[Top] [All Lists]

Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology of Self Interest was: intangibles

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2011 11:31:58 -0400
Message-id: <4E42A46E.2020809@xxxxxxxxxxx>
On 8/10/2011 9:41 AM, Rich Cooper wrote:
> I personally think the ontology of self interest is more important,
> more scientifically relevant to the issue of ontology in general...    (01)

That's a good topic. It gets into the broader field of biosemiotics,
which includes zoosemiotics and phytosemiotics.    (02)

If you recall, there was a novelist named Ayn Rand who blathered
a lot about "self interest", but she was hopelessly out of her
depth when it came to biology.  She was a "one factor" theorist
who claimed self-interest was the single most important driving
force in evolution.  But that hypothesis fails at every level
from bacteria on up.    (03)

You can start with just an individual bacterium.  It has sensors
and activators that enable it to swim upstream in response to
a greater concentration of sugar on one side or an irritating
chemical the other.  But survival for lone bacteria is not easy.    (04)

Bacteria can also generate signals that enable them to cooperate
with other bacteria.  The simplest method is to form a film-like
colony, such as plaque on the teeth.  That is their most important
defense.  The easiest way to kill bacteria is to prevent them
from forming colonies.    (05)

The bacteria on the outside of the film benefit from direct
access to food, but they succumb to attack from chemicals,
other organisms, and extremes of heat and cold.  But they have
chemical signals that enable the colony to survive and thrive:    (06)

  1. When the outer bacteria detect danger, they signal the
     inner bacteria to transform themselves to almost inert
     spores.  The outer bacteria die, but inner ones survive.    (07)

  2. For attacking large food sources (e.g., the human body),
     they need to wait until they have a sufficiently large
     "army" to survive counterattacks by the immune system.    (08)

  3. Many bacteria have a "voting" system:  they send out chemical
     signals and use the strength of the responses to estimate the
     number of "soldiers".  When the response is strong, they switch
     to attack mode.  (Some drugs interfere with those signals.)    (09)

  4. Many species cooperate with other species in "symbiosis".
     Examples are lichens, which consist of algae and fungi
     cooperating to benefit both.  Symbiosis occurs between plants
     and animals at all levels.  Dogs and cats, for example, became
     human companions because they found mutually beneficial ways
     of cooperating with people.    (010)

  5. The eukaryotic cells are an extreme example, where early
     bacteria (prokaryotic cells) were swallowed by other bacteria
     and found a comfortable, well protected niche inside.    (011)

  6. The metazoa (multi-celled animals) evolved from colonies of
     eukaryotic cells that formed "a more perfect union" than just
     a colony of independent units.  But that union required a
     strong central "government" (called a brain), which eventually
     dominated the other cells completely -- to their mutual benefit.    (012)

Most species of plants and animals are unable to survive without
a large colony of the same species and symbiotic species.  Just
look at what happened to the Yellowstone ecology when they brought
back wolves.  The overall health increased enormously:    (013)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/10/031029064909.htm    (014)

The Primates, our closest relatives, all live in colonies, and
individuals outside a colony die off quickly.  Our two closest
cousins, the chimpanzees and bonobos illustrate two extremes:    (015)

  1. Chimps and bonobos interbreed easily, but they have been
     separated by the Congo River for a few million years.    (016)

  2. Chimps have a highly aggressive patriarchal society, with
     fierce fighting among the males for the top spot.  The birth
     rate of males to females is approximately 50-50, but the
     percentage of adult males to females is about 30-70, and
     most males don't die of natural causes.    (017)

  3. Bonobos have a matriarchal society, with a laid-back,
     make-love-not-war attitude.  The birth rate of males to
     females is 50-50, and so is the adult rate.    (018)

Biologists have studied the chemical and physiological differences
between chimps and bonobos.  And significantly, the bonobos differ
from the chimps in the same way that dogs and pussycats differ from
wolves and wildcats.  In effect, the bonobos "tamed" themselves.    (019)

Interesting point:  Human physiology is more closely related to
the bonobos than the chimpanzees.  Humans also tamed themselves.    (020)

John    (021)

Message Archives: http://ontolog.cim3.net/forum/ontolog-forum/  
Config Subscr: http://ontolog.cim3.net/mailman/listinfo/ontolog-forum/  
Unsubscribe: mailto:ontolog-forum-leave@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Shared Files: http://ontolog.cim3.net/file/
Community Wiki: http://ontolog.cim3.net/wiki/ 
To join: http://ontolog.cim3.net/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?WikiHomePage#nid1J    (022)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>