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Thread: Has natural selection been aborted?

  1. #1 Has natural selection been aborted? 
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    Has natural selection been aborted?

    I would say that natural selection, i.e. evolution, has taken a dramatic turn since the birth of human consciousness. Natural selection produced the human species and the human species has derailed natural selection. World wide the species that survive, including the human species, depends upon human created meaning and no longer upon natural selection.

    We have become meaning creating creatures and have developed a high tech society that overwhelms the process of natural selection. The selection of what species will survive in the future no longer depends upon the process of natural selection but depends upon the process of human meaning creation.

    Who am I? Of what value is my life? The child, when asking these questions, is saying that s/he wants to be recognized as an object of value. S/he wants to know how well s/he measures up as a hero.

    Freud saw that the underlying foundation for these feelings and ambitions was the “utter self-centeredness and self-preoccupation, each person’s feeling that he is the one in creation, that his life represents all life” he tallied all this up and labeled it narcissism. Nietzsche saw this healthy expression as one of the “Will to Power” and glory.

    This represents the “inevitable drive to cosmic heroism by the animal who had become man.”

    Culture provides the vehicle for heroic action directed toward strengthening self-esteem. The task of the ego is to navigate through the culture in such a way as to diminish anxiety, and the ego does this by learning “to chose actions that are satisfying and bring praise rather than blame…Therefore, if the function of self-esteem is to give the ego a steady buffer against anxiety, wherever and whenever it might be imagined, one crucial function of culture is to make continued self-esteem possible.

    Culture’s task is “to provide the individual with the conviction that he is an object of primary value in a world of meaningful action.”


    The cultural hero system whether religious, primitive, or scientific is “still a mythical hero-system in which people serve in order to earn a feeling of primary value, of cosmic specialness, of ultimate usefulness to creation, of unshakable meaning. They earn this feeling by carving out a place in nature, by building an edifice that reflects human value: a temple, a cathedral, a totem pole, a skyscraper, a family that spans three generations.”

    How does the American culture perform its task?

    I claim that the maximization of production and consumption is the principal means for the satisfaction of self-esteem for its citizens. It is through the active participation as a member of a community that strives constantly to maximize the production and consumption of goods that the American citizen best satisfies his or her drive for “cosmic action”.

    We are all captives of our cultural systems. Whether the cultural system dictates the stoning of one’s sister for destroying family honor or a system that finds cosmic heroism through a process that maximizes the rate at which we consume our planet.

    Our culture is constructed from the meaning that we create. The future of our species and of all life is dependent upon our comprehension of our self and how we use that comprehension in developing a better meaning structure than we have done so far.


    Quotes from The Birth and Death of Meaning Ernest Becker


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    Forum Junior Artemis's Avatar
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    I don't believe Natural selection had been aborted completely. Nature still has some influance even on us humans.

    It's true that with technology we have a lot of control on for example the health of (other) humans. Yet people with a genetic disadvantage such as a dissease have to fight harder for their lives. Eventualy many of those disadvantages may dissapear because of people not reproducing or not being able to reproduce. Evolution and genetic change is still possible, isn't it?

    So it's true that there has been dramatic change, but even with technology we will always be bound to the laws of nature and will never get everything under control. Or so I think.


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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Natural selection is alive and well and functioning exactly as it always has. The only thing that humanity has done is to alter the environment in which the natural selection is taking place.
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    What is different now is technology. Technology has given extraordinary power to ordinary people. With this power we determine what species live or die and with this power humans live longer and without death that would normally happen with less technology. It is quite possible that we will destroy our species and perhaps all life on this planet because we are not sophisticated enough to manage this great power that we have created.

    What required millions of years humans can now destroy or achieve in years. Natural selection has no time in which to exercise control.
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    Quote Originally Posted by coberst
    What is different now is technology. Technology has given extraordinary power to ordinary people. With this power we determine what species live or die and with this power humans live longer and without death that would normally happen with less technology. It is quite possible that we will destroy our species and perhaps all life on this planet because we are not sophisticated enough to manage this great power that we have created.

    What required millions of years humans can now destroy or achieve in years. Natural selection has no time in which to exercise control.
    Technology is not necessarily different in kind these days - just quantitatively. The control of fire, the building of dams, the co-ordination of swarms, all of these are various evolved technologies with great powers, and only one of them, for instance, is a human one.

    More importantly, despite the claims of the nuclear future or global warming etc, none of our technology comes close to the power of the meteor strike that most likely wiped out most of the dinosaurs 65-68 mya. And mammals survived that.

    So even more destructive power than 'technology' has been wielded in that past, and has caused mass extinctions, and life is still here, and evolution still keeps chugging along.

