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

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2011 10:26:30 -0700
Message-id: <B4B20EDFDFED4B3BBA55F069AF47945D@Gateway>
Dear John,    (01)

So is it your suggestion that people (like
bacteria) like to congregate together, and that is
one way in which we pursue self interest?    (02)

How does that fit into the ontology of self
interest?  We (and bonobos) seek out each other's
company, but why do we take aggressive action
against each other?    (03)

And how does this consideration fit into an
ontology?    (04)

-Rich    (05)

Rich Cooper
Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com
9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2    (06)

-----Original Message-----
From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
Behalf Of John F. Sowa
Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 8:32 AM
To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Ontology of Self
Interest was: intangibles    (07)

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...    (08)

That's a good topic. It gets into the broader
field of biosemiotics,
which includes zoosemiotics and phytosemiotics.    (09)

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.    (010)

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
chemical the other.  But survival for lone
bacteria is not easy.    (011)

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.    (012)

The bacteria on the outside of the film benefit
from direct
access to food, but they succumb to attack from
other organisms, and extremes of heat and cold.
But they have
chemical signals that enable the colony to survive
and thrive:    (013)

  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.    (014)

  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.    (015)

  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.)    (016)

  4. Many species cooperate with other species in
     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.    (017)

  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.    (018)

  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.    (019)

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:    (020)

9064909.htm    (021)

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:    (022)

  1. Chimps and bonobos interbreed easily, but
they have been
     separated by the Congo River for a few
million years.    (023)

  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.    (024)

  3. Bonobos have a matriarchal society, with a
     make-love-not-war attitude.  The birth rate
of males to
     females is 50-50, and so is the adult rate.    (025)

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.    (026)

Interesting point:  Human physiology is more
closely related to
the bonobos than the chimpanzees.  Humans also
tamed themselves.    (027)

John    (028)

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