Revista científica. Nº 14. Vol. 8. 2000. Ciudad de México (México)
Editado por: Revista semestral editada por el Centro de Estudios Filosóficos, Políticos y Sociales Vicente Lombardo Toledano de la Secretaría de Educación Pública, la Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Iztapalapa y Edicions UIB de la Universitat de les Illes Balears
Ciencias Naturales, Humanidades: Evolucionismo, Antropología, Arqueología, Ciencias Cognitivas.
Palabras clave: evolucionismo, antropología, filosofía de la biología
Historia y filosofía de las teorías evolucionistas, epistemología de las ciencias de la vida, paleoantropología y estudios sobre lo humano, el juego de los conceptos.
Francis Dov Por
In disagreement with the reigning view that animal evolution is only the result of contingency and of catastrophic events, this article presents a view which considers animal evolution as a cumulative process of information buildup, channeled by irreversible constraints. The roots of the prevalent anti-progressivist views are briefly reviewed.
The role of the animals in biospheric evolution is analyzed on the background of the general entropy increase in the solar system. Animals act as energy traders and stimulators of the expansion and efficiency of the biosphere. The basic functions of animality are defined, and their improvement is seen as a yardstick of progress. Progressive evolution in the animal kingdom is followed along its winding and narrow path, as their respective structural and physiological burdens successively bind the different phyla. Natural selection at the phyletic level is seen as acting, rather than the extraterrestrial catastrophes. Increasing segments of the animal world are induced into establishing subservient relationships with the dominant phyla. Terrestrial animal life, with its high demands for homeostasis compensated for by an ample vegetal biomass and rich oxygen supply, had the uniquely capacity to give rise to the most complex animal forms. Among the homeothermic vertebrates, mammals are singled-out by natural selection to produce the most intelligent and energetically active animal beings. The rise of the humans is not an accident, but the present crowning of a long ‘post-hoc’ foreseeable process. It is a new and, again, irreversible stage in organic evolution, with long-lasting and profound effects.
Palabras clave / Keywords: modern biology, nature, human
New approaches to the theory of evolution
Although in a metaphoric way, we can approach the explanation of the body of biological evolution by resorting to the dimensions used in physics to locate bodies in space. Thus, a point in space is well located when one has a necessary and sufficient set of orthogonal dimensions. Such dimensions, which in evolutionary biology we will call “parameters”, are usually associated to certain theories of biological evolution. According to the classical (and extended classical) theory, three parameters provide an adequate description of the body of evolution, i.e., mutation, natural selection, and chance. New findings, or old ones re-interpreted upon a new foundation, intend to provide new parameters for understanding the body of evolution. There are even some approaches that go as far as to state that selection is not a fundamental parameter to account for the generation of the living world. Demonstrating that this thesis is not correct, that the new parameters are irrelevant to explain the living world, or that they are reducible to the three mentioned above, represents nowadays one of the core theoretical debates on the theory of evolution.
Among the new approaches to evolution, it is worth mentioning those related to evolutionary computing, in vitro building of simple phenotypes or ancestral genes, or the restraints that development places on the morphology of individuals. All of them debate the relative role that natural selection plays in evolution, and some of them, according to the degree of verification of the hypotheses, sustain that explaining the body of evolution requires new dimensions or parameters.
Palabras clave / Keywords: evolución, evolución computacional, morfología
From the beginning, symbiosis has been viewed as an association of two specifically distinct organisms living together. Firstly, symbiosis may suggest an idea of mutual benefit, but partners become dependent on symbiosis. Such dynamical phenomenon between two organisms in physiological interdependence is liable to evolve by creating a new life unit. This notion implies a reorganization of genomes and seems especially adapted to describe endosymbiosis. Putting forward a hypothesis of interactions leads us to consider the organism as a consequence of a self-organization process. In this paper, we refer to Kauffman’s works and to various cases of endosymbiosis. Considering the symbiotic genome, some biological results tend to indicate that models with (C=1 or C=2, K=1 or K=2) are not unrealistic and should be tested. But different epistemological questions prompt us to reflect further on the role of natural selection, the reality of the modeled interactions, the nature of the process of mutual adjustment. Moreover, regular interactions cannot exist in constant numbers for each gene. In spite of all these caveats regarding the applicability of Kauffman’s model concerning the establishment of a symbiosis in amoebae, simulation and experimentation yield results included in the same order of magnitude.
