29 de setembro de 2009

Necessidade de Conhecer


Já se deu o início de mais um ano lectivo. E queria desejar a todos os estudantes, que “Conhecessem Bem”.
Já dizia Aristóteles no princípio da sua Metafísica: “ Todos os homens têm, por natureza, desejo de conhecer (…)”1. De facto, a curiosidade é uma inclinação irresistível a todos nós, tanto sábios como ignorantes, todos tentamos conhecer a verdade e evitar o erro. Também dizia Santo Agostinho “ (…) todos querem a alegria que provém da verdade. Encontrei muitos com desejos de enganar outros, mas não encontrei ninguém que quisesse ser enganado.”2.
É em nós inato este desejo de conhecer. O meio e a educação podem favorecer em nós, especial apreço pela busca do conhecimento, mas a proveniência deste gosto é interna, está na nossa natureza inteligente. Contudo seria bom, que o nosso desejo de conhecer fosse plenamente desinteressado. Seria também bom, que amássemos a verdade em si mesma, independentemente das vantagens que nos possa trazer. Isto porque a verdade é o alimento, e a finalidade própria do nosso espírito.
Quem é que já sentiu, saciada a fome de conhecimento no seu espírito?
E Quem já sentiu a incompletude do espírito, quando lhe cresce o desejo de novos conhecimentos?
Porém existe ainda uma outra fome, uma outra incompletude. Ao Homem não lhe basta conhecer algumas coisas, o Homem é curioso, quer conhecer os Porquês e os Comos, quer compreender a razão das coisas, como já dizia Aristóteles: “ Com efeito, quem procura o conhecer pelo conhecer escolherá, de preferência, a ciência que é mais ciência, e esta é a do sumamente conhecível; e sumamente conhecíveis são os princípios e as causas: é pois por eles e a partir deles que conhecemos as outras coisas, e não eles por meio destas, que são subordinadas.”3
Mas como se poderá responder a estas e a outras questões, que habitam a profundidade do Ser Humano: O Universo será eterno, e se não o é, será obra da inteligência ou do acaso? Quem é Deus, e qual é a sua acção no mundo? E nós Humanos, somos livres ou escravos da fatalidade? O que é o Conhecimento? O que é a Verdade?
Não pretendo nem responder a estas questões, neste texto, nem esgotar as perguntas que habitam o nosso espírito, nem a sede interior de cada um, aguardo sim que cada um avance escutando pacientemente a sua avidez de conhecimento. Por isso, volto ao princípio deste texto, repetindo o meu desejo para este ano lectivo, que todos os estudantes “Conhecessem Bem”, mas agora completo o meu desejo. Que cada um escute e esteja atento ás questões que brotam da sua sede de conhecimento, para que dessa forma prossigam este ano a “Conhecer Bem”.

____________________
1. Liv. I, 1 1 ARISTÓTELES – Metafísica. Coimbra: Atlântida, 1969.

2. Livro X, Cap. 23 SANTO AGOSTINHO – Confissões. Porto: A.I., 1984, p.264 .

3. Liv. II, 5 - 6 ARISTÓTELES – Metafísica. Coimbra: Atlântida, 1969.

27 de setembro de 2009

É, de certeza, em nome de Jesus?




"Quisemos impedi-lo porque não nos segue"

Às vezes, nós, discípulos de Jesus, também nos deixamos levar pela insegurança.
Os discípulos não estão preocupados porque há uma pessoa que faz o bem, ou porque fala e age no nome de Jesus…mas sim porque não é "dos nossos".
Este é um medo comum e histórico, mas também actual. Hoje nós como cristãos muitas vezes pensamos e dizemos o mesmo, com outras palavras: "de certeza que é duma seita", "aquele está louco", "no fundo mente", etc.


"Se a tua mão é para ti ocasião de queda, corta-a; mais vale entrares mutilado na vida, do que, com as duas mãos, ires para a morte definitiva".

Isto é uma provocação típica de Jesus. Que quer dizer?
Evidentemente não é o que aparece literalmente.
Uma mão, um pé, os olhos… são coisas boas que nos servem para viver. Na verdade, são partes de nós mesmos. São as nossas capacidades.
Qual é a relação entre as duas frases sublinhadas até agora?
A resposta, como sempre, é: Jesus, no centro de tudo.
Os discípulos não percebem a importância de serem Igreja até que descobrem que O importante da Igreja é só e fundamentalmente Jesus Cristo.
Não sabemos o valor que tem a vida, as nossas qualidades, e porquê empregá-las duma ou doutra forma até imitarmos a maneira de viver de Jesus.
Afortunadamente, ao longo da História a Igreja tem sabido perceber isto, e aqui temos três exemplos:

a) Normalmente, os papas actuais dedicam as Encíclicas aos cristãos " e a todos os homens de boa vontade".

b) O último Concilio da Igreja, o Vaticano II, reconheceu que em toda a religião está presente a acção de Deus (cf. Gaudium et Spes, nº 92)

c) Já nos primeiros séculos do cristianismo, houve pensadores cristãos que aceitavam a acção e revelação de Deus em toda a criatura e na actividade humana digna, como por exemplo a Filosofia Grega (como fizeram, por exemplo, são Justino e Clemente de Alexandria).

Em síntese, Jesus oferece-nos uma forma de vida aberta à acção de Deus nos outros, e a eles mesmos, que empregam as suas qualidades ao serviço dos demais, À imitação de Cristo.

Felizes de nós se o fizermos.

(Evangelho de hoje: Marcos 9:38-43,45,47-48)

17 de setembro de 2009

S. Roberto Belarmino


Hoje a Igreja celebra a memória de S. Roberto Belarmino, bispo e doutor da Igreja. S. Roberto Belarmino nasceu em Montepulciano, na Toscana, no ano de 1542 e entrou na Companhia de Jesus em 1560. Estudou teologia em Pádua e em Lovaina. Em 1576 tornou-se professor no Colégio Romano, hoje conhecido como Universidade Gregoriana. Foi nomeado cardeal em 1590 e governou a diocese de Cápua de 1602 a 1605. Escreveu muitas obras exegéticas, pastorais e ascéticas, e foi conselheiro de Papa em assuntos de grande importância. Morreu em Roma a 17 de Setembro de 1621. Foi canonizado por Pio XI em 1930 e no ano seguinte foi declarado Doutor da Igreja Universal.

Como homem santo, S. Roberto Belarmino sabe que é na comunhão com Deus que se encontra a finalidade do ser homem. É isso que nos diz no pequeno excerto, que aqui deixo, do Tratado da elevação da mente para Deus:

Se tens alguma sabedoria, compreenderás que foste criado para glória de Deus e para a tua salvação eterna. Este é o teu fim, este é o centro da tua alma, este é o tesouro do teu coração. Se alcançares este fim, serás feliz; se dele te afastares serás infeliz. Deves considerar como bom o que te conduz ao teu fim e como verdadeiramente mau o que dele te afasta. Para o sábio, a prosperidade e a adversidade, a riqueza e a pobreza, a saúde e a doença, a honra e a ignomínia, a vida e a morte, são coisas que, por si mesmas, nem se devem procurar nem evitar. Se contribuem para a glória de Deus e a tua felicidade eterna, são bens e devem ser desejadas; se impedem essa glória e felicidade, são males e devem ser evitadas.

