Re: [asa] Altruism and ID

From: PvM <>
Date: Thu Jun 07 2007 - 21:56:28 EDT

On 6/7/07, Gregory Arago <> wrote:
> "What worries you about a scientist trying to understand the origin and
> evolution of a concept like altruism?" - PvM
> >
> > "No, concepts do not evolve into existence. That is non-sensical!! Please
> give me some evidence that a concept is a biological entity. I will rest my
> point if you admit that concepts are not reducible to outgrowths biological
> existence." - G.A.
> "Ah, it seems you are confusing the biological concept of evolution with
> concepts 'evolving'." - PvM
> I am not a biological scientist. No, I am not confusing the biological
> concept of evolution with 'concepts evolving' (as nonsensical as it sounds).
> Biological entities, according to most biologists (and so I must to a degree
> trust them), do evolve. Concepts, on the other hand, do not evolve. Physical
> scientists hold no monopoly over discussion of 'concepts.' I am attempting
> clarification. On the other hand, you appear to be obfuscating.

Nope, just using common use of language which may have confused you.

> The challenge still remains for you to not-dodge: Please give me some
> evidence that a concept is a biological entity. If a concept is not a
> biological entity, then I will be pleased for you to just admit that,
> instead of dodging once again.


> "My name is Pim van Meurs and my background includes a Master's degree in
> physics (control system dynamics) and a PhD in Physical Oceanography."

> Then what makes you think you have any authority in social scientific or
> philosophical meanings and understandings of evolution?Do you then pretend
> to speak as an authority about altruism, a concept that was originally
> coined by a philosopher/sociologist?

Another confusion on your part I am afraid.

> It is rather strange to attribute such confidence in natural scientific
> views of altruism (i.e. Wilson,. Trivers, Dawkins) when a vast array of
> social/philosophical/anthropological, not to mention
> theological discourse has been ongoing since Comte's time (and before, on
> what altruism signifies). Altruism is not something that can/should be
> studied using physics or oceanography. This is why I suggested PvM offer us
> Christian meanings and understandings of altruism instead of clipping from
> the Edge.

Philosophical discussions are always quite interesting, a good cigar,
a glass of whiskey and everyone is a philosopher. However, science
just recently has caught up with these concepts of altruism and the
scientific findings indeed seem quite interesting.

> Please note, fellow travelers, that pointing this out does not suggest that
> people cannot be or become interdisciplinary, nor that our knoweldges are
> trapped within convenient boxes or defined by cookie cutters. What is does
> suggest is that in realms outside of one's specialized expertise, one should
> look to consult others who know and actively participate before pretending
> knowledge. This applies to all of us and is something that the ASA provides
> a forum for.

Hence I quote from sites and resources which are far more knowledgable
than I could possibly be.

> For example, Dawkins has shown that his knowledge/understanding of theology
> is dramatically flawed in discussions with McGrath. Likewise, Johnson showed
> that his knowledge/understanding of biology was dramatically flawed in
> discussions with Lamoureux. Could it possibly be that Pim's
> knowledeg/understanding of altruism is flawed because he is unfamiliar with
> the literature. In the first reply to this thread I mentioned Pitirim
> Sorokin. Anyone figure Pim has read Sorokin?

Nice ad hominem arguments and speculation. So far it seems however
that it is not me who is suffering from flawed comprehension skills.

> Arago
> p.s. this message did not evolve into existence either
> p.p.s. Why not let us instead ask: did the Ten Commandments 'evolve' into
> existence? Such a conceptualization is non-sensical, upside-down, through
> the looking glass! So let's drop such ridiculous signification!

Is it? I am not sure if this such a silly question. What do we really
know about the ten commandments, when where they first written down,
do we know their ultimate origin? How can we be sure that the 10
commandments did not evolve over time until God decided to hand them
down ? Of course, even if we can argue that the 10 commandments may
not have evolved, concepts such as altruism can indeed evolve, as our
understanding of these matters grows.
The existence of many different definitions already suggests that
altruism is a very fluid concept.

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Received on Thu Jun 7 21:57:02 2007

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