Re: Information theory, entropy, and evolution

Tue, 21 Feb 1995 00:49:21 +0000

Thanks, Danny, for once again stepping in when I'm mixing my metaphors all
over the place. I was less than clear about this. But I suspect this is one
of these areas in which we may just not see eye to eye... as will
undoubtedly occur with matters Topothesian... ;-)

>> Evolution, assumed to be ateleological, may in fact be negentropic after
>> all.
>It might be, but non-randomness of mutations isn't enough to give you
>teleology, and the objections to teleology in evolution are much, much
>more fundamental (you might like to read Jacques Monod's _Chance and
>Necessity_). And you appear to be opposing "ateleological" and
>"negentropic", which is just bizarre.

What I was suggesting is that evolution may in fact possess a direction
toward greater order and self-organization ( = negentropy), a possibility
vigorously denied by Monod and other neo-Darwinists who continue to
maintain that the only mechanisms in evolution are the pure accidental
chance of mutation and the ruthless eliminative drive of selection... thus
there can be no direction, no algorithmic process involved in evolution...

>Yes, but you can criticise narrowly selectionist views of evolution
>without reaching for teleological or vitalist obscurantism. Have a look
>at Gould and Lewontin's "The Spandrels of San Marco".

I don't believe a teleological viewpoint regarding evolution is necessarily
either vitalist or obscurantist. The question is, is there a drive within
life toward greater self-organization and not just self-preservation?


>What is, or is not useful in A-life isn't directly relevant to
>understanding how life evolved on this planet. It may suggest useful
>lines of enquiry, but it cannot be evidence in itself.

I believe possibly more fruitful lines of inquiry... but yes, I agree.

>Danny Yee.


Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
CyberAnthropologist, TechnoCulturalist, AnthroFuturist, Topothesian
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