Posted: Aug 07, 2013 8:09 pm
by Rumraket
Arthur Methoxy wrote:Despite its ever-burgeoning technical complexity modern evolution theory still needs to play catch up with Empedocles. Darwin pays tribute to Empedocles for his theory of natural selection. Empedocles argues for reproductive fitness, random chance, and survival of the fittest. His ideas may have been helped by his contemporary (circa 450 B.C.) Xenophanes, who first announced the existence of the fossil record in ancient, terrestrial sea-beds.

However, unlike Empedocles, modern theory is still attached to the idea of successful adaptations. Empedocles rejects this odd conceptual blip. It ought not to be hard for we moderns to see why:

Modern evolution theory still regards successful parts (or adaptations), like the polar bears' foot for example, as aids to survival or "specialized for the environment in which an organism evolved, the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, or EEA" (see, for example, Gaulin, Steven J. C. and Donald H. McBurney, Evolutionary Psychology. Prentice Hall. 2003, p.25-56)

Not so, for Empedocles: despite his idea of homologous functions (e.g. olive and egg) there are no innately successful adaptations in an environment.

After all, we may note, a polar bears' foot would not be a successful adaptation for a bacterium growing on it despite the environment being the same.

That is only correct in so far as some given environment can become sufficiently complex for niche formation, in which case there is no single unambigous, fits-all-circumstances way to say that something would be an "advantage".

But, given certain preconditions, like taking the case of the polar bear and it's paws, compared to a polar bear with a slimmer foot, the polar bear's paw, given it's lifestyle and environment, simply IS superior (as in selectively advantageous).

In this way, natural selection of adaptive traits is an observed fact. The notion that because some traits aren't unambigously advantageous to all species under all circumstances doesn't change the fact that they ARE advantageous to SOME species in SOME cirumstances.

A set of gills are pretty useless to a desert snake, but a fish can't live without them. Consequently, there clearly is such a thing as selectively beneficial traits, it just depends on niche and environment.

Arthur Methoxy wrote:Empedocles has this to say "most of these fortuitous organisms [assemblies of parts] were fragile or sterile, only the fittest structures survived...their fitness to reproduce was a matter of chance, not design" (quoted by Aristotle, Ph. 2 8.198b29). Here, Empedocles rejects the animistic (modern) idea of innate successfulness in physical forms or parts.

There IS no such thing as "the (modern) idea of innate successfulness in physical forms or parts). All things are niche dependent.

Arthur Methoxy wrote:Despite this advantage that Empedocles' theory has over modern animistic theories of natural selection

Excuse me, but it can't be said that Empedocles theory has an "advantage" when you're presenting his notions by contrasting them to the false premise mentioned above.

The modern theory of evolution is not what you portray it to be, and there are clear and unambigous cases of advantageous traits which are advantageous exactly because of environmental niches.

Arthur Methoxy wrote:he, and others in his school, are still patronised and referred to (in terms of the lesser member of a privileged binary) as, for example, "anticipators" of modern theory.

Where? Citation needed.