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Most biologists and philosophers understand vitalism as the doctrine of the entelechy, originally proposed by the German biologist Hans Driesch in the early twentieth century. According to Driesch, entelechies were nonmaterial, bio-specific agents responsible for governing a few peculiar biological phenomena. Current attitudes towards vitalism and the doctrine of the entelechy are almost universally negative. Numerous biologists and philosophers today endorse this metaphysical refutation of vitalism. For them, since all events and processes in the world, from the metaphysical point of view, must be identical or reducible to some material (or physical) events and processes, there is no room for nonmaterial agents such as entelechies. The addition of the information instead of the concept of entelechy will change the perspective on vitalism.,
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You might dispense with entelechy or élan vital in favor of information (à la Shannon & Weaver), but wouldn't the resulting theory be a replacement of vitalism with an information-theoretic biology rather than an updated vitalism?
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From antiquity, one of the first fundamental areas of the development of thoughts and considerations being precursory trends for the subsequent development of specific fields of science was logic and philosophy. Analysis of the development of various directions, theories, concepts, trends, and philosophical schools in the context of the history of philosophical thought can also provide inspiration for contemporary considerations over specific guesses, the search for solutions to complex problems, and the planning of complex research processes.
Many philosophical concepts and trends from the past, formulated in other epochs, are in principle still valid despite the technical, technological and civilization progress made. I believe that many philosophical concepts and trends from the past concerning the role of man in the surrounding world, in relations with the environment, including the social and natural environment, man as part of nature in a sustainable ecosystem, etc. is still valid. Human life has changed due to technological and civilization progress. The current technological revolution, known as Industry 4.0, could, however, change human life in highly developed countries so far that these may be already noticeable in contemporary trends and philosophical concepts concerning antrolope, social issues, etc.
On the other hand, modern philosophical concepts can also describe the role of science in the 21st century in the context of successively growing global social, climate and natural and economic problems.
In view of the above, the current question is: Do you know any theories or directions of philosophical thought that inspire you to carry out scientific research?
Please, answer, comments. I invite you to the discussion.
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"Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and end in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality" (Einstein, 1934/1954 p. 271)
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Who gives the last word about the evolutionary process, genetics or ecology?
In other words, are ecological interactions driven by any genetic phenomenon? Or is it genetics that has been molded by ecology?
[I’m a Brazilian biologist and writer. I write about science – I have just released a new book, O que é darwinismo (What is Darwinism, in Portuguese) – and would like to know the opinion of colleagues from other countries (from any field of scientific knowledge).]
See also What do you think about fitness, adaptation and natural selection? (https://www.researchgate.net/post/What_do_you_think_about_fitness_adaptation_and_natural_selection)
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Nobel Prize winner Niko Tinbergen observed in his now classic 1963 paper, "On the aims and methods of ethology" (Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie 20: 410-433) that in order to adequately analyze observed patterns of behavioural ecology in a species, it is necessary to distinguish between *ultimate* and *proximate* causative factors. Ultimate factors include: i) the *function* (or "adaptive value") of a behaviour, and ii) the "phylogeny" (or evolutionary history) of a behaviour; proximate factors include: i) *ontogeny* (or behavioural changes related tp growth and development), and ii)*proximate conditions* (i.e., that which has happened in the recent past and that which is going on under current ecological conditions). So, what is needed in trying to gain insight on biological evolution is an holistic perspective that incorporates *both* genetics and ecology. A perfect example of the value of this integrated approach is the need for up-to-date data in both the genetic and ecological realms in order to deal with conservation biology issues.
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In Argentina, biology teachers usually playfully say to their students "do not ask 'what for', ask 'why'!" ("no preguntes para qué, pregunta por qué"). This expression represents a rejection, in the letter but not necessarily in the spirit, of teleology: final causes and functional language. Do English-speaking Professors of biology, use a similar expression?
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Kou Hayakawa
With all due respect, I think there should be a common language to exchange Scientific ideas. Earlier it was Latin and now it is English. I agree English might not be the best one, but it is the most used one, till, perhaps, we decide upon some other Lingua Franca.
