Darwin, Monsanto and Anti-Realism made easy

Lisa & Ian Murray seamus at accessone.com
Thu Aug 5 17:15:56 PDT 1999

The exponential increase in experimental/explanatory/theoretical power on the part of scientists demonstrate that nature is malleable at several scales. Invariants are constructs. All organisms on our planet must construct invariants; however they all don't construct invariants in the same manner nor do they construct the 'same' invariants. Gravity does not exist for a microbe any more than the bond market does. QM and ecology really throw a big monkey wrench into the idea that we can know reality independent of our theoretical orientation. Alfred Tarski and Karl Popper were the last two great defenders of the realist world view; Realism being the good old notion that if a bear shits in the woods and no one is around to smell it, it still stinks. Bells theorem and studies of nutrient cycling will shake any realist's faith of observer independent structure/reality to the core. So will 200 mics of lsd. Neither paralyzing skepticism nor idealism must follow from these 'facts', just an acceptance of Heraclitus.

Laplace's demon who, just by being given the universal laws (our construct) and any set of initial conditions can compute what happens at any point in space-time without the computation itself making a difference to the state of the universe yielded to Maxwell's demon who generated disorder in the very act of creating an archipelago of order to formalize a set of vectors and scalars in his black box-- in other words, the act of observation had a subsequent effect that would not be there without the observer. The Heisenberg/Bohr observer (whom Einstein hated) went even further by asserting a radical indeterminacy/amorphousness to ?reality? It also conferred on us the epistemic power to wipe out all we think we know. Darwin's (Monsanto's) demon says we can reconfigure regions of genetic space and don't worry about the effects on the ecologies 'cause we're gonna be rich and anything else that can't adapt, oh well, genes and phenotypes will be selected which are compatible with the genetic industrial complex. It's all just probabilities, propensities and emergence.

"what we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning...any coherent set of axioms and concepts in physics will necessarily contain the concepts of energy, momentum and angular momentum and the law that these quantities must under certain conditions be conserved. This follows if the coherent set is intended to describe certain features of nature that are correct at all times and everywhere; in other words, FEATURES THAT DO NOT DEPEND ON SPACE AND TIME or, as the mathematicians put it, that are invariant under arbitrary translations in space and time, rotations in space and the Galileo - or Lorentz - transformation." (Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy)

"our models of cognizing systems have come of age...It is a relationship of total interdependency in which relative stability is achieved and maintained through the circularities of interactions. It shows that, in nature and culture alike, every unity that can be called a knower constructs the world [s]he knows and, in doing so, determines his/her way of knowing. In contrast, there is the predominance (and hence power) in the commonsense ideas of control and information-as-representation. This has led philosophy, science, and technology into the attitude that has persistently kept man [sic], the philosopher and scientist, out of his doings, fostering the belief that, in the last analysis, he [she] was not responsible for the world he/she came to know and manipulate." (Francisco Varela "Principles of Biological Autonomy")


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-lbo-talk at lists.panix.com
> [mailto:owner-lbo-talk at lists.panix.com]On Behalf Of ken
> Sent: Thursday, August 05, 1999 12:06 PM
> To: lbo-talk at lists.panix.com
> Subject: Re: Darwin
> On Wed, 04 Aug 1999 14:16:48 -0700 Sam Pawlett wrote:
> BTW - I agree with Miles... I didn't understand Ian's point and I
> agree with Tom that ev bio uses tape worm measures.
> > You are confusing epistemology and ontology.
> Two of the classic blunders of modern reason. The only
> "knowledge" we have is that which manifests itself in drives.
> The only ontology we have is that we can't know everything all
> at once.
> I'm glad Pinker is throwing his jeans in the lake.
> To pick up on Rob's question... the point of all of this is that
> we are social / political creatures in the midst of biological
> organisms. My original post pertained to a complaint that
> evolutionary biology is incredibly naive with regards to the
> affects of culture, language, and ideology - and Dawkins is an
> example. I suspect I'm in agreement with Lacan, that
> evolutionary biology needs God as a presupposition
> somewhere down the line.
> ken

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