quote:That was why I put "rules" in inverted commas Stephen, implying that "decision making" by genes and memes is outwith the control of the organism.
The mysticism crept into Darwinian philosophy always makes me chuckle. "decision making" by genes? And what is in the definition of meme that isn't just foisting a Darwinian scheme onto an older phrase like "influential idea"?
quote:One of the reasons I have reservations about full blown Darwinism is that the self awareness that comes with what we call civilisation substantially increases the chances of repeated host/gene conflict, and, as I understand it, natural selection assumes that an organism will be driven by the interests of its genes.
I think you are describing the newer forms of Darwinism (a' la Dawkins et al) which have more than a bit of mysticism thrown in. Natural selction, in the purest Darwinian sense, assumes nothing. It wouldn't matter if self-awareness was in conflict with human survival any more than it would matter if a third wing on a fly rendered its particular genes doomed to extinction. Remember that Darwinism in its most basic form, states that the origin of species is nothing but a series of fortuitous flukes (random mutations that happened to work). Even big dogs like Stephen Jay Gould say that genes aren't "trying" to get anywhere. By saying such, people are only smuggling in a telos or design mentality from another worldview altogether (Judeo-Christian Theism most prominently). So that trifle shouldn't give you reservations about Darwinism, since the irony or absurdity of it wouldn't bother Darwinism in the least.
But, having said that, I think there are other things that should give you pause in regard to Darwinism. These 'other things' are the lack of scientific evidence for macroevolution, and the enormities of difficulty that increased knowledge of micro-biology have presented us with, in regard to the origin of species.
I do think it's quite amusing that somebody who presumably subscribes to the theology expounded by the principal christian churches uses the word "mysticism" in relation to what Dawkins has tried to do to Darwinism.
Still, I agree with much of what you say. Perhaps I might not have used the same words, but it comes down to the same thing. By "full blown" Darwinism I did indeed mean "modern" Darwinism - I suppose I use "pure", as in original, when I mean the Origin of Species. And I have to admit that it is rare now that I think of "Darwinism" in that pure way, having, I suppose, been influenced (brainwashed even) by the contemporary usage of Darwin's ideas to try to found a kind of new philosophy.
And it's interesting that you mention the importing of a design mentality from, more generally, Dawkins would probably claim, a monotheistic view of the world. I visited Down House couple of years ago and got talking to one of the curators who had just read the newly published God Delusion. He was saying much the same thing as you, except he went further, being somewhat partisan, to say that Darwin would have been astonished and amused by the irony of the way in which his ideas had, not so much been mysticised, as popularised and "developed" to serve a cause.
All of which modifications, discussions and later refinements are the only things which really interest me about Darwinism, because the original theory, while no doubt revolutionary at the time of course, is altogether too broad brush and neatly explanatory of "everything" to appeal to my need to see conflict and complexity. Which is why new biological (as opposed to philosophical) challenges to Darwin's original theories don't surprise me in the least, I would expect them. Yet I have a feeling, that modern day Darwinists will continue to have "no problem" accommodating new science into their theories by increasing their complexity, or, as you would say, their mysticism! Pretty soon in fact, after they've shifted their ground a few more times to take account of new Truth, there will be little to choose between the scientific atheist and theists or deists for mysticism.