Epistemology is the study of knowledge. As a discipline, it contains theoretical perspectives ranging from viewing knowledge as a divine gift, to staunch empiricism, which treats knowing as derived from sensation alone. Somewhere in the middle of this range is evolutionary epistemology, and this is the subject of discussion. The adaptation of Darwin's evolution theory is a practice that spread far and wide. The idea of evolution has had great metaphysical success, which is exemplified by its use in sociology, ethics, and in this case, the growth of knowledge. Sir Karl Popper presents a most enlightened view of the development of scientific knowledge, and by using an evolutionary model, he is able to extend the theory from the 'basics' of genetic evolution, through behavioral adaptations, and finally into the realm of scientific knowledge. He demonstrates the similarities and differences between these levels by constructing a model of the adaptive mechanism which holds homologously throughout all three, and then by pointing out the differences, Popper comes to a tentative conclusion where a special case of goal directed behavior characterizes scientific progress. However, a careful examination of his comparisons between these levels, completed with his supporting arguments, reveals a partial bias and partial contradiction in his thought on the directedness of evolution, and its measure.
To set out in the Popperian spirit, we must begin with a fair and accurate exposition of the ideas to which an attempt at a serious criticism will be made. The most conservative manner to proceed is by constructing an account of the systemic framework within which much of this discussion will occur. Only after filling in the architecture of Popper's thoughts on evolutionary epistemology, will a criticism be prudent. So, to start off on the right foot, so to speak, a quote by Popper, which will characterize the discussion to follow, "'I may be right and you may be wrong, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth.'"[i]
I - Science and Nature
Though evolutionary theory has become a common way of looking at the world since Darwin's day, to avoid misunderstandings or misconceptions, we will begin with a short synopsis of the theory itself. First, it is important to remember that Darwin sought an answer to the question posed by William Paley in his book Natural Theology, of how it could be possible for nature to come to be without an intelligent, efficient cause. Darwin's 'response' was: since reproduction produces variation among the members of a species, those offspring will have differing reproductive success, and these slightly differing organisms are under selective pressure from the environment, which causes some of them to die and others to survive. Over time, and great many mutations, species evolve, or become selectively adapted to their environment. It is important to recognize that the hap-hazard mechanism of evolution makes organisms look as if they were formed through purposeful goal directed changes in their structure. However, the conferred advantage of each successive mutation upon the species causes that particular variant to reproduce successfully; so the appearance of intelligent design is an illusion -- the efficient cause of natural forms is none other than variation through reproduction and sexual success under selective pressure.
Although the application of this theory is manifold, we are currently only concerned with its relation to epistemology. Popper characterizes Darwin's theory as, "an unfashionable doctrine of mutual interaction between mind and brain."[ii] He pre-empts this statement by noting that he and Darwin are in agreement about the mind body problem, for, though Popper is a pluralist, they both take a stance of interactionalism. So, in this regard Popper's views of epistemology are especially pertinent, since an interactionalist / pluralist account must deal with every level of reality to which we have access.
Popper's view of the development of knowledge works within a three-tier system consisting of varying levels of adaptation by selection. He writes, "On all three levels -- genetic adaptation, adaptive behavior, and scientific discovery -- the mechanism of adaptation is fundamentally the same."[iii] By way of an exposition, each level proceeds by "instruction from within"[iv]; genetic composition, behavioral repertoire, and dominant scientific theories respectively instruct each successive generation of species, organism, and scientist. These internal instructions are the structures that are subject to selective pressures from the external environment. This is important because it means that each time a 'mutation' occurs on any of these levels, it comes from within the body relative to the level being propagated, such as a cat in the case of genetic or behavioral evolution or a mind in a laboratory setting, by a 'blind' and creative mechanism, in other words the environment does not influence which adaptive variations will come forth from within the structure.
'Mutations' in this sense, of course stretches the meaning of the word to include new and creative behavior patterns, and revolutionary theories. One can only imagine the possibility for further drawing out this homologous relationship to such subjects as sociology and politics within the context of mutation and selection, while maintaining the question of "blindness" all along.