9 de setembro de 2009

s. pedro claver | 3 olhares: 1 chamamento

“Pedro Claver nasceu em Verdú (Espanha) no ano de 1580; começou em 1596 os estudos de Letras e Artes na Universidade de Barcelona e entrou na Companhia de Jesus em 1602. Na sua vocação missionária exerceu uma notável influência S. Afonso Rodrigues, porteiro do Colégio em Palma de Maiorca. Ordenado sacerdote em 1616 na missão da Colômbia, aí exerceu até à morte apostolado entre os escravos negros; tinha-se obrigado por voto a ser «escravo dos negros para sempre». Debilitadas as forças, morreu em Cartagena (Colômbia) a 8 de Setembro de 1654. Foi canonizado por Leão XIII em 1888. Em 1896, o mesmo Sumo Pontífice declarou-o patrono especial de todas as missões entre os negros.”



O que mais impressiona na vida dos santos, e o que mais os distingue da vida de outras pessoas importantes, é o facto de as suas vidas falarem mais de Cristo do que deles próprios. Daí o facto do Imperador Carlos V e Luís XIV, o tal rei sol que afirmava ser o Estado, mesmo sendo incontornáveis em qualquer abordagem histórica das suas épocas, permanecem memoráveis mas mortos e bem mortos. Talvez porque “quem procura conservar a sua vida perdê-la-á” (Lc 17, 33).

Pedro Claver é sobretudo alguém que nos fala do amor cristão revelado na cruz. Talvez a cruz apareça sempre como um termo demasiado mitificado. Quando numa carta S. Pedro diz que: “Cristo morreu por nós”, a nossa tentação é a de ler superficialmente e deixarmo-nos prender mais pela expressão: “Cristo morreu”, que pela: “por nós”. Quando só pelo “por nós” se entende o “Cristo morreu”. Da mesma maneira, Pedro Claver diminuiu-se a ponto de se fazer escravo dos escravos negros que, enviados para a América, substituíam os trabalhos forçados que outrora os nativos fizeram.


Mas donde vem este calibre de homens que, tocados por Deus, são capazes de ainda hoje tocar mais vidas que os mais incontornáveis da história? Todas as histórias têm princípios. O princípio deste estilo de vida que Pedro levou, teve o seu começo em Verdú, sua terra na Natal, foi alimentado em Maiorca e confirmado no porto de Málaga. Três lugares nos quais três olhares apontaram um só Senhor para o seu coração: o Cristo pobre e humilde.

Talvez Pedro não imaginava quanta ternura lhe inspirava o olhar daquele tosco Cristo de Verdú. Progressivamente Pedro foi lendo naquele olhar como que uma voz que o enviava a viver como aquele crucificado, isto é, alguém que estava de costas para a cruz e virado de braços abertos para o mundo. “Estou determinado a deixar os meus problemas para trás das costas e abrir-me a acolher e cuidar de outros, porque Jesus o faz comigo.” Provavelmente foi isto que ele pensou, na sombria e íntima igreja de Santa Maria de Verdú, antes de pedir aos pais permissão para ingressar no Noviciado da Companhia de Jesus.

Talvez Pedro não imaginava quanta diligência lhe inspirava o olhar daquele velho porteiro do Colégio de Maiorca. Afonso Rodrigues era o nome desse misterioso porteiro que tantas histórias tinha para lhe contar. Mas o mais importante é que este irmão, que tinha por habito não se encostar à cadeira na portaria para ser mais pronto e disponível para acolher quem quer que lhe batesse à porta, esforçava-se muito para imaginar que sempre que abria a porta ia receber a Sagrada Família (José, Maria e Jesus). Parece parvo? Talvez, mas por isso mesmo todos se sentiam acolhidos de tal forma que tinham aquele irmão por alguém muito especial e amigo. Nem a genialidade de Heraclito foi capaz de tanta humanidade no trato. Pedro bebera do olhar deste velho irmão toda a diligência para desejar encontrar Jesus em cada pessoa que encontrava, a fim de a poder servia com todo o seu coração, forças e entendimento.

Talvez Pedro não imaginava quanta confirmação lhe inspirara o olhar daquele negro, no cais de Málaga. Enquanto, nalguns centros intelectuais europeus, se discutia se os negros tinham alma ou não, Pedro encontra no cais um negro que, exangue, o olha. Estranho… Pedro conhecia aquele olhar!?! Quem seria? Era o mesmo olhar que vira no tosco Cristo de Verdú. E desse olhar, no qual reconhecera o olhar do próprio Cristo crucificado, Pedro reavivava a grande mensagem evangélica de tornar claro que aquele que é tomado por periférico pelas sociedade, aquele que é posto na margem, é precisamente aquele que Deus tem no centro da Sua atenção e ternura. Tal como Jesus que colocara no centro da sinagoga o velho que, desprezado por Deus, tinha a mão ressequida, Pedro percebe no olhar daquele negro que os fracos transparecem a grandeza de Cristo, por um apelo ao serviço que pulsa a partir de nós.


Três olhares forjaram um chamamento. São corpo e história de um dom que nos deviam colocar a pergunta: “De que adianta ganhar o mundo inteiro, se viermos com isso a perder a própria vida?” Não sei se o Carlos V e o Luís XIV mudariam de vida depois de ler isto, mas tu podes.


video

8 de setembro de 2009

Razão e Evolução

Tem lugar no dia 9 de Setembro na Aula Magna da Faculdade de Filosofia de Braga o seguinte workshop



Sophia-Iberia Academic Seminar,
IV workshop in Braga,
Universidad Pontificia de Comillas,
Madrid, Cátedra de Ciencia, Tecnología y Religión,
Braga, 9 September 2009


THE INTEREST OF REASON IN A WORLD IN EVOLUTION

MANUEL CURADO



ENGLISH ABSTRACT


This talk is an answer to the famous thesis of the American philosopher Hilary Putnam that reason cannot be naturalized. The argument will try to show that, in spite of the many differences between cold rationality and other warmer aspects of the human mind, reason emerged from evolutionary processes. In order to make clear this point, a number of counterfactual situations are analyzed, namely Minsky’s scenario of communication with possible higher intelligences. One can imagine sentient beings with other phenomenal content or with other perceptive modalities; indeed, one can find real human beings with serious damage to their perceptive and mental abilities. However, differently from other structures of the human mind, rationality doesn’t seem able to be otherwise. Human rationality is a blend of computational constraints and evolutionary situations. The argument contends that this blend is common to other aspects of consciousness (e.g. memory, attention, subjective experiences). The ultimate function of this blend seems to be to improve survival. From this point of view, rationality has an interest. This talk ends with a conjecture about the computational constraints of rationality, the part of the blend that doesn’t seem susceptible of any alteration.


O INTERESSE DA RAZÃO NUM MUNDO EM EVOLUÇÃO

RESUMO PORTUGUÊS


Esta comunicação é uma resposta à tese famosa do filósofo americano Hilary Putnam que afirma que a razão não pode ser naturalizada. O argumento aqui apresentado procurará mostrar que a razão emergiu a partir de processos evolutivos, a despeito das muitas diferenças que existem entre a racionalidade ‘fria’ e outros aspectos mais ‘quentes’ da mente humana. Com o objectivo de clarificar este ponto, são analisadas várias situações possíveis ou contrafactuais, nomeadamente o cenário proposto por Marvin Minsky de comunicação com possíveis inteligências superiores à humana. É possível imaginar seres conscientes com outros conteúdos fenoménicos ou com outras modalidades perceptivas; de facto, é possível encontrar seres humanos reais com danos significativos nas suas capacidades perceptivas e mentais. Contudo, ao contrário de outras estruturas da mente humana, a racionalidade não parece poder ser de outros modos. A racionalidade humana é uma mistura de constrangimentos computacionais e de situações evolutivas. O argumento aqui apresentado defende que esta mistura também é comum a outros aspectos da estrutura da consciência (por exemplo, memória, atenção e experiências subjectivas). A função derradeira desta mistura parece ser a de propiciar um aumento das hipóteses de sobrevivência. Deste ponto de vista, a racionalidade tem um interesse determinado. Esta comunicação termina com uma conjectura sobre os constrangimentos computacionais da racionalidade, a parte da mistura que não parece ser susceptível de qualquer alteração.



