Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:36 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 
Ch. 2 - Genetic Determination and Gene Selectionism 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16217
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3511
Thanked: 1335 times in 1054 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Ch. 2 - Genetic Determination and Gene Selectionism
Ch. 2 - Genetic Determination and Gene Selectionism



Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:04 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 7076
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1080
Thanked: 2079 times in 1667 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
I'm reading this book a bit slowly and have only just now finished this chapter. This chapter expresses Dawkin's frustration with being misunderstood as a genetic determinist. For example, men are more genetically likely to be promiscuous. This would leave some women who have been cheated on to be susceptible to the argument that it's genetic and the guy can't help it. Dawkins goes on to list the large number of other factors that should be included in any determinist perspective.

If we taught girls to play with GI Joes instead of boys, then it wouldn't be so misleading that gender plays a deterministic role in our behavioral tendencies toward toys. The point is there are many other factors influencing behavior than genes. Also, it's necessary to say that genes influence behavior rather than determine them.



Mon Nov 02, 2009 1:08 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6437
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1889
Thanked: 2097 times in 1584 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Neither of my local library systems ever bought this book, which seems wrong. I hope to get a hold of it, though. It seems no matter what RD says, people don't believe him. He's made it about as clear as he can that he sees us as the animals who have been able to escape the bounds of our genes--not entirely, of course, but to a still significant degree. He sees culture as our creation, which in itself precludes genetic determinism. But because he wrote a book called The Selfish Gene, and because he talks about humans occasionally in that book (since we are animals), people understand him as saying it is our nature to be selfish. What he is saying, regarding humans, is that we don't have a nature in the same way that cultureless animals do; our nature has acquired a considerable plasticity.

It is also questionable whether the scenario he describes in The Selfish Gene qualifies as deterministic at all. Determinism, to have any real meaning, would be a case of a single gene or genetic unit controlling a behavioral outcome. This does happen in the case of discrete physical features, but that is not what people mean by determinism. They mean behavior that is determined. Dawkins tells us about the extremely complex environment that genes have in relation to other genes in the genome. Before the outside environment ever gets to act on the individual 'gene machine,' there is an environment within that greatly influences how genes will be expressed. The word 'determinism' just seems wrong to me for this genetic dance that goes on during embryonic formation.



Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:27 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 7076
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1080
Thanked: 2079 times in 1667 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Well said. Do you believe that the universe in hard determinism?



Fri Nov 06, 2009 1:15 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6437
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1889
Thanked: 2097 times in 1584 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Interbane wrote:
Well said. Do you believe that the universe in hard determinism?

I didn't understand the question.



Fri Nov 06, 2009 2:08 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5860
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2320
Thanked: 2240 times in 1694 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post 
DWill wrote:
Interbane wrote:
Well said. Do you believe that the universe in hard determinism?

I didn't understand the question.


Interbane has not constructed his question with correct grammar. I think he means 'do you believe the universe is deterministic?'

On this question, the answer is obviously yes, in that the inverse square law of gravity determines the motion of matter through space and time.

Human freedom is tiny by comparison to the immense deterministic forces of the universe. If the units of evolution are genes, then Dawkins is right in comparing our lives as flotsam of the sun to the leaves of trees. Leaves grow and die each year while the tree lives on, just as human beings are just one unique collection of genes which have been through thousands and even millions or billions of bodies. Our oldest genes have been carried around the galaxy a dozen times by the gravity of the sun. If the sun is like a tree of life, then people are like its leaves. Over deep time, the deterministic forces of matter are decisive.

Yet, human freedom is real, in that free choice cannot be predicted by analysis of matter. Even if at some ultimate level most of our choices are guided or even determined by genetic instinct, there remains a rational liberatory and creative freedom of the human soul which is indeterministic. The evolution of the human brain has given us genes for freedom in the liberty of the mind.



Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:41 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 7076
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1080
Thanked: 2079 times in 1667 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
What do you mean by freedom Robert? Am I free in choosing the words I'm currently typing? Neurons operate in a physical way. Our brains are merely collections of neurons. The extreme complexity of a life's worth of input makes it impossible to predict what we do or say, but that doesn't mean it's not the result of physical processes and thus determined.



Fri Nov 06, 2009 11:53 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5860
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2320
Thanked: 2240 times in 1694 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post 
Interbane wrote:
What do you mean by freedom Robert? Am I free in choosing the words I'm currently typing? Neurons operate in a physical way. Our brains are merely collections of neurons. The extreme complexity of a life's worth of input makes it impossible to predict what we do or say, but that doesn't mean it's not the result of physical processes and thus determined.
The physical processes cannot be completely known, so the question whether all action is caused or indeterminate cannot be answered. Thought appears to be free from the human perspective. The evolution of reason appears to introduce a radical indeterminacy in the universe in the form of human freedom.



