Quote note (#266)

It is surely a crucial (and inadequately acknowledged) feature of Darwin’s The Origin of Species that its point of departure is artificial selection, which might also be described as primordial technology, or the foundation of material civilization. Natural selection acquires definition through comparison with the (predominantly unconscious) process of domestication, or cultivation. This is the transitional paragraph (from Chapter IV):

As man can produce, and certainly has produced, a great result by his methodical and unconscious means of selection, what may not natural selection effect? Man can act only on external and visible characters: Nature, if I many be allowed to personify the natural preservation or survival of the fittest, cares nothing for appearances, except in so far as they are useful to any being. She can act on every internal organ, on every shade of constitutional difference, on the whole machinery of life. Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends. Every selected character is fully exercised by her, as is implied by the fact of their selection. Man keeps the natives of many climates in the same country; he seldom exercises each selected character in some peculiar and fitting manner; he feeds a long- and short-beaked pigeon on the same food; he does not exercise a long-backed or long-legged quadruped in any peculiar manner; he exposes sheep with long and short wool to the same climate. He does not allow the most vigorous males to struggle for the females. He does not rigidly destroy all inferior animals, but protects during each varying season, as far as lies in his power, all his productions. He often begins his selection from some half-monstrous form; or at least by some modification prominent enough to catch the eye or to be plainly useful to him. Under Nature, the slightest difference of structure or constitution may well turn the nicely balanced scale in the struggle for life, and so be preserved. How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will be his results, compared with those accumulated by Nature during whole geological periods! Can we wonder, then, that Natures productions should be far “truer” in character than man’s productions; that they should be infinitely better adapted to the most complex conditions of life, and should plainly bear the stamp of far higher workmanship?

July 10, 2016admin 22 Comments »
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22 Responses to this entry

  • Brett Stevens Says:

    Nature has broader scope than human intent, just as reality is wider than human perception. Sounds like original sin in another form.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 10th, 2016 at 11:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • wu-wei Says:

    >Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends. Every selected character is fully exercised by her, as is implied by the fact of their selection

    The difference being that Nature’s “natural” selection cannot be escaped. Man may “artificially” select for specific traits, disregarding the non-visible or irrelevant characteristics; regardless, Nature’s selection is always and everywhere acting, even on that unseen or otherwise ignored by man.

    (Natural) selection is conserved, perhaps…?

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    Posted on July 10th, 2016 at 11:29 pm Reply | Quote
  • prof. Challenger Says:

    … which goes long way to show an Universal Darwinism is entirely incompatible with a General Cladistics.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Even the most general cladistics is evidently incomplete (although highly informative in respect to gross structures of descent).

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    prof. Challenger Reply:

    Is it? Beyond the particular case of tracing Harvard and Yale’s intellectual lineages to Mama England?

    It seems to me that the idea of cladistics generates more misses than hits. If I’ve been reading xenosystems correctly, that’s how you got the alt-right movement going.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Cladistics is nothing but a speciation — or hardfork — ledger (and much speciation is still needed).

    Sloganized cladistics: “Split!”

    wu-wei Reply:

    Calvinism -> “Enlightenment” -> American (& French) revolutionary thought -> Burke (old) whiggery -> American-style Republicanism -> fully-mature Massachusetts-derived frothing crazy insane puritanism -> Mugwumps -> Muckrakers, early 20th-century communists & progressives (scientific socialists) -> FDR brain-trusts + foundations -> New-Left(!) -> modern-conceived “liberalism” & “centrism” -> most (95%~) of the “Alt-Right”.

    I’m probably mangling this and offended a lot people in the process, someone else could likely do it better. Either way, I think there’s certainly a limit to how far you can stretch the metaphor, but it provides a useful generalization regardless. It certainly helps explain a fair bit.

