Not Even in the Ballpark

[From Bruce Gregory (980403.1630 EST)]

Sucinct statements of two trendy approaches that go nowhere

The complex structure of the mind is the subject of this book. Its
key idea can be captured in a sentence: The mind is a system of
organs of computation, designed by natural selection to solve the
kinds of problems our ancestors faced in their foraging way of
life, in particular, understanding and outmaneuvering objects,
animals, plants, and other people. The summary can be unpacked
into several claims. The mind is what the brain does;
specifically, the brain processes information, and thinking is a
kind of computation. The mind is organized into modules or
mental organs, each with a specialized design that makes it an
expert in one arena of interaction with the world. The modules'
basic logic is specified by our genetic program. Their operation
was shaped by natural selection to solve the problems of the
hunting and gathering life led by our ancestors in most of our
evolutionary history. The various problems for our ancestors
were subtasks of one big problem for their genes, maximizing the
number of copies that made it into the next generation.

Steven Pinker From _How the Mind Works_

(My task is to) offer an alternative vision of living systems, a
vision which recognizes the power and role of genes without
subscribing to genetic determinism, and which recaptures an
understanding of living organisms and their trajectories through
time and space as lying at the centre of biology. It is these
trajectories that I call lifelines. Far from being determined,
or needing to invoke some non-material concept of free will to
help us escape the determinist trap, it is in the nature of
living systems to be radically indeterminate, to continually
construct their-our-own futures, albeit in circumstances not of
our own choosing.

Steven Rose From _Lifelines: Biology Beyond Determinism_