Re: [asa] Evolution Conference Washington, DC

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Thu Sep 10 2009 - 14:01:19 EDT

Just for the record, this is one of the most confused Conference Titles I've read in the year of the 'Darwin celebration.' It demonstrates, by itself, that many people ('over there') are completely oblivious to 'what is going on' in the global Academy. Such people cannot conceive (and certainly not yet perceive) of the dislocation of 'evolution' as a 'theory of everything.'

"Since Darwin: The Evolution of Evolution."

First, there are two types of 'evolution' referenced. One is obviously meant as 'evolutionary theory,' which is about *natural history*. The second is about 'idea change,' in other words, it is believed and suggested by the Conference organizers that the idea of 'evolution' can possibly be said, nay, even *should* be said to 'evolve.' This is, of course (to anyone who is on the leading edge of interpretation these days) ridiculous, almost as ridiculous as the idea of 'memes,' which itself is one of the most absurd misuses of power by a biologist/ethologist who claims to offer a contribution to the following subject: the history of ideas. Is this R. Dawkins' field? No.

It is persons who study professionally the history and philosophy of ideas that should, if they would wish to, be qualified to make pronouncements like this one about 'idea change' (and then let them reject 'memetic evolution' emphatically!), i.e. *not* natural-physical scientists themselves. The Smithsonian Museum here has offered a title that demonstrates that they are desperately 'out of touch,' narrow-sighted and positively 'retro' about the multiple meanings of 'evolution'. They've forgotten how *BIG* the Academy is and paid no attention to the disciplines that work professionally on 'ideas,' theory and methodology. They assume that everyone uses 'evolve' and 'change' simultaneously. They are wrong.

Third, even the first part of the title 'Since Darwin' involves a time reference, which again obscures the meaning in connection with the other two parts. The greatest power of the evolutionary paradigm or framework for studying natural history is the way it involves time. In fact, the assumption of 'deep time' involved with 'eVo/deVo of natural history' *by itself* contradicts the notion that 'theories evolve' because 'idea change' happens at time scale much, much, much, much, much, much, much, much (it's like adding 0's to get billions and billions of years) t0o *small* to apply to 'natural evolution'. Homer Simpson would chime in with a 'Duh (Amen)' on that one!

Grammar Hint: Ideas *do not* evolve (into being or havig become). One can just say 'deal with it' to those who disagree with this and then continue forward to show why the Academy is better if it intentionally adjusts the semantics of 'evolution,' 'evolve' and 'evolving' to *exclude* all human-made things. As a matter of fact, the problematic figure in *this* discussion is not even Darwin, but rather earlier philosophers, scientists and scholars.

Did *this message you are now reading* simply 'evolve' (in about 10 minutes) onto the computer screen in front of you? Wait, no, there was agency, will, choice, decision, action, purpose, meaning, etc. involved. And it happened *way too fast* for an evolutionary (read: deep time) explation. The involvement of me as a human person, with ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. indicates the work of a post-evolutionary entity; human beings are capable of transcending their/our natural environments. We think and act and choose; none of these things 'evolve.'

Sure, this message may sound simply pedantic to some of you and thus as easy to dismiss on those grounds. To a growing number of others, however, recognition is due that 'evolution of evolution' is an obscure, convoluted phrase, perhaps a simple attempt to be *politically correct,* stated at a major natural-physical scientific display location in the country's capital region, in a country that is one of the most 'evolutionary' in the world. It is no surprise that 'theistic evolutionists' feel their case is supported by such language as this, by the Smithsonian, by naturalists, by people who don't really study 'history of ideas'.

There's no need to call the namer(s) of this Conference at the Smithsonian 'ignorant'; how about we just call the title 'outdated' and 'not really thought out' (with any love of knowledge or wisdom, philosophy excluded).

Exactly 10 days later I will attend and present (on this theme - "The Problem of Evolution: Natural or Social?) at a 'Darwin' event in Russia, which I am confident will have much more well-thought out ideas than what seems promised by the Smithsonian's silly Title. Hopefully the presenters at the Smithsonian Conference will go beyond what the organizers are capable of understanding.

Down from soap box and back to work,


--- On Thu, 9/10/09, Dick Fischer <> wrote:

> From: Dick Fischer <>
> Subject: [asa] Evolution Conference Washington, DC
> To:
> Received: Thursday, September 10, 2009, 6:58 PM
> The following Smithsonian event this coming
> Saturday, Sept. 12 (8:30am - 5:00pm) is free and open
> to the public:
> Topic:            
> Since Darwin: the Evolution of
> Evolution
> Location:        Natural
> History Museum; Baird Auditorium
> (ground floor; enter from Constitution Avenue)

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Received on Thu Sep 10 14:02:42 2009

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