    Neon Gene Sys Eva Angel Lion Reply:

    i call it e.g. ideo-genealogy, Nietzsche called it ‘genealogy of morals’, and Arthur Lovejoy simply the history of ideas.

    speaking of which, this chart of Annie Besant*s activities is a must see:
    https://oneirradiatedwatson.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/mapping-the-cathedral-one-annie-besant/

    * name almost comes out like ‘A Beast’ to me after seeing this chart. a veritable (anti-)Christ.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 10th, 2016 at 11:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • michael Says:

    “He often begins his selection from some half-monstrous form; or at least by some modification prominent enough to catch the eye or to be plainly useful to him. Under Nature, the slightest difference of structure or constitution may well turn the nicely balanced scale in the struggle for life, and so be preserved. How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will be his results, compared with those accumulated by Nature during whole geological periods”
    I think Darwins arguing against transhumanist futurism always suspected he was a nazi

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    Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 2:28 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    If artificial selection is animal husbandry, is natural selection animal wifery?

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    Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 2:29 am Reply | Quote
  • michael Says:

    seriously we havnt nearly caught up with our last edit tech and are on to the next it

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 2:32 am Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    ‘Can we wonder, then, that Natures productions should be far “truer” in character than man’s productions;’

    Nature production or man’s production both have to pass Nature survival test and in that way both products not much different, man [arter all] a part of Nature too.

    Perhaps here Darwin trying to point out on the fact that our understanding of nature not so natural. For example in classical physics, dynamics of the world determenistic, but we know that there is randomnes and spontanuety, so Nature cannot be determenistic. Taking in consideration this intellectual artificiality ‘Natures production schould be far “truer” indeed.

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    Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 8:43 am Reply | Quote
  • Quint Essential Says:

    How fleeting are the wishes and efforts of man! how short his time! and consequently how poor will be his results, compared with those accumulated by Nature during whole geological periods!

    So, Mr. Darwin, are we to do nothing then? Of all Man’s faults, the constant struggle for improvement is likely the least harmful.

    If Nature knows best, why start at all?

    Darwin tells us why Nature’s wishes (he personified her first, after all) should be considered else we perish. But it cannot be the final answer, can it?

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    SVErshov Reply:

    in the time of Darwin world view was pessimistic. from dynamical point of view everything is predetermined and nothing new can happen. from thermo-dynamic point of view heat dissipates and everything goes to thermal-death. So his arguments often can be seen as contrarian to dominated determinism.

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    michael Reply:

    wow just wow youre a progressive or Im missing the sarc.

    The constant struggle for improvement, as you so generously term it, is exactly what has harmed us, it has outraced our biological reality.What Darwin is telling you is you are messing with a machine infinitely more complex than you can ever know.simply taking these animals humans from hunter gatherer tribes to agriculturally supported nations of cities has put them on the brink.And set trait against trait.Since nature is not conscious it doesn’t care, but you will.Anyone wishing to mitigate the damage done, and turn a blunder into a win ought to think about re aligning mans society to his nature not vice versa.Of course wise men have been saying this for thousands of years.
    They are not Natures ‘wishes” they are they are the primal forces of nature Mr Beal and you are proposing to meddle with them.You Imagine some passing familiarity with the little codes one of your hipster faggot friends thought up qualifies you tinker

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    Quint Essential Reply:

    Too much vitriol here, but I’ll take a stab.

    I was raised progressive, so perhaps my modes of speaking seem similar to them. That is not of no consequence, but I think it’s irrelevant right now. Rather than final answer, I think I meant “complete”.

    Continuing on my previous line of thought (perhaps with more stable foundations), I don’t propose to upend nature’s hierarchy, or completely defy Nature’s wishes (primal forces, the same thing, Darwin personified it first). I’m uninterested in making man not be something he is*. Stronger, faster, smarter; these things would not be “bad” if nature, or effort, was the source, so why “meddling”?

    Perhaps there is the crux. Man’s time is limited, and short, as Darwin said. So, is accelerating nature permitted by the Darwinists?

    I’ve always been too curious, perhaps. Random, unknowable, incomprehensible, I care not for these terms. Everything tangible is finite, our thoughts necessarily so too. The infinite doesn’t physically exist, and is merely an abstraction, though sometimes useful. I will concede that there is perhaps too much information for one man to reasonably “know”, but that can be remedied (eve if that means “collecting” until the heat death).