Palabras clave / Keywords: evolución, organismo, reorganización del genoma, ADN
How and why of the living
Ernst Mayr has always insisted in presenting the sciences of life divided into two general dominions of inquiry: functional biology, devoted to study experimentally the proximate causes which, acting at the level of the individual organism, explain the how of vital phenomena; and evolutionary biology, which intends to reconstruct, through comparative methods and historical inferences, the ultimate or remote causes that, acting at the population level, would explain the why of such phenomena. Admitting such distinction, the author nonetheless takes the liberty to suggest that these two dominions of inquiry may be thought of as following two different methodological maxims, each one of which, it will be stated, establishes a different mode to question the living.
Thus, we will refer to a function principle, which would rule over functional biology, and an adaptation principle governing evolutionary biology. The idea is that, by defining a type of questioning or an explanatory aim for each sphere of inquiry, these maxims also establish the model or pattern of explanation that will operate as the correct answer to the type of question put forward in either sphere: the function principle gives rise to that which is often called functional explanation or analysis, and the adaptation principle gives rise to that which has sometimes been called selective explanation.
The contrast between these two explanatory models will allow us to grasp no only the difference existing between what Mayr calls proximate causes and ultimate causes, but also the existing difference between the notion of [physiological] function, inherent to functional biology, and the notion of [adaptive] function, inherent to evolutionary biology. Thus, partially adopting a doubtless widely-spread posture, we will state that, whereas the core feature of functional biology is causal analysis, in which a notion of function akin to that proposed by Cummins is assumed, evolutionary biology involves a different notion that, no doubt, is at least kindred to the one proposed by Wright.
Nonetheless, the author will not conclude that both principles have the same epistemological statute; based on our analysis, only one of them, the adaptation principle, has a statute analogous to the principle of causation; the other one, the function principle, will be thought of as a subordinate to the latter. And such difference, closely linked to the different forms of teleology that, as we hope to demonstrate, are presupposed in either dominion of biology, may also be useful to recognize the different degree of autonomy that evolutionary biology and functional biology have in regard to physics and chemistry.
Palabras clave / Keywords: Ernst Mayr, filosofía de la biología, biología funcional
Laudan’s proposed constraints on cognitive aims are criticized:
i) Laudan’s proscription of ‘semantically utopian’ and ‘epistemically utopian’ aims is too restrictive.
ii) Laudan does not distinguish impossible valuable goals from impossible but approachable valuable goals (i.e., ideal goals).
iii) Laudan’s recommendation against impossible aims is counter-in-tuitive because it characterizes as irrational idealist conduct (such as that of saints, heroes, and martyrs.)
iv) Laudan’s pre-philosophical’ canons of scientific success cannot bejustified empirically as valuable without some intuitions about what is a genuine example of successful science. This even though Laudan has told us that his meta-methodology does not require of intuitions.
Palabras clave / Keywords: Laudan, pre-filosofía, filosofía
El patrimonio arqueológico mexicano y la International School of American Archaeology and Ethnology (Pág. 131-164)
The archaelogical patrimony of Mexico and the International School of American Archaeology and Ethnology
In recent years, the usual narratives in the history of anthropology, especially regarding its founding fathers, have received radical criticism. Although this is written from the present or current context, it does not amount to an unreflective historical presentism, but intends to provide new starting points for this discipline in the face of the twenty-first century and of teaching in anthropology. The historiography of Mexican anthropology has paid scarce attention to the pre-Revolutionary periods and to the activity of the National Museum of Archaeology, History and Ethnology under the government of Porfirio Díaz. Rather, Manuel Gamio, with his Department of Archaeological and Ethnographic Studies (1917), is considered the founding father of scientific anthropology in the country. This essay intends to locate an episode of anthropology in the final years of the Diaz regime. The International School of American Archaeology and Ethnology was created then on the initiative of Franz Boas, with support from the Mexican and Prussian governments and from some U.S. institutions. The first head of the School was Eduard Georg Seler, an Americanist well-known in the central nations, and also a personal and professional friend of Boas’s. In 1911, together with his wife and some of his students, Seler set out on several archaeological expeditions for which, according to the School’s statutes, he received an authorization from the then Department of Inspection and Preservation of Archaeological Monuments. Thus, in March of that year, he visited Palenque, where he discovered mural paintings. Such discovery led to a conflict with Leopoldo Batres, the Inspector and Preserver of Archaeological Monuments. The conflict centered in the discovery and preservation of the paintings. From the horizon of the early twentieth century, this episode, unknown until now in the historiography of Mexican anthropology, highlights problems which still prevail in the current discussions regarding the ethics, policy, and the professional practice of the preservation and rescue of Mexico’s cultural patrimony.