These variations are beneficial in a process where instruction is propagated internally because no anticipation can come from within and only chaotic variation can solve unpredictable problems. Accordingly, in each of the levels of adaptation some degree of 'blindness' is inherit. It is here that we see Popper's account deviating from a model that might try to maintain that each level is precisely the same. As in evolution proper, selective pressures come from the external world, these determine which mutations will survive; so, each level of adaptation has a degree of adaptive benefit conferred upon it by this process. For Popper, selective pressures in evolutionary contexts can represent scientific problems or everyday troubles that call for overcoming. Not all levels take equal share in this 'blindness'. Popper says that the genetic level of adaptation is near total blindness, whereas on the behavioral level learning enables a degree of goal directed behavior, while science only permits a small degree of blindness in variant conjectures but a high degree of goal directed processions.
Scientific behavior is a very special kind of adaptation, for it is conservative in the sense that each time a negative selective pressure conquers a variation, the whole line of thinking is not also destroyed as would happen in genetic evolution. Popper says, "By criticizing our theories we can let our theories die in our stead."[v] In science, experiments proceed, journal articles that contain the method and outcome of the test are written, and this allows for external criticisms. Like selective pressures, the critical character of science tempers the theory variations produced, and this mechanism ensures that science progresses along a particular line. Accordingly, in confronting the world through the instruction of theoretical constructs, science meets problems, and by solving them a path to many more difficulties is opened up. This process is what Popper calls a deepening[vi] of scientific theory.
When a problem is solved by a new scientific theory, new problems are opened up, and the front line of a scientific analysis of nature reveals the extent of our nescience. The advancement of science does not only proceed so simply as to just show us how much we do not know about the world, though it does do that, but also it explains the workings of the world. However, this does not exactly explain what deeper means, for there is a certain sense that the new theoretical perspective will be able to explain more in general. This amounts to independent testability, that character of a good theory where it can be re-tested in any relevant environment. Popper calls this the "wealth of content"[vii] in a theory. The selection of the experimental environment should be as unfavorable to the theory being tested as possible. The testing of any theory should be in order to show it false. Popper calls this falsifiablility, or its "degree of testability"[viii]. A theory needs to be testable to begin with, so it needs to be capable of being not true.
In a sense, for Popper, this is how our theoretical conjectures 'touch' reality. When a conjecture is so construed that is can be proven false, or that there are possible circumstances where it can be falsified, we say that it is an adequate theory. From this perspective it is easily seen why Popper calls some theoretical perspectives pseudo-science, because they are not testable, and they can make ad hoc adjustments within the confines of their boundaries. An in depth discussion of the acceptability of scientific theories is beyond the scope of this essay, for it is a complex issue that deserves a like examination. So, we will have to be content with the view that theories contact reality through falsification, and that they are adequate only if they are capable of being falsified when they are tested and re-tested independently of the initial testing circumstances. However, the idea that adequate theories are falsifiable and independently testable brings another part of the picture into focus.
Adequate theories also anticipate new problems because, since they have many instances where they could be falsified, they also have many circumstances where they will have explanatory power. This ties together many of the elements that fall under the head of Popper's meaning of deepening, for not only will 'deeper' theories have more specificity in terms of the kinds of problems they attempt to answer, but because of independent falsification, they also are able to explain more and anticipate further problems.
In regard to problems and falsification we can now turn to evolution from a Popperian perspective. Popper's view of the evolution of forms whether they are genetic, behavioral, or scientific, follow a specific pattern at the base, and then only have differences in regard to the dichotomy of 'blindness' and goal directed behavior. This basic model can be found in his book, All Life is Problem Solving, in the first section concerning natural science. The formulation is as follows:
P1 => TT => EE => P2[ix]
Problem 1 confronts the relevant form, then the structure produces tentative trials (TT) that are met by selective pressures from the environment, and these pressures invoke a state of error elimination (EE) which leads to solutions, these solutions, in Popper's view, change the environment such that new problems are revealed.
II - Evolution: Fitness, Ascension, and Equilibrium
We now have the context of Popper's evolutionary epistemology laid our before us, so we can delve into some of the more specific points filling in some of his contentions that will be issues for debate. First, there is his belief that the concept of fitness has no predictive force in evolution theory, since many articulations of the idea are tautological. However, Popper presents a logically meaningful formulation that demonstrates the lack of predictive force of the concept of fitness, "'What is fit here and now is what survives here and now.'"[x] This kind of view leads him to deny the ascension of forms by evolutionary means; for him ascension is replaced by increasing variation. Finally, Popper asserts that evolution does not tend toward a state of equilibrium "by any one application of the method of trial and the elimination of error, or by natural selection."[xi] What will be proposed in response to these three conjectures is not only can we have an understanding of "fitness", but also that this is inexorably tied to states of equilibrium and the ascension of evolutionary forms.
