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Intention in Science

Science, the processes of the natural world, they are without intention. Biological Evolution, the rules of the universe, the properties of the elements, these are all forces without intention. However the way in which humanity understands all of these natural things is very far from being objective or without intention. The human scientific process is tailored to a human experience of the world, the measurements we take and the units that we use are all things that can be understood with the human senses. All of the tests that scientists conduct are tailored to humanities sensory organs, so all the experiments scientists make are made with the intent that the results can be understood using the human senses. This is very useful because if this wasn’t the way things were done there would be no way for us to understand our own experiments but it does mean that all science is done with that intent. That is not the only intentionality surrounding the scientific process however, science is always done with the intent of answering a hypothesis, and this is so the results obtained by experiments are meaningful to humans. It would be very difficult to convince a scientist to conduct an experiment without any intention as to what the results would be or what exactly they were trying to disprove. If there was no intention than the experiment would only be an example of Nature’s random laws and not a demonstration of something that had been quantified by human scientists or of something they were hoping to quantify. A quote from Robert Pollack’s The Missing Moment puts it much more elegantly than I ever could “No scientist…has time to look at all the data that all possible experiments might generate…Instead, every science chooses selectively all the time, and with each choice some data are precisely not gathered, let alone examined. Choices are necessary, and it is at the moment when choices are made that the scientific method departs from the wholly conscious tool of scientific experimentation and enters the human world in which all choices are made in a personal and social historical context, replete with emotional affects and barely remembered feelings.”(81).

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Evolution of Intent

The evolution of literature is seen in many ways, through modern use of classical references, through literary influences, and most obviously in adaptations. Within the range of evolution in literary adaptations is the evolution of characters, settings, language, plot, meaning, and intent. The authorial intent is the one aspect that must always change when literature evolves because it is the most deeply personal aspect. When the plot of a story remains recognizably the same but the message and meaning has been completely altered some people would say that the work was a bad adaptation. I say that it is a good evolution of the original work, that kind of adaptation is analogous to homologies in tetrapod limbs. A bats wing has the same basic structure as their ancestor’s yet they serve a completely different function. To me this is the biological equivalent as literary pieces with the same or similar plot points that are being used to convey different meanings. One story that has been adopted into several different medias and incarnations is Hans Christian Andersen’s 1836 story The Little Mermaid.  

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Evolution of Intelligence in a Box

In our class discussions on biological evolution we have defined the term crane as something that builds without intent and the term skyhook as something that creates with intent. The question of drawing parallels between a computer developing artificial intelligence and the evolution of human intelligence depends on how those two terms are treated. A computer with intelligence programmed into it has been the creation of a skyhook, in this case the computer programmer who set out to create artificial intelligence. If you do not believe that skyhooks have any part in evolution then you could not believe in the evolutionary development of AI unless you take into account the way that the human understanding of computers and programming would have to evolve and the fact that to be truly intelligent the AI would have to keep developing and evolving to be considered so. An intelligence created by a skyhook that does not develop independently of the skyhook is not truly intelligent; the intelligence must evolve on its own to qualify for that designation.

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Evolutionists vs. Creationists

       Ernst Mayr seems very disdainful of creationists and their opposition of evolution in his book What Evolution Is. He makes it very apparent to the reader that he believes their claims have no proof to back them up and in his list of books that would prove that they are wrong we have such unbiased sounding titles as Niles Eldredge’s The Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism as well as Philip Kitcher’s Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism. Why are these titles so harsh? It is because on the other side of the divide the creationists are just as stubborn. Philip Kitcher says that creationists are abusing science but Paul Abramson the editor of says that evolutionists are abusing science. The animosity these groups hold for each other is astounding and due to the opposite nature of their beliefs I wondered if it were possible for the two groups to co-exist. I believe that the answer to my question is a provisional yes. I do not believe that these groups need to publish entire books that are poorly veiled attacks on the opposing side. I believe that evolutionists and creationists could co-exist if they were willing to listen to each others points and agree to disagree on certain others.

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