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Recently molecular biologists have recognized the importance of DNA methylation in epigenetic processes, conferring a degree of flexibility to all cellular functions. This mechanism operates in all living cells, tissues and systems.
In the brain, one of the most powerful mechanisms of plasticity is long-term potentiation (LTP), which is induced by calcium ion entry through a membrane channel that contains the same kind of molecule.
Is there an evolutionary development that begins with flexibility of single cells and develops to brain tissue plasticity, allowing register, storage and cognitive operation with more complex information patterns?
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A new line of research that may help to answer our question:
One of the authors will give a talk at the MCCS meeting in San Diego in November, in the 17th Annual MCCS Symposium and Poster Session Nov/01/2018 to Nov/02/2018
Invited Speakers include:
Jason Shepherd (University of Utah): Retroviral origins of synaptic plasticity and cognition
Tom McHugh (Riken Institute): Spatial instability of the hippocampal engram
Hailan Hu (Zhejiang University): Rapid antidepressant mechanism of ketamine through silencing LHb bursts
Laura Colgin (University of Texas, Austin): Place cell coding in normal and abnormal memory
Genevieve Konopka (University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center): Cell-type specific transcriptional networks regulating striatal development and behavior
Paul Kenny (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) Mechanisms of new action learning
Nandakumar Narayanan (University of Iowa, Iowa Neuroscience Institute): Dopamine, delta rhythms, and cognitive control
Emma Wood (The University of Edinburgh): Behavioural characterisation and rescue in a rat model of Fragile X syndrome
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Steven Pinker recently wrote an op-ed arguing bioethicists should 'get out of the way' of biomedical progress. (https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/07/31/the-moral-imperative-for-bioethics/JmEkoyzlTAu9oQV76JrK9N/story.html)  He seems to be worried that the research ethics pendulum has swung too far in the 'protectionism' direction, delaying the development of numerous life-saving and life-improving interventions.  But is he right?  Pinker is light on the details, but are there topics or subfields where his criticisms are particularly apt?
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'get out of the way' of biomedical progress.
A laudable sentiment except for one major flaw.  Ethicists do not stand in the way of medical progress they stand in the way of unethical behaviour.
If Prof. Pinker thinks that 'medical progress' can be made in a world motivated by greed, pride and arrogance then he is mistaken.  Progress 'at any price' is not progress.  Those involved in medical research are not simply driven by a desire to rid the world of its evils, to conquer pain and disease.  Money, ego and fame are potent influences on behaviour.
Bioethics are the gatekeeper to protect us all from the foibles of corruption.  Biomedical science is now sadly acknowledged to be the most corrupted of all sciences.  No one should stand in the way of progress but we need ethicists to make sure that it is progress that we are talking about. 
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Seeking the basic cognitive and intelligent properties of humans.
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1. the status of Neandertals and Denisovans as "humans" is not universally accepted. "what else" could they be is non-human sub-species of the genus Homo. Most of the extant categories of genus contain multiple species and sub-species. No one has an issue with saying that the butterfly found on island A is not the same as the butterfly on island B based on differences noted through examination of specimens.
2. My question about whether Neandertals and Denisovans are to be considered humans or not was a conditional statement. Saying yes or no does not address the implications.
The most important implications of saying yes are that these humans are extinct, and if we are to understand why humans are different than other animals we must explain why certain types of humans are extinct and what extinction of certain types of humans means for our definition of human.
We also knew nothing of the existence of the Denisovans until very recently. If they are humans, if is likely that there are other types of humans that we are unaware of due to inadequate sampling of geographical regions.
If we do not know how many types of humans there are, we cannot say we know what a human is.
3. telling someone to read your research to understand the definitions of terms as you use them when you have space here, and when they are skeptical of your arguments as presented here, is not reasonable. If I asked you to read a bunch of articles, would you go and do that?
4. ignoring nothing is impossible. at the minimum, ignoring nothing would mean reading all potentially relevant research, examining the data sets used to develop that research, and verifying the accuracy of the data sets and the link between the data sets and the research presented. I doubt you have examined every Neandertal bone ever discovered, or read every article relating to Neandertals.