As mentioned above, the final act in the four-stage model redefines the problematic environment, and this is one of Popper's arguments against adaptive states of equilibrium. For, when problem one is solved, its selective pressure is alleviated and new pressures may affect the relevant form, in other words the environment always changes when a problem is solved. Popper's other argument against evolution being punctuated by states of equilibrium is that "no perfect or optimal trial solutions are likely to be offered."[xii] This is a not so uncommon argument against punctuated equilibrium -Richard Dawkins makes one very similar to this in his book, The Blind Watchmaker. Since, punctuated equilibrium is in a sense goal directed, because it states that evolution tends toward a state of null-pressure, Popper does well in arguing against it in order to preserve the special character of scientific and behavioral adaptations. Popper wants to preserve the concept of emergent properties, and he might believe that by showing these differences he is able to support evolutionary theory in general by way of the novel emergence of science.
The differences between evolving forms range from the goal directed nature of scientific discoveries, to the 'blindness' of genetic adaptations. We can turn to a short discussion of the nature of behavioral adaptations from Popper's view to illustrate how he is able to contend that evolution occurs toward variation rather than ascension. The position thus far shows that behavior works by a model of internally instructional variations, and the tempering force of selective pressures that appear as problems to the organism in question. The variations, or tentative trails, will seek to solve the problem, some will be eliminated others retained as conferred benefits.
As this process continues, within a specific environment the species will become more specialized, because from the Darwinian framework evolution ascends by fitness. Here Popper sees a problem, which is this kind of ascension leads toward the genetic entrenchment of a specific adaptive strategy, because the existence of alternative strategies reduces efficiency. This amounts to a condition Popper sees as unfit. In fact he asserts that this is a measure of predictable extinction over the long run, for if evolution proceeds toward efficient specialization, then sooner or later it would only take the substrate of the entrenched behaviors absence to cause the organisms elimination.
From this perspective Popper is able to criticize evolution by ascension. He shows that in comparison to the efficient specialization explained above, organisms with some degree of specialization but retaining some variance in possible behaviors will be more successful over the long run. The reason is that dependence upon a particular stimulus may be efficient but only allows for a prediction dictating the extinction of the organism. Whereas, a variable response inventory to stimuli shows less specialization but greater variety of potential suitable environments. He writes, "There is no such thing as general genetic ascent. There is such a thing as a tendency towards increased variety"[xiii]. He replaces the idea that evolution occurs by ascension with the one where more variations of possible tentative trials is the cardinal successful tendency.
In conclusion to this section we have observed three traits of Popper's evolutionary epistemology. First, fitness is meaningless in evolutionary contexts because it holds no predictive power. In his view, a fit organism means either one efficiently specialized, or one specialized having the potential for variance in behavior but sacrificed specialization. Second, if efficient and ascended organisms only enable prediction of unfitness because of eventual termination based on substrate dependence; variable architectural instruction, being the polar alternative, alludes to only a measure of variation not ascension, then evolution must proceed toward increasing variation and not ascension. Since fitness will not do for a measure of evolutionary prowess, neither will ascension, for it can be shown theoretically that efficient and specialized organisms can only be predicted to die out, because they are so dependent on a few environmental factors to survive. Accordingly, variation is the only increasing factor on the evolutionary scale, which renders it, from Popper's perspective, nonhierarchical. Lastly, there is no adaptive equilibrium for two main reasons: it is unlikely that a tentative trial variation would ever confer so great an advantage as to bring about this state; and even if this did occur, each time a problem is solved for a relevant form, the environment changes, and so a state of equilibrium could never be reached.
III - Critical Analysis
We will now look at the interplay of elements that have been discussed in the above two sections of this text. In reverse, punctuated equilibrium will take up the first part of the critique, for it was never taken seriously by Popper in regard to his theoretical analysis of evolution and its bearing on knowledge. For, if there is any similarity between the basic workings of evolution and epistemology, then states of equilibrium must be reached from time to time. The outcome of this reconsideration, will allow a reinstitution of evolution by ascension, through a new found definition of fitness, which is thoroughly related to Popper's own idea of deepening in the sciences, and the character of science in general. The conclusion will indicate that no line can easily be drawn between the subtleties of different evolving forms, and the process of science is no different that the process by which nature evolved the species that carries its mantle.
