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Darwin and sexual selection

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jul 2018 at 21:45
The individual organism will sacrifice itself for sexual selection, whereas natural selection seems to be a selfish proposition of survival of the individual.  What is sexual selection in humans but culture?  I am not really sure that culture is a subset of nature and natural selection.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2018 at 05:20
Quote "After the fact, 'Oh we didn't mean that,' does not make up for it.  It is interesting to hear that maybe Darwin himself did not fall into that nihilistic, deterministic trap.  "

If Darwin doesn't fit into the deterministic, reductionist school then it's probably bc of the idea that there is an "engineer" in the garden :)Darwin was not out of line with the Church Fathers when he suggests a growing, evolving world. Origen, Thomas Aquinas and Augustine...highly conservative religious groups just refused to even entertain the idea.


St. Augustine of Hippo, a bishop in North Africa during the early fifth century, was another central figure of the period. Although he is widely known for Confessions, Augustine authored dozens of other works, several of which focus on Genesis 1–2.2 In The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Augustine argues that the first two chapters of Genesis are written to suit the understanding of the people at that time.In order to communicate in a way that all people could understand, the creation story was told in a simpler, allegorical fashion. Augustine also believed God created the world with the capacity to develop, a view that is harmonious with biological evolution.4
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Jul 2018 at 01:25
A satyr was traveling with a man, and when they stopped, the man was blowing into his hands.  The satyr asked him what he was doing.  The man said, "I am warming my hands."  Later on, when they had stopped for dinner, the man started blowing on his tea, the satyr again asked what he was doing, the man said, "I am cooling my tea."  The satyr decided to leave his traveling companion, when the man asked why, the satyr said, "I could never be friends with someone so inconstant."

Natural selection says that organisms are designed and act for self-preservation, but when an organism acts in a self-destructive manner, it is called sexual selection which according to evolutionary biologists is a subset of natural selection.  So a male black widow giving his life to mate is part of sexual selection, which is part of the ?selfish preservation of natural selection(??).  I think it is better to say that these are two different, "opposite" forces linked together.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jul 2018 at 18:01
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

A satyr was traveling with a man, and when they stopped, the man was blowing into his hands.  The satyr asked him what he was doing.  The man said, "I am warming my hands."  Later on, when they had stopped for dinner, the man started blowing on his tea, the satyr again asked what he was doing, the man said, "I am cooling my tea."  The satyr decided to leave his traveling companion, when the man asked why, the satyr said, "I could never be friends with someone so inconstant."
At first I didn't see where you were going with this, in fact it truly describes sexual cannibalism in insects.
The black widow may or may not kill the male- it's conditional and a variety of results are possible from the breeding encounter. The male lives for a year and travels a long way to find a mate he really has to take his chance when it comes. If he's not exhausted, he could potentially breed again but scientist don't really have any data.
Maybe more of a parenting strategy since the eggs are releasing hungry juveniles roughly the same size. If one is larger it will eat its siblings. Maintaining the mostly constant size is a careful mix of yolk and chemicals. and yes temperature did influence the growth of spider eggs.

Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Natural selection says that organisms are designed and act for self-preservation, but when an organism acts in a self-destructive manner, it is called sexual selection which according to evolutionary biologists is a subset of natural selection.  So a male black widow giving his life to mate is part of sexual selection, which is part of the ?selfish preservation of natural selection(??).  I think it is better to say that these are two different, "opposite" forces linked together.
Opposite forces that both work toward the most offspring which is the principal at work. The Altruistic component in pre-programmed cannibalism is seen in other species of spiders where the mother is liquefied from the inside out by the brood. She signals to them after preparing a web and triggering a response with with the weight of her own body. Complete surrender.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jul 2018 at 23:46
In Aristotle there is the "law of noncontradiction," which from my understanding is more like a really good idea, than having the firm foundation of a law.  If someone says that something is a book but not a book, then there is a valid question what the hell does that mean.  One would think that the opposites would "cancel" each other out and make gobbley-gook.  But maybe they are saying they want to go to a movie that is (originally) a book, but on the other hand no movie is ever as good as the book, so therefore it is also "not a book."  But it seems to me that "natural selection" gets defined as self(fish) preservation of the organism, and sexual selection gets defined as frequent self-sacrifice of the organism (albeit for offspring.  And yet, evolutionary biologists want to define the later as a subset of the former?  Like I said, the law of noncontradiction has not really the status of a law (but more of a good idea), but still I wonder if latter evolutionary biologists where not to hasty to try to reduce everything as much as they could.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Jul 2018 at 05:47
No acknowledgement of teleology in Dawkin's model he says only genes are selected. Doesn't the hypothalamus control sex drive, bonding, hunger and the most basic functions of the primitive brain? 
This part of the brain can influence above the level of gene selection since it physiologically changes an individual. And we know homeostasis is necessary or changes in development will result.

