Friday, May 23, 2014

Freedom is in Our DNA. Or Not.

So? Why not? Many traits are now known to be heritable, including intelligence, aggression, extroversion, agreeableness, and openness.

This does not mean these traits are absolutely determined by genes. If I understand the concept rightly, heritability is a measure of the observed differences -- the variation -- in a population that can be attributed to genes. Yeah, I could just look it up, but why would I want to yield to an expert?

Okay, "heritability of a trait is the square of the coefficient of G in a linear approximation to the surface GxE to trait." Thanks for the tip!

It's a somewhat slippery concept, since it measures "relative contributions of genetic and non-genetic differences to the total phenotypic [observable] variation in a population," but "is not the same as saying that this fraction of an individual phenotype is caused by genetics." Thus, as Wade points out, "genes don't determine human behavior; they merely create a propensity to behave in a certain way."

So much for homosexuality being caused by genes. Oh well. There's always nurture, i.e., environmental deprivation or trauma.

It brings to mind what one of the early fathers said about astrology: the stars incline, but do not compel.

As to the genes that influence aggression, Wade mentions that -- come a little closer, I'm gonna have to whisper this -- "African Americans are more likely to carry the violence-linked allele of MAO-A promoters than are Caucasians," but this does not -- {gulp} -- imply "that one race is genetically more prone to violence than any other." For one thing, there are no doubt yet-to-be discovered gene sequences that muddy the issue and account for the intrinsic racism of white Europeans.

Besides, as any liberal knows, "people who live in conditions of poverty and unemployment may have more inducements to violence than those who are better off."


Which is no doubt why white collar crime doesn't exist, and why the wealthy 1% are the Best People in the World.

At any rate, since genes don't determine any human behavior, this implies that we are always free. If we are always free, this implies that we transcend our genetic programming. Thus, to suggest that "freedom is in our DNA" is slightly oxymoronic, for it would be like saying that "freedom is determined." But to the extent that freedom exists, it can only be permitted, not compelled.

Wait, I'm confused. Animals don't have free will. So, how does freedom get into -- or escape from -- the genome? Or, what happened to the genome that permitted freedom to manifest?

Maybe I'm not asking or conceptualizing this in the right way, because it strikes me as Very Weird. Take an ant, for example. Would we not say that roughly 100% of any (minimal) variation we see between two ants is attributable to genes? Or in other words, there is no freedom.

But even the most heritable human trait still leaves us with a margin of freedom. Where did this margin come from?

Well, it comes from God, of course, since we are talking about a vertical margin. I don't see any other way to account for it, especially because this is not a blank or "empty" freedom, but rather, a "structured" freedom. Yes, our freedom is under constraint, but it is not genetic constraint but moral constraint.

These constraints are, on the one hand, given by God (e.g., the Ten Commandments), but on the other, discoverable by our natural reason.

However, it very much appears to me that our natural reason has improved over the millennia, so there was clearly a time that we needed those Ten Commandments handed down from on high, because most men could not discover them with their natural reason.

This is something I've been thinking about while reading Stark's How the West Won. In particular, the sadistic violence of past humans is just so over the top that they might as well be a different species (which implies that our contemporary Islamist sadists are swimming in their own private idahole).

Examples are far too numerous and too gross to chronicle, but just consider how much the Romans loved their inconceivably violent spectacles, as if they had absolutely no capacity for empathy. "Besides being fed to wild animals, people were executed in the arenas in a variety of sadistic ways -- flogging, burning, skinning, impaling, dismemberment, and even crucifixion."

In other words, crucifixion was entertainment, whereas today liberals wet their pants at the thought of some worthless convicted sadist suffering for even a moment. How do we get from the one to the other, and why do liberals, like the Romans, empathize with the sadist and not the victim?

The larger point is that in the not-too-distant past, human beings did not have to struggle with their conscience over, say, torturing animals for fun. There are still people who are like this, but it is one of the hallmarks of sociopathy, of an antisocial personality disorder (which in turn seems to be under heavy genetic influence).

Does this mean that most people in the past had what we now call antisocial personality disorder? Yes and no, since they lived in an environment that normalized such things. In that environment, someone who opposed torture on principle would stand out.

Indeed, Stark says that there is no recorded evidence of any ancient civilization uttering a peep about slavery being problematic. To me, this again implies an absence of empathy. Slaveholders might concede the humanness of the slave, but only in an abstract way. It is as if they could not put themselves in the position of the other and thereby say to themselves, "this is intrinsically wrong."