A Few References / Algumas Referências

BARKOW, Jerome H.; COSMIDES, Leda; e TOOBY, John, eds. (1995/1992). The Adapted Mind. Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.

BLACK, Max, «Why Should I Be Rational?», Dialectica, 36: 2-3 (1982), pp. 147-168.

COSMIDES, Leda (1989). «The logic of social exchange: Has natural selection shaped how humans reason? Studies with the Wason selection task». Cognition, 31, pp. 187-276.

DA COSTA, Newton, BUENO, Otávio, e FRENCH, Steven (1998). «Is there a Zande logic?» History and Philosophy of Logic, 19, pp. 41-54.

DAVIDSON, Donald, «Rational Animals», Dialectica, 36: 4 (1982), pp. 317-327.

DAVIES, P. C. W. (1990). «Why is the Physical World so Comprehensible?», in Wojciech H. Zurek, ed., Complexity, Entropy, and the Physics of Information. Reading MA: Perseus Books, pp. 61-70.

MINSKY, Marvin (1985). «Why intelligent aliens will be intelligible», in Edward Regis Jr., ed., Extraterrestrials: Science and Alien Intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 117-128.

PUTNAM, Hilary (1983). «Why reason can’t be naturalized», in Realism and Reason. Philosophical Papers, vol. 3. New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 229-247.

TRIPLETT, Timm (1988). «Azande logic versus western logic?» British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 39, pp. 361-366.

WIGNER, Eugene P. (1979). «The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences». In Symmetries and Refections. Woodbridge CT, Ox Bow Press, pp. 222-237.

Darwin em Portugal

Intervenção de Ana Leonor Pereira no Congresso Internacional sobre o Impacto de Darwin

The reception of Darwin in Portugal (1865 - 1914)


In the 1860s, Darwin’s theory was translated, interpreted and disseminated in many languages and cultures around the world. And the Portuguese language was no exception. At this conference we focus essentially on introducing the findings of the historiographical research that we carried out on Portugal. In the scope of Portuguese culture, it was the 70s generation (Eça de Queirós, Antero de Quental, Teófilo Braga, Oliveira Martins, Ramalho Ortigão) who acknowledged Darwin for the first time. At the scientific level, Júlio Augusto Henriques introduced Darwin’s theory in Portugal in 1865 and 1866 by way of two studies presented at the Faculty of Philosophy of Coimbra University (the Faculty of Sciences from 1911) , which were called As espécies são mudáveis? (Can the species change?) 1865, and Antiguidade do homem (The antiquity of humanity) 1866. Through these two pioneer works, Darwin’s theory of evolution was further disseminated by the disciples of Júlio Augusto Henriques, future director of the Botanical Garden of Coimbra University. Yet another pioneer was Arruda Furtado from the Azores, who corresponded with the English naturalist in 1881. By the time of his death in 1887, at the age of 33, he had published several works, particularly on Azorean malacology, which illustrates the strong awareness of the Azores as an extraordinary living laboratory in the sea and on earth, including at the anthropological level.
Akin to other countries worldwide, in 1909 Portugal also celebrated the centenary of Darwin’s birth and the 50th anniversary since The Origin of Species. The documents published in 1909 by distinct cultural agents (scientists, writers, journalists, etc.) can in part be used as barometers of the acknowledgement of Darwin in Portugal. In effect, the writings of Aarão Ferreira de Lacerda, Raúl Proença, Miguel Bombarda and others reflect very distinct forms of understanding Darwin’s biological and anthropological revolution. On the whole, the different views mirror the competition existing between England and France for the paternity of the evolutionist idea, including of the human species, in natural history. The possible, or in some cases impossible, dialogue between Darwinism and Lamarckism is clearly symptomatic of the “state of the art” of Darwin’s revolution at the international level and, obviously, in national terms. What is insurmountably original of Darwin in Portugal is the use and abuse by several ideological and political fronts of the theory of evolution as the scientific weapon of the political-cultural war. Therefore, Darwin’s book of 1871 was the first to be translated. Furthermore, in 1910, the year of the Portuguese Republican Revolution, Darwin’s The Descent of man… is delivered to the printing press in the Portuguese language by two publishers and two different Portuguese translators: Charles Darwin, A origem do homem. A selecção natural e a sexual. Translated by Oldemiro Cesar (journalist, translator). Porto, J. Ferreira dos Santos-Editor, 2vols; Idem, A origem do homem. Summary translation by João Corrêa d’Oliveira (writer and translator). Porto, Magalhães & Moniz-Editores. The inaugural work of Darwin’s revolution of 1859 was first translated into Portuguese in 1913: Charles Darwin, Origem das espécies. Trad. Joaquim Dá Mesquita Paúl (physician and professor). Porto, Livraria Chardron, 1913. From a cultural point of view - particularly social and political culture - the core message was basically the concept of “humanity” as naturalised and subject to the laws of the fight for survival and that of natural selection. In a context of the cultural effervescence of republicanism, laicism and defence of social mobility, Darwin’s anthropological revolution was disseminated as “the missing link” for Republican values to gain ultimate and ideal intelligibility. Such intelligibility was considered ideal since it was scientific and not metaphysical or literary. Republican intellectuals, like Teófilo Braga and Júlio de Matos turned to Darwin and to different Darwinisms to legitimise their socio-political ideas. Furthermore, quite unsurprisingly, the socio-political ideas of Teófilo Braga and Júlio de Matos presented aspects which were hardly reconcilable and the same can be said about the ideas of other intellectuals of the Republic. Regardless of this battle of ideas, it cannot go without saying that Darwin was “revered” for his scientific authority, as one of the leading figures of the Republican utopia in the distinct scopes of his thought.

References in Ana Leonor Pereira, Darwin em Portugal (1865-1914), Coimbra, Almedina, 2001, 629 p.

Evolução e estética

Intervenção de Miguel Dias Costa no Congresso Internacional sobre o Impacto de Darwin

Estética Evolucionista

Partindo dos espantos, irritações e considerações que Darwin tece sobre o papel que a beleza desempenha na evolução das espécies, o objectivo desta comunicação será avaliar a situação actual ao nível do encontro e da colaboração que diferentes áreas de estudo poderão representar no esclarecimento da dimensão estética e simbólica do homo sapiens. Assim, para além da paleoantropologia, disciplinas como a neuro-estética ou a arqueologia cognitiva têm desenvolvido estudos e considerações importantes sobre o papel que a arte terá desempenhado no sucesso evolutivo da nossa espécie.
Descobertas recentes, como pinturas rupestres, esculturas ou ainda instrumentos musicais, têm obrigado os especialistas de diferentes áreas a reverem também a interpretação do significado da arte pré-histórica. Entre as diversas interpretações que se têm sucedido desde o século XIX, sobressaem hoje as teses chamanista, culturalista e naturalista. Para além dos debates e polémicas que as separam, julgo que o recurso à antropologia fundamental desenvolvida por René Girard e pelos seguidores do seu pensamento poderá constituir uma importante contribuição no sentido de uma integração dos aspectos mais pertinentes de cada uma das correntes.
Assim, integrando as manifestações artísticas e simbólicas do ser humano num contexto mais abrangente e, simultaneamente, numa visão mais fundamental da cultura humana, a reconstituição do processo de hominização deve incluir os elementos religiosos, tecnológicos e sociais que estarão presentes desde as nossas origens mais remotas. Nesta visão, sobressaem a dimensão relacional do ser humano, as suas características miméticas e violentas, bem como o papel imprescindível da comunicação numa explicação do sucesso adaptativo do ser humano.

Darwin na China

Resumo da intervenção de Haiyan Yang, no Congresso Internacional sobre o Impacto de Darwin

Encountering Darwin and Creating Darwinism: the Chinese Case

The year 2009 marks the confirmation of Charles Darwin as a global brand. Just as a strong white light fragments into colorful beams through a prism, Darwin presents multiple images. These different, even contradictory, images symbolize the various contexts where he has been encountered and consequently the diverse understandings and appropriations of Darwin. This paper will investigate the Chinese case as one of these varieties.
The official image of Darwin in the People’s Republic of China (founded in 1949) is three-fold. First he is described as a modest, diligent and persistent scientist, in spite of his long-term illness. Secondly he is labeled as a great materialist who was buried in Westminster Abbey in the company of Newton - the other “great materialist”. Thirdly, he is seen as a brave atheist who struggled against reactionary religious forces. Yet when Darwin and evolution were first introduced into and appropriated in China at the turn of the twentieth century, the official image mentioned above was barely recognized. At that time, there were few professional scientists in Chinese society, and learning had not been categorized into separate subjects residing in distinct institutional spaces. Without the obvious dichotomy between materialism and idealism in Chinese intellectual life, and with few religious issues to contend with, Darwin’s image was as yet unformed and open to interpretation. The overwhelming concerns about China’s survival gave intellectuals exclusive attention to the problem of human evolution and social evolution, and consequently shaped the first translation, interpretation, discussion and distortion of works by Darwin and his followers. But this state of flexibility and openness dissolved gradually with the rise of Marxism and the foundation of the new China. Another triad took hold, made up of materialism, atheism and scientism. Evolutionism in the new context was used to justify violent revolution, unceasing class struggle and a perfect future as an historical inevitability. I shall illustrate how the currency of Darwinism, when initially created, was widespread, vibrant, and flexible, and then how over time it became solidified with the changes in intellectual, social and political climates.
Finally, I don’t wish in this paper to add one more piece to the jigsaw puzzle of the individual and separate receptions of Darwin in different countries. Rather, I shall portray the Chinese experience as a part of the active response, discussion, debate, and even creation that can be woven into the whole fabric of global communications of Darwin.

References:

Alitto, G. S., The Last Confucian: Liang Shu-ming and the Chinese Dilemma of Modernity, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986.
Bowler, P., The Non-Darwinian Revolution: Reinterpreting a Historical Myth, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1988.
Crook, P., Darwinism, War and History: The Debate over the Biology of War from the ‘Origin of Species’ to the First World War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.
Darwin, Charles, On the Origin of Species. A Facsimile of the First Edition. Introduced by Ernst Mayr. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1964.
Darwin, Charles, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2 vols. London: John Murray, 1871.
Desmond, A., and J. Moore, Darwin’s Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins, London: Penguin Books Ltd, 2009.
Engels, E. M., and T. F. Glick, eds. The Reception of Charles Darwin in Europe, 2 vols. London: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., 2009.
Grieder, J. B., Hu Shih and the Chinese Renaissance: Liberalism in the Chinese Revolution, 1917-1937. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970.
Hawkins, M., Social Darwinism in European and American Thought, 1860-1945: Nature as Model and Nature as Threat, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
Hodge, J., and G. Radick, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Darwin, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Huxley, T. H., Evolution and Ethics, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989.
Moore, J. R., The Post-Darwinism Controversies: A Study of the Struggle to Come to Terms with Darwin in Great Britain and America, 1870-1900, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
Kohn, David, ed. The Darwinian Heritage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985.
Kwok, D. W., Scientism in Chinese Thought, 1900-1950, New Haven: Yale University Press: 1965.
Pusey, James R., China and Charles Darwin, Cambridge (Massachusetts): Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1983.
Pusey, James R., Lu Xun and evolution, Albany (New York): State University of New York Press, 1998.
Richards, R. J., and M. Ruse, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Darwin’s Origin of Species, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Schwartz, Benjamin I., In Search of Wealth and Power: Yen Fu and the West, Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 1964.
Schneider, Laurence A., Biology and revolution in twentieth-century China, Lanham (Maryland): Rowman & Littlefield, 2003.
Tse-tsung, Chow, The May Fourth Movement, Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 1960.
White, P., Thomas Huxley: Making the ‘Man of Science’, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Ecologia

Resumo da intervenção de Isabel Varanda no Congresso Internacional sobre o Impacto de darwin na Ciência, na Sociedade e na Cultura

