Friday, May 04, 2018

Evolution: Random or Determined?

Went to a talk by Prof. Simon Conway Morris of University of Cambridge. The title of the talk was “Evolution: Random or Determined”. He did not address the question directly.  His theme, it seems, was that a lot of behaviour which seems to be nascent versions of human behaviour are actually quite different.  The implication appears to be that evolution is not random, that humans evolve in a determined way.  

Many animals seem to use a form of rudimentary language, which is very different from the very complex human languages.  When a person tells a dog to “walk”, the dog will go walking.  But a human associates a lot of context and meaning with a walk, which hardly seems to be the case with a dog.   A human taps rhythmically and automatically to music, which no animal seems capable of doing. 

Humans seem to read each other’s minds instinctively.  But no animal seems to be able to do.  He asked that question: what makes us humans so radically different from other animals?  

It is quite an interesting and thought provoking talk.  I am glad I took the time to go, even though I am extremely busy.  I have to give my own talk at our Book Club on the Protestant Reformation tomorrow evening and I am still preparing for it. 

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