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Ch. 5: Getting Ahead
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Ch. 5: Getting Ahead

Ch. 5: Getting Ahead

Please use this thread for discussing Ch. 5: Getting Ahead.

Author:  Saffron [ Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Built upon ancient ground

For me, one of the take aways from Neil Shubin's book, is a new (new to me - never studied the discipline of history and am not familiar with the theories of doing history) understanding of how to look back in time and piece together how something came to be. I think it is especially pertinent to the study of cultural history.

Shubin uses two examples in Chapter 5 to explain why a body system in a more complex organism can look higgedy piggedy; the remodeling of the 100 year old building that housed his research lab and the comparison of the cranial nerves in sharks and humans. New structures are built from pre-existing ones (pre-adaptations). When I read this chapter I couldn't help but think of all those streets that stop and start again some where down the road or across town. How confusing these streets interrupted are when trying to give someone directions. It has always seemed like poor planning on someones part. I never stopped to consider that at some point in the past these streets interrupted must have connected. The changing needs of a community or change in modes of transportation create these adjustments. There really is no way to anticipate accurately how to layout your roads so they will not need to be altered in time. The town I work in has a wonderful example of this. Year ago a circular road was planned that would completely ring the town of Leesburg. Through the years about 2/3 of the road have been completed. The population and transportation needs are so different now that the circular road in no longer practical and will never be completed. Not only that, so many things have changed and grown up on the remaining land that would have been the road bed, that it no longer practical.

Ok, here is the leap to cultural history. Take the Adam and Eve story from Genesis. The elements were borrowed from a much older mythology. Taken apart and compared to the earlier version you can see how the parts from the earlier version were co-oped, rearranged to produce a whole new meaning using old symbols.
If anyone is interested - I am pulling this information from a book called:
Reinventing Eve by Kim Chernin.

To be continued - life calls!

Author:  DWill [ Sat Jun 07, 2008 4:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hi Saffron,
I want to also use your example as a parallel to evolution, without of course implying that the processes are the same. The road configuration and the plan of the head don't in fact reflect planning at all, do you think? They both seem to be jumbles that work--well, fortunately the head works a lot better than the roads in Leesburg. But each of them seem to show the effect of contingencies rather than foresight. I'm a lot clearer, though, about how the planners attempted to address future traffic needs than I am about how evolution did its thing. I'm a human, so I'm sure that's why.
DWill

Author:  President Camacho [ Sat Jun 07, 2008 5:51 pm ]
Post subject: 

I like how the body always tries to use what it already has. It's thrifty in that sense. If there is a need (by way of success through competitive advantage) for ears that hear out of water, then the body uses the bones it already has and does a little "interior re-decorating". It's amazing.

Unfortunately, this has left the nerve system in something of a jumble. I wonder if we can find a way to rearrange it and help nature.

Author:  yodha [ Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:46 am ]
Post subject: 

DWill wrote:
I want to also use your example as a parallel to evolution, without of course implying that the processes are the same. The road configuration and the plan of the head don't in fact reflect planning at all, do you think? They both seem to be jumbles that work--well, fortunately the head works a lot better than the roads in Leesburg. But each of them seem to show the effect of contingencies rather than foresight.

Foresight is an interesting word to bring about into a discussion of evolution and evolutionary biology. Any living being with a brain, can be divided into its body and its mind. One is a physical entity and the other is non-physical and exists only if the physical entity it thrives on is living. (I could say that the mind/thought is a parasite of the brain :D ) Anyway, it is the mind which can even attempt foresight -- to see ahead requires thinking, planning and memory. The basic thesis from evolution of the body is that it doesn't have foresight, hence the weird structures and older baggage in the architecture of the bodies of all beings.

Author:  Saffron [ Fri Jun 13, 2008 4:25 am ]
Post subject: 

Yodha wrote:
Quote:
The basic thesis from evolution of the body is that it doesn't have foresight, hence the weird structures and older baggage in the architecture of the bodies of all beings.


Sometimes it seems that we humans and urban/ town planner included, don't have much in the way of foresight either!

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