A ecologia como chave hermenêutica da Criação e da Evolução

Premissas:
1. O que se passou no(s) começo(s) para que o universo seja e seja assim? O jesuíta francês Pierre Teilhard de Chardin lembra-nos de forma categórica que “é impossível chegar ao verdadeiro começo seja do que for” (Teilhard DE CHARDIN, La place de l’Homme dans la Nature. Le Groupe Zoologique Humain (1949) Œuvres, t. VIII, Seuil, Paris, 1963, 93). Impossibilidade tanto mais radical quanto se, por hipótese, a ciência chegasse a decifrar e a compreender os mecanismos e operações das origens e da evolução das coisas e dos seres, o mistério da Vida permaneceria e nunca, diz ele, chegaríamos a poder “vangloriarmo-nos de ter enfim esclarecido o mistério do Homem”(IDEM, La Paléontologie et l’apparition de l’Homme (1923) Œuvres, t. II, Seuil, Paris, 1956, 80.). Não é dito, todavia, que estejamos condenados à ignorância. Aliás, as contínuas descobertas nos diferentes domínios científicos confirmam que é possível desbravar o terreno da ignorância do ser humano sobre si mesmo, sobre o universo e sobre o sentido profundo de todas as criaturas. Precisamos, no entanto, de dispor dos instrumentos adequados à interpretação dos elementos que nos chegam. Este é o verdadeiro problema que se coloca aos cientistas e que a maior parte das vezes desemboca em verdadeiros impasses. Que método seguir e que processo iniciar para ultrapassar o paradoxo intrínseco aos novos conhecimentos: de um lado, as abundantes informações científicas contidas em cada nova descoberta, e de outro lado, a precariedade de sentido que elas trazem aos enigmas e ao mistério da vida em geral.
2. Num texto sobre a Paléontologie et l’apparition de l’Homme, Teilhard de Chardin vê este paradoxo não como um impasse ou aporia mas como um paradoxo útil; no seu entender, o facto de nós próprios sermos seres vivos faz com que o mistério da vida não nos seja totalmente inacessível. Com efeito, escreve, “realizando com urgência e maior precisão no nosso espírito quanto a nossa natureza está intimamente ligada às entranhas da Terra, chegaremos a uma ideia mais magnífica da unidade orgânica do universo” (ibidem) Mas, prossegue, “por mais poderosa que a História possa ser para dilatar a consciência que podemos ter do mundo, ela é incapaz de, por si mesma, nos explicar este mesmo Mundo” (ibidem). Porque o mistério da vida é irredutível a uma cadeia físico-química, por mais complexa que ela seja. Algo escapa aos microscópios. A ciência perde-se nos caminhos do passado onde os começos se esbatem e a origem dos começos é inacessível. Por outras palavras, o começo do que não existe nos começos (Criação, em registo religioso) escapa aos principais requisitos da investigação científica e mesmo que a ciência chegue a reproduzir logicamente a cadeia de desenvolvimentos da vida, ela não nos ensinará nada sobre “as forças secretas que animaram este belo desenvolvimento” (ibidem).
3. Àqueles que pretendem ler a Bíblia como cientistas ou como um livro científico vale a pena recordar que a Sagrada Escritura não nos oferece um tratado de cosmologia nem de paleontologia, nem de biologia, nem mesmo de ecologia, no sentido de um conhecimento positivo e sistemático da constituição dos seres e da sua inserção e dinamismo interno e externo no contexto dos ecossistemas. Já os Padres da Igreja o tinham entendido. Basílio de Cesareia, por exemplo, numa das suas homilias, fala “desses autores de tratados” que emitem toda a espécie de conjecturas sobre o mundo. “Mas – diz ele – não será isso que me fará falar com desdém do nosso relato da Criação, sob pretexto de que o servidor de Deus, Moisés, nada tenha dito das suas formas, não tenha avaliado o perímetro da terra em 180 mil estádios, nem medido quanto muda no ar a sombra da terra quando o sol passa debaixo dela, e que ele não tenha explicado enfim como esta sombra projectada sobre a lua provoca os eclipses” (BASILE DE CÉSARÉE, Homélies sur l’Hexaéméron, Sources Chrétiennes 26 (introdução e tradução de Stanislas Giet), Cerf, Paris 1950, 481-483. Ver: Pierre GISEL, «Sens et savoir du monde. Quel discours théologique sur la Création?», in Laval théologique et philosophique 52, 2 (1996) 355-364; Pierre GISEL – Lucie KAENNEL, La création du monde. Discours religieux, discours scientifique, discours de foi, Labor et Fides, Genève 1999).
A intenção subjacente aos textos bíblicos é teológica e religiosa; não é científica.
4. Seja qual for o valor do argumento aos olhos dos cientistas, não podemos silenciar as deposições de fé daqueles que se confrontaram antes de nós com a questão da vida e do sentido. Através da sua fé, eles explicitaram o lugar inaugurado pelos começos do que não existia no começo: esse lugar sem ser e sem o ser, onde tudo era indiferença e que Deus (ens a se), criando a diferença (ens ab alio), transforma em lugar habitado pela diferença, em lugar abençoado e em promessa de crescimento, multiplicação e plenitude: “Deus abençoou-os e disse-lhes: Sede fecundos, multiplicai-vos, enchei a terra…” (Gn 1,28).
5. Deus cria criaturas perfeitas na sua ordem, mas não finalizadas na sua ordem. A perfeição desta ordem reside precisamente na sua capacidade de finalização, de autoconstrução e de autodeterminação. No caso da criação do ser humano, a intentio profundior está orientada, num projecto a longo termo, para o estádio de uma liberdade inteligente, dotada de consciência reflexiva ao serviço de uma incessante busca da inteligibilidade do universo e da vida.
Pela Criação – que não é entendida pela Tradição cristã como criacionismo instantâneo – o Criador inaugura e faz dom de uma história da qual só o Prólogo aparece escrito e leva a sua assinatura. Este lugar na origem da história é de uma natureza diferente da natureza da história. Ele releva de uma irredutibilidade categórica quer às teorias científicas quer às classificações históricas e quer mesmo às construções teológicas.
6. Em suma, no que respeita ao mistério mais apaixonante da história da humanidade, o das suas próprias origens e de tudo quanto existe, a ciência não conseguiu até hoje dar uma explicação. Existem hipóteses mais ou menos plausíveis, mas o mistério permanece. Por seu lado, as cosmogonias e antropogonias religiosas (cf. Génesis 1-2) procuram, através de narrativas redigidas num “estilo mítico”, representar o inexprimível e ajudar o espírito reflexivo humano a aceder ao fundamento.
7. A aliança dos saberes (Ilia Prigogine e Isabel Stengers) como projecto e método epistemológico, se não preconiza a separação hermética entre a fé e a ciência, tampouco defende a promiscuidade entre os dois domínios; ela supõe, como requisito de referência, uma cirurgia de precisão pela qual é possível identificar um espaço transitivo inter-epistemológico: da fé à ciência e da ciência à fé. Falta instruir um referencial de fundamentação da credibilidade, legitimidade e importância deste espaço bem como o nexo nesta passagem inter-epistemológica.

Proposição:
Fazer habitar neste espaço inter-epistemológico o conceito de ecologia (1).. Por um lado, ele permite unificar diversas disciplinas, desde as ciências exactas às ciências humanas, passando pelas ciências religiosas; por outro, sendo denominador comum à Criação – sabedoria ecológica – e à Evolução – ciência ecológica – o espaço epistemológico entre a doutrina da Criação e a teoria da Evolução deixa de ser terra de ninguém e interdito, passando a ser reconhecido como espaço possível para inter-dizer a Criação na Evolução e a Evolução na Criação.
_____________________________________________________________
(1)No século XIX, a biologia concentrou a sua atenção no estudo do ser vivo no seu ambiente natural. A palavra “ecologia” é forjada neste contexto pelo biólogo alemão Ernst Haekel que, em 1886, com o neologismo “ecologia”, pretendia significar “a ciência da economia, dos hábitos, do modo de vida, das relações vitais entre os organismos”, in Ernst HAECKEL, Generelle Morphologie der Organismen, I, Berlim, 8, citado por Pascal ACOT, Histoire de l’écologie, PUF, Paris 1988, 44. Desde então, o conceito de ecologia mudou substancialmente. Segundo a definição do sociólogo espanhol Manuel Castells, a ecologia é “um conjunto de crenças, de teorias e de projectos que consideram a humanidade como um dos componentes de um ecossistema mais vasto e desejam manter esse sistema em equilíbrio (homeostasia), numa perspectiva dinâmica e evolucionista”, Manuel CASTELLS, Le pouvoir de l'identité, II: L'ère de l'information, Fayard, Paris 1999, 142.

Mente e evolução

Resumo da intervenção de Manuel Sumares no Congresso Internacional sobre Darwin

Realised Eschatology, Evolution, and Mind: Blondel and Teilhard de Chardin


Blondel and Teilhard give us a daring picture of what creation would look like if we accept at once the reality of evolution and a high Christology. The correspondence between the two thinkers serves as a point of departure, indicating key matters of divergence. Nevertheless, they are massively in agreement in their worldview, especially in regard to the cosmic signification of the Eucharist and to the centrality of the Incarnation. The eventual pertinence of the issue may lie in its possible response to W. B. Yeats’ eerie verses from his “Second Coming”: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ The falcon cannot hear the falconer; things fall apart; the centre cannot hold … .”

Basic references:
Blondel, Maurice, L’action
Id., Qu’est-ce que la mystique
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, Le phénomène humain
Id.,Le Divin Milieu

Evolução e linguagem

Resumo da conferência de Augusto Silva no Congresso Internacional sobre o Impacto de Darwin

Replication, selection and language change. Why an evolutionary approach to language variation and change?

