coins have 2 sides

-you can’t say something is ‘evil’ if you’re not already assuming some concept of ‘goodness’

-you can’t say something is ‘poorly designed’ unless you’re assuming what ‘good design’ looks like

-you can’t say something is ‘chaotic’ unless you know what ‘order’ is

-and you don’t have goodness, design or order without some idea of teleology

12 thoughts on “coins have 2 sides”

  1. Rather than a coin, most of these issues are really like metal spheres that can land on infinite sides with a steady progression from one pole to another. However your point stands that each pole is necessarily defined relative to the other :)

    If you take teleology in terms of tendencies (rather than design per se) then you are really talking about statistical mechanics which of course I agree with. If you are talking about externally imposed design then of course I disagree :)

  2. Hey Ian,
    Yeah, the coin metaphor isn’t the point, of course :)

    …and I don’t think people have statistical mechanics in mind when they say that something is evil, poorly designed or chaotic (or the opposites of those terms) :)

    And ‘tendency-ish’ teleology isn’t totally at odds with ‘design-ish’ teleology (both very slippery words, aye?).

  3. I think Dawkins distinction of designed versus designoid is a useful one but I think it stands that ‘tendency-ish’ teleology exists regardless of whether there is design-ish teleology or not :)

  4. I’m finding the distinction hard to see; both at a ‘properties of matter’ level – and at a ‘where the universe/biology/etc. got us to’ level :)

  5. Statistically things will tend towards the more likely states (i.e. what the SLT describes) which can mean cycles or patterns emerge which are appear designed for their environment solely because any less well suited state is less likely than it. This means things appear to fit (be designed) but there is no design needed.

  6. ((ahh… I’d seen the second law of thermodynamics abbreviated as 2LT, but not ‘SLT’…))
    I’m interested in how ‘things’ (as you say) ‘tend towards the more likely states’. Are you suggesting that our current state (complex biological life, etc.) is one of these ‘more likely states’ which the universe simply will statistically ‘tend toward’?

    And -again- I doubt any of this is crossing our minds when we call something ‘evil’/’good’, ‘chaotic’/’ordered’???

  7. I am fascinating by how things tend towards states – it kind of defines everything we know about the world :)

    This is really hard to explain but any state that is self sustaining (such as life) is statistically more likely than a comparable chaotic state, entirely because it is self sustaining. Incidentally you cannot look at a specific state (i.e. the universe right this second) and judge its statistical likelihood because it always going to be infinitely small (a reason why many YEC probability arguments are nonsense). We can however look at types of states and self sustaining states would be expected to be around due to their durability.

    Incidentally this statistical mechanics issue was purely in response to the teleology point :)

  8. hmmm… in terms of self-sustaining states, wouldn’t it seem that non-life is more self-sustaining then life? and disorganisation more so than organisation? asexual reproduction than sexual reproduction?

    Incidentally this statistical mechanics issue was purely in response to the teleology point :)

    …oh :) so then you agree that “you don’t have goodness, design or order without some idea of [‘intention-ish’] teleology”

  9. On an instant by instant basis life is quite improbable but the point is that once you get it, it is able to resist change away from it. Non-adaptive systems can’t resisit change from their current state and therefore are more likely to alter. Hence long term complex adaptive states are more likely.

    I think goodness is a meme. I think design is a description of conscious activity. I think order is a systems concept that is well defined. I don’t think external intention-based teleology is necessary for any of the above :)

  10. Ian, I’ve got a crazy week and need to focus – and i think that is a ‘good’ decision, not because I’ve been infected by a ‘meme’ either… :) Might follow up if I get time

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