Presentation on theme: "The Protoplasmic Venture"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Protoplasmic Venture Chapter 6The Protoplasmic Venture
2 “Humans can’t live without seeking to describe and explain the universe.” (Sir Isaiah Berlin)
3 Four Great Etiological Questions What is the origin of life?What is the origin of human beings?What is the origin of matter?What is the origin of the universe?
4 Biochemical Evolution Alexander Oparin (1922)J.B.S. Haldane (1928)Stanley Miller (1953)First laboratory synthesis of a complete mammalian gene (1975)Cyril PonnamperumaGeorge Wald (1957)
5 The Beginning of Life on Earth When did life begin on the planet Earth?Fossil records indicate that life developed sometime between 4.5 billion years ago and 3.5 billion years agoDuring that billion-year period, some wonderful and incredible events were taking place
6 Earth’s Life-Forms: An Inventory “Hot thin soup”1.5 million species of living organisms10,000 new species added annuallyEstimated 10 million species of organisms existEstimated 10 billion species produced by evolution on Earth since planet began
8 Can “Life” Be Defined? What is “life”? Self-replication Mutability MotilityMetabolismGrowthIrritabilityDynamic Equilibrium
9 Evolution as a Field Theory Darwin’s genius: 1) his ability to bring a synoptic mind to these disparate elements and fit them all together; 2) his meticulous gathering of scientific data to support his theory
10 Three Basic Processes of evolution The laws of heredityMutations produced by changes in the DNA codeThe dynamics of natural selection
11 Evolution Based on Five Observations Species produce like speciesThere is an enormous excess of reproductive materialIndividual variations in genetic characteristicsCompetition for food and living roomEnvironmental niches are dynamic
12 Evolution and Meaning The Doctrine of Progress Nietzsche, The main goal of history is to produce a man who has such greatness that he would be a new speciesBergson, Vital Life-force
13 Evolution and Progress Natural Selection is an Arms RaceEvolutionary ConvergenceEpigenetics
14 A Case of Convergence: The Eye Represents a new worldview for understanding all living thingsExactly the same structures, functions, and behavioral mechanisms exist everywhere throughout the animal and plant kingdomsThe eye as an example of convergenceEyes have continued to evolve along independent lines of developmentNo individual organism should be seen as a stage on the way “up” to something else
15 Suffering and the Arms Race “Terrible but true, the suffering among wild animals is so appalling that sensitive souls would best not contemplate it.” --Richard DawkinsWhat is the meaning of human suffering?Traditional Problem of Evil
16 Philosophic Implications “Do we understand how life evolves”?What does it mean to say this?Chemical biogenesis as first-magnitude field theoryEthical considerationsCosmic implications
18 Charles Darwin The Grandest Synthesis Darwin saw the key to the puzzle: the mechanism of evolvement is the “struggle for survival” and the “survival of the fittest.”Under the perpetual threat of starvation and annihilation in the harsh environment, all species of life on Earth continually struggle for survival, and only the fittest survive.
19 Reflections…What do you think are the most far-reaching philosophic implications of the biochemical theory of the origin of life? Do you feel a sense of relief that foundations have been laid for an empirical answer to this question?
20 HumansThis chapter describes the evolutionary context for reflecting on the human situation and suggests that evolution has now taken a new and unpredictable turn.
21 The Sculptor-Gods Pottery as a universal skill Shards of pottery have been found wherever people have livedClay figurines were made for funCreation myths based on sculpting clayExamples: Tu, Titi and Tame; Ewe-speaking tribes of Togo, West Africa; Toradjas of the Celebes; Hebrew account of creation; Shilluks of White Nile
22 The Story of Human Origins Homo Sapiens – “wise humans”Homo HabilisAustralopithecus (Lucy)Homo erectus
24 Still Trying to Define “Human” Physical characteristicsEthical feelingsEsthetic feelingsReligious feelingsSoul-essence (psyche)
25 The Killer-Ape Theory Killing “on principle”…inherited or learned? Leakey and Lorenz and the killer-ape theoryMontagu’s dispute of the theoryHow do we humans differ from our animal kin regarding feelings of aggression?What distinguishes humans from other animals?
