not stood still on either the fish or tetrapod branch. Over this period, all aspects of fish physiology and the fishgenome have changed, though perhaps in ways that are not obvious to the human eye. Thus, it is not accurate to say that the common ancestor of both fish and tetrapods was a fish. The best you could do would be to say that the common ancestor had a body form and ecology that were more similar to that of living fish than to that of living tetrapods.


Another problem with ladder thinking is that even with such clarifications, it is still easy to make errors of reasoning. For example, suppose you are told that goldfish have body outgrowths (in this case, fins) with cartilaginous structures called rays. You are also told that tetrapods lack rays in their body outgrowths (limbs). If you took a progressive view, you might assume that tetrapods lost their rays during the course of evolution. In reality, however, the common ancestor of both tetrapods and goldfish lacked rays; thus, rays evolved along the lineage that leads to goldfish. In this case, if you had assumed that the ancestor species had rays, ladder thinking would have led you astray. In order to avoid such mistakes, it is best not to make statements such as "tetrapods descended from fish," or at least to do so with the clear understanding that "fish" is referring only to body form and ecology and not to any other features of living fish species.


Tree thinking teaches us that all living organisms are equally distant in time from the root of the tree of life and therefore all are equally advanced. Thus, in the eyes of evolution, a human and a bacterium are equally derived. Although one of these organisms is certainly more morphologically complex than the other, both organisms are remarkable in that they are the product of parents that successfully and repeatedly gave rise to offspring over an unimaginably long time span (at least 3 billion years).


This egalitarian view of life may seem hard to swallow. However, before you reject this idea, consider how the world might look if you were a ladder-thinking bacterium. If that were the case, you would certainly be struck by all the amazing molecular adaptations that your ancestors had accumulated to make you and your kin so successful. You would probably point to a human and note that within its body, there are more bacterial cells than human cells, thereby proving the superiority of bacteria over lumbering eukaryotes. You would likely consider bacteria to be the pinnacle of creation and the rest of the planet's organisms to be evolutionary rejects. On the other hand, if you were a tree-thinking bacterium, your view of life's tapestry would be just like that of the tree-thinking human—in this instance, you would appreciate that all living things are equally amazing products of over 3 billion years of evolution. Thus, tree-thinking not only provides important practical tools for organizing knowledge of biodiversity and for reconstructing evolutionary history, but it also provides a clear and unbiased metaphor for evolution at large.







The March of Progress, or simply March of Progress, is a scientific illustration presentating 25 million years of human evolution. It depicts 15 human evolutionary forebears lined up as if marching in a parade from left to right. The image has frequently been copied, modified and parodied, and has been the subject of controversy.


The illustration was commissioned by Time-Life Books for the Early Man volume (1965) of its popular Life Nature Library.[1] This book, authored by anthropologist F. Clark Howell (1925–2007) and the Time-Life editors, included a foldout section of text and images (pages 41–45) entitled "The Road to Homo Sapiens", prominently featuring the sequence of figures drawn by natural history painter and muralist Rudolph Zallinger (1919–1995). The first two sentences of the caption to the illustration read (with emphasis added), "What were the stages of man's long march from apelike ancestors to sapiens? Beginning at right and progressing across four more pages are milestones of primate and human evolution as scientists know them today, pieced together from the fragmentary fossil evidence." Although the context indicates that it was not the authors' or illustrator's intent to imply a linear ancestor-descendant parade, as the popularity of the image grew and achieved iconic status, the name "March of Progress" became attached to it.


