Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Evolution and the Open Window

Imagine a fly near both an open and closed window trying to return to the outside world. Which would we conceive to be the greater act of intelligence?- the physical ability to fly and the magnificent feat of bodily engineering that that entails- or the ability to correctly discern the open window as the means of departure? From our perspective, the ability to correctly choose the open window barely qualifies as an act of intelligence. The relevant intellectual process is effectively simultaneous to the act of perception; there is nothing to figure out.
However, this most basic act of intelligence is beyond the capacity of the fly for the simple reason that he is not equipped with the requisite mental apparatus to perform the intellectual actions. Comparative to the most simple exercise of choosing the open window however, the fly is able to perform the astonishing act of flight. How did a creature of such a stupid level of conscious intelligence come to be such a genius at the bodily level?

From there to look at the standard view on Darwinian type logic which is that things evolve so as to give themselves the gratest chance for survival, adapting to the environment and the like. In a sense, things exist so as to exist, and 'improve' their existence so as to continue to exist, which a more cynical mind than mine might describe as tautological nonsense. Another view is that evolution is specifically directed towards heightened intelligence( though not perhaps as a matter of course), and in a sense the physical structure develops as a vessel suitable for, or within which, more refined levels of consciousness can exist. Life is clearly intrinsically charged or motivated towards this progressive evolution of consciousness, such as from the simplest organisms to the higher animals and, for now, ultimately the human.

But to return to our fly at the window, possessed of a physical work of engineering at the level of astonishing genius, but an intellect of almost absolute idiocy. Which isn't to say he is without intelligence, but this is almost purely at the level of automatic response, or an intelligence intrinsic to his unconscious nature. When called upon to carry out the most simple of 'higher intelligence' acts such as recognising the open window as opposed to the closed, or learning from experience that the phsycial impediment of the closed one will continue to prevent his desired departure, then such a conscious action is beyond him.
So how did he get to the stage of development of genius on the one hand, while allied to an obvious dearth of conscious intelligence. In other words, how did he become the organism that he is: who is doing the evolving, adapting to environment, etc? Adaptation to his environment, or whatever paradigm we use, is an intellectual process infinitely beyond his ken. He couldn't possibly formulate or understand the theory or desirability of this adaptation, never mind then instigating the proceses necessary to this evolution. And resorting to even less intelligent beings such as micro-organisms as the vehicles of change is simply a deepening of the quandary, as what in the way of brilliantly directed intelligence are we to expect from a lower species again? Fuck all says you, and you'd be right.

Even traditional evolutionism accepts that life is being propelled by certain forces, though the forces it tends to resort to, or the governing principle, are clearly intelligently incapable of effecting the processes. It would be like if I suddenly appeared in two places at once, here and the local shop, and the explanation for this occurence were that "Oh, this was beneficial to his existence. Bi-location is a very effective survival technique. One self can get food while the other writes this shite." Perhaps it is desirable- even if a ludicrously reductionist explanation- but the desirabilty of bi-location and my ability to become capable of bi-location are two enormously different things. And similarly, for us animals on earth to have become the animals we are involved intelligent processes infinitely beyond our own conscious capacities. So what is this unconscious intelligence that is manifestly present directing operations?

Likewise our finest minds push themselves to their limits endeavouring to understand processes like gravity, and we would have no reservation about describing an Einstein as a genius. Naturally as an extension of this, he is being called a genius because of his capacity, flawed though it may be, to form fragmentary intellectual pictures of the nature of reality. But what about reality itself? We most likely wouldn't describe a critic of Beethoven as a greater genius than Beethoven himself, which to a degree is what an Einstein is. He is reaching into and endeavouring to understand, depending on one's perspective, aspects of an almost terrifying depth of intelligence which is intrinsic to and indeed is reality itself. The only justified sense of self for man within this reality is the utmost humility, and there is a line by the philosopher Plotinus that is apt where he describes the mystical experience as "the flight of the alone into the Alone," but which is also appropriate for the scientific exploration of reality.


