Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Sophish Gene

Hey, we take our spiritual joy where we can find it -- in this case, the epic schadenfreudian merriment of watching Obama crash and burn.

Obama has not only hit the ground, but is burrowing toward the center of the earth. Someday, perhaps "obamacare" will only be used to describe a violent clash with reality -- as in "this vehicle is designed to survive an obamacare-type collision."

Ironically, Hart's chapter on spiritual bliss provides another kind of schadenfreude, as he subjects Darwinism to a metaphysical crash-test of obamacarian proportions. And like Obama, Darwin cannot survive the impact.

I don't have much time this morning, so just read the book. I don't want to quote the whole thing.

I am, however, intrigued at how he and I inhabit the same attractor, but come at the issue from slightly different angles. That's how you know 1) that the attractor is real, and 2) that you really understand it, because it is inflected through your own personality, making it both universal and particular.

In fact, I think this should apply to spiritual know-how in general; or, the task is to convert abstract knowhow to concrete be-who, i.e., "it is" to "I am." Freud once described the process of psychoanalysis as "where id (it) was, there ego (I) shall be." Likewise, we might say something along the lines of "where dogma (or doctrine) was, there soul shall be."

But that's getting into a somewhat different subject. Back to the ananda-schadenfreude. In One Cosmos, I mentioned how the linear and atomistic understanding of genetics had broken down with advances in understanding.

Ironically, biology held to this simplistic paradigm borrowed from physics long after physics had abandoned it. In other words, quantum physics not only renders an atomistic view impossible, but ultimately reveals that there is no part of the cosmos that isn't entangled with every other part. It's all one roiling ocean of entangled quantum energy.

Turns out the genome is more like a gumbo than a computer, with unfathomable interaction between the parts. Thus, "the notion that DNA should be thought of as some kind of deterministic digital code that constructs vehicles for itself -- 'survival machines,' to use a popular phrase -- seems to be falling irretrievably into ever greater disfavor" (Hart).

You might say that if the genome were as simple as previously believed, it would be too simple to give rise to minds that comprehend it.

But "there is not really any such thing as a 'gene for' anything as such, so much as a kind of pluripotential genetic record of the evolutionary past that, in the present... can be used in vastly differing ways by cells, organisms, species, and ecologies" (ibid.). It's more like a thesaurus than a novel.

However, hiding behind a wall of inconceivable complexity is no metaphysical escape either, because it provides no inscape to the utter simplicity and unity of our subjective selves.

It is nice to see Hart give Richard Dawkins the obamacare treatment. For genes are not "selfish," and they certainly don't determine causality at a higher level -- any more than events in the quantum world determine whether or not I can type this sentence.

As Hart describes, genetic codes are not computer programs and human beings are not robots. Rather, these are just runaway metaphors, or scientistic myth run amuck.

One thing Darwinism omits -- and must omit, based upon its prior commitment to a materialist metaphysic -- is our openness at both ends, toward both the natural and supernatural worlds.

So yes, human beings are adapted to the physical world. But we are also adapted to the the world of human subjectivity -- one might call it the psychosphere -- and a world of transcendent truth -- the pneumosphere.

The result is that our genes do not survive "because they are in some mystical sense 'selfish' but precisely because the complex organisms to which they belong are not."

Thus, "Rather than genes fashioning vehicles for their survival, life has fashioned a special genetic legacy for itself," which vastly exceeds "the narrow requisites of private survival" (ibid.).

So, if it weren't for our sophish genes, they couldn't even give rise to a Richard Dawkins strong enough to resist them and fall into sophistry.


ted said...

“If you can’t take some joy, some modicum of relief and mirth, in the unprecedentedly spectacular beclowning of the president, his administration, its enablers, and, to no small degree, liberalism itself, then you need to ask yourself why you’re following politics in the first place. Because, frankly, this has been one of the most enjoyable political moments of my lifetime. I wake up in the morning and rush to find my just-delivered newspaper with a joyful expectation of worsening news so intense, I feel like Morgan Freeman should be narrating my trek to the front lawn” - Jonah Goldberg

Ha! Ironically, I am reading his book Liberal Fascism right now. Great read!

mushroom said...

where dogma (or doctrine) was, there soul shall be.

That is worth writing down.

I'm always fascinated by the idea of genetic switches and the complex feedback system between adapter and adaptee.

Van Harvey said...

"So, if it weren't for our sophish genes, they couldn't even give rise to a Richard Dawkins strong enough to resist them and fall into sophistry."

Good thing, 'cause that'd be way selfish of'em.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I'm thinkin' of trading in my genes for slacks. Be cause we are more than genes or any other parts of our body.

then there's dockers...

Leslie Lim said...

I'm impressed. You're truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. I'm saving this for future use.


lee woo said...

I like your post a lot! You should write some more on this!Great job coming with such terrific post!

echo said...

I certainly like the information i get from your blog post some valid points are sighted. This is truly a good reading.

sarah lee said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post, so i think it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the effort you have made in writing this article.

lee woo said...

Love it! Very interesting topics, I hope the incoming comments and suggestion are equally positive. Thank you for sharing this information that is actually helpful.

andrea chiu said...

Thanks for sharing your article and for giving us the chance to read it. It is very helpful and encouraging. Visit my site too.

Cindy Dy said...

I am very happy to locate your website. I just wanted to thank you for the time you spent on this great article. I definitely enjoyed reading it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.