Scientists have noted that early human evolution did not progress in any linear, sequential fashion nor did it move along a "road" toward any predetermined "ideal form"; they have faulted the image with being misleading in implying these things. With regard to the picture's notoriety, Howell remarked: "The artist didn't intend to reduce the evolution of man to a linear sequence, but it was read that way by viewers. ... The graphic overwhelmed the text. It was so powerful and emotional".[2]


Contrary to appearances and some complaints, the original 1965 text of "The Road to Homo Sapiens" reveals an understanding of the fact that a linear presentation of a sequence of primate species, all of which are in the direct line of human ancestors, would not be a correct interpretation. For example, the fourth of Zallinger's figures (Oreopithecus) is said to be "a likely side branch on man's family tree". Only the next figure (Ramapithecus) is described as "now thought by some experts to be the oldest of man's ancestors in a direct line" (something no longer considered likely). This implies that none of the first four primates are to be considered actual human ancestors. Likewise, the seventh figure (Paranthropus) is said to be "an evolutionary dead end". In addition, the colored stripes across the top of the figure that indicate the age and duration of the various lineages clearly imply that there is no evidence of direct continuity between extinct and extant lineages, and also that multiple lineages of the figured hominids occurred contemporaneously at several points in the history of the group.





The march of progress is the canonical representation of evolution – the one picture immediately grasped and viscerally understood by all.... The straitjacket of linear advance goes beyond iconography to the definition of evolution: the word itself becomes a synonym for progress.... [But] life is a copiously branching bush, continually pruned by the grim reaper of extinction, not a ladder of predictable progress.[3]


Gould reproduces several advertisements and political cartoons incorporating the March of Progress to convey one message or another. He even presents a "personally embarrassing" example: one of the four foreign editions of his books (over the design of which he had no control) which used the "march of human progress" as a jacket illustration. Gould never actually mentions Zallinger or the Time-Life Early Man volume in his critique, giving only vague clues as to the origin of the concept.

Edited by Duchykins, 28 July 2015 - 06:25 PM.

#65 addx

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Posted 28 July 2015 - 09:43 PM

I have no misconceptions.


I never implied there is a single ladder.


I said species can increase in adaptability which means evolve. It doesn't mean there is a single ladder on which species evolve.  


It means that the species, after the adapation/change, is able to endure conditions that they couldnt before the adaptation/change. Time provides new circumstance, generation of variety provides new solutions, time selects solutions that work. 


No need to paste entire wiki articles, I've read them before as well.


I see life as one big hierarchy as well. Not a ladder. The bush analogy below is quite good in fact.


I guess you didn't read my link so I'll quote it since you quoted that large article. Be warned, I redefine some terms that already have definitions but I am precise.



Life is observed as a phenomena of integrating matter into self-replicating schemas.

Matter is integrated by self-replication itself, so making it a part of the self-replicating schema and increasing its growth rate.

Replicator is a form of matter facilitating a self-replication schema.

Life source is all the specific forms of matter and energy required for sustaining the behaviour of replicators of a specific self-replicating schema.

Life source is represented by nutrients and energy such as the minerals from the soil or the sun, or water from a river-rain or another plant or animal.

Death source represents all the specific conditions and that cause irreparable damage to replicators in terms of facilitating a specific self-replicating schema.

A death source can a difficult obstacle causing injuries, climate-chemical-radiational conditions and also another plant or animal by making it its life source.

The behaviour of the replicator through which it facilitates a self-replication schema can be observed to fall into following categories.

Acquiring is the observed behaviour of the replicator which serves the purpose of acquiring life source in order to replicate.

Avoidance is the observed behaviour of the replicator which serves the purpose of death source avoidance in order to survive to acquire and replicate.

All this doesn't really discern robot replicators from the ones we consider life so we must discern further.

Mutation is observed as a change of the form of a replicator inducing a chance of generating a new self-replicating schema via the newly formed replicator.

In order to reduce risk of all the replicators of a given schema losing replicating ability through spontaneous mutation, it is best set to happen during replication and it is observed to be so in most cases(simple life has methods of exchanging genetic material between replicators, this is a weak violation of this rule with some safety mechanism probably). This ensures that the original replicator will still keep an ability to self-replicate even if the mutated replicator fails to spawn a successful self-replicating schema.

