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From The Best Schools: Seeing Past Darwin I: The Machine Metaphor

 

Flagellum

This is the first in a new series exploring post-Darwinian thinking in contemporary biology. This post sketches in some background by discussing the shortcomings of the machine metaphor, which is an essential feature of Darwinian thinking: Here.

The gradual crumbling of the Darwinian consensus, and the rise of a new theoretical outlook in biology is one of the most significant but underreported news stories of our time.*

It’s a scandal that science journalists have been so slow to pick up on this story. For, make no mistake about it, the story is huge. In science, they don’t come any bigger.

More.

The legacy media don’t pick up on it because – in an unrelated series of events – they are seriously declining too.

To them, the important story is circling the wagons, not why is it happening, what changes does the future bring, or how to adapt.

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4 Responses to From The Best Schools: Seeing Past Darwin I: The Machine Metaphor

  1. I am very confused…Don’t Intelligent design advocates also appeal to the machine metaphor?

  2. ForJah,

    I guess you have not read the article.

    Contrasting old outlook on biological reality:
    – Machines are not mysterious
    – Organisms are machines
    – Therefore, organisms are not mysterious
    With the new metaphor:
    – Machines have to be assembled by an external intelligence
    – Living systems are literally machines
    – Therefore, living systems have to be assembled by an external intelligence

    Author makes a point that old paradigm presupposes life phenomenon but does not explain it.

    I just do not agree with author’s blanket statement in the opening of the article “organisms are not machines, they are intelligent agents.” Furthermore it also contradicts much of his own statements about Intelligence Agency.

  3. For Jah

    It is unescapable that molecular machines are ubiquitous within living organisms. This is not a metaphor but just a plain fact. Machines, like the bacterial flagelum, the ATP synthase, the ribosome…
    These are machines because
    -they perform a function
    -the way they do it can be described as an algorithm
    -they are made from without in a parts assembly process.

    According to Barbieri (The Organic Codes), even proteins must be conceived as artefacts because they are buit up by assemby of different aminoacids in a process performed by other molecular machines according to prescriptive information in the cell. They are also made “from without” (Barbieri´s terme)

    But machines as a metaphor does not apply to living organisms considered as a whole- It might apply from the point of viewt hat they are made of parts and that the whole performs a work or a function or just moves around…
    But the organism as a whole is not made of parts assembled directly by an external agent. It is built up from within. Parts and whole become means and end, one to eachother as Kant said. There is the potential in the seed to become a tree; no need of external help.
    And even more important, a living being is an agent that moves for a purpose as the article clearly states. The machine metaphor is not sufficient to describe the organism as a whole.
    Agency and purpose are more compelling arguments in favor of an intelligent and intentional causation than were the traditional machine-like arguments deployed by the natural theology of the 18th century.

  4. I’ve got a random-chance unit instead of a brain, and one day, I’m a going to create a whole nother new universe. You’ll see!

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