26 The Immense JourneyRapid progress in science/technology has radically altered the selective function of the environmentDestruction of our natural environment
27 Soren Kierkegaard “That Individual” Now called Existentialism, it is a philosophy of the experiencing human self, and Kierkegaard’s life is the story of one man’s search for what it means to be human“The thing is to understand myself…to see what God really wishes me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.”
28 Reflections…Make an attempt to define “human.” How would you describe “essential man”? What are some of the problems we must face in developing a definition?
29 EarthThis chapter is a meditation on humankind’s relationship to other living creatures on Earth and to the Earth itself. It raises the question of who has a right to control and exploit other species.
30 Our Place in the Scheme of Things General evolutionHuman evolutionCultural evolution3 stages: 1) Parent-child relationship; 2) man as conqueror; 3) protective feeling toward nature
31 An Ecospheric Ethic Who has a right to do what to whom and why? The notion of “right”Professor Sessions assessmentRachel Carson’s attackSt. Francis of AssisiProfessor Charles Hartshorne’s “Ultimate Value”Professor John Cobb’s “intrinsic criteria”
32 Coexistence - In Life & Death Physical/ecological relationshipsPsychological/ecological relationshipsWhy do we kill for pleasure?Human sacrificeAnthropomorphizing animal kin: 1) we can’t help it; 2) we want other creatures to like us
33 “No Man Is An Island”Each is a part of the whole, subject to the same physical forces that move the atoms and the planetsWe are part of an awesome protoplasmic venture
34 Albert Schweitzer Reverence for Life Reverence for life – “In that principle my life has found a firm footing and a clear path to follow.”
35 Reflections…Think about Schweitzer’s Reverence for Life – a concept he believed to be “the realistic answer to the realistic question of how man and the world are related to each other.” How do you feel about this all-inclusive ethic?
36 FutureThis chapter describes several future scenarios, both optimistic and pessimistic
37 The Theoretical LifePractical life (praktikos bios) – short-range goals(…versus the…)Theoretical life (theoretikos bios) – long-range goals
38 Research Into the Future Utopias and anti-UtopiasFutures research: 1) forecasting techniques; 2) world catastrophe; 3) world systems; 4) past frameworks obsoleteWhat is the goal of futures research?
39 Mankind at the Turning Point A world consciousnessA new ethic in the use of material resourcesAn attitude toward nature must be developed based on harmony rather than conquestA sense of identification with future generations
40 The Futurists & the Future No single world-picture, although there is remarkable agreement on many pointsShort-range futuristsMiddle-range futuristsLong-range futuristsAlvin Toffler’s Future ShockArthur C. Clarke
41 A New Kind of RealismBased on a more objective assessment of empirical data, this realism attempts to project a variety of scenarios in the hope we can, in time, face them and solve them
42 The Players Sir Fred Hoyle Edward O. Wilson Robert T. McCall Ray Bradbury
43 Many Futures: A Common Vision Today’s world has come unglued, unraveledThere is a pressing need for a sense of global identity and a shared vision of the future – a reason to existA shared vision of our common future is therefore enormously important
44 Friedrich Nietzsche The Glory of Becoming Human Nietzsche built on a theory of evolution to reinterpret the history of the human race and to lay foundations for his grand vision of the future of mankind“Will to power” as the basic driveUbermensch – “Superman”
45 The Nietzsche Myth Myth: Nietzsche is a bigoted anti-Semite Myth: Nietzsche is an advocate of Darwin’s Evolutionary TheoryOnly after Nietzsche’s death was his philosophy appropriated as official ideology of Nazi apologeticsThe Germans saw themselves as the “master race”
46 Reflections…Recall the statement that opens this chapter: That we create the past and can also create alternative futures; and that we need both past and future to see ourselves in perspective. How much value is there in this way of looking at ourselves and our place in time?