Modality-Independent Evolution

X99Lynx at X99Lynx at
Tue Feb 2 07:32:42 UTC 1999

I wrote:
<<In between the old and new - there is much more that goes on in biology.  A
word, not being an entity or a species, does not have to go through natural
selection to emerge differently.>>

In a message dated 2/1/99 10:54:13 PM, DLW wrote:
<<I was not talking about words, I was talking about languages.>>

Without trying to obstruct or snipe, the parallel is still tough to draw.
Evolution's "method" is random change.  It would be equivalent to generating
thousands of random languages that could not survive (that don't work to
communicate) in order to get one that does.  It would be the equivalent of
untold numbers of random versions of, say, German that were tried and dropped
before getting a version that survived.  (And then immediately starting the
process all over again.)

That was my point with saying that culture and language are Lamarckian.  There
is intentionality that guides them.  Intention guides change in a very
different, much less explosive but much less wasteful way.  Language is aimed
at an objective - communication.  Biological evolution however has no
objective, does not care where its going, it just goes.  The piece in
Scientific American I mentioned earlier is a good example of the difference.
The biochemists let natural selection loose in a test tube and it comes up
with molecular combinations "that they could not have made themselves."  The
process is very creative but very wasteful - all of the combinations but a
very few are useless.

<<Sometimes in order to tell whether a road is a dead-end, you have to go down

Also some of the best scenery.  But you're right.  I may not have a good sense
of where you will end up.  Sorry for "snipping."

Steve Long

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