Sat Nov 07, 2009 3:58 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 7076
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1080
Thanked: 2079 times in 1667 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post u
Quote:
The physical processes cannot be completely known, so the question whether all action is caused or indeterminate cannot be answered. Thought appears to be free from the human perspective. The evolution of reason appears to introduce a radical indeterminacy in the universe in the form of human freedom.


Your word choices are all in line with orthodox thinking. "Appearances", and that physical processes aren't completely known. The thing is, we currently know enough to make a statement on this. To sit on the fence betrays your fear of the answer. Though the complexity of the human mind is so vast that it 'appears' that reason is manifest free from determined causes, that seems less and less to be the case. Unless you propose a way that quantum indeterminacy is carried upward into higher physical processes to eventually affect human reasoning. This is a weak line of reasoning unfortunately.



Sat Nov 07, 2009 6:51 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5860
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2320
Thanked: 2240 times in 1694 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: u
Interbane wrote:
Quote:
The physical processes cannot be completely known, so the question whether all action is caused or indeterminate cannot be answered. Thought appears to be free from the human perspective. The evolution of reason appears to introduce a radical indeterminacy in the universe in the form of human freedom.


Your word choices are all in line with orthodox thinking. "Appearances", and that physical processes aren't completely known. The thing is, we currently know enough to make a statement on this. To sit on the fence betrays your fear of the answer. Though the complexity of the human mind is so vast that it 'appears' that reason is manifest free from determined causes, that seems less and less to be the case. Unless you propose a way that quantum indeterminacy is carried upward into higher physical processes to eventually affect human reasoning. This is a weak line of reasoning unfortunately.


In philosophy, a distinction can be made between things in themselves as they actually are, known as noumena, and things as they appear to human perception, known as phenomena. Physics suggests that the noumenal reality of things in themselves is deterministic, the result of mass in motion. However, at the phenomenal level of perception, the world is in large part undeterministic, simply because we cannot know all the determining factors. Hence, even if by logic our lives are determined by causality, we appear to be free.



Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:13 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Moderator
Gold Contributor

Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 7076
Location: Da U.P.
Thanks: 1080
Thanked: 2079 times in 1667 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Quote:
Hence, even if by logic our lives are determined by causality, we appear to be free.


Right, but to be true to ourselves, we have to put this sentence on the spot. What I mean is, we must realize that when "we appear to be free", it is a false appearance, or at the very least does not reflect the truth. The objective truth must be distinguished from subjective appearances.

The contextual difference between noumena and phenomena seems to be used in this instance to obscure what is actually true, as a buffer for the discomfort of accepting the fact that we are not truly free. I respect that. I'd refer to Dennet again on this matter. I recently read a book of his entitled "Elbow Room; the varieties of free will worth wanting". It starts out accepting that we are in all likelihood not free as most people think we are, but then goes on to show that neither are we as robotic as the opposite of the concept suggests.



Sat Nov 07, 2009 8:26 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Graduate Student

Silver Contributor

Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 416
Location: Portland, OR
Thanks: 4
Thanked: 39 times in 32 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Quote:
Our oldest genes have been carried around the galaxy a dozen times by the gravity of the sun. If the sun is like a tree of life, then people are like its leaves.


Wow, this is awesome to think about. :) It gives me chills.



Sat Nov 07, 2009 9:32 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6437
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 1889
Thanked: 2097 times in 1584 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Interbane wrote:
I'd refer to Dennet again on this matter. I recently read a book of his entitled "Elbow Room; the varieties of free will worth wanting". It starts out accepting that we are in all likelihood not free as most people think we are, but then goes on to show that neither are we as robotic as the opposite of the concept suggests.

Another interesting discussion you two are having. It seems to me that all most of us want is the acknowledgement of some degree of freedom, not an assurance that we are not formed and influenced by forces beyond our control. We very clearly are products in a number of ways, and would we really want to have it any differently? When Robert used the term radical freedom, I don't think he meant to imply that this freedom is total or even very extensive, just that our human roots give us an ability to act and think in ways that could not ever be deduced from physical conditions that we know of. Supposedly, a goal of physics has been to reduce all actions, from the movements of history to a couple holding hands walking down the beach, to particles in motion. If we just knew enough about the behavior of these particles, if all their motions could be plotted, we could then see how all things are explainable by natural law and can be predicted. We'd have the theory of everything. But I hear that even the physicists now have come to doubt that a complete physical explanation of the universe is possible. Stuart Kauffman talks about all this his books on complexity theory.



Sat Nov 07, 2009 10:28 pm
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 13 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average. 



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Forum Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Be a Book Discussion Leader!

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Great resource pages are coming!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
How To Promote Your Book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank