I’m curious about this forum’s thoughts on evolution, specifically whether it is driven fully by random mutation and natural selection, or whether there is some sort of ‘intelligence’ or other force guiding it.
In BAM and elsewhere there are examples of animal behavior that could be claimed to be inexplicable by the former view. These include seemingly pointless acts of reveling, self-destructive or line-ending acts, and extremely specific instincts that seemingly couldn’t have arisen incrementally.

One could propose that the fact that insects have had a much longer time to evolve is the reason they can have such specific and complex instincts. Small rodents also fit this criterion to a lesser degree.
The self-destructive acts could be explained away as a malfunctioning due to an environment/situation different to the ones evolved under. The reveling perhaps as drives misfiring in benign ways.

Interestingly, ‘Higher’ animals tend to have more vague instincts and more learned behaviors…

One questions why more complex life would arise at all when simple life is so good at reproducing. Of course, if it didn’t, we wouldn’t be here to speak of it, so one could accuse this question of a sort of confirmation bias…

Overall, what I know of animal behavior leads me to sympathize with the view that there is more going on than chance mutation and natural selection.

But I’m curious what others think. Maybe some want to argue for involution as well.
(03-24-2022, 09:17 AM)Trep Wrote: The self-destructive acts could be explained away as a malfunctioning due to an environment/situation different to the ones evolved under. The reveling perhaps as drives misfiring in benign ways.

This doesn't really make sense when the highest aim of Darwinian evolution is survival ("chance mutation and natural selection" as you put it even to this extent genetic mutation itself would hardly be favourable for reproduction, atleast beyond the minimum requirements of the Environment). Survival would be the priority under any cicumstance, a change in environment wouldn't bring about explicitly self-destructive behaviour but instead maybe a failure to meet the requirements of the environment. BAP's example of animals refusing to breed in captivity wouldn't make sense in that veiw, and I think this was precisely Nietzsche's criticism of Darwin.
Yes genetic mutation is not favorable the vast majority of the time but it is still a necessity for evolution.

I can envisage an animal who evolves breeding one way, and when put in a different situation (i.e. captivity), 'short circuits' and goes -mating season not detected- or -not enough room- or something because the species evolved natural tendencies of population control to avoid malthusian catastrophe, which in the wild is better for longevity of the species, or some similar explanation.

Here is an article explaining some criticisms of Nietzsche’s view on Darwin (BAP’s criticism come mainly from Nietzsche yes): https://ndpr.nd.edu/reviews/nietzsche-s-new-darwinism/
“The central motif in Nietzsche's criticism of Darwin seems to be that Darwin lays too much stress on survival, and too little on power [18]. But in offering this criticism, Nietzsche "misidentifies the selective criterion in Darwinism," which is not survival, but reproduction. Moreover, "Nietzsche seems to misread Darwinian survival as an 'end' in too literal a sense: as the aim of a will or drive or instinct" in the individual [22]. It looks as if Nietzsche has missed something important about Darwinism -- namely, that it is not hopelessly teleological, but manages to handle the idea of 'ends' or 'aims' in an entirely naturalistic way. If this is the case, however, it appears that Nietzsche's hostile reaction to Darwin and his subsequent 'correction' of Darwinism are grounded in error”

I don’t think the first criticism is very relevant or good. The second is what BAP calls the bait and switch where the Darwinist walks back the teleology they had previously implied. Even still it’s a decent criticism.

It is the case that it seems other drives take precedence and for example there are studies showing even a very simple animal like a flatworm (capable of sexually or asexually reproducing) will resign itself to death if it is overly ‘bored’ or ‘cramped’ (feeling words are for analogy, but lack of challenge/stimulation/space) in an experiment. There are also situations where stress induces it to divide.

Nietzsche saw life as a struggle not just for existence but for greater complexity, beauty, etc. It is the case that in humans currently the lower outbreed the higher, but of course the higher could still be said to be ‘better at existing’ in a certain way (theoretically militarily stronger, more self sufficient). Those standards perhaps partially only make sense in a non-darwinian way of looking at things.. not that I would be expected to have internalized Darwinian standards even in a Darwinian world. This lower-higher fitness difference is seen even more clearly in non-human animals, though one could wonder if one only sees the higher as higher because they are closer to us, and in fact there are no such categorizations.

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