Selection of self-replicating schemas is observed to result from population reduction of those self-replicating schemas whose replicators fail to avoid their death source and is also observed to result from lack of growth of those self-replicating schemas whose replicators fail to acquire the required life source(due to competition or otherwise caused failure).

Evolution of life is observed as increased integration (increased life sourcing) or reintegration (recycling - food chain) of matter resulting from mutation and selection generating new distinct self-replicating schemas over time.

Selection mechanisms as explained cause evolution to generate new distinct self-replicating schemas or replicators that are relatively more successful from old ones in terms of acquiring and/or avoiding in order to replicate.

This means that either:

a) acquiring for replication is relatively sacrificed to provide energy/time for increased avoidance mechanisms and this results in better survival of existing population at the cost of replication or reduced population growth.

b) avoidance is relatively sacrificed to provide for increased acquiring and replication resulting in increased population growth but increased risk to existing population.

It is immediately obvious that increased selection pattern a) results from the self-replicating schema being overwhelmed by its death source while increased selection pattern b) results from the self-replicating schema being overwhelmed by competition for its life source

This is enough to define the basic balances of simple life, but is not what we're after really. As said, complex life was enabled by sexual reproduction and ageing so let us try and explain that now.

The biggest event in evolution is the creation of the eukaryotic cell which features sexual reproduction.

Sexual reproduction spawned a meta entity called gene pool. From the perspective of the gene pool, its replicators refresh it every now and then with beneficial and less beneficial genes..

Sexual reproduction inverted the replicator to become a pawn of the newly evolved organisation of life called the gene pool rather than its own "master".

The organisation of life is upheld by the need of replicators to find each other to sexually reproduce and thus each time make a deposit into the gene pool.

It seems like this is a maladaptation as the replicators need to find each other results in fewer replications, so what is the tradeoff for such an organisation to evolve?

The tradeoff is obviously the gene pool - the organisation itself, but how does it prove to be an advantage for life?

It provides for "conditions" for depositing genes in the pool which keep it filled with healthier genes.


A replicator is forbidden to deposit genes before reaching "maturity". This proves he has minimum function to survive "long enough" to "prove" himself worthy of depositing genes and replicating (could be seen as reward from the gene pool, just to illustrate better how the flow of life flows).

Single cell and even some multi cell eukaryotic life forms preserved asexual reproduction but most didn't due to the following:

As sexual reproduction of cells evolved, asexual reproduction could be "sidetracked" towards building a body of cells. This is the evolution of multicellular life form. A cell divides asexually and coordinated via various mechanisms into a body of differentiated cells performing a different task.

The body of a multicellular life form is simply more evolved acquiring and avoiding behaviour resulting from "hijacking" the now optional asexual reproduction method.


The single cell instead of immediately beginning replication starts to build a body around it that will eventually help it survive to sexually reproduce with another such life form. The multicellular body enables acquiring of new life sources and avoidance of more death source.

The protein guided body development out of a single cell is a complex timed process which can easily go wrong(errors integrate over time), again causing a need to reject undeveloped bodies from allowing them to deposit in the gene pool as a gene that disrupts multicellular body producing processes would prove to be very unhealthy for the future of the gene pool and so the species.


Remember, growing of the body is an evolution of tools support both acquiring and avoiding behaviour. It is in fact an evolution of the old replicating ability - asexual reproduction.

It seems that multicellular life forms invest quite the resource into their acquiring and avoiding behaviour tools. This causes quite a delay in reproduction compared to unorganised life. But the payoff of new life sources and avoidance of death sources seems worthy. The gene pool provides a payoff in terms of providing essential selection mechanisms for this newly evolved behaviour of growing bodies.

The growing bodies are investment into the future ability of a replicator to survive and replicate but how much should be invested? A body could be set to grow indefinitely before allowing time and resources to reproduce instead of growth. This may make it more sturdy in terms of avoidance but if it still somehow dies before replicating all the investment is literally lost. So,

the gene pool needs to regulate time to mature to make sure it gets enough deposits or in other words to make sure its subscribers deposit before a death source gets them but after maturation of the body. 