    *Digression: If that sounds laboured, it is. Distinction between making man something he isn’t (permissible, at least in part) vs. making man not be something he is (cladistically, I mean).

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    michael Reply:

    Nothing personal. Honestly anyone interested in human organization is, if they are honest looking for improvement of some sort.My point and i think Darwins is what I think is the only thing everyone on the right agrees on; there will be consequences.The fence has a purpose whether we know it or not.

    You can not separate the cause and the effect.you cant pinpoint initial conditions, and we have no idea why 99.9999999 percent of theses genes are here.but if we did it wouldn’t help.dynamic systems can not be predicted.
    Would even smarter necessarily be a good thing? There’s a pretty good case to be made its our intelligence that will be our undoing or is already our undoing.Our egos which evolved for a different purpose are making us demand to be the instigators of change and change fast enough for our satisfaction of watching our creation but wisdom would dictate these human improvements be carried out at the pace Darwin gives nature.The critique of leftism is it ignores realities constraints then ignores reality itself.

    The biological realities of humans we know very little about except they were forged in the crucible of time and have worked against long odds till now. But very recently man has been able to influence his own design subconsciously. His cultures developed to strengthen winning strategies have began to exert selection pressure themselves in a feedback loop. Right there 5-10-20,000 years ago was a very precarious leap. We have a biological entity at odds with itself to an extent we can not ascertain and recently partially selected for an environment that is synthetic out survival may depend on an environment we can not maintain.But it gets worse we have been constantly and increasingly tinkering with this environment and ourselves as a consequence.Until just at the point we could destroy the planet in numerous ways with our technology we decide that man is a blank slate upon which any code could be written ironically we simultaneously discover the actual code and the process by which it is actually written which we promptly ignore.
    We have now a situation where we have no idea what all those buttons we pushed do, But have now discovered the hard drive CRSPR and think we ought to play around with it like some Idaho boy with a OBD tuner on his pickup truck.Humans have instincts for justice war greed altruism envy hunger, hundreds thousands some developed for one period some another some syncretic some antagonistic all blind to the fact they are stimulated now by entirely different stimuli than they were developed for. Id be lying if I didnt admit I too would like to redesign the world and imagine i could do better, we all do, humans are engineers. But part of being an adult is not messing with the family truck.

    wu-wei Reply:

    I read it as Darwin just trying to square his revolutionary insight within silly post-Calvinist idealism, a product of his time and culture. Strip his writing of the nonsense Calvinism, and we’re left with the fundamental insight of Natural Selection.

    I can see the allegory created through comparing intervention-of-man selection (either of the artificial breeding or trans-human variety) with progressivism: city on the hill, millennialism, etc.; but, there’s a flip side to that as well. How is deifying the “Natural” component of selection any less idealistic, really? Take that line of thought far enough, and you get right back to the Noble Savage.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 9:12 am Reply | Quote
  • michael Says:

    @
    and crispr same sex marriage?

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    Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 12:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Barbauk Says:

    The moment of departure:

    Genesis 2:20:

    “LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.”

    Before you do technology, you must understand, and before you understand you must name.

    Am I going too far back, or does this capture (at least in part) the split between the West and the East?

    Were the names of animals / things in China or Greece given by the gods or by man?

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 4:52 pm Reply | Quote
  • anonyme Says:

    In February 1858 a then little-known bird and insect collector named Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) was struck with a startling revelation while fending off an attack of malaria in the Moluccas. As soon as the fit passed he prepared an essay on the idea – natural selection – and sent it off to a man he figured would be interested in the concept: Charles Darwin.

    In it he announced his discovery of natural selection, which coincided with Darwin’s. Part of his description of the struggle for existence is interesting:

    “The action of this principle (the struggle for existence) is exactly like that of the steam engine, which checks and corrects any irregularities almost before they become evident; and in like manner no unbalanced deficiency in the animal kingdom can ever reach any conspicuous magnitude, because it would make itself felt at the very first step, by rendering existence difficult and extinction almost sure to follow.”

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 11th, 2016 at 9:13 pm Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2016/07/17) - Social Matter Says:

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