[pcp-discuss:] Re: Local minima in our collective behaviour?

From: Menno RUBINGH (rubingh@delftnet.nl)
Date: Sat Dec 02 2000 - 20:26:29 GMT

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     Hi !

    John J Kineman wrote :

    > I want to change the subject a bit to comment on the "Darwinian"
    > process. I've done some work looking into J.M. Baldwin and a wrinkle in
    > the Darwinian evolution process, as many on this list know. The
    > technical difference is this. In a Darwinian process, we assume that
    > variation is uncontrolled/undirected and that the selective conditions
    > of the environment determine differential survival. In a Baldwinian
    > process, intentions and decisions direct behavior, which can alter the
    > selective forces in the environment, thus altering Darwinian selection
    > and creating partially directed pathways. I would argue that the
    > political process is strongly Baldwinian, because so much of it
    > involves creating useful "problems" as Norm pointed out and cultivating
    > public opinion, which then becomes part of the selective environment.

     Swell !, interesting.

     May I spell out a little how I think this Baldwin effect might be
     present here ?

     I think that, when looking at these things as Darwinian/Baldwinian
     processes as we're doing here, the kind of things we're considering here
     that are subject to the evolutionary processes, are: the ideas about how
     politics and government should be done that are present in a ''people''.
     Like this :

       - The people in the country serve as a reservoir in which ideas are
         stored about how politics and government should operate. These
         (cultural) ideas of a large group are relatively hard to change --
         much harder e.g. than the ideas of a single individual. (Many of
         our cultural ideas are, I believe, essentially unchanged since the
         Roman Empire.)

       - As a consequence, it seems plausible to regard these conservative,
         hard-to-change, cultural group ideas as similar to the genetic
         information in the DNA of a living creature. I mean: it is *not*
         the *same*, but it's ''isomorphic'' in the sense that it might make
         sense to apply the same (or similar) models to them.

       - This then IMO indeed allows us to see a ''Baldwin effect''
         operative in here. The ''probleming'' and the ''rationally
         invented'' ideas of/by single individuals affect the ''landscape''
         in which the slow evolution of the group culture takes place.

     Is this indeed how you see things w.r.t. the Baldwinian aspects in the
     political process ?

     Best regards,      Menno (rubingh@delftnet.nl)

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Ir. Menno Rubingh, Scientific programmer, Software designer, & Software documentation writer Doelenstraat 62, 2611 NV Delft, Netherlands phone +31 15 2146915 (answering machine backup) email rubingh@delftnet.nl http://www.rubinghscience.org/ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ ======================================== Posting to pcp-discuss@lanl.gov from "Menno RUBINGH" <rubingh@delftnet.nl>

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