Oscar I may eventually move this thread to Physics or epistemology, but I bet it would be helpful for someone coming across this to have a quick and dirty explanation for what "magical thinking" means. Is the context of this discussion whether a "supernatural" exists, or is this more of a mathematical / logical theory discussion?
Very good point as to the need for an evolution subforum. Will set up now.
Edit: Done, and I moved this thread to that location.
Love it, Oscar! The weeds of magical/idealistic thinking are hard for people to get off their feet. I would love to find a way to do that-- to free people from getting stuck in them.
Interestingly enough, Mettrie has quite a few quotes on the subject, decades before Darwin.
"The first generations must have been very imperfect. Here
the esophagus will have been lacking; there the stomach, the vulva, the
intestines, & so on. Obviously the only animals that will have
have been able to live, conserve, & perpetuate their species, will have been
those who have been provided with all the parts
necessary for reproduction, & which in a word no
essential part will not have been missed. Conversely those
who have been deprived of some part of a necessity
absolute, will be dead, or shortly after their
birth, or at least without reproducing. Perfection
was no more the work of a day for nature than for art."
"People say that all eyes are made optically and all ears mathematically! How do they
know that? Because they have observed nature; they were astonished to see that its
productions were so equal, and even superior, to art. They could not do otherwise
than suppose that it had some aim or enlightened purposes. Nature thus existed
before art, which was created following in her steps and came from her as the son
comes from his mother. And a chance arrangement, providing the same privileges
as an arrangement made on purpose by all possible hard work, earned our common
mother an honor which is due only to the laws of movement."
"By what an infinite number of combinations matter must have passed before
reaching the only combination which could result in a perfect animal, and through
how many others before reproduction reached the degree of perfection it enjoys
"Everything doctors & physicists have written about
the use of the parts of the animated bodies, always appeared to me
unfounded. All their reasoning on the causes
finals are so frivolous that if Lucretius had refuted them so wrongly then he must have been a bad physician as he was a great poet"
"The elements of matter, by dint of twitching &
mingling, having managed to make eyes, it was
impossible not to see, as not to see oneself
in a mirror, either natural or artificial. The eye has found itself
the mirror of objects, which often serve them in turn.
Nature did not think more of eyeing to see, than
water, to serve as a mirror for the simple shepherdess. The water is
found suitable for returning the images; the shepherdess saw there
with pleasure, her pretty face. This is how the author of the Machine Man thinks."
Mettrie made sure to reject all of the supernatural and to stay firmly within a naturalistic and material view of the world, often conceding to Lucretius and disagreeing with his former Cartesian colleagues .
We probably need a separate forum on theories about the mechanics of evolution. I will set one up and link here. This comes to my mind because there are no doubt lots of interesting theories on how far things go by "chance" combination until something else kicks in. For example a 1969 Dodge Charger, or a Great Pyrenees dog, doesnt just spring out of the ground by chance. Something happens at early stages without any guidance at all, and then at some point (in at least some parts of evolution) intelligent selection takes over. I am by no means up to date on all the various theories about how gradual things are, or how "leaps" take place, but I bet over time some people will want to post about things like that.
Edit: Well duh, that's exactly where we are, aren't we? I was thinking we were in one of Charles' threads on pas Epicureans but i see we are in exaclty the right place. Although, if someone expands to far on the mechanics of evolution, it would be a good idea to start a separate thread in this same forum.