A creature that reflects on it's past experience is capable of trying things differently. Orchids survived whatever killed off the dinosaurs. They became highly adaptable, created subgroups one of which increased the number of it's petals with bilateral symmetry replacing radial symmetry. An orchid that has to climb will survive on fog, underground they expel excess water. The fakery involved in enticing insects for pollination still has researchers puzzled.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Jul 2018 at 01:51
I don't know what Dawkin's says, but I would prefer to get it from the horse's mouth and deal directly with the real revolutionary (Darwin), rather than a derivative.  From what I vaguely understand, however, is that epigenetics makes something like Lamarckism plausible.  I don't think that Darwin recognizes teleology either.  Natural theology might recognize teleology, but I think it drops out of science in the 1700s if not earlier.

I think that we could say behavior and culture are inherited (and thus selected).  Showing kindness to a child shows no benefit to me genetically (it is not my child), nevertheless I believe that I am selecting such behavior, and by my actions, passing it on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2018 at 04:44
Darwin sees that the function creates the selection, not the other way around. He constantly reminds us that we don't know what the Final Cause of what sexuality is. There is an idea with Wallace too that NS is a reach towards a more beneficial frequency and the mechanism is the knowing where it is going- Linnaeus, Lamarck, Wallace all thought selected traits were acquired due to changes that occurred during the life of an animal.
How can you select for something that doesn't exist? Darwin studied sexual dimorphism in the species of orchid known as Primula veris. 

"To schematize the above Darwinian explanation, then (the generalized schema is in brackets): 
1. Dimorphism is present in Primula veris. [V is present in P] 
2. Dimorphism has the effect of increasing heteromorphic crosses and decreasing homomorphic fertilization. [V has effect E] 
3. Heteromorphic crosses are more fertile and produce more vigorous offspring than homomorphic fertilizations. [E is advantageous to P] 
4. Natural selection would thus favor increased dimorphism in Primula veris. [Therefore V in P would be selectively favored] 
5. Dimorphism is present in Primula veris because it promotes intercrossing. [Therefore E is the cause of V's presence in P] "

In the Foreward to a recent reprint of Darwin's classic, The Various Contrivances by Which Orchids are Fertilised by Insects, Michael Ghiselin writes: ...a myth has grown up, partly the work of [Asa] Gray, partly the work of Darwin's son and biographer, Frances Darwin, that Darwin somehow "brought teleology back into biology." In any nontrivial sense of that word, he did the exact opposite, getting rid of teleology and replacing it with a new way of thinking about adaptation... (Darwin 1984, xiii) This is a puzzling claim. This so-called "myth" is as much the work of Charles Darwin himself as of either individual mentioned here. In a brief appreciation of Darwin published in Nature, in June of 1874, Asa Gray noted "...Darwin's great service to Natural Science in bringing back to it Teleology: so that instead of Morphology versus Teleology, we shall have Morphology wedded to Teleology" (Gray 1963). Darwin quickly responded: What you say about Teleology pleases me especially and I do not think anyone else has ever noticed the point. (F. Darwin 1887, 308)  


Edited by Vanuatu - 03 Aug 2018 at 15:16
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2018 at 04:55
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:


my original point is that Darwin not only advocated "natural selection," but also sexual selection.  For Darwin (as far as I understand) that meant there was choosing and intentionality involved, not just sheer mechanical necessity.  Evolutionary biologists (Huxley?? Dawkins??) paint Darwin as being a pure determinist, nature as red of tooth and claw.  It seems like a bleak world, "Darwin says that God cannot exist."  But, low and behold, Darwin did not say that, or at least it looks like Darwin had a way out of eugenics and other nightmares.  "Sexual selection" seems open to Freud and to seduction rather than just sheer "production."
Here's Dawkins. He's not totally deterministic, 

QUESTION: Professor Dawkins, could you explain your belief that human beings are just "gene machines"?