In this paper we will try to show the relevance of an evolutionary model to the study of language change. We focus on a cognitive and usage-based approach to language change: the Utterance Selection Theory of language change developed by Croft (2000) within the framework of Cognitive Linguistics (Geeraerts & Cuyckens 2007, Soares da Silva 2006). The theory of Utterance Selection takes its inspiration from neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, particularly the Generalized Theory of Selection developed by David Hull, a philosopher of science. As Hull and others have pointed out, evolution is a two-step process: altered replication of the replicators (for instance, genes) and selection of interactors (for instance, individual organisms). Language change is also a two-step process: innovation and propagation. In the domain of language, the replicators are the utterances (defined as usage events) and the interactors are the language users. Crucially, altered replication can be equated with language innovation, and propagation of individual changes in a speech community is the linguistic counterpart of the differential perpetuation or selection of replicators.
We will highlight four reasons that justify applying an evolutionary framework to language change. Firstly, language is viewed as a system of use governed by convention. Therefore, “utterances” and “convention” play a central role in the theory of language change. Secondly, language change results from breaking with convention and selecting some of the new variants created. Utterance selection is then the primary locus of language change. Thirdly, principles of cognitive and communicative efficiency are the main motivations for language change. Finally, there are cognitive and social mechanisms that give rise to normal replication (stability), altered replication (innovation) and selection (propagation). The mechanisms for innovation are above all cognitive, this is the case of metaphor and metonymy; the mechanisms for propagation are essentially social, like accommodation, identity and prestige. All of these mechanisms occur in individual communicative acts and operate like an “invisible hand” (Keller 1994). We will illustrate the evolutionary model of language change adequacy with some examples of semantic change, subjectification and grammaticalization.

References
Croft, William (2000). Explaining Language Change: An Evolutionary Approach. London: Longman.
Geeraerts, Dirk & Hubert Cuyckens (eds.) (2007). The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.
Keller, Rudi (1994). On Language Change: The Invisible Hand in Language. London/New York: Routledge.
Soares da Silva, Augusto (2006). O Mundo dos Sentidos em Português. Polissemia, Semântica e Cognição. Coimbra: Almedina.

Evolução e psicologia

Resumo da conferência de Rodrigo Saraiva no Congresso Internacional sobre o Impacto de Darwin

Darwin, Evolution and Psychology: past, present and future


I will examine the impact of Darwinism in the behavioural sciences and chiefly in psychology. I will consider ethology, sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. After briefly examining the rationale in these fields I will separate three main themes: the study of evolution of behaviour and mind, the identification of selective pressures for changes, and the study of function. I will show that evolutionary psychology’s main shortcoming is that it relies only in loose hypothesis about past function.
I will then claim that a true Darwinian psychology must be informed of ethological processes and true comparative method, of archaeologicall research (archaeology is the only clue to behaviour of hominins) and of paleoanthropological findings. Also, as most modern behaviour is culturally determined, it is necessary to understand how culture and biology interact.
I will base the approach in Uexküll’s concept of the function cycle: the connection of an organism to its environments is achieved through a complex organisation of perceptive processes that identify features of relevance in the environment; these perceptive processes release behaviour that is programmed inside (either innately or by learning). This overall program of environment – perception – organismic programs – response varies widely across species, and I will briefly show how mammals (including apes) differ from humans. In so doing I will present several concepts (some new, others well known) that need evolutionary explanation. Among them, memory, attention, motivation, virtual models, algorithms that connect entities (things, agents – praxianaphoric, eidoloanaphoric and politikoanaphoric mental templates) and language. I will give examples of research that pertains of the evolution of these processes (the research on a connection grammar, on belief in afterlife and on the sentient Ego).
I will further defend that modern human behaviour cannot be explained by an individual- or even group-centred analysis, but that culture must be understood as a new organism, which defines its function cycles not necessarily in accordance with the individuals motivations but with the culture’s fitness.
I end by trying to relate the consequences of a true evolutionary psychology to the psychological individual and to self-understanding.

General references:

Buss, D, 2007: Evolutionary Psychology, 3rd Ed, Allyn & Bacon
Collidge, FL and Wynn, Th., 2009: The rise of Homo sapiens: the evolution of modern thinking. Wiley-Blackwell
Deacon, T., 1997: The Symbolic Species; the co-evolution of language and the human brain. Norton/Penguin
Pinker, S., 2007: The Stuff of Thought: language as a window to human nature. Allen Lane/ Penguin
Sá-Nogueira Saraiva, R. de, 2003: Mundos animais, Universos humanos. Gulbenkian.

Evolução da Informação

Resumo da conferência de Jim Salmon no Congresso sobre O Impacto de Darwin

Evolution of Information

Like the concept of energy before Newton, western culture imagined information to be an abstract concept. Until recent developments of information technology, people read books and wrote letters, but analysis of information itself was not common. In this paper the physical reality of information is presumed to exist outside the brain. The purpose of the talk compares quantitative and qualitative analyses of the evolution of information, an aspect of Darwin’s impact on science, society and culture. It is proposed that qualitative interpretations of the evolution of information can offer at least as much understanding of Darwin’s significance as quantitative interpretations.
Contemporary quantitative analyses of the evolution of information can introduce ambiguity because of interpretations of the meaning of the concept of entropy when applied to information theory. It will be proposed that the result of this ambiguity still does not limit the general proposal of a hyper-physics of two fundamental energies in nature, proposed originally by Teilhard de Chardin, and in agreement with evolutionist theories of natural selection.
Although Charles Darwin did not speculate about the origin of life in his publications, in his last letter he wrote, “… the principle of life will hereafter be shown to be a part or consequence of some general law.” Analysis of the historical process of the increasing complexity of matter in its evolution reveals developmental changes in creation, storage and communication of information. One conclusion from analysis of these qualitative data about information underwrites examination of Darwin’s question “the principle of life will hereafter be a part or consequence of some general law,” It is proposed that qualitative studies of the evolution of information reveal a principle of development in nature from matter to spirituality?

7 de setembro de 2009

Darwinismo e naturalismo

Resumo da conferência de Bruentrup Godehard no Congresso sobre o Impacto de Darwin

Darwinism and Naturalism - a Perfect Fit?

In this talk I argue that a non-materialist metaphysics can give an equal or better account of evolution than Neo-Darwinism plus materialist naturalism. The talk uses the tools of contemporary analytic metaphysics to advance a view of nature that - while being historically inspired by Whiteheadian process metaphysics - also tries to present a philosophical research program that takes account of some recent developments in evolutionary biology.

Darwin e a questão ética

Resumo da conferência de Eric Charmetant no Congresso sobre o Impacto de Darwin

Darwin and ethics: the history of an early encounter

Charles Darwin’s thoughts on the place of man in nature and on the naturalist approach to morality, far from being a secondary and belated development in comparison with his theory of evolution, already take clear shape as early as 1838 and are later developed in The Descent of Man (1871).
By examining the corpus of Darwin’s published work (especially, The Origin of Species and the two editions of The Descent of Man) as well as his unpublished work (especially his notes and letters), we attempt to highlight the originality of Darwin’s answer to the question of morality, without, however, effacing his roots in Victorian society, with its strong prejudices about, e.g. the intellectual incapacities of women, the inferiority of the Irish, or eugenics, as expressed in the tortuous formulations with regard to his cousin Francis Galton.
Darwin’s ethical views belong squarely in the British tradition of moral sense philosophy (especially, James Mackintosh). His naturalist aim is to propose a phylogenetic and partially ontogenetic perspective on moral sense, but also to explain the convergence between happiness and the general good through the generations. Nonetheless, it would be anomalous to make of Darwin a proponent of utilitarianism, because in his moral thought the general good always prevails over happiness.
The central place he gives to moral habits, to instinctive moral decisions, as well as to the pressure of group approval leads Darwin to a very ‘closed’ vision of morality (according to the categorization proposed by Bergson), as prominent at the end of the 1830s as in the later two editions of The Descent of Man.
Nonetheless, pace Hobbes and Mandeville, Darwin underlines the essential role of benevolent affections and the possibility of moral progress through the development of civilization and through group selection, considering humanity, and indeed the entire animal world, as a whole. It is this central role accorded to sympathy in moral sense which permits Darwin to avoid the temptation of eugenics and what was called « social Darwinism ».
All the same, the role of moral freedom and deliberation in Darwin’s thought remain largely underestimated. Neither does his approach take into account the optimal way for a group to respond to new ethical questions.
In the final sections of this study, we examine the developments and continuities in Darwin’s moral thought from his youth onwards, paying particular attention to the origin of the moral sense, the analogy of morals and instincts, moral freedom, the criterion of morality.

