Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pinker in the NYT, & ISBN 3540768165: Life's Basis is Genomic (2008, 2009):

here, I quote from psychologist Stephen Pinker & ISBN 3540768165, concerning the genomic basis for life [see 001., below] and I contrast this with vitalism, an essentialism that has been science-ejected [see 002, below]:

001. Steven Pinker writes in "My Genome, My Self" in the New York Times (2009-01-07):

"the human mind is prone to essentialism — the intuition that living things house some hidden substance that gives them their form and determines their powers. Over the past century, this essence has become increasingly concrete [...] the essence became identified with the abstractions discovered by Gregor Mendel called genes, and then with the iconic double helix of DNA [...] today, for the price of a flat-screen TV, people can read their essence as a printout detailing their very own A’s, C’s, T’s and G’s [...] there are risks of misunderstandings, but there are also risks in much of the flimflam we tolerate in alternative medicine, and in the hunches and folklore that many doctors prefer to evidence-based medicine [...] Steven Pinker is Harvard College professor of psychology at Harvard University and the author of 'The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature'."

Note: the chemical basis for life is well-grounded in science, as Schulze-Makuch and Irwin state in "Life in the Universe" (2008, 2nd ed.; ISBN 3540768165):

"[scientifically] life increasingly became recognized as a state or process [...not a substance, per] the abandonment of vitalism in the 19th century [...and subsequent] advances in genetics [...and] biochemistry [...] and molecular biology [...which] elucidated the chemical basis of information storage and transfer in living system, the extremely high information content in macromolecules, and the role they play in perpetuating the form and function of specific living species [p.013...] if a mechanistic view of life which precludes the invocation of vitalism is accepted, it follows that life arises from elements of the non-living world which are simply packaged and processed in a special way. Accordingly, it isn't surprising that many characteristics attributed to the living state can be found among entities that clearly are not alive [p.018]."

002. vitalism & its scientific status:

002.a. vitalism as supernaturalism:

a great example of naturopathy's vitalism, wherein the "life force" or "healing power of nature" which is naturopathy's central premise, is exposed for the nonscientific supernaturalism that it inherently is [spiritism, autoentheism etc.], are my notes from naturopathy school circa 1998.

Note: supernaturalisms, be they theisms or spiritisms, are nonparsimonious figmentations well-outside of science.

002.b. vitalism is PROFOUNDLY science-ejected. As Denis Noble states in "The Music of Life" (2008; ISBN 0199228361):

"systems biology is not 'vitalism' in disguise [...] biological science had to struggle to emerge from the days of vitalism, when people thought that something non-physical had to be added to matter for there to be life [...] nor is it [systems biology] reductionism in disguise [p.065...] a superstition of the order of vitalism [p.078]."

Caveat emptor.
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