Oh, by the way. There are still some 30 million slaves in the world, the vast majority in Muslim countries, central Africa, and the Democratic Party. Not that there's anything wrong with it, because Diversity.

To be continued...

Thursday, May 22, 2014

How Transcendent Truth Conditions Natural Selection

When we review a book, it is not for the usual purposes of evaluating its merits or ridiculing its author.

Rather, it is to help expand our cosmic horizons (either vertically or horizontally, intensively or extensively) so as to lend support to certain otherwise *speculative* ideas, and to assist us in assimilating its message -- at least the important, world-stretching bits.

I don't really see any point in reading if it doesn't further these ends. I don't read for "pleasure" except for the pleasure of time-dilation, slack retrieval, and pneuma-cosmic expansion.

So it is in this spirit that I am reviewing A Troublesome Inheritance. Sometimes -- if not most of the time -- evolutionary psychology begins and ends by narrowing our cosmic horizon, for which reason religious people rightly recoil from it.

But any science that renders man less than human is for me a non-starter. Personhood cannot be reduced to something less than it is without doing grave and unforgivable damage to humans. Science must always be subordinate to the "humanities," in the sense that it mustn't be used as a pretext to dehumanize man.

This does not mean that we need to limit scientific exploration, only that we need to keep it in perspective and to situate it in a wider context. Science alone cannot provide its own context, only content. It is up to us to place the its content in a wider anthropo-cosmic context. If we don't, then we will end up placing ourselves in a wholly scientistic, which is to say, infrahuman, context.

So, as I said: not only should we not resist any genuine scientific finding, but we should be its most enthusiastic supporters. Natural selection? Bring it on! But reduce man to a random configuration of genetic mutations? Get real. Nothing is that simple and shallow, let alone the most complex, profound, and mysterious subject-object in all of creation.

If such a dank subterrestrial hole of reduction is sufficient to satisfy your own meager curiosity, then gopher it. But just don't imagine the rest of us will dig your tunnel vision, or that such a cramped pneumopathology is normative. If it were, then man would never have embarked upon the scientific adventure to begin with -- this latter being a subset of the grand Adventure of Consciousness.

This adventure is progressive, not just horizontal or lateral, let alone static. Stark discusses this in his thus far enjoyable How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity. Short answer: it was won by progressing.

Ah, but what is the source of progress, or the key that unlocks its activation? Favorable geography? Guns and steel? Greed? Technology? Genes? Racial quotas? Homosexual marriage? Transcendent truth, AKA God and metaphysics?

Ultimately it must be the latter, because if your fundamental picture of reality is wrong, then it is difficult if not impossible to progress further. Stark demonstrates exactly how this works -- or fails to work -- in practice. I don't know if I want to get into details, as this is something we have discussed the past, and you can read all about it in the book.

For example, if you believe that appearances are fundamentally deceptive and that truth is found only in a transcendent world of a priori ideas, then there is no reason to explore the world.

Likewise, if you believe that every event is directly caused by the will of Allah or by Martin Luther's God of predestination (which amount to the same thing), then you will have no interest in the material and efficient causes -- let alone felicitous accidents -- that bring things about. If you believe that time is cyclical or degenerative, then progress itself will be a non-concept, an impossibility. Etc.

Is science -- scientism rather -- bringing about conditions that impede its own progress? Absolutely, and that is one of the purposes of Wade's book: to help science escape from its own self-imposed political agenda. It is not religion that is holding evolutionary science back, but rather, the left. If God works through evolution, who are we to argue?

But so long as time and eternity are distinct, then evolution must be the law of the cosmos, so we are condemned to eternal progress (that is, if we choose to accept God's offer and participate in it -- you can't force a man to be free).

It is clear to me -- although I've never heard anyone put it exactly this way -- that truth directly conditions the genome, somewhat like transcendent yeast in the genetic dough. How? In a number of ways. For example, the acquisition of speech gave man access to a whole new nonlocal realm of truth (and other transcendentals) that in turn fed back into evolution.

Indeed, this is one of the open secrets of Jewish progress and success, in that "as late as 1500, only 10% of the population of most European countries was literate, whereas almost all Jews were" -- including, most importantly, women, who serve as the initial membrane between reality and the neurologically incomplete infant: more literate and intelligent mothers = more abstract and interiorizing children, the hinge of human evolution.