References:
Bergson H., Les deux sources de la morale et de la religion, 1932, 1re édition critique, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 2008.
Browne J., Charles Darwin: Voyaging, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.
Browne J., Charles Darwin: The Power of Place, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002.
Darwin C., The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online: http://darwin-online.org.uk
Desmond A. & Moore J., Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist , 1991, New-York: W.W. Norton, 1994.
Desmond A. & Moore J., Darwin’s Sacred Caused, New-York: Houghton Mifflin Hartcourt, 2009.
Mackintosh J., Dissertation on the Progress of Ethical Philosophy, Chiefly during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1837 (Facsimile, Bristol: Thoemmes, 1991).
Manier E., The Young Darwin and His Cultural Circle, Dordrecht: Reidel, 1979.
Richards R.J., Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Science and religion

Resumo da conferência de Roland Cazalis no Congresso Internacional sobre o Impacto de Darwin

Darwin: a pedagogical principle in science and religion

There is no doubt that the publication of Origins of Species (1) began a new era in thinking about the origins of mankind. The book found a readership that had been awaiting it for some time, many of whom had already recognize their own ideas on the subject. In it, many readers recognized their own ideas, or their fears, even if they didn’t always grasp the originality of Darwin’s propositions. Origins of Species came out amidst certain feverishness, provoked by Wallace’s letter (2). The rushed synthesis of the opera magna that Darwin had planned, containing analogies that are not always adequate, with his sequencing of the mechanisms implicated in the generation of species that doesn’t respect their chronological order, certainly didn’t help the understanding of this new theory. Origin of Species has had the effect of Pandora’s Box, giving rise to different interpretations.
Darwinism as a theory of descent by modifications seems simply to indicate that variations are produced in the living world on which natural selection is exerted. Whereas the latter is presented as a principle of conservation, the principle of creation is variations without which natural selection remains powerless. Origin of Species is not like a Newton’s law of evolution of the living world. The reading of this work will thus appear a frustrating experiment, if the reader finds answers which are not in the scope of the book. The title promises much but the contents are less generous, in particular on the origin of variations. In addition, Darwin remains rather quiet on certain consequences of his proposals, as if he invited to go further.
But it generates on the other hand an understanding model. Origin of species indeed opens a new space of understanding which makes it possible that natural history becomes an applied science, therefore a space able to generate explanatory mechanisms instead of sticking to descriptions. In that and beyond the naturalist, Darwin must be considered a pedagogical principle which stipulates that any space of understanding must be a matrix able to evolve and in particular, able to assimilate in a creative way what comes from outside.
Thus, before thinking of interactions between science and religion and more precisely, between science and theology in connection with theory of evolution, it is critical that the understanding field of each realm is equipped with an evolutionary capability, an aptitude which should not be compelled. Darwin, for example, invites to seek the laws which produce and govern the appearance of variations. Biological sciences must thus work to elucidate this question, but with a mind free of certain orthodoxies which delay the progress of scientific knowledge. In the same idea and in the framework of religion, the understanding of its own body of doctrines is for becoming, because history course does not stop.
Thus, it appears, to be a true matrix – quality that each realm grants or not to its understanding space- determines the aptitude to incorporate foreign elements without being poisoned. In this paradigm, the relationship between the realms of science and theology is not basically different from that which micro-organisms strains behave between them in a given biotope. This relation can vary since neutrality, safeguarding of territory by antibiotic release until various types of symbiotism. Thus, the real or phantasmatic toxicity of a type of Darwinism with regard to the religious approach of the living world history qualifies above all the metabolism type of each realm.

References:
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, New York: Oxford Univesity Press, New edition 1998.
Stephen Jay Gould and Andrew Berry, Infinite Tropics: An Alfred Russel Wallace Anthology, Verso Books, 2003.

6 de setembro de 2009

Condicionalismos genéticos da evolução

Resumo da conferência que o Doutor Henrique Teotónio apresentará no Congresso sobre o Impacto de Darwin

Reevaluating the Origin of Species: the genetic constraints of evolution


The lack of an explanation for the heredity of phenotype transmission across generations provided the main impetus for empirical research in evolutionary theory after Darwin’s “Origin of Species”. In particular, the observation of reversions at the individual (atavisms) and population (regression to the mean) levels was problematic until Mendelian genetics was formalized. After this period, theory was developed to incorporate the relative roles of natural selection, migration and mutation to change of phenotypes with either a one or two loci genetic basis, or an effectively infinite number of them. With the finding that heredity is mostly coded in DNA sequences, and with the technological ability to survey variation at these sequences in large number of individuals and populations, the need to develop models of phenotype evolution with a significant but limited number of causal loci is now obvious. To a large extent, the relative role of recombination to the origin and maintenance of phenotype diversity is poorly understood. I will discuss some of these historical developments in evolutionary genetics, as well as prospects for future research.

Vida artificial

Resumo da conferência do Doutor Luis Correia a ser apresentada no Congresso sobre o Impacto de Darwin, na Faculdade de Filosofia de Braga (10-12 de Setembro)

From natural to artificial life


Living organisms have long since been a source of inspiration for humans to build artifacts mimicking their behaviour. Usually models used are quite simple by comparison to their natural sources of inspiration. However, on computers, we have the freedom to test approaches both realistic and outright speculative, from the biological point of view.
This talk will cover several Artificial Life (ALife) models and their application areas. On the one hand we have models that are currently used as tools in engineering, especially for optimisation, and on the other hand we have environments and models that exhibit properties alike those observed in bio-organisms, that are useful to study and develop biological theories. Therefore, the talk will describe computer based models, such as artificial neural networks, evolutionary algorithms, artificial immune systems, swarm based algorithms and artificial life environments and autonomous robots in the perspective of artificial beings. A brief reference to wet ALife, meaning biochemistry research to build artificial cells, will complete this review.
Bridges to other related areas will also be explored. In particular, Artificial Life can also be seen as a field intending to achieve artificial intelligence through a bottom-up constructive process, trying to mimic natural evolution. This approach is an alternative to the historical Artificial Intelligence approach that tries to analytically build intelligent systems from composition of sub-systems with specific functionalities. In any case results achieved so far are extremely limited by comparison to their natural counterparts.
A different approach has been pursued in developing auxiliary elements for humans, namely intelligent prosthetics. There are quite useful devices currently, both in perception as well as in actuation helpers. For a long term future, we may envisage a convergence between the construction of an artificial being and the composition of a bionic human. The idea of whether artificial beings will ever surpass their natural counterparts may just be leaving the realm of science fiction, and becoming an open and interesting field for debate, raising important philosophical issues.