Selena Dreamy said...

...reaching into and endeavouring to understand... an almost terrifying depth of intelligence which is intrinsic to and indeed is reality itself

And no one summed up this inherently immeasurable state of affairs better than Albert Einstein himself:

“One may say that the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”

This was no mere figure of speech, whether we like it or not, Einstein was formulating a very prophetic conclusion: That the concept of reality cannot be dissociated from the conceptual power inherent in the human mind. An indication of this power is of course the way in which the universe has come to be the object of its own attention (through the mind of man, if you like). Nor does it seem to have escaped Einstein’s attention that its apparent grasp of itself can be asserted only through a mathematical theorem. But while one neither presumes nor precludes the general validity of the theorems the physicist has introduced, they are interesting, as I see them suggested, precisely for what they reveal about the evolution of the human mind - “which is intrinsic to and indeed is reality itself” - rather than the universe.

In other words, human consciousness is no longer an observational means external to different bodies in space-time, but a conceptual property of space-time itself!


elberry said...

Excellent stuff. You may enjoy Marilynne Robinson's essay on Darwinism in 'The Death of Adam'.

Andrew K said...

Bit too tired to respond in any fashion now, Selena, but tomorrow I'll try and respond in some kind.

Andrew K said...

Aldous Huxley wrote that every great truth was obvious, but not every obvious truth was great. To a great extent everything is simple. Thus that the concept of reality cannot be dissociated from the conceptual power inherent in the human mind should be self-evident: the very nature of a concept is a product of the reasoning mind. But reality in the direct experiential sense must be beyond concepts & 'understanding' reality, or we have a dual universe of reality & someone understanding it.
You could also say that the less the mind is tethered to a concept, the more this direct experience- life as opposed to intellectual simulacrum- may occur, and can't occur otherwise.

Reality does not exist separate from consciousness, but it isn't dependent on conceptual understanding.

"they are interesting, as I see them suggested, precisely for what they reveal about the evolution of the human mind - “which is intrinsic to and indeed is reality itself” - rather than the universe."

I suppose I'd agree, not that I've the scientific mind to derive any nourishment from the theorems, but one theorem may be far more 'true' than another, being because it approaches closer to reality than the less adequate, or wrong, theorem. This is the evolution of thought towards conceptual fusion with reality. So, rather than one or the other, maybe they are interesting because of what they reveal about both the mind's evolution towards the real, or universe, & hte universe itself.
Though the notion that perhaps the universe is deepening as a reslut of the mind's expanding self is also fascinating!

Though(one final though), I don't think accurate scientific approximations of reality are in any real sense necessary to anyone's directly experiencing this relaity for themselves, & maybe works of Rembrandts, Bachs & the like are far more vital avenues to truth than the scientific. But as usual only if one has eyes to see & ears to hear.

Anonymous said...

darwin was a very corrupt man who wrote alot of lies, his theories of evolution was based on alot of lies and falsified information, the fuegian tribes of south america were depicted as apes by darwin, despite his own private admission that they certainly weren't apes, he also claimed they spoke no more than a hundred words, but europeans who had been learning their language said they had a more colourful and larger language than any european country. darwin also lied about the height of the fuegians whom he called apes. People who communicated with them said that they were an average of 6 foot tall, which was very tall for those days, they were also very well built, they had long hair and darwin falsified claims that they were neanderthals. darwin lied about many other things also. Europeans brought bacterial diseases to the fuegians which wiped them out, witnesses claim this was deliberate genocide, not accidental.

And Einstein was also corrupt and a total fraud, and he even admitted his theory of relativity was given to him by a certain jesuit priest (the Jesuits were/are very highly educated and are working to a certain agenda).

Frauds like Darwin and Einsteinn were pushed on society and hailed as genius, and true researchers like Nikolai Telsa's work was surpressed. The Jesuit control of society goes ALOT deeper than most can even suspect, they also control the field of science and have done for a long time