Re: Evolution, "adaptation", and what's currently adaptive

Len Piotrowski (
Wed, 4 Sep 1996 15:27:35 GMT

In article <50ieqh$> (Gerold Firl) writes:


>|> I suppose you can believe it's possible that every human behavior arose
>|> through selection, but waiting a million or so years to derive it is
>|> excessive. The nature of ongoing human action belies such a functional
>|> fixation.

>Lenny, I'd like to hear your ideas on the subject. You keep complaining
>about over-reliance on functional adaptation, but what are you
>suggesting as an alternative?

Depends! Are you talking about "sugar craving" or "jealousy."

>This example should be crystal clear:

>|> In article <504muq$> (Bryant) writes:

>|> >Eyes are adaptations because they have design features unlikely to have
>|> >accumulated by chance.

>|> And too, unlikely to have accumulated as a sequential series of functional
>|> adaptations with your final goal (to see) as the causal reason!

>Try to do a little research before you make such absolutist
>pronouncements; you're just flat-out wrong.

Your epistemology boggles the imagination!

>Throughout the biosphere
>there exists the complete gamut of light-sensing and imaging systems,

What makes this "gamut" complete, aside, I know, from the word of Firlmeister?

>which maps very well to the developmental evolutionary pathway.

Interesting mapping function here: where does this "evolutionary pathway"

> We have
>plants which orient their leaves to the sun,

... no eyes!

>plankton which can detect
>up and down from light and dark,

... no eyes!

>and large numbers of independantly
>evolved imaging systems ranging from mollusc crude

... no eyes!

> to mammalian

... ah, eyed!

>Each incremental step of visual acuity provided
>adaptive benefits,

Oh, yes, eyes were the result of the "incremental steps" of plants, plankton,
"mollusc," and mammals, eh? Remarkable!

>which is why vision systems have continued to

? Vision systems continue to evolve *because* of the adaptive benefits that
vision accrues? How come a mollusc can't see then?

>You present "the goal" of being able to see in teleological terms,

... not I, the functional adaptationist does.

>which is erroneous of course,

Of course!

> but anyone who has thought about the
>process of evolution can see how natural selection has refined animal
>vision to produce successively more acute vision.

Except for those poor, crude plants, plankton, and "molluscs," [sigh]!

>The "causal reason"
>which drove the process was survival, of course, not the ability to

I survive, therefore I see, is that it?

>|> >[snip]

>You're amazing, lenny.


>You don't believe that animal vision evolved
>because of the fitness benefits of being able to see, right?


>teleological, too adaptationist for your liking.

... too functionally fixated to be of explanatory usefulness, to be precise.

> Again I ask, because
>I'm curious about your agenda here,

I have no agenda here, Firl.

> if something as obviously
>functional as vision didn't evolve as an adaptation, where did it come

What it (eyeball) can be used for (to see) says nothing about where it came
from. Is this getting too taxing for you, Firl?

>I understand that you're very concerned about preserving a place for
>"meaning" in human activity; so tell us lenny, what does it mean to see


>|> >The only alternative to random accumulation in evolution is selection.

>|> "Random accumulation" of what? This is getting more and more remarkable.

>Remarkable indeed. Does it boggle the mind, by any chance?

I wonder!

> Read a
>textbook on animal physiology, ethology, or evolutionary biology.


>have been some remarkable discoveries in the last couple of centuries.

I bet!

>Do you know how the elephant got his long trunk?

Really? Did he/she have a need to trunk?

>|> Just so ...

>Something like that.

That's for sure, that's for dang sure.



"If you can't remember what mnemonic means, you've got a problem."
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