5. Researchers such as Mr Richerson present highly relevant data of a sort that is not amenable to "a biological (comparative) viewpoint". Limiting the range of information you consider relevant despite other relevant information is not the way to answer a question such as this. Language and social organization are highly relevant, both to the issue in general and the question as asked. They are also relevant to classification of Neandertals and Denisovans, as these beings apparently had very different linguistic and social structures than Sapiens, based on available data that is much more extensive for Neandertals than Denisovans.
In sum, my conclusion remains the same: we do not have enough information to know what a human is.
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Of course the first question would be how many conceptual/empirical problems, of philosophy's interest the biology has? How many of those problems has been solved? 
Just in case of any extremist response, what would you say to a biology scientists who thinks that the philosophy cannot solve anything?
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The clearest fairly recent example is probably Elliott Sober's work on the units of selection (The Nature of Selection, 1984), and later on group selection with David Sloan Wilson (Unto Others, 1999).  It's easier to see the effect in retrospect, and it's not easy to separate the contributions from philosophers and from philosophically sophisticated scientists, but there is a great deal of discussion between philosophers and theoretically inclined biologists on Genomics, Systems Biology, Microbiology, Systematics, Big Data, etc., and many biologists seem to think this is a productive dialogue.
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As a theoretical game or in order to anticipate an evolutionary biology revolution and of course without any intention of get back to non scientific debates like the ID. What kind of empirical evidence or conceptual issues can change the main paradigm of the evolutionary biology?
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One of the central tenants of Darwinian selection is that natural selection acts on preexisting genetic variation. So the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is indeed falsifiable to some extent. All you need to do is find an instance where genetic changes occurred as a result of selection rather than prior to it. Specifically, these changes must occur highly disproportionately at the sites of selection, rather than just having an overall increased mutation rate. An example of this type of challenge was in 1988 when John Cairns proposed a possible example of directed mutation in the lactose operon in E. coli. This stimulated a fair amount of research into the phenomenon, with the final consensus being that the phenomenon was consistent with neo-Darwinian theory, and the Lamarckian appearance of the phenomenon was an artifact. The literature on the subject is quite rich, and worth looking into for anyone who wants to see what a real scientific challenge to neo-Darwinian theory looks like, and how it is investigated by empirical scientists.
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In struggling to clarify a nagging dissatisfaction with Robert Rosen's well developed arguments regarding the limitations of formal models, the question of this discussion came to mind, that Rosen lays out just as well an argument for the non-mathematisability of physical reality. For those better acquainted with Rosen's argument (i.e. spent decades ruminating, as opposed to a few years), I'd like to glean your take. Can you give good argument against the premise of the question?
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First, look particularly to A. H. Louie. Rosen's arguments, right or wrong, are profound, relate to complex and nuanced issues, and most importantly are never expressed in some singular, explicit form the way a proof that "(M,R)-systems are necessarily non-computable" require. This is not to demean or in any way detract from Rosen, simply to recognize (as his foremost proponents do) that the development of his ideas over time were never expressed in a formal proof. This is not true of those who have built on his work, hence Louie.
Second, Rosen doesn't argue that physical reality is "non-mathematisability". He argues that living systems are closed to efficient causation, and therefore must have non-computable models. This differs from your description in two extremely important ways. One is the restriction to living systems (Rosen's argument rests on "(M,R)-systems", or anticipatory systems defined in this case specifically in terms of metabolism-repair). This in no ways entails, implies, or otherwise suggests that physical reality itself is non-computable sui generis. It entails that a tiny subset of physical systems are. Another issue is that "non-mathematisability" is not equivalent to "non-computable" or incomputable. We define computability mathematically, which means we can determine what is incomputable mathematically, and this alone entails that what is incomputable/non-computable can be represented mathematically.
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What about genetic parasites or multicellular parasites as cancer? They can evolve, so are they species? Without getting into the species problem, what exactly is the ontological product of evolution? The organism´s properties? The entities?
