Monday, 18 October 2010

The survival metaphor

It is no contrived technical artifact or literary coincidence that the term "survival", in its ordinary usage, has been tagged to the descriptions of the inanimate chemical reactions and geographical physical placements of the anthropomorphised chemicals that we care to call "genes". Such surreptitious tagging transforms chemistry to life-alchemy and geography to "environment".

Why is this? The "survival" metaphor was needed to serve a popular predeliction for using the facts of science to make some moral stand, in this case a stand on life and its forms. Thus, an antidote to the selfish behaviour that evolutionists believe attended any object that "survives" was offered in Dawkinian "altruism".

Such imaginative moral ventures fall at the very point at which they appear to be justified. For example, an evolutionary antidote for selfish behaviour is only necessary if an object adjusts its behaviour to survive its own death. Such behaviour evolutionists call "passing-on", replication, copying or similar. Yet, it is clear that genes, life-forms, or more generally "survival-objects", do not survive their own deaths in the chemicals (genes, etc) that they produce, nor could they, even metaphorically or analogously, be expected to. These are consequences of their being physical, chemical facts.

It was for moral reasons that the "selfish" evolutionary "metaphor" was invented. This invention has been passed off as a technical ellipsis, or as "art-literary" metaphor. And its invention is also illustrative of a need that even scientists have - transcendence; in this case to construct a system where death appears to be transcended, or at least a contortion of it. These needs have tainted the language of the physical study of evolution. It is regrettable that such careless, extravagent, moral ventures for the most part go unnoticed, and even more regrettable that they are promoted even when they are, however dully, noticed.

No comments:

Post a Comment