Re: The Quest for the Purpose of Life

From: Alden Streeter (
Date: Tue Jan 29 2002 - 11:11:51 MST

> >The primary purpose of life is to survive. The secondary purpose
> >is to evolve (or become extinct).
> The second sentence requires a pre-Darwinian metaphysics: evolution *per
> se* as teleological. If it *were* so, then punctuated equilibrium (say)
> would not be an observed fact of biological history. Every species would
> have its mutation checkers and repair systems turned down to the very
> lowest set point compatible with individuals surviving barely long enough
> to reproduce and aid offspring (if that is beneficial). Indeed, we'd
> probably find copious programming designed to modify the genome as greatly
> as possible in each generation. I don't think that's a good description of
> current life on earth, even if some bacteria approach it.

What makes you think that every species doesn't maximize it's rate of
mutation? Evolution predicts that there should be an equilibrium between
mutation rate ensuring maximum variation for potential evolution and
mutation prevention ensuring adequate health of the population. Mutatation
rate is itself an evolved trait.

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