.... there's lots more




Sadly, most of my "more evolved" texts are in Croatian.. If you visit the topic you'll see that I end up finding neurotransmitters which govern said abstract "approach" and "avoidance" schemes to be common to all nervous system in all animals. The "philosophy" behind is extremely sound and robust and makes good predictions at any level.   


Anyhow, I can go all the way to human social evolution building on the same scaffold. My explanation is smooth from the inception of life to humans and their brain setup.  My view of life is broader than any taught in any school, I arrived at it myself, I wasn't fed contemporary science. I have my own understanding of things and admittedly I do make many blunders when using terms that already have established meaning. I did teach myself programming without books or the internet(didn't really exist) at the age of 11 so you might wanna give my raw understandings a chance.


A species can increase fitness - which increases generation of variety through increased population growth - which increases adaptiveness. 

A species can increase evolvability - which increases responsive generation of variety to circumstances and also enhances selection abilities - which increases "responsive adaptiveness" or "intelligent adaptiveness".


Adaptivenes ensures existence over time, ensures that the self-replicating schemas persist through time and circumstances. One can derive a "goal" of evolution from that - its simply to increase adaptiveness - meaning shortening the time it takes for adaptation. Since life is persisting of self-replicating schemas through time, one can understand evolution as a competition of life which increases self-replication (per time) and increases stability/survival (per time) -> two dimensions which generate the above explained targets of evolution - approach and avoid behavior. Evolution is a physical process as is the life course of a star, an increase in entropy. It is not simply random or whatever you imply it is. 


For example, the development of the mammalian brain enabled adaptation through memes that can be replicated across mammalian brains via vicarious learning/observation or conditioning and so on. This fasttracked evolution of mammals as one can generate/permutate a variety of behavior to overcome some obstacle in a short period of time, apply it, detect success and start replicating the detected sucessfull behavior within its group enhancing the group. It would take reptiles generations and generations of DNA recombination try and fail to overcome the same obstacle. Time has proven that mammals for the most part are more adaptive (per time) than reptiles and mammals have pushed out reptiles in most habitats. The moments in which evolved "adaptiveness" becomes most apparent is after natural disasters that clear territories of life. Species (or clades) which are most adaptable spread into new ground first, establish a rule before "slower" species can do so.  


If you include that not only genes are carriers of evolution (of self replicating behavior of matter) but so are "memes", humans ARE the most evolvable species on earth with no doubt or second thoughts about it. I don't see why this would offend any modern scientific theory?


When memes/mammalian brains are included as carriers of evolution - "evolvable" basically sublimates into "intelligent". And humans are the most intelligent of mammalian species.



The march of progress is the canonical representation of evolution – the one picture immediately grasped and viscerally understood by all.... The straitjacket of linear advance goes beyond iconography to the definition of evolution: the word itself becomes a synonym for progress.... [But] life is a copiously branching bush, continually pruned by the grim reaper of extinction, not a ladder of predictable progress.[3]



My understanding of the term evolution includes both - mutation (generation of variety) and selection (pruning/extinction). Evolution is not one or the other - it is both working together. It is noted so even in the old quote I dug up above. The above quote seems to imply that pruning is somehow unrelated to evolution or whatever?


To note - evolution is generation of variety of behavior, rather than just DNA variety. Evolution is also selection of behavior through pruning of the performers. Neither of the components can produce evolution by themselves. I never said it can be predicted, I actually think I said it can't. It doesn't mean it is random. We CAN conclude with utmost certainty that the mammalian brain allows few orders of magnitude faster adaptiveness than reptiles for most circumstances that can be imagined from exploring history. The typical mammalian body however has issues adapting to extreme heat and some other circumstances and can not follow reptiles everywhere. So being a mammal or human is not universally better than being a reptile. That was never the point. And it seems like the only thing you can read from all my texts, dunno why. 


