mind/soul (blueprint??))

Neil Rickert rickert at cs.niu.edu
Sun Nov 1 09:24:41 EST 1998

flefever at ix.netcom.com(F. Frank LeFever) writes:
>In <71cqlh$gol at ux.cs.niu.edu> rickert at cs.niu.edu (Neil Rickert) writes:

>>The DNA does not construct either the pancreas or the brain.  DNA is
>>a set of specifications for making proteins.  A blueprint does not
>>construct a house or anything else, but carpenters and bricklayers
>>may use the blueprint in carrying out their construction.  DNA
>>doesn't construct anything.  The machinery of the living cell
>>constructs, and uses the DNA in the construction.

>I suspect that Ray understands what you are TRYING to say, better than
>you do yourself.  Certainly, I do.

No, Scanlon does not understand, as his sarcastic response

However we all know that LeFever understands.  After all, he is a
world expert, as he has been so clear to tell us himself.
Personally, I always had a low opinion of people who feel that they
can win arguments merely by declaring credentials.

>Homunculus reinvented?  The little-man-in-the-cell "using" a blueprint
>while IT ("he") constructs more cells and eventually a person?

The homunculus is your invention.  I was giving an analogy for the

>Poor metaphore.  How about this one (it has its own flaws, but at least
>it is different): is the cell like a computer "using"  DNA like a
>program? or is the program "using" the computer?  (Not QUITE the same
>question as "is a chicken an egg's way of making another egg?", but
>reminds me of it...)

Neither of those works.  They naive oversimplifications.  I suggest
"Lifelines: Biology Beyond Determinism" by Steven Rose for a more
realistic view of the relation between DNA and organism.

>Bottom line: no substitute for the painstaking moment by moment
>analysis of develomental interactions.  Those who undertake this
>analysis are not the strawmen Rickert imagines.

LeFever can't read.  I have not used the term "strawmen" to refer to
actual persons.  My criticism has been of the extreme version of
genetic determinism that Scanlon has been preaching, not of people
doing genuine research.

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