It will be most effective to approach this issue will be most effective from the entry point of the definition of fitness. It seems that Popper's definition contradicts his theoretical homology between the levels of adaptation. In science we see that he is more than willing to demonstrate the culmination of elements into the acceptability of a scientific theory, but is most unwilling to consider taking his homology to its full extent. Certainly on the surface the suggestion that fitness could have anything to do with acceptability is a little strange, but look a little closer at the two.
Following Popper between adaptive levels, the idea of problems equates to selective pressures. So, in regard to a theory's ability to solve problems, we call it acceptable only if it is capable of being falsified and is independently testable. So a good adaptive 'conjecture' must have relevant problems or pressures in the environment it could solve or by which be 'falsified'.
Popper shows that there are two cases of 'fitness': first, specialized efficiency; and second, specialized with a great degree of behavioral variation at the sacrifice of efficiency. In the first, he says, we can predict an organism perishing if it is too specialized so this will not do for many evolving entities, as well; specialization seems to be the representative of ascension. The second he finds more adequate, but it includes the idea of variation, not efficiency. By this he is able to conclude that evolution cannot ascend, because the only wholly adequate method is by variation, which is the idea he substitutes for ascension thereby negating a hierarchical view of evolution. However, are scientific theories not like this as well, and does Popper not contend that they 'deepen'?
Do not some theories efficiently explain a very specific part of nature, and by that open themselves up to dependency upon the very specific phenomena they work with? And do not others sacrifice the explanatory efficiency found in the more specific in order to explain a great many phenomena? The truth is that some organisms, like those specific theories, have a very limited behavioral response inventory, and depend completely upon a very few environmental stimuli to survive, need we look far beyond a bacteria, or perhaps a virus? Many other organisms rely on their vast response inventory for survival, not so unlike great unifying theories. Now, fitness in the organism must be related to its ability to solve problems; but this is meaningless without a more than / less than consideration between organisms in environments as a measure, which this leads us to Popper's rejection of evolutionary ascension.
Ascension in the context of Popper's homologous analysis of evolutionary epistemology need not be discarded, for in science we find the deepening of theories giving rise to a conceptual hierarchy, and so too, depending on the environment, do we find the same in nature. Deeper theories, as already described, are able to solve and anticipate more problems; as well some organisms are able to deal with more, unanticipated, environmental pressures. So, do we say that one theory is better than another is if it can anticipate and explain more problems? Certainly, this is the point of a positivist view of scientific theory, but can we compare the theory behind the incline plane to general relativity? No, they are directed at totally different environments, they are context dependent in that regard. One is not better or worse by virtue, but in application one is better than the other and the same is true of most theoretical applications.
To cross the levels of analysis that we have been hitherto concerned, within a particular context we may speak of deepening, or ascension. Though a theory may be able to explain a greater number of phenomena within some contexts it is more efficient to use a more specific theory. This is also true in nature and is the difference between the bear and the paramecium, but in some contexts the bear will live and the paramecium will not, so where is the hierarchy? The answer is, however unfortunate, relative to the environment, but within a fixed environment one organism can be said to ascend another on the evolutionary scale by virtue of their response potential within that environmental context.
Evolution by ascension indicates a direction toward some state, that the combination between variations and selective pressures produces a result that is some how directional. So far, this can only be concluded within an environmental context, so what could this ascension be directed toward?
Punctuated equilibrium basically asserts that from time to time an organism will achieve a state where selective pressures are alleviated, much like Popper's characterization of scientific discovery. As was drawn out, scientific adaptation progresses into deeper levels of explanation and problem anticipation. Deeper theories are usually able to explain more since acceptability is determined by independent testability and potential instances of falsification; these factors combined would negate problems that a theory of a more 'shallow' level would have difficulty with. Simply put, greater, or deeper theories are able to anticipate problems before they appear to us, so the idea that they also reveal more problems could be a consequence of their anticipatory character. In fact, some theoretical constructs are so robust, that they survive the problems of thousands of years of testing, such as Euclid's geometry, which is still adequate, and more simply applied, in certain environments. So, in the natural world could there not be some adaptive states that are able to anticipate problems? Would it not be that such an organism could, in the relevant environment react to new pressures with its existing evolutionary architecture in a way that no further genetic or behavioral adaptations would receive any selective preference? Would this not result in a state of evolutionary equilibrium?