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I think the question here is trying to be precise in a way that simply does not work in science and has no useful meaning in philosophy. Species are not entities. They can be defined in relation to individuals living at the same point in time but not in relation to individuals living at different times on an evolutionary scale - a bit like continents. The products of evolution include the carbon dioxide we breathe out, mammoths, toenails, cancers and viruses. The mediators of evolution probably include any biological packages that contain replicable nucleic acid but may also include prions. Tumours are now transferrable so at least in labs may be part of the story. I really do not think there is any meaning to a question as broad as this. Any answer that is then used as a premise for a new set of arguments is very likely to lead to a nonsense conclusion. To my mind the main problem with philosophy is that it concentrates on generating valid conclusions but often starting with premises taken out of context so that the conclusions are not sound. Validity without soundness is a waste of everybody's time.
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Please give me your views and opinions about that how to define Life
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Bill,
Howard Pattee (who has a RG profile) has written extensively on the relation between the origin of life and the origin of symbol or language (biosemiotic).
The amount of information in living systems compare with the amount of information in all other type of natural systems is astronomical. There is a explosion of information. Inanimate systems have almost no memory, no information. They operate in the now. Living systems establish a critical distinction between the outside and the inside in order to maintain homeostasis. They repair themself and reproduce and evolve.
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Mark Perlman writes: "Teleology has certainly made a comeback in philosophical circles in the last thirty years. It went from a suspect or disreputable notion, ready for elimination, to the hottest topic in philosophy of biology, psychology and mind."
Perlman, M. 2004, “The modern philosophical resurrection of teleology”, The Monist, vol. 87, no. 1, pp. 3-51.
Why was the notion of teleology abandoned and why has it been revived?
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Hello Chris,
There is a great book which makes this its primary focus. It is called Teleological Language in the Life Sciences, and it is by Lowell Nissen. I quote here from the back cover:
"The use of teleological language in science has long been of philosophical interest because such language seems to assume purpose in nature, or, if not, to require reverse causation. Neither is compatible with natural science. Nevertheless, teleological language remains widely used in science, especially biology and biochemistry. In this groundbreaking new study, Lowell Nissen explores the use of teleological language in the study of subjects such as behaviorism, negative feedback, and natural selection. He argues that all existing analyses fail to explain how teleological language can be used legitimately, and provides his own analysis in terms of intentionality. Philosophers and scientists alike will find this book of great interest and value."
It is a good read and speaks very broadly to the subject. The most comprehensive book that I know of on the subject of teleology generally is Andrew Woodfield's Teleology, which is based on his doctoral work at Oxford under J.L. Mackie. Woodfield concludes that the reason why the Aristotelian conception of teleology “faded out is simply that the new men of science stopped asking teleological questions. To them final causes were scientifically irrelevant.” Since you make reference to Aristotle, here is one of the things Woodfield has to say about Aristotelian thought (though he elsewhere berates what he calls "Aristotelian-cum-Wittgensteinian" conceptions of teleology):
"There are plenty of paradigms, especially in biology and the social sciences, which lay great emphasis on the usefulness of teleological explanations. Systems theory is one example. Many people hail it as a new metaphysic which will supersede the worn-out, atomistic and mechanistic paradigms that have dominated for so long. In many respects, its basic concepts and methods hark back to Aristotelianism."
Addressing teleology from a theistic point of view, Alvin Plantinga has addressed the phenomenon at length in Warrant and Proper Function. Plantinga regularly speaks of the "design plan" of an organism. Though he is a Christian philosopher, he is not making reference to Intelligent Design when he does so. He is speaking of our doxastic capabilities, but he makes analogy to the intellect by way of the heart in the case below:
"The purpose of the heart is to pump blood; that of our cognitive faculties (overall) is
to supply us with reliable information..... But not just any old way of accomplishing
this purpose in the case of a specific cognitive process is in accordance with our
design plan."
He moves on to state:
"When our perceptual faculties function properly, when they function in accordance with our design plan, we form that sort of belief in response to that way of being appeared to. Given an appropriate epistemic environment and given that the module of the design plan governing perception is successfully aimed at truth, such beliefs will have warrant; when held with sufficient firmness, they constitute knowledge."
He will go on to make an interesting argument that science is essentially trying to enjoy what Americans call "a free lunch" when they presuppose that their intellectual faculties are reliable yet give no credit to the teleology of the human brain and its functioning.
I appreciate your usage of "supernatural" above. It offends no one, and is, in a very real sense, accurate.