The continually pruned bush is in fact "honed" towards something - maximum adaptiveness as a whole an each of its branches and subbranches individually as well. The bush needs the reptiles to inhabit niches which mammals can't - this is the variety of the bush which increases total life robustness. Before mammals, reptiles inhabited all niches that now belong to mammals. So mammals are more evolved in a subset of circumstances, just not universally.

Increasing adaptiveness or simply put - intelligence is somehow physically related to (causal) entropy, but I can't begin to explain how in words but this article may give you an idea



Interesting that you have a degree in evolutionary biology, I'd much rather talk about that than morals, no offense, it's just that I have so much research time invested in evolution and not so much in morals. 


Regarding evolutionary biology I have never seen the components of approach and avoid described as the basic targets of evolution. These components are not just abstract targets of evolution, they are also easily visible from the way nervous systems are set up, they are concrete as well as explained in the thread I linked. Combining psychology and many read pharmaceutic studies of animals, a basic understanding of neurology, cybernetics and aritifical(or rather universal) intelligence is what brings my ideas together.


Also to note, some lamarckian ideas were not inherently incorrect. And darwin was puzzled by the lightning speed of evolution at some points in history. Science has yet to find means of transfering biologic adaptations that parents acquired during their life time to their progeny. Males are the source of 75% of mutations, their sperm is fresh and can contain traces of their circumstances, their bodies can decide to increase mutation of sperm DNA in response to the stress the male accumulated over time or recently and this probably is in part what generates the increasing number of autistic people and similar disorders. Lamarck wasn't wrong at guessing it does somehow happen, but not to the extent he imagined. Time will show. I had a few articles about recent findings that go against the modern idea that progeny can in no way genetically be affected by the experience of their parents. I can try and find the articles if you want. I remember that adaptations of the immune system can be passed to progeny. Bits of DNA that flow through the bloodstream and incorporate into germ cell DNA. 

Edited by addx, 28 July 2015 - 10:05 PM.

#66 Duchykins

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 12:22 AM

I didn't say I have a degree in evolutionary biology.  Just that I am working on it right now.


While I disagree with nearly every major point you had about evolution, including your interpretation of Gould's quote and that humans (or any mammal) are somehow superior to space-travelling microbes in "adaptability" -- you're right, we digress from the topic of morality, and apparently I have been "fed" all of my information and narrow worldview, so I have nothing of real value to say about evolution.

I'll stop now. 

#67 Duchykins

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 12:27 AM

I don't recognize your definitions so we're at an impasse.

#68 Duchykins

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 12:46 AM

Valor's been online in the interim and has not posted here, so it could be that he is finally done with this topic.

#69 addx

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 06:11 AM

I didn't say I have a degree in evolutionary biology.  Just that I am working on it right now.


While I disagree with nearly every major point you had about evolution, including your interpretation of Gould's quote and that humans (or any mammal) are somehow superior to space-travelling microbes in "adaptability" -- you're right, we digress from the topic of morality, and apparently I have been "fed" all of my information and narrow worldview, so I have nothing of real value to say about evolution.

I'll stop now. 


The basis for comparison of mammal and reptiles exist. The more common ancestry the more basis for comparison..


Mammals and reptiles are two branches of the bush, branching out from a single branch. The two branches compete to extend and push their leaves in front of the other branch. 


You can climb branches/trees, you know, not just single dimensional ladders. 


There is little basis for comparison of mammals and space traveling microbes. The "strategies for survival/thriving" (and so targets for adaptation/evolution) of microbes and animals branched into wholly different directions and further evolved in those distinct directions, their branches do not compete in almost any conceivable way.




I'm sorry if I offended you. Good luck with the degree and take care

#70 Duchykins

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 04:59 PM

I lost patience because I've been debating with creationists in other places recently and am feeling a bit burnt out.  Creationist posts and literature always have misconceptions on top of misconceptions and incorrect inferences that can be a lot to handle if you want to try to address all points.    I'll have to take another break from them for a few months, which is just this cycle I've been doing for about 12 years now.  Seeing a slew of highly creative but semi-erudite evolutionary concepts from an atheist who is not stupid was just a bit much for me.