Popper's two main contentions with adaptive equilibria are: first, that no adaptation could reasonably confer so great a benefit, and second that every adaptive change alters the environmental situation of the evolving form; but as we have seen in scientific advancement, those deeper theories are able to persist overtime and anticipate problems, such as evolution theory itself. The real issue is whether or not any mutation could produce the same effect as a great scientific revolution. We can imagine that as an organism 'solves problems' it effectively negates relevant selective pressures, but from Popper's view this changes the environment, so new problems arise causing further pressure. However, in the case of some scientific theories, anticipation can occur. Such as the case may have been with evolution theory itself, for without the kind of thinking done by Herbert Spencer on fitness and Thomas Malthus regarding resource and population dynamics, Darwin may have never vaulted the completed notion of evolution into scientific history. There were precursors to Darwin, but his small addition of inheritance makes for an explanatory pattern with an almost limitless application and thus deepness. That example illustrates the how a very small variant addition can result in a very adaptive theory.
In biological systems, we are able to call some adaptations genetic and others behavioral, and this ascension of adaptive mechanism appropriation is the result of an increase of neural tissue proportional to the system mass of an organism's body. The first appearance we are able to find of this is in the cephalopods, which is the phyla containing octopi, squid and nautilus. These organisms hunt, and in predation we see the need for anticipation in regard to the success of the hunt. When stalking a meal the octopi requires variations in their response inventory, though not all will be successful, the ones retained will become "entrenched" as Popper says. So, once the octopus has reached adulthood it could have not only a considerable number of uneliminated behaviors, but also the capacity for creative behavior patterns. Essentially, the difference between behavioral adaptive capacity and genetic is almost undetectable in the fact that the prior really only allows for more complex relationships environmental stimuli in a more timely fashion.
In creatures without the benefit of a sufficient amount of neural mass behavior is completely determined by bodily composition, which is in turn determined by genetic configuration. If we were to look through the microscope at an amoebae for many hours, then we would see that it does the same thing over and over again, in fact is incapable of creative adaptation, but the species of amoebae is. So, in a way the advent of neural tissues and centralized decision making centers in the brain grants the organisms the benefit of evolutionary mechanics in a timely fashion. The chaos inherent in reproduction too exists in the brain of many creatures as creativity.
This ability to be creative is the real evidence behind states of equilibrium. When an organism can not only learn, but also be creative in making new behaviors it can persist in an environment where selective pressures may exist but are alleviated by the combination of learning and creativity. There are even some creatures that are so good at this process that they can exist in an environment of their own design, maintaining the sick and unfortunate because it pleases them to do so. We are magnificent creatures in this sense, for our ability to deny all but the most powerful selective pressures, has kept the elimination part of Popper's tetradic formulation from destroying our bodies. "we can let our theories die in our stead"[xiv] is what Popper has to say about the effect of science. Now is this not striking in considering that he also denies that any state of adaptive equilibria can be achieved by a species? Though the environment is dramatically effected by our ways of living, is it not true, at least for the time being, that we can survive relatively unaffected in our cities?
The fact is that though theories may have problems that are relevant to us, by the adaptive means of the scientific method we have negated most selective pressures from eliminating particular variations in our genetic line. No longer do the slow running individuals get eaten by the wolves and so forth, for the list of pressures that our creativity and capacity for learning has alleviated is very long and getting longer by the day.
So, our critique of Popper has met with three factors in his evolutionary epistemology. First, his position that fitness is an unreliable measure in evolutionary contexts for prediction is a contradiction if applied to all levels of evolutionary adaptation. Since, the idea that scientific theories are considered comparable in their deepness and acceptability, and the same measure can be applied across all levels so long as the context is predetermined in that analysis. Tied to this is the second point that Popper sets out, that there is no evolutionary ascension, but only variation. Now, though that it may be true that evolution proceeds toward variation, this does not necessitate a rejection of ascension, for in theories or organisms the ability for anticipation of problems is a measure of fitness and therefore of the level of ascension. Accordingly, the third argument that we have criticized is that there are no states of adaptive equilibria, and the above two points have been construed in such a fashion that these states of equilibria are unavoidable. Of course the two arguments with which Popper denies adaptive equilibria are that no perfect state is likely to be offered, and that each adaptation changes the environment were met with the idea that some organisms and theories thrive on just that. They are creative, or anticipate their environment in such a way that they can negate selective pressures, and thus invoking a state of equilibria between themselves and their environment.
