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mamun (clipping path)'s picture

thanks for the post

thanks for the post

Charles Justice's picture

emergence and gender

Dr Dawn,
to understand the difference between emergence or self-organization and design think of a machine vs a biological system. The machine is designed and built to serve a purpose. A bicycle has two wheels, a seat, pedals, and handlebars to carry a person over the ground. A school of fish is self-organized. As all the school moves and changes direction at the same instance, it moves as if all the fish are of one mind. But they aren't, each fish is acting and influencing each of their neighbours simultaneously. There is no leader or conscious mind directing. This is self-organization.

Consider how everything is related to everything else. All creatures are related to each other. We all are made up of cells, we all derive initially from a single cell and develop into embyros, we all have nervous systems, and circulatory systems. Our cells share the same organelles and do the same sorts of things as the cells in all other creatures. We all, without a single exception, use DNA and RNA to reproduce.

Machines come in all shapes and sizes and are built of all sorts of materials. They are not organically related to each other the way living things are. The fact that RNA and DNA are used by all living creatures to reproduce means that we are all related to a single original cell. That cell had DNA and was able to reproduce itself.

If you look inside machines, you will see parts that were designed and built to interact in a way that serves the purpose of the machine. the feet put pressure on the pedal which turns the wheels round, etc.

If we were able to look inside our bodies, we would see groups of cells interacting in a self-organizing manner. Cells combine and separate, they interact and communicate, they influence each other. There is no planner or designer involved. You can be asleep and your heart keeps pumping, and your lungs keep breathing, and your cells grow in number.

Biological systems are self-organizing but machines are never internally self-organizing because they are designed and built purposefully. Humans have lots of different purposes and reasons for building machines. Reproduction must have originally been a form of self-organization that replicated itself, so that it maintained it's continued existence.

All living things act purposively to maintain themselves and reproduce progeny. They do this by taking energy from the sun or indirectly consuming it. Humans with language and consciousness, have discovered new forms of energy which have allowed us to greatly enlarge the number and the range of our purposes. These purposes have become temporarily globally dominant. But their very dominance is the route of human downfall. By overriding the rest of life we are undermining life's ability through it's self-organization, to support our existence.

Dr. Dawn's picture

"Emergence" and Gender, Sexual Reproduction

Just wondering, since it was noted on the site that emergence is on the table and design is off, if someone would help me understand how the genders came about through a process, when reproduction requires fully-formed reproductive organs--hey, individuals only have a single generation to get their act together and successfully reproduce or all their "emergent" characteristics are lost to posterity. What would be the likelihood of the simultaneous "emergence" of two organisms that had fully-functioning, "complementary" equipment in the same generation of time and in close enough proximity--and for these organisms to even know what to do to make it happen? When did pheromones come on the scene--and what is "instinct"? What were the reproductive transitions to so-called "higher" organisms? Why would emergence favor leaving the highly-competitive ability to multiply prolifically for the ability to produce single digit numbers of progeny? If emergence brought this along, how did organisms reproduce along the way? That's not to mention that mammals would need milk production capabilities, with a perfect combination of nutrients for the progeny from day one--and the mother and offspring would need to have the ability and knowledge (instinct) to participate in nursing. But I digress.... Even with the current competence in anatomy and physiology, a lot has to go right for sexual reproduction to be successful. Again, just wondering--and this is a very small segment of the multitude of changes related to this very fundamentally necessary process.

Greg Molineux's picture

I shall start on a slight

I shall start on a slight tangent and work back towards your question. I recently saw a lecture of a scientist who had been studying the self organisation of locusts into swarms. Apart from the interesting findings that the shape that the locust swarm took enabled the swarm to move more efficiently through the environment, a study of the mormon locust showed that each of the members were in search of salt and protein. As each locust was individually the best source of salt and protein the locusts are forced to continue to swarm or be eaten by other members of the swarm. For some reason this reminds me of the myths surrounding the great hunt, where a man after visiting the faerie king is told to ride at the head of the great hunt until a greyhound on his horse jumps down. In relation to genders, it seems a sensible proposition that they evolved precisely as a way to keep population numbers down, to preserve an organisms environment and therefore itself.

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