Going back even further, universal male literacy among Pharisees was attained between 200 and 600 AD, and there was an element of sexual selection here, as Jewish fathers were "advised on no account to let their daughters marry the untutored sons" of the rude country folk who devalued education. Smart guys got the babes, and you know the rest.

So in this way, evolution becomes explicitly teleological, with the mind converging on a nonlocal truth that in turn feeds back into the genome via worldly and reproductive success. As man's thinking in general became more literate, more intelligent, and more abstract,

"the social and genetic variance of society was greatly increased," and "a person with social skills and intelligence had a reasonable chance of getting richer, something that was seldom possible in a hunter-gatherer society where there were no disparities and no wealth to speak of" (Wade).

In this way, we can see that the great evil of income inequality is related to cognitive inequality.

In fact, this is precisely Murray's argument in Coming Apart. More than at any previous time in history (or prehistory, so 200,000 years!), our modern economy is ruthlessly sorting people by intelligence, and intelligent people tend to marry each other, making for more intelligent children and so on. This wasn't such an issue in an agricultural or industrial economy, but it certainly is in a knowledge/information economy.

Which is why leftists must practice racial and ethnic discrimination in order to shut Asians and Jews out of higher education. In other words, the anti-science left directly disrupts that which furthers progress. It helps no one to consign some future Neils Bohr, Jonas Salk, or Paul Desmond to some third rate cow college because we need to make space for more mediocrities and dullards, irrespective of their race or gender or ethnicity.

UC Berkeley could be all Asian or Jew for all I care, so long as a few of them are working on a cure for diabetes or on new antibiotics and none of them are wasting their time and our money on gender studies or queer theory or black history.

Then, if you still wanted left wing diversity in your indoctrination, you could always attend a state or junior college, where you would be exposed to every kind of florid idiot instead of allowing elite universities to hog them all. Problem solved.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Remumbling Our Individual and Collective Prehistory

If you don't know human history, then you're like a man with amnesia, right? Or worse, like Obama, which proves that leaders who don't know our history condemn us to relive the bad parts.

But what if you don't know your prehistory? Actually, we all implicitly know our prehistory, since we are evidently -- if evolutionary psychologists are correct -- doomed (or privileged, depending) to repeat it. We know it by way of our "instinctive" actions, inclinations, preferences, institutions, etc.

As alluded to yesterday, it is possible that we are all related to a single tribe of common ancestors that split from Africa 50,000 years ago. And who knows, maybe that tribe included a couple of elders we know of as Adam and Eve.

Whatever the case, their descendants have been wandering in the bewilderness ever since, adapting to novel environments quite different from what they would have encountered in Africa.

A group of hunter-gatherers can only sustain about 100-150 people before it generates another spinoff sitcom: "Those migrating eastward faced new environments" and "would have had to relearn how to survive in each new habitat" (Wade).

The first wave of migration was into more friendly and familiar latitudes, but humans eventually pressed northward into Europe, where "the problems of keeping warm and finding sustenance during the winter months were severe." Note that was before the present period of comfy global warming that began some 10,000 years ago, so environmental pressures would have been exceptionally harsh: like natural selection, only worse.

Interestingly, there was also the matter of confronting the protohumans of a previous wave of migration, e.g., Neanderthals, Home erecti, and other almost-but-not-quite humans. (This brings to mind a comment by Bertie Wooster about a man whose face looked like nature had begun fashioning a human but given up halfway.)

I did not know this, but these primitive subgeniuses were apparently the residue of a group that had split from Africa some 500,000 years before, meaning that they had been evolving independently from the African humans all that while. (I had been under the assumption that Homo erectus was a direct precursor of Homo sapiens sapiens, when they are different lines out of an earlier common ancestor.)

Now that I think about it, it's almost like a premature birth, isn't it? Their timing was just a little bit off -- okay, half a billion years off -- so they weren't quite ready to leave the womb of Mother Africa, not yet fully half-baked humans.

Could the story of Cain and Abel be an archetypal recollection of our genocide of these distant cousins? Whatever the case, the world wasn't big enough for two kinds of humans, so these squatters "disappeared about the time that modern humans entered their territories."

Suspicious, no? Next time some leftist clown blames whites for what happened to the Indians or some other victim group, remind him of what primitive humans did to the Neanderthals. End the occupation! Of the world.

In any event, once these different human groups were situated in their unique environments, "each little population started to accumulate its own set of mutations in addition to those inherited from the common ancestral population."