IV - Conclusion
So, what are we able to ascertain from the above discussion? Well, first that fitness is a context dependent measure of the ascension of evolutionary forms, which is exemplified by organisms that are in a state of adaptive equilibria. Whether we are looking at a 'deep' scientific theory with a high degree of acceptability, or a 'fit' organism with a large response inventory, the difference almost undetectable, for even if we say that science is goal directed and evolution is 'blind', we must contend that the difference is one of fitness. Some organisms persist by being very specialized and efficient but those are also the ones who likely have little or no potential for creative behavioral adaptation within the span of a single lifetime, others are able, by virtue of neural mass and a centralized decision making center, to produce behavioral adaptations, this indicates a difference in the level of 'blindness' of each method. On each level ascension occurs toward a state of equilibria, for what is the will to survive if not to "quest for a better world"[xv] and in this be in a state where selective pressure is alleviated. Scientific theories are postulates we use to test the waters of nature, we criticize them, we evolve them, and they are created for the sake of our survival, in other words, they are a method we have adaptively created to place us in a state of equilibrium.
At end we must remember that equilibrium is not static or permanent there is always a possibility for change. It is only that species must proceed toward these states, for it is only at these punctuations where little differential selection between variations will occur. In a sense, the organism is fixed by the environment into these punctuations, for once at that stage, some offspring that exhibit variance with the equilibrated parents may have selective pressure to negate them or to confer an advantage that will only lengthen the period of equilibrium. For the time being, we are the fittest of beasts because science enables us, and the passion we share with all living things for survival in new and creative ways generates that need for a 'better' world.
Though many will argue that this age we live in is a grand example the illusory nature of equilibrium, which is a statement can only be determined in the aftermath. We might change our environment in unpredictable and irreversible ways. The creation of unnatural compounds previously unseen and therefore indigestible by natural processes may only be a testament to the past. Oxygen was once like this, and now it powers our cells. Our time may come to an end, but for now we, along with all other creatures, struggle for equilibrium with our world to that state of null pressure where any creature can enjoy the bounds of its existence. An towards unpredictable futures, all life moves, all with that passion and that purpose. All genesis with the will to peace.
Popper, Karl. All Life is Problem Solving. New York: Routledge. 1999.
__________. Knowledge and the Body-Mind Problem. New York: Routledge. 1996.
__________. Myth of the Framework. New York: Routledge. 1997.
Radnitzky, W. W. Bartley III (ed.). Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1993.
1 Empiricism is the belief that all knowledge is ultimately derived from sensation. A reaction to the assumption of innate ideas, those assumed to be in us from birth, it is usually considered to be founded by John Locke, and so his doctrine aids the granting of human knowledge an objective and democratic position in the history of philosophy.
2 In Evolutionary Epistemology, Rationality, and the Sociology of Knowledge (1993), a compilation of essays, Popper points out this relationship between Darwin and Paley in his lecture entitled, Natural Selection and the Emergence of the Mind (p. 140).
3 Pluralism is the belief in our having access to multiple real worlds, mental, physical, and linguistic for instance; whereas, interactionalism is the understanding that though there might be multiple worlds (not all interactionalistd are dualists, the belief in two real worlds, or pluralists) they are not mutually exclusive, meaning that there is interaction betwixt them.
4 A point of interest: in reproduction mutations can occur in several ways. During meiosis, the production of haploid gamete cells, the nuclear chromatin condenses into chromosomes, at which point various mutations can happen. Deletion involves the removal of a chromosomal element, duplication repeats a segment, inversion flips a segment end for end, and in translocation one segment moves from one chromosome to another, this last mutation can occur in reciprocation where an exchange of segments takes place. Also, during prophase I of meiosis, the chromosomes line up for division forming chiasmata, paired homologues; at this point crossovers can cause breakage at specific allelic sites, here we find the most common time for reciprocal translocation to occur. Again, when homologues form they can end up on either end the cellular cleavage furrow, causing the number of variants to fold many times. These latter kinds of mutations produce most of the variation resulting from sexual reproduction.
5 In a variant population of nondescript organisms, if a certain pressure constrict the food or reproductive possibilities for the creatures, then that whole line of variation is negatively selected. In science, this amounts to a line of interdependent conjectural theories being refuted.