    I'm with John Galt on this one.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    natural selection is at its most active when there's differential mortality and/or reproduction, so even though our current technology softens its effects somewhat, natural selection is still about

    a few of its most recognisable contributions :

    sickle cell anemia in malaria areas
    gradual build-up of resistance mechanisms against AIDS as the less resistant in africa die
    the average brain size of humans is now about 200cc smaller than in the neolithic, possibly the result of self-domestication
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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    We could call natural selection, intellectual selection.

    Intelligence denies natures course.

    How would we call the next evolution?

    Just being speculative.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope mitchellmckain's Avatar
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    Natural selection for the survival of the fittest is only one part of the process of evolution - the evolution of the individual. But it is quite apparent that there MUST be another part of the process or we would have no multi-cellular organisms. At one or more points in the process of evolution individuals learned to work together in communities protecting the weaker members of the community. This is actually a stimulus in the process of evolution because it allows for greater variation in the individual than is allowed by the competition of individuals alone. Communities have have their own advantages for by means of specialization the community can accomplish far more through the cooperative effort of technology than individuals can accomplish by themselves.

    There is no doubt that the human gene pool is degrading with respect to the survival of the fittest individuals but this is in exchange for something that is much more valuable, for as we learn to compensate for biological weaknesses of the individual, our technological capabilitites are increasing. Meanwhile, liberation from the constraints of the requirements of individual survival allows for much greater variation of the individual and thus for greater specialization and thus for more advance technological innovation. We are in the midst of the next stage of human evolution.
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    Abilites that, I must point out, are driven by the most intelligent members of society. A select few by comparison to the overwhelming majority of highschool dropouts or college dropouts, or those that don't go to college. Surivival of the fittest is the sole reason the fittest are carrying the unfit. The unfit serve no purpose in society other than to drain our resources and give little (to nothing) of true value in return.

    Ultimately, survival of the fittest (or eugenics) is the only way humanity can improve.
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    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    natural selection is all about differential reproductive success - it's therefore rather ironic that it's the feckless and uneducated who leave most offspring, whereas the intellectual elite hardly reproduce at all

    taking this logic to its extreme one would have to conclude that intellectual prowess does not necessarily have the survival value that we like to think it has
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    Abilites that, I must point out, are driven by the most intelligent members of society. A select few by comparison to the overwhelming majority of highschool dropouts or college dropouts, or those that don't go to college. Surivival of the fittest is the sole reason the fittest are carrying the unfit. The unfit serve no purpose in society other than to drain our resources and give little (to nothing) of true value in return.

    Ultimately, survival of the fittest (or eugenics) is the only way humanity can improve.
    You are misinterpreting survival of the fittest.

    Fitness is not measured in skills we would commonly consider to be "fit", but rather just in the ability to promote the propagation of ones genes. The most fit is the one who produces the most offspring who survive to reproduce.

    Higher intelligence isn't necessarily a benefit under all situations.

    Natural selection is live and well, artificial selection is also maybe acting a lot. Even though we have the ability to alter our environment, our environment is still acting on us.

    More influential on humans in recent history though is the exceptional speed of cultural evolution.
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    Fitness is not measured in skills we would commonly consider to be "fit", but rather just in the ability to promote the propagation of ones genes. The most fit is the one who produces the most offspring who survive to reproduce.
    Intelligence typically facilitates that the most. It was the spear throwers, not those still using brute strength, that survived. It was those using the bow, the sword, and so on. Intelligence has been a costant driving force in the later parts of human survival. So yes, FITTEST.

    Natural selection is live and well, artificial selection is also maybe acting a lot. Even though we have the ability to alter our environment, our environment is still acting on us.
    I'm not saying it isn't. I'm saying what it's selecting is highly inferior to what it was 15,000 years ago.
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    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius

    Intelligence typically facilitates that the most. It was the spear throwers, not those still using brute strength, that survived. It was those using the bow, the sword, and so on. Intelligence has been a costant driving force in the later parts of human survival. So yes, FITTEST.
    However, arguably natural selection would favour the individual who is just smart enough to fling the spear and be content with his life as a spear-flinger, while disfavouring the one who would rather ponder the meaning of existence.

    The prominent theory of the origin for inflated human intelligence is intra-species competition. We evolved enough intelligence to be good at spear flinging, which quickly lead to very little selective pressure from the environment as a result of habitat domination. So, gaining mates became much more important to human fitness than surviving long enough to mate. Thus, maybe being smarter made you better at getting mates.

