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Ch. 2 - The replicators 
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DWill wrote:
bryamon wrote:
I think that Dawkins explains his survival machine theory in such a way that it should not be viewed as reductionist, nor should it offend those that would take exception to his point of view.

Right, I used the word "reductive" in order to avoid the more negative connotation of "reductionist." As I understand the method of science, it does seek to reduce explanations of phenomena to the most elemental units and is therefore reductive--but this is a strength. The compact summary or theory that results from all the scientific work can then be unpacked to reveal its actual richness of content. This is what Dawkins is doing for us throughout the book.


Thanks for the clarification DWill. I misinterpreted what it was that you were trying to say; That by "reducing" an explanation to its more basic or elemental parts you can expand (and in fact are expanding) your understanding.



Sun Sep 06, 2009 7:33 pm
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Sorry, I posted about memes here instead of the Chapter 11 thread, where you can find the post now.



Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:01 pm
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Some amazing facts in this chapter: there are "over six thousand million million million" hemoglobin molecules in the human body. "Hemoglobin thornbushes are springing into their 'preferred' shape in your body at a rate of about four hundred million million per second, and others are being destroyed at the same rate."



Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:30 am
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LanDroid wrote:
Some amazing facts in this chapter: there are "over six thousand million million million" hemoglobin molecules in the human body. "Hemoglobin thornbushes are springing into their 'preferred' shape in your body at a rate of about four hundred million million per second, and others are being destroyed at the same rate."

This kind of thing blows me away. It also makes me wonder about a bias that people seem to have against physical processes, as opposed to things they think of as spiritual or immaterial. Why are physical things 'only physical,' whereas the supposedly spiritual are 'higher'? We don't even begin to truly comprehend what is physical, as the fact you quote demonstrates. I guess that's the way we are designed, though, to be unaware of what's happening with our bodies. We couldn't carry on with whatever we're purposed to do if we had to be constantly aware of our metabolism. I wonder if our consciousness isn't in fact a barrier to experiencing more of our bodies. I wonder if other animals 'live their bodies' more than we do.

I like the irony RD brings out in this chapter, that we exist only because, as the popular evasive phrase states it, "mistakes were made."



Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:04 am
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DWill wrote:
Why are physical things 'only physical,' whereas the supposedly spiritual are 'higher'?
Spiritual understanding relates to considering things as abstract concepts. It brings together what is similar in many physical instances, enabling universal generalisation and prediction about observation. The explanatory power of language is spiritual in nature, with words a rendering of knowledge by the human spirit. This is how I understand it, with spiritual effectively a synonym for conceptual. This is the sense in which we say science is one of the great achievements of the human spirit.
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We don't even begin to truly comprehend what is physical.
The merely physical is apprehended by sense perception, while the spiritual is comprehended by reason.
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I wonder if our consciousness isn't in fact a barrier to experiencing more of our bodies. I wonder if other animals 'live their bodies' more than we do.
Spirituality presents great scope for false consciousness. False spiritual faith (eg the dogma of the Virgin Birth) claims access to a higher miraculous comprehension that is not available to ordinary perception, but with this claim it separates itself from reality.

Your observation about animals 'living their bodies' relates to our previous conversation about instinct, and how reason separates humans from instinct. The irony is that it is only through conscious reasoning (ie spirituality) that we know how many haemoglobin molecules there are.



Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:09 am
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Robert Tulip wrote:
This is the sense in which we say science is one of the great achievements of the human spirit.

I wouldn't have thought of that, but I'll certainly buy it.
DWill wrote:
We don't even begin to truly comprehend what is physical.

Do you see what I was attempting to say here? I mean that there is more going on in physical systems such as our bodies than we can possibly be aware of, and that from a basic understanding level we are pretty far off as well. There is no justification for the 'merely physical' denigration. We are approaching the unity of the spiritual and physical when considering an organ such as the brain.
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our observation about animals 'living their bodies' relates to our previous conversation about instinct, and how reason separates humans from instinct. The irony is that it is only through conscious reasoning (ie spirituality) that we know how many haemoglobin molecules there are.

Good one, RT.



Thu Oct 15, 2009 6:37 pm
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