So, as I wrote in a comment yesterday, it is as if there is that common genetic clay that is further tweaked by unique circumstances. If the human clay didn't have this shape-shifting potential, then we'd all still be in Africa. Anyone who attempted to leave would have simply died out like a palm tree trying to live in Alaska, or like a professor trying to survive outside the artificial hothouse environment of academia.

Which leads to the question: how much of the human genome is shared, how much unique to particular groups/races? That is difficult to assess, but Ward suggests that perhaps 14% of the genome would have been subject to recent selective pressures and local adaptations. He also mentions that an analysis of the genomes of 2,000 African Americans "found that 22% of their DNA came from European ancestors and the rest from African groups..."

This sounds about right, assuming a baseline of 200,000 years ago, 150,000 years of which are shared by all. A very big leap also occurs with the transition from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to permanent settlements around 15,000 years ago. This required a major rewiring, not so much for exterior circumstances as interior, i.e., psychic, ones.

Living in much more population-dense communities obviously required vastly more subtle and wide-ranging interpersonal skills, diminished aggression, delayed gratification, and a hierarchical instead of purely horizontal group organization. Are we to believe that such dramatic phenotypic changes influenced, and were under the influence of, no genotypic changes?

Indeed, fossil records show that there is a gradual thinning of our bones at this time, implying that we didn't require such heavy skeletal underarmor for the constant head-bashing: "humans shed bone mass because extreme aggressivity no longer carried the same survival advantages."

Those New Guineans mentioned in yesterday's post didn't have to remember their prehistory, because they were still living in prehistory, "using Stone Age technology and embroiled in endemic warfare." If those are the new Guineans, imagine the old ones.

It would be an interesting experiment to adopt one of those New Guinean babies and see how he does in modern society. Would he be under no genetic constraints whatsoever? That would be a rather extreme position, but if true, then Wade's ideas would pretty much be out the window.

In the Coonifesto there is a wise crack by Norbert Elias to the effect that

"It seems as if grown-up people, in thinking about their origins, involuntarily lose sight of the fact that they themselves and all adults came into the world as little children. Over and over again, in the scientific myths of origin no less than religious ones, they feel impelled to imagine: In the beginning was a single human being, who was an adult" (emphasis mine).

Well, Wade has another headslapper by Elias, that "Many people seem to have the unspoken opinion that 'What happened in the twelfth, fifteenth or eighteenth centuries is past -- what has it to do with me?' In reality, though, the contemporary problems of a group are crucially influenced by earlier fortunes, by their beginningless development."

So, it is as if there is a personal prehistory in the form of a preverbal infancy etched into our neurology, and a collective one etched into our genome.

To be continued...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Doing the Australian Crawl in the Far End of the Gene Pool

First off, it's interesting that we've had a string of outwardly unrelated books that seem to be commenting on one another: in the past few weeks we've learned How Monogamy Made Us Human, How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Ruining Everything, and now how our genes are implicated in Race, Human History, and left wing denial of all the above; well, not just denial, but active promotion of their antitheses.

Come to think of it, our reading streak may also go back to the trinity of Narrative, Freedom, and the oldenpneumagain Genesis. Put them all together and what do we get? Among other things, we get genetically conditioned heterosexuality, monogamy, and intelligence, but how could these not be conditioned by our genes? As far as nature is concerned, there are pretty much only two issues, 1) get those genes into the next generation, and 2) don't be a fucking idiot, AKA don't win yourself a Darwin Award.

A good portion of Wade's book (similar to Goldberg's Liberal Fascism) is spent in full apology mode, assuring the reader that he is not a racist and that it is not racist to consider what he is about to toss out there. File under IT'S COME TO THIS. Yes, in the unlikely event that the book is ever permitted on a university campus, it should come with a warning label. The book is not appropriate for an adultolescent left wing audience hypersensitive to micro-aggressions, mini-traumas, or other delusions of persecution.

Wade commits two thoughtcrimes right out of the gate, first, noticing that some human groups are superior to others, and second, speculating that there may be a genetic explanation for this. (Not a total explanation, mind you; rather, just some contribution from the genes.)

If the leftist could articulate the principles Wade is violating rather than simply calling for his blood, they would be 1) that no culture is better than any other except for the culture that believes this crap; and 2) that humans are not genetically determined but infinitely malleable -- a Blank Slate.

This last principle is necessary to legitimize the overlord state that will mold us into the desired form via entitlements and special rights on the one one hand, and taxes and regulations on the other. With the combination of reward and punishment, the state can make a human being into pretty much anything.