All species are in competition with each other, except in cases of true symbiosis.


You made a deliberate point of speaking specifically to a species' evolvability and "existence over time."  To me, that includes all life since evolution is an intrinsic property of life.  Microbes tend to be the champs in this particular category.  They even resist our own gloriously vigorous attempts to kill them.


Many of your concepts are still rooted in Lamarckism and the old ladder, they don't have to be in the extreme for this to be true.  "More evolved," "less evolved" come from that, these concepts do not come from the modern synthesis because the synthesis does not recognize the existence of such things.  Instead of pausing to analyze yourself, your response was to offer up some defense of Lamarckism, or at least a defense of your Lamarckism-influenced beliefs.


The fact that you want to exclude all microbes from this competition ... because they're not really alive or something? ... I don't know your reasoning behind that ... is exactly the kind of cognitive bias leading to incorrect conclusions that that paper ("Trait Evolution on a Phylogenetic Tree: Relatedness, Similarity, and the Myth of Evolutionary Advancement") was talking about.  It's important that we try to eliminate or control as much of our natural biases as we can.


I understand that you are getting the impression that I am only picking on a few things in your post.  It's true.  But please understand that I do it because more than half of what you said is not terribly coherent from a scientific perspective, and chock full of original definitions and unique applications of phrases, so when I'm not at my absolute best I can easily be overwhelmed by it in the same way I can get overwhelmed by the onslaught of nonsense from creationists.  I simply end up being stupefied when I read it.  I don't know if it's a language barrier or what.  You can go ahead and tell me that I can't make sense of the bulk of your posts because I'm stupid.  Perhaps I really am stupid.  I'm certainly a sheep.

#71 addx

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 10:00 PM

Nah, I know I'm hardly understandable, but trust me, I know rationality and logic and I think I have something there. It's just hard to explain for a layman...


Microbes are on a different branch, they do not compete for the same resources reptiles and mammals do. Some microbes are almost perfect in their domain. Great whites are almost perfect in their domain. It's all different "tips" of the same bush of life. I do not exclude microbes. If you read carefully my quotes post you'll see that I try hard to define life to include microbes but not to include simple human made robotic replicators. 


More evolved, less evolved is simply derived from the hierarchy of life - the phyolgenetic tree. Animals and all life can be drawn into a tree. The root of the tree is the beginning of evolution - inception of life. Each branch as it goes further means "more evolution". That's how I see it and that's why I talk the way I do. 


More evolved means more "interaction with environment" happened and as a result - "more evolution" happened. I see it as physics. More "honing". Imagine you have a slit of some size. Imagine you have a source of light generating various frequencies. Only some frequencies can pass through the slit. You can say that the slit performs selection of frequences. If there are more different slits one after another, each would perform selection. Now imagine that the light beam has some mechanisms by which it can learn/extrapolte the order of the slits and change frequencies accordingly. The slits hone the light beam.  


Species that do not interact much with the environment (per time) evolve slowly (per time) for example. 


I do not think this concept is in any way against the modern synthesis. I really think you misinterpreted what I mean by "more evolved" or "less evolved". I have no creationist tendencies but I can understand if you carried over something from your other arguments, it happens.


I'm very interested in the "puzzle of life" (and so evolution) and I think I made some leaps and conclusions which generate very good predictions that can be tested. In the thread I linked I made several "discoveries" among existing studies stemming from my concepts and confirming them. I would be very much interested in going very slowly from the start/begining with you, step by step, if and when you're interested. If you're after a degree in evolutionary biology, you might learn something "out-of-the-box" from and also help me express my ideas better, it might prove beneficial for the both of us. This is why I pointed out that my reasoning is raw and removed from any commonly accepted scientific influences. I have arrived at many concepts by myself that I have afterwards found have already been made, such as evolvabilty, game theory of evolution and such. And I'm a highly rational person, and I also don't have any agenda in it, I just want to figure it out, no matter what the end result is.  


