Re: The meta-invisible hand

Richard Plourde (
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 17:01:38 -0400

At 12:12 PM 9/22/97 +0200, Anders Sandberg wrote:
>"Keith Elis ('Hagbard Celine')" <> writes:
>> However, while a form of natural
>> selection *may* exist in the free market
>I would say it is not natural selection, but something different.
>The market seems to evolve according to Lamarkian or
>principles: offsprings inherit acquired characteristics of their
>parents, and entities can change their own structure when they
>a need for it. Very complex, I wonder what to call this kind of

Polakov, sometime before 1921 (I don't have the details available
at the moment) introduced a classification system for organisms
that differs from our classifications of "plant" and "animal."
That revised classification system depended upon the highest-level
activity of the organism. What we generally call "plants"
(although not limited to what we call plants) have, as that
activity, what can get called "chemical binding." Energy input
(sunlight) plus various inorganic chemicals result in interactions
that bind those chemicals into organic chemicals.

What we call "animals" perform an analogous function by spatially
connecting wide regions, thus "space-binding." Finally, man, by
depending on communication for building knowledge, and
specifically through the not-always realized possibility of each
generation building on the knowledge of the previous generation,
gets called a "time-binding" organism. A classification scheme
represents the way we look at a situation; in this particular
instance, I think that classification according to highest-order
functions may yield insight.

Applying those classifications in combination with evolutionary
propositions suggests that plants compete on their abilities at
chemical-binding plus the defensive mechanisms against
time-binding organisms -- the stimulated release of toxic phenols
in a cluster of conifers in response to one conifer getting
attacked by a predatory insect, for example. Plants with a
cooperative phenol-generation 'mutation' survive, and have
offspring, where more vulnerable plants competing otherwise for
similar resources, do not. For space-binding organisms, we might
expect mobility to represent a major competitive advantage -- the
cheetah and the antelope both have the ability to run.

For time-binding organisms, we might expect effectiveness *at*
time-binding to play a major role. The construct of 'meme' may
have something to do with it, but the post-birth development of
the cerebral cortex may have as much to do with it. For
chemical-binding and space-binding organisms, genetic inheritance
probably suffices to define the gross characteristics of the
evolved organism; for time-binding organisms, extra-genetic
factors might dominate. This may make more sense if we consider
genetic-inheritance as representing one specific form of
asymmetric communication from an older generation to a younger;
when considered as a communication function, we might find it
easier to accept other communication functions as a part of the

If we declare "evolution" as representing, exclusively, the
process that leads to organisms with genetically-inherited traits,
then extra-genetic factors would not play a part in the
classification called "evolution." If we accept the time-binding
classification as characterizing a *different* mechanism from
genetics (with genetic modification dependent upon mutation plus
selection), but still a part of evolution, then quasi-Lamarkian
descriptions would seem to fit this different mechanism without
invalidating genetic inheritance at structurally lower levels.
The phenomena you describe would fit very nicely into an
extra-genetic quasi-Lamarkian structure for the class of organisms
called "time-binders." Note that, as a structure different from
the genetic structures normally considered for evolution, we would
have to exercise caution in *not* extrapolating
genetic-stabilities as applying to non-genetic relationships.

If, eventually, we learn to develop extra-genetic "Cyborg"-like
modifications, an expanded explanation of evolution to account for
more than genetics would seem inevitable. But, even at the
moment, if we considered ourselves as *already* a part of an
extra-genetic evolutionary structure, then we might take a
somewhat different approach to education, and consider that
education as a tool for cortical development.


Richard Plourde ..

"The word is not the thing, the map is not the territory"