Sunday, September 8, 2013

Schützenberger quotes


Biology is, of course, not my specialty. The participation of mathematicians in the overall assessment of evolutionary thought has been encouraged by the biologists themselves, if only because they presented such an irresistible target. Richard Dawkins, for example, has been fatally attracted to arguments that would appear to hinge on concepts drawn from mathematics and from the computer sciences, the technical stuff imposed on innocent readers with all of his comic authority. Mathematicians are, in any case, epistemological zealots. It is normal for them to bring their critical scruples to the foundations of other disciplines. And finally, it is worth observing that the great turbid wave of cybernetics has carried mathematicians from their normal mid-ocean haunts to the far shores of evolutionary biology. There up ahead, Rene Thom and Ilya Prigogine may be observed paddling sedately toward dry land, members of the Santa Fe Institute thrashing in their wake. Stuart Kauffman is among them. An interesting case, a physician half in love with mathematical logic, burdened now and forever by having received a Papal Kiss from Murray Gell-Mann. This ecumenical movement has endeavored to apply the concepts of mathematics to the fundamental problems of evolution -- the interpretation of functional complexity, for example. [from here]
Okay, one more:
Speaking ironically, I might say that all we can hear at the present time is the great anthropic hymnal, with even a number of mathematically sophisticated scholars keeping time as the great [Darwinian] hymn is intoned by tapping their feet. The rest of us should, of course, practice a certain suspension of judgment.

No comments:

Post a Comment