To put it another way, in order for leftism to work, the state must be more powerful and influential than our genes -- or just say human nature. If human nature exists, then surely it is under genetic constraints, no? That's right: NO, YOU PRIVILEGED HETERONORMATIVE PIGDOG!

In The Bʘʘk, I believe I mentioned something to the effect that it is as if mankind set out of Africa 50,000 years ago, eventually spreading out into the various experiments-in-living we call Culture.

Beginning just a few hundred years ago, but especially now, with instantaneous global communication and all, it is as if these humans can finally reunite and compare notes. Indochina, what did you come up with? Africa? Europe? New Guinea?

No, really? Rocks and sticks? That's it?

What the hell happened to New Guinea? And whatever it is, don't imply that genes had anything to do with it! Rather, geography, or global warming, or something. Better yet, just say they're superior to us because Carbon, and leave it at that. Or say they're more evolved than us because Dreamtime or something.

Our little human adventure, "with at least five versions running parallel for much of the time, had a complex outcome. What is clear is that from the same human clay, a wide variety of societies can be molded."

Wade most certainly doesn't intend the reference, but God too works with a kind of clay to fashion human beings. It would make more sense if it were a genetic clay rather than just, you know, dirt. But I'll leave that to the theologians.

Whatever the case, the original human clay -- the clay to make a Homo sapiens sapiens -- appears no earlier than than 200,000 years ago, and we all had the identical genetic clay as recently as 50,000 years ago, when the human group split in half.

Look at it this way: three people walk into a bar, a Chinaman, an African, and a Caucasian. Trace their lineages, and they will be distinct for quite awhile, but the European and Asian reunite at 30,000 years ago, while the (p)resulting Euro-Asian meets up with the African at that 50,000 year mark.

Thus, we can hypothetically use aboriginal Australians as a genetic baseline, because they arrived there soon after leaving Africa, and then managed another 46,000 years with no outside contact or genetic influences until the 17th century; by then

"their way of life had changed little. Australian aborigines still lived in tribal societies without towns or cities. Their technology differed little from that of the Paleolithic hunters who reached Europe at the same time their ancestors arrived in Australia. During the 46,000 years of their isolation, they had invented neither the wheel nor the bow and arrow. They lived in a state of perpetual warfare between neighboring tribes."

It seems that these human beings were perfectly adapted to their environment, nor was there any genetic influence from elsewhom, so there was no evolutionary pressure to change. They "were never forced into the intense process of state formation and empire building that shaped other civilizations."

To back up a bit, it's not that Wade's opponents believe genes are irrelevant. Rather, they just insist that the human genome has been fixed for the last 50,000 years (or whatever the figure) and is no longer subject to evolutionary changes -- in other words, that evolution has made a special exemption for human beings, and stopped.

But it turns out, according to Wade, that human evolution has been "recent, copious, and regional," and that it is "beyond doubt that human evolution is a continuous process that has [not only] proceeded vigorously within the past 30,000 years," but has continued into the historical period.

Ashkenazi Jews might be the most dramatic example, since their average IQ is one standard deviation above average (around 115 as opposed to 100). How can one group be so far ahead of the pack?

Wade has a chapter devoted to the freakish disproportion of Jewish excellence. We've discussed this in the past, and it's pretty stunning; for example, Jews constitute less than two-tenths of a percent of the world's population, and yet, "as of 2007, had won an amazing 32% of Nobel Prizes awarded in the 21st century" -- this despite being the most hassled people in history.

First stupid question: could there possibly be a connection between Jewish intelligence and Jewish success? Second stupid question: is it possible that intelligence is partly genetic?

More slack the rest of the week. To be continued...

Monday, May 19, 2014

Evolution as if Evolution Mattered

Not only is there no conflict between science and religion, there can by definition be no possible conflict, because truth does not contradict truth.

Nor should we merely affirm that science and religion may coexist in peace, as in Stephen Gould's claim that they represent non-overlapping magisteria, which is to say, are irrelevant to one another, like football and baseball, or feminist studies and reality.

The reason why Gould's scheme fails is that science does not ultimately sit beside God, but must be -- like everything else, Gould included -- within God. We cannot visualize the relation as two separate circles, nor can we picture a venn diagram with an area of mutual interpenetration.

Rather, science must be understood as a fractal or microcosm or echo of the primordial reality: a part of the whole. If science seems to contradict the Primordial Religion, or universal metaphysics, then that is probably a good sign that it is on the wrong track.