    Another theory is that it is due to sexual selection, and high intelligence could just be a signal for a lack of brain damage! Thus, more intelligent people are more attractive mates. Sexual selection tends to produce evolutionary patterns that spin out of control.
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    However, arguably natural selection would favour the individual who is just smart enough to fling the spear and be content with his life as a spear-flinger, while disfavouring the one who would rather ponder the meaning of existence.
    You just made a reductio ad absurdum fallacy (reduction to absurdity). An intelligent person would NOT sit around pondering existence while getting spears thrown at him. Your interpretation if intelligence leaves much to be desired.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    However, arguably natural selection would favour the individual who is just smart enough to fling the spear and be content with his life as a spear-flinger, while disfavouring the one who would rather ponder the meaning of existence.
    You just made a reductio ad absurdum fallacy (reduction to absurdity). An intelligent person would NOT sit around pondering existence while getting spears thrown at him. Your interpretation if intelligence leaves much to be desired.
    Not thrown at him, but instead of throwing them at animals. Moreover, I wasn't implying an intelligent person would not hunt, but would perhaps be less content to spend everyday hunting, which was likely the condition for early hominids. Moreover, a larger brain requires a significant investment in nutrients.



    Now looking at trends in EQ (encephalisation quotient)(an indicator of intelligence), you can see that the earlier hominids showed an upwards trend in brain development, but there is a huge leap forward between us and habilis. Presumably, something happened some time during the evolution of humans that favoured a massive increase in intelligence in a relatively short period. Mere increased success in hunting doesn't seem probable.
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  17. #16  
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    natural selection is happening FASTER because of humans

    for example, domestic living and medicine aids long life... plenty of food, security and free time means breeding. Long life and breeding means, more breeding. Of course the equation is not this simple, there is birth control and MANY social factors. Despite this the population increases constantly, not up and down in a cycle like in the wild.

    factory farms are a great breeding ground for bacteria, that is where we get all this bird flu and swine flu

    such an environment that chickens are raised in is perfect for the evolution of bacteria and virus
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  18. #17  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    I'm not saying it isn't. I'm saying what it's selecting is highly inferior to what it was 15,000 years ago.
    You appear not to understand the process of evolution, nor the meaning of fittest. Your judgement that inferior characteristics are being selected for is a personal opinion as to what is inferior and what is superior. Natural selection does not have an opinion. The fittest, regardless of your view of the quality of their characteristics, tend to survive and reproduce. The less fit, regardless of your view etc, tend not to survive and reproduce.
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  19. #18  
    Forum Ph.D. Darius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Quote Originally Posted by Darius
    I'm not saying it isn't. I'm saying what it's selecting is highly inferior to what it was 15,000 years ago.
    You appear not to understand the process of evolution, nor the meaning of fittest.
    Oh here we go again. Another lesson in your own language? You force my hand. The strict biological meaning of fittest is certainly bland, this I know. In fact, usually, I take fittest to mean, well, objectively fit rather than the subjective biological term. See here: "Successfully adapted to survive and produce viable offspring in a particular environment."

    As for "not understanding evolution", that would be pretty hilarious for my occupation.

    Your judgement that inferior characteristics are being selected for is a personal opinion as to what is inferior and what is superior.
    Oh that Darius, always coming to snap judgements without a moments thought. He most certainly has no massive logical framework for checking objectivity. Yes, I have a personal opinion, but it's an accurate one. Labeling it as a personal opinion in no way invalidates it.

    Natural selection does not have an opinion. The fittest, regardless of your view of the quality of their characteristics, tend to survive and reproduce. The less fit, regardless of your view etc, tend not to survive and reproduce.
    I never argued this. I did argue, however, that the resultant biologically "fit" today are vastly inferior to 15,000 years ago (objectively). Funny how "fit" has multiple meanings and you chose to stick to one to create a straw man argument against me. Personal vendetta much?
    Om mani padme hum

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  20. #19  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Thank you for demonstrating that you do not understand either language or evolution or logic. I won't waste my time on you anymore. You are on ignore.
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  21. #20  
    Forum Ph.D. Darius's Avatar
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    Om mani padme hum

    "In dishonorable things we are not bound to obey any man." - The Book of the Courtier [1561], pg 99 (144 in pdf)
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  22. #21  
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    This was a topic for a term paper in Anthropology - what is it doing here in Philosophy? It is a valid science question.

    Natural Selection of humans has indeed been put on big-time hold in the G8 countries: we have hospitals, cities, services! We don't live out in the natural world, eking our own living off of the land day by day.

    Once you leave nature behind, you are no longer part of Natural Selection. In my home office, typing on my computer, I don't have to worry or even prepare for a predator ambush, an invasion to take my resources, where the next meal is coming from, etc.

    If I get sick, I don't have to depend on my immune system alone to save me. I can gun up the heat and have access to medications I could never obtain out in nature.

    Humans in cities have entirely entered the realm of basically self-guided selection. What will we call it when we manage to replace our bodies and become like HG Welles' martians, swapping them for the job at hand?
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