Miscellany (General)

by dhw, Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 12:34 (38 days ago) @ David Turell

Function in cells
dhw: If cells can change their function, it is worth considering the possibility that cell communities can autonomously change their function in response to new conditions. This is already apparent from the changes by which some organisms adapt to conditions that kill others. And so theoretically, it is possible that the cell communities not only adapt, but can also invent (i.e. change their function).

DAVID: See below, but cells normal function is to change within required limits for equilibrium requirements.

Yes of course. Once the species is formed, it stays true to itself, i.e. stable, until conditions change, and then the cell communities may also respond by changing and forming new species. Just a theory.

DAVID: Cells are fixed in their functions […]

dhw: But stem cells are not fixed. They can develop into different types and different organs. That is why I am suggesting that the process described above may be highly relevant to the manner in which evolution works.

DAVID: But in embryology certain stem cells are programmed to become different parts of the body or receive differing stimuli to guide their change.

dhw: Differing stimuli would be the key: changing conditions might demand or allow major changes of function.

DAVID: All we know in this are is epigenetic minor adaptations

You keep repeating this, and I keep repeating my agreement, but nobody knows how speciation works, and so the proposal is that the mechanism which causes minor adaptations (i.e. cellular intelligence) may also have caused the major adaptations and innovations that have resulted in speciation. We now know that certain cells can change their functions. That fits in with the proposal.

DAVID: The most efficient flying predator known:
Different wing muscle controls allows flying backward 360 degree compound eyes and many other wonderful engineering.

DAVID: about 15 minutes is worth it.

dhw: It certainly is! Thank you, as always, for these wonderful wonders!

DAVID: Thank God, not me.

A lovely reply! I thank you for directing us to all these wonders, and if God exists, I thank him too for either designing them or for giving cells the intelligence to design them.

QUOTE: This does not mean that opossums themselves necessarily have a concept of death, or that they behave this way with the intention of being mistaken for a corpse. On the contrary, it appears to be a genetically inherited behaviour that does not require any learning and that is triggered automatically upon the detection of certain stimuli.

We’ve discussed all this before. All animals, like ourselves, obviously know the difference between surviving and not surviving, and they have developed countless strategies to help themselves to survive. All strategies must have started at some time. You can’t inherit something that never existed! So did the first opossum have an inspired idea, or faint with fright and then realise afterwards that it was still alive and tell its mates? Your guess is as good as mine. But once a strategy is known to work, then of course it’s passed on.

DAVID: The Darwin-laced article assumes these mechanisms appeared under selection pressure because it works!!!

What do you mean by “selection pressure”? The pressure comes from the urge to survive!

DAVID: No idea of how any animal using this trick decided upon it.

True. I’ve offered you two possibilities. What’s your theory?

QUOTE: We humans like to think of ourselves as a unique species. However, little by little, all those traits that we have been relying on to ground this uniqueness have been falling, as the science advances and reveals the staggering diversity and complexity of animal minds and behaviour. We now have solid evidence of culture, morality, rationality, and even rudimentary forms of linguistic communication. The concept of death should also be counted among those characteristics to which we can no longer resort to convince us of how very special we are. It is time to rethink human exceptionalism, and the disrespect for the natural world that comes with it._

DAVID: The final paragraph is the standard Darwinian attack on our exceptionalism.

The usual polarization, with absolutely no thought of the possibility that BOTH views are perfectly reasonable. Every detail listed above is a trait we have in common (= we are not exceptional), but we ARE exceptional in so far as we have developed them all in ways that reach way, way beyond the limitations of our fellow animals. Our language is infinitely more complex than their language, our culture extends to different forms of music etc. which are infinitely more complex than their simple songs, our rationality reaches into philosophy, science, technology, ethics that are infinitely more complex than their simple tools and strategies for survival.
I agree with the article, but the authors and you should recognize that the word “exceptionalism” can be used to denote different aspects of the subject: it IS time to rethink human exceptionalism, and the disrespect for the natural world that comes with it. We have all these traits in common with our fellow animals, and we should not assume that our exceptional development of them entitles us to disrespect them.

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