6 The reason it is important boils down to the problem of induction, which was first exposed by Hume. It roughly states that no matter how many times one object is found with another we have no more reason to assume it necessarily so after one hundred experiences as we did after the first one. Conversely, the idea is that if we are able to show a theory false that there is less likelyhood of making the error of induction. Although, one might argue that no matter how many times something is revealed to be false, one can similarly have no more certainty. This is only a side note, and it will not be elaborated, because it will be extraneous to the majority of this essay.
7 It could be argued that there is a synergy between the pattern of evolution and our propensity to emulate it. Unfalsifiable theories are misleading for they cannot tell us where we may be in err, and thus articulating adequate theory not only merely emulates evolution, but also gives our science a fundamental character that reality seems to share.
8 This is an important point, related to deepening, which will be dealt with in the next section.
9 Though some contend that Darwin himself had something like punctuated equilibrium, Gould first conjectured it in view of the debate about the incomplete fossil record. This theory states that species evolution tends towards states where selective pressures are negated by adaptive advantages conferred by evolution, and this is often presumed to occur through an accelerated evolutionary process. This theory is usually characterized to stand in opposition to gradualism, which states that small micromutations proceed gradually adapting the organism to the environment. Gould, S. J. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (2002)
10 Dawkins argument is basically accomplished through an analogy between the evolving entity and a scientist focusing a microscope. In trying to focus the scope, the scientist would do better gradually adjusting the fine focus, that he or she would do adjusting the coarse focus. It is assumed that the researcher will turn the knob either way, not knowing which is correct, this emulates the 'blindness' of evolution. Now, the chances of the scientist bringing the object on the slide into focus either way definitely stands in favor of the gradual approach thereby demonstrating that accelerated movements are disadvantageous to evolving forms, which points out that between gradual and punctuated concepts of evolution, graduallism is much more likely. Dawkins, R. The Blind Watchmaker. New York: W.W. Norton & Company (1996)
11 One might wonder the value of this statement, but certainly the character of science and behavior as goal directed, having an intelligent design, is accurately contrasted and thus defined by its relation to the 'blind' adaptations occurring on the genetic level.
12 Many 'lower' organisms are very specialized to live in only a few environments, such as thermoacidophiles and halophiles, which are bacteria that thrive in hot environments with extreme pH levels and others that are abundant only in very salinated substrata. Viruses are too very specific, for they require a certain host. Furthermore, many parasites require specific intermediate and determinate hosts, but tied in the lot of these is the ability to encyst, in parasites, or become a hardened off and resilient capsule, in bacteria. These are all very specialized and efficient means of survival, and need I mention the oldest.
13 There are always issues with these kinds of judgments, for instance, we might want to say within a planetary context we must be the ascendant organism, but this is contingent upon our capacity to read our environment in regarding our adaptations effects upon it. It may be that our adaptations are ultimately blind, for if we cannot see their effects upon the world, then over the course of evolutionary time, we become a very 'descendent' species in the event that our 'blindness' results in our extinction. In that case the extremely specialized and encysted bacteria may become quite ascendant.
14 As well, the idea of the hunt brings forth an array of day to day selective pressures to bear upon the organism. If there were no balance between the creatures capacities for obtaining food through the hunt and the creatures being hunted, then either the hunter would annihilate its food source, or the hunter would starve. Instead of these either-or options, there is a pattern of waxing and waning on part of both the predator and the prey, and this relationship represents the flowing balance. We cannot take a static idea of equilibria, for in nature things are not usually so cut and dry. This essentially means that balance is in flux, which sounds paradoxical, but if we consider what a chemical equilibria means the image becomes clearer what it must look like in nature.
i Popper, K. 1997 (p.xii)
iii Popper, K. 1997 (p.3)
iv Popper, K. 1997. (p.xii)
v Popper, K. 1997 (p.7)
vi Popper, K. 1975 (p.197) "'deeper'"
vii Popper, K. 1975 (p.197)
viii Popper, K. 1975 (p.197)
ix Popper, K. 1999 (p.14): He formulates the exact pattern above in: Popper, K. 1996 (p.55)
x Popper, K. 1996 (p.54)
xi Popper, K. 1996 (p.4)
xii Popper, K. 1997 (p.4)
xiii Popper, K. 1996 (p.62)
xiv Popper, K. 1997 (p.6)
xv Popper, K. 1999 (p.53)