For example, we can know materialism is false because it fails this test. Materialism isn't a scientific fact or theory anyway, but rather, a faux religion. Same with metaphysical Darwinism, or Marxism, or most any other modern-ism to which people devote themselves.

So, not only are science and religion compatible, but the relations between them are extensive, robust, and mutually illuminating. You can't have one without the other for the same reason you can't have the many without the One (and vice versa). Science is always in the Many but presupposes the One (or on the outside looking in), which is why it is a kind of perpetual reduction of multiplicity to a (tentative and transitional) unity.

It is in this freewheeling Raccoon spirit that I approach Nicholas Wade's latest book, which is irritating the usual irritants, i.e., the anti-scientific left. I don't have to read them to know that most of those one-star reviews are from angry proglodytes (but I repeat myself) who love evolution so long as it can be used as a rude club with which to belt Bible literalists, not as science per se (similar to how wealthy liberals love AGW so long as they don't have to give up their private jets).

Well, let's read a couple anyway. "This book will either make you gag, or make you more racist. However, some of the racism is thought provoking. But it is still racist, and do you really want to mull over the merits of being racist? If so, then this book is for you."

"People who speculate on race without scientific credentials are just racists. He will sell a few books because racism is always popular. Bud [sic] do you want to read a racist book?"

"I can't believe people believe this crap. Embarrassing. Very, very bad. Maybe Hitler will give this book five stars? Hmmmmmmmmm."

Yes, the book is speculative, for the same reason that natural selection is by definition speculative -- or at least has an irreducible element of speculation.

In particular, no one has any idea how genes affect the psyche, and yet, we do have brains, and brains differ. And just like every other part of our bodies, brains have been subject to evolutionary pressures. It would be an odd and arbitrary position indeed to insist that everything about human beings has been subject to natural selection except the one organ that counts.

To spell out my view, I would say that natural selection is one of the necessary conditions for man, but by no means a sufficient condition. The sufficient condition of man cannot be found in nature, or in the horizontal world. Rather, it is in the vertical world, so no amount of random mutations could ever result in the human person. Persons so clearly transcend nature that it is absurd to argue to the contrary.

I've just started reading Roger Scruton's The Soul of the World, where he makes this same unassailable point. As he puts it, "functional explanations of the evolutionary kind have no bearing on the content of our religious beliefs and emotions" (emphasis mine).

I believe this may be concisely expressed via the principle that even the most complete genetic explanation of man would be unable to account for how man may know the truth of this explanation. Or, to know its truth is to be outside and beyond the horizon of its explanation, precisely.

So I don't worry about natural selection taking away my truth, my beauty, my love, or my slack, because these are vertical realities that transcend its strictly limited scope. Again, it can provide clues about necessary conditions for the emergence of man -- after all, it's hard to exist as a human being without a body -- but not sufficient ones.

Or as Scruton puts it, evolutionary explanations "cannot take note of the internal order of our states of mind. Evolution explains the connection between our thoughts and the world, and between our desires and their fulfillment in [only] pragmatic terms."

However, our mental states are not about the same thing natural selection is about. For example, this post is not secretly "about" reproductive strategy. Rather, it is about what it is about, which is to say, the pursuit of truth.

The same is true, by the way, of evolutionary psychology. It would be self-refuting to say it is really all about getting chicks. No, it too is about truth, which proves with ironclad logic that it is insufficient to account for its own truth-value, such as it is.

Continuing this line of thought, Scruton wonders how it is that "our thinking 'latches on' to a realm of necessary truth," and how human beings somehow broke through to this higher reality that has no direct relevance to reproductive success. A human being who lived solely in the natural world wouldn't be a human being, as we live in a space of time, truth, freedom, possibility, language, mathematics, and other modalities that transcend physics and biology.

You might say that orthodox biology looks at genes to see what they are "about." Yes, they can be "about" man, just as they can be about an amoeba, an ant, or an ape. But what is man about? Darwin cannot answer this question except to say that he is about leaving his genes behind. Is that it? Yes, in part, so anything else that man is about is about something transcending nature.

Since you brought it up, Bob, what is man about? Well, for starters, he is surely about everything Darwin says he's about, for again, we do not deny science. If not for the fact of biological reproduction, I know I wouldn't be here. So my parents getting together is without question a necessary if distasteful condition for my existence.

But is it a sufficient condition? C'mon. Would such a meager explanation satisfy anyone?

I guess this has all been preluminary and foundational. To be continued tomorrow...