Re: Does Evolution Have a Mind?

From: HARNAD, Stevan (
Date: Sun Mar 05 2000 - 13:07:47 GMT

On Sun, 5 Mar 2000, Cliffe, Owen wrote:

> living animals have minds,
> genetics code for the creation of an animal from a basis of (albeit
> complicated) systems (molecules->amino acids->proteins),
> essentially DNA /seems/ (to me) to be a simple symbolic code.
> (not that DNA is simple, but that the code is simple)
> does that imply that the mind of a given animal is a result of the code.
> i.e. DNA forms a complicated computational which results in (through lots
> of other stuff) a thing that you would feel bad about hitting..


> of course above the level of cells its hard to attribute the cause of the
> mind to DNA but in the begining there need only be one cell nucleus.. so
> the actual computation is not symbolic but the code is?

DNA is not just a code; it's also its own (molecular) implementation
(i.e., it is not implementation-independent). If you ran the human
genome algorithm on a computer it would not build an organism any more
than a recipe run on a computer would bake a cake. DNA is both the
recipe and the ingredients themselves, along with the dynamic process
of combining of them into a cake (although it draws on outside material
-- nutrients, spatial geometry, feedback -- too).

One can simulate the rest too, of course, but that produces a virtual
creature in a virtual world the same way the plane simulation produces
a virtual plane virtually flying in virtual air (i.e., squiggles and
squoggles systematically interpretable by US as flying, but in reality
just squiggling and squoggling). And just as virtual cakes are
inedible, and virtual fire non-flammable, virtual minds are non-mental!


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