Palabras clave / Keywords: patrimonio arqueológico, arqueología, pintura mural, monumentos arqueológicos
El comportamiento humano con su ambiente a la luz de las teorías biológicas de la evolución (Pág. 165-187)
Human behavior with his environment in the light of biological evolution theories
This paper demonstrates that the modern phenogenetic theory of evolution offers a fertile ground on which to establish the relation between biological and social sciences.
The paper criticizes hegemonic Neo-Darwinism, pointing out that its theoretical tools do not allow moving from the behavior of living beings as a whole to that of human beings in particular without “somersaults” that lead, unwittingly, to idealistic postures. These are apparent in Ultradarwinism, which explains human culture or its institutions in terms of the virtue, courage, boldness, willingness, and so forth of the victors. They can likewise be seen in the traditional dichotomy nature-culture, where the latter term arises from a biological evolution but, as soon as it does, is explained by its ideal expressions (shared mental construction, articulate language, symbology, and so on).
We argue that the rationale for such limitation lies in Neo-Darwinism’s contempt towards the role of the phenotype in evolution. For Neodarwinism, evolution is an almost exclusively genetic issue. In this paper we recall that, to formulate his theory on natural selection, Darwin himself was inspired on another form of evolutionary selection, the artificial one carried out by breeders. It is precisely this latter form that Homo sapiens has favored by subjecting all evolution, both wittingly and unwittingly, to his own destiny.
The core argument in the paper is that such artificial selection is possible inasmuch as man relates with his surroundings in an increasingly mediatic way, through things produced and stored. This modality is part of the phenotype’s activity in the transformation of the surroundings, which sets a kind of ecological inheritance for oncoming generations, and it may be traced to other living creatures, as the phenogenetical theory of evolution states. On the contrary, if evolution is considered as an exclusively genetic issue, there is no space for artificial selection.
However, Homo sapiens presents a qualitative difference regarding the rest of living beings, since the manufactured things that increasingly interpose between the organism and its environment become accumulated throughout time, which involves a growing mediatization, a higher complexity and the possibility of a monopoly over them. Thus, the behavior of man towards his environment should be analyzed according to the varying control, dominion or availability of social classes over the means of production which are, ultimately, what makes it possible to manufacture the rest of things.
Palabras clave / Keywords: antropología, comportamiento humano, evolucionismo
La relación “genotipo-fenotipo” y su posible extrapolación al estudio del comportamiento y la cultura humana (Pág. 189-202)
La relación “genotipo-fenotipo” y su posible extrapolación al estudio del comportamiento y la cultura humana
Palabras clave / Keywords: genotipo, fenotipo, genotipo-fenotipo
Francis Dov Por
A pyrrhic victory for phenogenetics: A world-encompassing artificial selection
Palabras clave / Keywords: evolucionismo, genoma, ADN, selección artificial
Intérêt, doutes et questions
Is it worth to fit the social sciences in the same track as the study of biological evolution? (Pág. 213-218)
Is it worth to fit the social sciences in the same track as the study of biological evolution?
Palabras clave / Keywords: evolucionismo, antropología, biología evolutiva
Adrián Medina Liberty
Genes, fenotipo y cultura. ¿Exclusión, interacción o integración?
Palabras clave / Keywords: Genes, fenotipo, ADN, cultura
Respuesta a los comentarios al artículo El comportamiento humano con su ambiente a la luz de las teorías biológicas de la evolución (Pág. 223-228)
Respuesta a los comentarios al artículo El comportamiento humano con su ambiente a la luz de las teorías biológicas de la evolución
Palabras clave / Keywords: comportamiento humano, antropología, selección, filosofía de la biología
Sobre la aparición de los seres humanos modernos
Palabras clave / Keywords: antropología, selección, filosofía de la biología
Jorge Ruedas de la Serna
Palabras clave / Keywords: conocimiento objetivo