MR. DAWKINS: When I say that human beings are just gene machines, one shouldn't put too much emphasis on the word "just." There is a very great deal of complication, and indeed beauty in being a gene machine. What it means is that natural selection, Darwinian natural selection, which is the process that has brought all living things to be the way they are, is best seen at the gene level, is best seen as a process of differential survival among genes, and therefore living organisms and their bodies are best seen as machines programmed by the genes to propagate those very same genes. In that sense we are gene machines. But it is not intended to be at all a demeaning or belittling statement.




Edited by Vanuatu - 01 Aug 2018 at 04:57
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Aug 2018 at 01:41
It would seem to me that "gene machine" would imply that the organism is mechanistic.  When I think of machines and mechanisms, I think of determinism, which is what the machine is until it breaks down.  An ideal machine would never break down, it would be set up to last forever.  Living organisms however, seem to have an obsolescence, unless they are Jelly Fish.  Also if the goal is to propagate the genes, then they are "flawed" and organism cannot through sexual reproduction propagate _its_ genes, it can propagate _their_ genes.  But, even so there are mutations.  So as far as the "machine for genes" metaphor is concerned, I think it is quite limited.  But then again, I don't think that much of Dawkins in general.  I think of Darwin as an original thinker, I think that if one can understand him, and his act of creation, then one get a good grasp on everyone after, because they're just doing a variant of the same theme.  Now maybe Dawkins has a good understanding of evolution, but Darwin was not 'just' evolution, he had a familiarity of religion, which is something that Dawkins seems to revile.  I would like to look at Darwin to see if he had the same flaws that Darwinism developed later, SocioDarwinism and eugenics?  or if he was bigger than that or ambiguous on that.
But V. you just want to drag me kicking and screaming in Dawkins, don't you?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Vanuatu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Aug 2018 at 15:13
Preferably, Dawkins would not speak about religion. Seems to have nothing to do with what he is really good at, he's not a philosopher or shouldn't be. 

There is a new book about Wallace and the excerpt explains why Wallace didn't agree that Intelligent Evolution was at work in adaptations, rather it was Intelligent Design and on that point he disagreed with Darwin. The author says Wallace's thinking is most like like Michael Behe-

"The idea of intelligent design, although congenial to some religious views of the universe, is independent of them. For example, the possibility of intelligent design is quite compatible with common descent, which some religious people disdain. What’s more, although some religious thinkers envision active, continuing intervention in nature, intelligent design is quite compatible with the view that the universe operates by unbroken laws, with the design of life perhaps packed into this initial set-up. In fact, possibilities two and three listed above — where non-randomness was assigned either to complex laws or to the environment — can be viewed as particular examples of this. I think it makes for greater clarity of discussion, however, just to acknowledge explicitly in those cases that the laws or special conditions were purposely designed to produce life."

(Michael Behe, The Edge of Evolution, p. 166)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2018 at 03:03
Did you hear about the theft of Wallace's bird collection by a fly fisherman?  (seriously).  Listening to it in the car, so I don't quite know how it turned out.  They caught the guy, but I don't know how much damage he did before caught.  Was on radio lab.

Yeah, it would be better if Dawkins didn't try to do a drive-by shooting every chance he gets.  

I am looking at the Austrian economists, Hayek argues against design for human economy, but for human action in forming the economy.  It seems to me the same might be applied to (against) design in evolution, but that might also be against the idea of inexorable, and universal natural laws determining everything, all the time.  How many times do you miss something interesting on Public TV because you couldn't wait to go the bathroom?  (Public TV doesn't have commercial breaks).  Now how many times do you think something interesting happened, but you missed it, because you were, literally or figuratively, in the can?

Think of a computer program, that ordinarily acts a certain way, has a certain function, does a certain thing.  One could assume that it is entirely regular, but a programmer could have programmed it to do something on April Fools, if certain conditions are satisfied.  Those conditions might happen yearly or almost never (in the thousands of years.)  People seeing something happen might be tempted to dismiss it, or dismiss others who claim it.  Same thing with a backdoor programed into a program.  Why couldn't God create a backdoor to his 'program.'  Of course if he was the consummate white hat hacker, he could access his program whenever he wanted, on the fly.

I think walking on two legs is like a 'controlled' stumble across the room.  Walking is not a matter of design, and when you are old, the "impossibleness" of the idea of such a stumble working threatens the aged with falling down.  I am not sure there is a design for evolution either.  I mean, we can impose a design, but I am not sure that it really is, a priori, there before the fact.
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