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Ideas evolve in a manner similar to lifeforms

 
 
manored
 
Reply Sat 12 Jun, 2010 12:52 pm
I saw the question "How morals evolve?" being used as a point against atheism, and then an idea that I had had but never experimented discussing struck me: Ideas evolve in a manner similar to lifeforms.

If we think about it, ideas are born on the mind of humans, and, if they are judged as good by their makers, they will be spread to other humans. And then each of these humans will judge the idea and decide if its worth of beind spread or not. If they decide it is, it will invariably receive a small modification based on this person's opinions. Off course, some people will modify into something more easily accepted by the general populace, while others will modify it into something most people wont accept.

Suming it up, ideas branch off and some of its branches will be deemed inadequate and be extinguished, while some will adapt themselves or just plain survive and branch of again. This is really similar to how the evolution of lifeforms works, isnt it?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 1,655 • Replies: 6

 
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 04:09 am
@manored,
It's a good concept, and it already has a name: meme (in analogy to gene). If you're interested in reading up on it, I recommend four books:
  1. Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene, Oxford University Press (1976). This is where the concept of ideas as Darwinian replicators first comes up.
  2. Daniel Dennett: Consciousness Explained. Back Bay Books (1992) explains the phenomenon of consciousness in terms of memes.
  3. Daniel Dennett: Darwin's Dangerous Idea. Simon and Schuster (1996): Explores the far-reaching philosophical implications of memes, and the Darwinian evolution that shapes them.
  4. Susan Blackmore: Meme Machine. Oxford University Press (2000). Pushes the meme idea to its limits in antropology, religion, history, and numerous other branches of the humanities.

If you only want to read one book, I'd recommend Darwin's Dangerous Idea.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 04:28 am
@Thomas,
Despite Dennet and Gould, evolutionary biology has challenged the old assumption that "NAtural selection" is in play in all situations. Lately, data is becoming more and more convincing that almost all evolution is ADAPTATIONAL. So the concept of the similarity of a meme and a gene may be somewhat passe Iatleast in the araeas of evolutionary biology),
Ideas are usually progressive whereas evolution is adaptive. In that sense it doesnt overcome and transcend anything, it merely allows, via "spandrels" the occurence of "new uses for old equipment" as Miller says.

Heres a nice bit of fluff from Wikepedia on spandrels as coined by Gould and Lewontin

Quote:
Spandrel (biology)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Spandrel in the Basilica di San Marco, Venice, used as an analogy to the biological use of the word spandrelIn evolutionary biology, a Spandrel is a phenotypic characteristic that is a byproduct of the evolution of some other character, rather than a direct product of adaptive selection. The term was coined by the Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould and population geneticist Richard Lewontin in their influential paper "The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme" (1979).

In this paper Gould and Lewontin employed the analogy of spandrels in Renaissance architecture: curved areas of masonry between arches supporting a dome that arise as a consequence of decisions about the shape of the arches and the base of the dome, rather than being designed for the artistic purposes for which they were often employed. Properties that they singled out were the necessary number of four and their specific three-dimensional shape. In the biological sense, a 'spandrel' or 'exaptation' (as Gould and Lewontin referred to them) might be the result of an architectural requirement inherent in the Bauplan of an organism, or to some other constraint on adaptive evolution.

Their suggestive proposal generated a large literature of critique, which Gould characterised (Gould 1997) as being grounded in two ways. First, a terminological claim was offered that the "spandrels" of Basilica di San Marco were not spandrels at all, but rather were pendentives. Gould (1997) responded, "The term spandrel may be extended from its particular architectural use for two-dimensional byproducts to the generality of 'spaces left over', a definition that properly includes the San Marco pendentives."

Other critics, such as Daniel Dennett, further claimed that these pendentives are not merely architectural by-products as Gould and Lewontin supposed. Dennett argues that alternatives to pendentives, such as corbels or squinches would have served equally well from an architectural standpoint, but pendentives were deliberately selected due to their aesthetic value. Critics argue that Lewontin and Gould's oversight in this regard illustrates their underestimation of the pervasiveness of adaptations found in nature.


The view mof ideas and evolution is nice, comfortable, and as Mencken said, probably all wrong.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 04:39 am
@farmerman,
Heres a reprint of "The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian PAradigm" Its cute, its interesting and its dated.http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/03_Areas/evolution/perspectives/Gould_Lewontin_1979.shtml
0 Replies
 
manored
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 02:36 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

Despite Dennet and Gould, evolutionary biology has challenged the old assumption that "NAtural selection" is in play in all situations. Lately, data is becoming more and more convincing that almost all evolution is ADAPTATIONAL. So the concept of the similarity of a meme and a gene may be somewhat *passe Iatleast* in the araeas of evolutionary biology),
Ideas are usually progressive whereas evolution is adaptive. In that sense it doesnt overcome and transcend anything, it merely allows, via "spandrels" the occurence of "new uses for old equipment" as Miller says.

Heres a nice bit of fluff from Wikepedia on spandrels as coined by Gould and Lewontin

Quote:
Spandrel (biology)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Spandrel in the Basilica di San Marco, Venice, used as an analogy to the biological use of the word spandrelIn evolutionary biology, a Spandrel is a phenotypic characteristic that is a byproduct of the evolution of some other character, rather than a direct product of adaptive selection. The term was coined by the Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould and population geneticist Richard Lewontin in their influential paper "The Spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: A Critique of the Adaptationist Programme" (1979).

In this paper Gould and Lewontin employed the analogy of spandrels in Renaissance architecture: curved areas of masonry between arches supporting a dome that arise as a consequence of decisions about the shape of the arches and the base of the dome, rather than being designed for the artistic purposes for which they were often employed. Properties that they singled out were the necessary number of four and their specific three-dimensional shape. In the biological sense, a 'spandrel' or 'exaptation' (as Gould and Lewontin referred to them) might be the result of an architectural requirement inherent in the Bauplan of an organism, or to some other constraint on adaptive evolution.

Their suggestive proposal generated a large literature of critique, which Gould characterised (Gould 1997) as being grounded in two ways. First, a terminological claim was offered that the "spandrels" of Basilica di San Marco were not spandrels at all, but rather were pendentives. Gould (1997) responded, "The term spandrel may be extended from its particular architectural use for two-dimensional byproducts to the generality of 'spaces left over', a definition that properly includes the San Marco pendentives."

Other critics, such as Daniel Dennett, further claimed that these pendentives are not merely architectural by-products as Gould and Lewontin supposed. Dennett argues that alternatives to pendentives, such as corbels or squinches would have served equally well from an architectural standpoint, but pendentives were deliberately selected due to their aesthetic value. Critics argue that Lewontin and Gould's oversight in this regard illustrates their underestimation of the pervasiveness of adaptations found in nature.


The view *mof* ideas and evolution is nice, comfortable, and as Mencken said, probably all wrong.
I didnt understand the parts between asterisks, and they are compromising my understanding of what you said. Please clarify =)
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jun, 2010 02:40 pm
@manored,
Sorry , I am not friendly with a keyboard and words in my sentences are often misspelled. The word was "OF".

manored
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Jun, 2010 04:03 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

Sorry , I am not friendly with a keyboard and words in my sentences are often misspelled. The word was "OF".
No problem, it happens. But you seem to have missed the first group of words between asterisks.

Also, I didnt understand to what ideas you were reffering to exactly. The ones between quotes? The generally accepted ones?
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