I do not want to argue and this somehow started out as an argument due to my use of the term devolution in the context of humans. I do agree it doesn't make much sense in the context of DNA/genetic/biologic evolution. The idea of "devolution" is not really anything that my concepts revolve around (it isn't ever mentioned in the concepts I laid out in the quote). I merely used in the argument about morality to somehow relate buddhist sense of "universal morals"(skillfulness as they call it) with evolution. I admit it's clumsy. So I'd rather we forget about it...


I really think that my ideas are more cutting edge than obsolete so I hope you at least address this section of a wiki article (it is another concept that I arrived at and found out some others have had similar ideas), simply to show you that I'm not retarded but have issues "coming across".




Read the section "Epigenetic lamarckism" -> this is the only lamarckism I consider true. My concepts suggested that life has an ability to respond to stress by increasing mutation in the most abstract sense. The mechanism were incepted in microbes - bacteria. I've read about many experiment with microbes, evolution in a petri dish and so on. Some bacteria enter "SOS" states when threatened extinction which causes increased mutation per replication in the hopes of overcoming the endangering circumstances. They are "mutator" phenotypes. My concepts presume that the "strategy" of "mutator phenotypes" evolved from bacteria and that probably most life has an ability to respond in such a way - by increasing mutation (and maybe also replication/with reduced maturing age)  in response to environmental stress. Biologic mechanisms for that are plausible, some are even confirmed as one can read from the article. If I am right, it means an ability to "force evolution" (at a cost/risk) is embedded in most if not all life. The concept is extremely robust and explains a lot - especially periods in history of evolution where some species seemed to have evolved "too fast"...

If you consider "evolvability" together with "responsive increase in mutation" - it makes even more sense. The DNA configurations seems full of mechanisms/scaffolds that "govern" which kinds of mutations can happen which makes beneficial mutations more probable. For example, DNA HOX segment codes for body segments. The fact that a simple mutation can double a body segment means that such a DNA is more evolvable than some other DNA that could be conceived. Insects can actually survive simple mutations within the HOX segment that generate an extra body segment with another pair of legs or wings. The legs and wings actually get connected with the nervous system and can even work.... ... anyway... 



I understand going in "too deep" into discussions, especially with creationsts and then getting fed up or overwhelmed... I enter the realms of such discussions also in an on and off manner or in other words I sometimes simply have to disengage and let it all settle with time... so, as said, take care and I hope there's no ill feelings and that you will return at some point.. good night :)


Edited by addx, 29 July 2015 - 10:15 PM.

#72 addx

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 10:33 PM

I've read most of the "myth" article.


I think it doesn't consider the environment as the main source of differentiation. Same/ancestral species evolve differently in different circumstances/pressures (territories, climates, surroundings etc) and this creates most of the branches. The example with red/yellow flowers is completely ignorant of this. Different circumstances can cause different selection pressures and so enable both traits to survive at different locations for example. IMO, species "spread" as much as they can. When a species spread so far from its source to circumstances at the very edge of survival selection works hardest and pressures for certain traits. As species spread they spread in all direction and so encounter many different edges that pressure for some other certain traits.  


Edited by addx, 29 July 2015 - 10:36 PM.

#73 Duchykins

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 10:47 PM

No ill-feelings here.    I actually better understand where you were coming from now and I didn't think you're stupid or irrational.  If I did I probably would have regrettably lost my temper as I have done with SH in the past.  Thank you.   :happy:

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#74 Duchykins

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Posted 29 July 2015 - 10:53 PM

I think it doesn't consider the environment as the main source of differentiation.


It probably just takes it for granted.


It would be just like epigenetics in embryology.  Many textbooks don't really talk about it since it's a given in that field.


I definitely agree with you about what you said about species spreading out.  One of my favorite replies to theistic teleological arguments is that life will develop wherever and however it can.

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