JBP on Religion, Myth, Science, Truth

4 thoughts on “JBP on Religion, Myth, Science, Truth

  1. Добрый день.
    У меня осталось плохое послевкусие. Мне кажется что JBP перебирает с критикой в адрес R.Dawkins, работы последнего комплементарные 2JBP, да и сделаны намного раньше и прошли жесткую критику. Он честно отвечает в предисловиях к новым изданиям.
    Короче, непропорциональная понапраслина (мое мнение). Докинз раньше Петерсона затрагивает “вечные” вопросы и дает свои ответы, возводя репликативный ДНК процесс в роль универсального закона физики, на основе которых, все “другое” – следствие. Отличная идея!
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    Most of what is unusual about man can be summed up in one word: ‘culture’. I use the word not in its snobbish sense, but as a scientist uses it. Cultural transmission is analogous to genetic transmission in that, although basically conservative, it can give rise to a form of evolution…

    Cultural transmission is not unique to man. The best non-human example that I know has recently been described by P. F. Jenkins in the song of a bird called the saddleback which lives on islands off New Zealand. On the island where he worked there was a total repertoire of about nine distinct songs. Any given male sang only one or a few of these songs. The males could be classified into dialect groups. For example, one group of eight males with neighbouring territories sang a particular song called the CC song. Other dialect groups sang different songs. Sometimes the members of a dialect group shared more than one distinct song. By comparing the songs of fathers and sons, Jenkins showed that song patterns were not inherited genetically. Each young male was likely to adopt songs. from his territorial neighbours by imitation, in an analogous way to human language. During most of the time Jenkins was there, there was a fixed number of songs on the island, a kind of ‘song pool’ from which each young male drew his own small repertoire. But occasionally Jenkins was privileged to witness the ‘invention’ of a new song, which occurred by a mistake in the imitation of an old one. He writes: ‘New song forms have been shown to arise variously by change of pitch of a note, repetition of a note, the elision of notes and the combination of parts of other existing songs … The appearance of the new form was an abrupt event and the product was quite stable over a period of years. Further, in a number of cases the variant was transmitted accurately in its new form to younger recruits so that a recognizably coherent group of like singers developed.’ Jenkins refers to the origins of new songs as ‘cultural mutations’. Song in the saddleback truly evolves by non-genetic means. There are other examples of cultural evolution in birds and monkeys, but these are just interesting oddities. It is our own species that really shows what cultural evolution can do. Language is only one example out of many. Fashions in dress and diet, ceremonies and customs, art and architecture, engineering and technology, all evolve in historical time in a way that looks like highly speeded up genetic evolution, but has really nothing to do with genetic evolution. As in genetic evolution though, the change may be progressive. There is a sense in which modern science is actually better than ancient science. Not only does our understanding of the universe change as the centuries go by: it improves. Admittedly the current burst of improvement dates back only to the Renaissance, which was preceded by a dismal period of stagnation, in which European scientific culture was frozen at the level achieved by the Greeks. But, as we saw in Chapter 5, genetic evolution too may proceed as a series of brief spurts between stable plateaux.

    These ideas are plausible as far as they go, but I find that they do not begin to square up to the formidable challenge of explaining culture, cultural evolution, and the immense differences between human cultures around the world, from the utter selfishness of the Ik of Uganda, as described by Colin Turnbull, to the gentle altruism of Margaret Mead’s Arapesh. I think we have got to start again and go right back to first principles. The argument I shall advance, surprising as it may seem coming from the author of the earlier chapters, is that, for an understanding of the evolution of modern man, we must begin by throwing out the gene as the sole basis of our ideas on evolution. I am an enthusiastic Darwinian, but I think Darwinism is too big a theory to be confined to the narrow context of the gene. The gene will enter my thesis as an analogy, nothing more.

    What is it about the idea of a god that gives it its stability and penetrance in the cultural environment? The survival value of the god meme in the meme pool results from its great psychological appeal. It provides a superficially plausible answer to deep and troubling questions about existence. It suggests that injustices in this world may be rectified in the next. The ‘everlasting arms’ hold out a cushion against our own inadequacies which, like a doctor’s placebo, is none the less effective for being imaginary. These are some of the reasons why the idea of God is copied so readily by successive generations of individual brains. God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture.
    * “The Selfish Gene” R.Dawkins, 1976, “Memes: the new replicators”, p 190-192

    1. Понимаю. Мне кажется JBP спорит не столько с RD, сколько с идеей сайентизма, идеологией, овладевшей массами. После книги 1976 года, которую я читал с интересом и удовольствием, не помню, правда, когда, скорее всего в середине 90-х, RD как мне кажется радикализировался – он местами стал говорить не то, во что верит, но то, что откликается в массах (тот самый процесс, производящий гитлеров). Мне бы хотелось услышать как JBP и RD спорят. Но RD, похоже, доволен своей ролью и вполне счастлив выступая с комиками на сцене.

      Читая экран за экраном цитат RD в Википедии нельзя отделаться от впечатления, что он либо тролль, либо его наиболее популярные идеи все-таки слишком мелки.

    2. Я не знаком с его редукционистской идеей репликативной ДНК как основе всего, но то, что мы знаем сегодня о ДНК и о репликации вообще радикально отличается от того, что мы думали, что мы знаем еще десять лет назад.

      Год назад я пришел на вечеринку генетиков из одного лондонского университета, и краснел оттого, что они чуть ли не воздавали религиозные незаслуженные почести мне как человеку, участвовавшему в Проекте (на самом деле в нескольких). А потом они мне рассказали про эпигенетику, метиляцию и всякие другие вещи, и пришел мой черед восхищаться. Я прочел все, на что было время. Репликация: “Лысенко был прав”- этим можно поражать девушек в баре, но в очень карикатурной форме это до какой-то степени описывает известные сегодня факты.

      Еще: на прошлой недели было про осьминогов, переписывающих свою РНК на ходу – как динамическая загрузка кода или как само-модифицирующиеся скрипты, которыми каждый, наверное, грешил в молодости.

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