References
Floreano, D. and Mattiussi, C., Bio-Inspired Artificial Intelligence: Theories, Methods, and Technologies. MIT Press, 2008
Dennett. D.C., Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds. MIT Press, 1998.
Emmeche, C., The Garden in the Machine: The Emerging Science of Artificial Life. Princeton University Press, 1994.
Searle, J.R., Minds, Brains and Science. Harvard University Press, 1986.

5 de setembro de 2009

Evolução e condicionalismos químicos


Resumo da conferência do Prof. José Fraústo da Silva no Congresso sobre O Impacto de Drawin

Reevaluating the Origin of Species: the chemical constraints of evolution


After a short digression on the contribution of Charles Darwin (and some colleagues) to the ideas on the evolution of species, on the work of other naturalists that predated them, and on the advances of scientists in the XIX and XX centuries, originating what is usually called neo-Darwinism, this lecture will be centered on the main factors necessary for life - raw materials, available energy and functional instructions (information) – focused specially on the role of the chemical elements (and their compounds) initially provided by the environment and later by other living organisms, that takes us to other questions, such as symbiosis, synergism and delegation of functions, leading to the conclusion that it is the ecosystem that determines and manages the evolution, not random mutations in individual organisms or species.
Life seems to have emerged in our planet some 3,5 – 3,8 billion years ago, when the atmospheric environment was essentially reductive and there was no free oxygen (O2) in appreciable concentration since this element, due to its reactivity, was largely combined with hydrogen (as H2O) and several other elements, such as carbon, phosphorous, silicon, aluminium, calcium, etc. but not with transition metals, that for low levels of O2 tend to form sparingly soluble sulfides. This situation changed considerably with the progressive oxidation of the environment; some metals (Zn, Cu, Mo and others) became more available and other elements less available (e.g. Fe and S) How did these changes affect the life on Earth?
To follow a systematic sequence in the description we will consider first and in more detail the raw-materials, then the driving force, energy, and some thermodynamic concepts which is our view and of a few other authors have not been correctly interpreted when applied to biological systems, and finally information, an essential requirement which again is frequently misinterpreted and usually limited to a dominant role of coded DNA.
Along the lecture some other important questions will be mentioned, such as confinement, synergism, symbiosis, changes in the environment and what we have called the “second code”, the brain, whose self-conscious character in the human beings led to our most recent differentiated “chemotype” – the modern humans. Together, all of these aspects lead to a conclusion: it is, in effect, the ecosystem that evolves.
A more detailed description of our work is given in the bibliography and in the references of our books and papers.

References:
Corning Peter, Holistic Darwinism, The University of Chicago Press , 2005
Id., Nature’s Magic, Cambridge University Press ,2003
Fraústo da Silva, J.J.R & Williams, R.J.P., The biochemical chemistry of the elements, Oxford University Press, 1st. edition 1991, 2nd, revised edition 2001.
Id., The natural selection of the chemical elements, Oxford University Press, 1996.
Id., Bringing chemistry to life – from matter to man, Oxford University Press, 1999.
Id., The chemistry of evolution – the development of our ecosystem, Elsevier, 2007.
Id., “The systems approach to evolution” in Biochem.Biophys.Research. Comm. 297, 689-699 2002),
Id., “Evolution was chemically constrained” in J. Theor. Biology, 220, 323-343 (2003) Id., “Evolution revisited by inorganic chemists” in Fitness of the Cosmos for Life, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008.
Fraústo da Silva, J.J.R. “The evolution of chemotypes” in Molecular and Supramolecular Bioinorganic Chemistry, Nova Science, U.S.A. 2009.
McCalman, Ian, Darwins’s Armada, Simon & Schuster UK Ltd., 2009

Darwin: ontem, hoje, amanhã


Resumo da conferência do Prof. Michael Ruse no Congresso sobre o Impacto de Datwin

The Origin, yesterday, today and tomorrow

In this talk I compare the theory of Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species, published 150 years ago in 1859, with the modern theory of evolution, the theory of 2009. I want to see if any parts of Darwin’s thinking persist to this day and if so what parts and what has been changed or discarded and why. In respects, I argue that Darwin’s theory is like the People’s Car of Germany in the 1930s. Today, there is not one piece of that car still being manufactured and incorporated into today’s cars. And yet, the Beetle of today is still recognizably the car of yesterday. To make my case, I look both at the structure of Darwin’s theory and then at the various parts of biology – instinct, paleontology, biogeography, systematics, morphology, embryology – and see how they fare today. In the light of my conclusions, I then argue that at the 300th anniversary of Darwin’ in 2109 I will be able to give a talk much like today’s.

Evolução, Filosofia e Cultura


Resumo da conferência do Prof. Fiorenzo Facchini no Congresso sobre o Impacto de Darwin, na Faculdade de Filosofia de Braga (10-12 de Setembro)


Culture and its philosophical implications in an evolutionary view

Hominization starts with the splitting of the human lineage from the Apes lineage about 6-7 million years ago. In this period of time we have remains that can be referred to Australopithecines and remains referred to the genus Homo. Currently taxonomy refers many species to the genus Homo (habilis/rudolfensis, ergaster/erectus, sapiens), but this cannot be adopted as a criterion to recognize man.
A skeletal remain attributed to the genus Homo out of its anatomic features, does not necessarily imply that it represents man in a philosophical sense, i.e. a thinking man. But when we happen to meet skeletal remains, which are connected with products showing systematic and innovative works, man’s presence can be suggested whatever morphological and evolutive level the remain is to be referred to.
What distinguishes human technology from non-human one (as it occurs with Apes and Australopithecus) is the complexity of the actions by which the instrument was built and even more the capacity to improve and innovate the technique (Bergson) and the significance assumed by this kind of products in the life context (Ries, Deacon). Instrumental culture reveals a symbolism which we suggested to call functional, distinguishing it from the symbolism expressed in language (social symbolism) and from the symbolism represented by artistic and religious expressions, not connected with subsistence strategies (spiritual symbolism).
At the phenomenological level culture reveals discontinuity in the behaviour when compared with the behaviour of non-human Hominids. Dobzhansky suggests an evolutive transcendence connected with the appearance of man.
The laws and the organizational modalities of human societies are set on an extra-biologic plane.
The nature or reason of this transcendence implies philosophical considerations. The cultural discontinuity implies abstractive intelligence, self-awareness, symbolic communication and freedom that cannot be reduced to purely biological activities and introduces into the picture the spiritual dimension. John Paul II speaks of “ontological difference”, of “ontological gap”.
The will of the Creator includes, at a certain moment of the evolutionary process, a corporeity enriched by spirit, not in the sense of an entity which is added to another one, almost placed on or beside it, but which, starting from a certain moment, exists inside the other one, as and when it is God’s will, in a way similar to what happens in the human ontogenesis,
Connected with the cultural attitude is the ethical behaviour which requires to recognize certain values and to choose freely; but the ethical behaviour is not regulated by natural selection in the Darwinian sense. Ethical behaviour is exclusive of human species. The conditions of the ethical behaviour are present in man (ability to elaborate values and freedom of choice), but moral codes are not the product of biological evolution (Ayala). The norms of morality, which are consistent with biological nature, are connected with cognitive capacity and pursued freely.

3 de setembro de 2009

Intelligent design?


Publica-se a seguir o resumo da conferência que o Jesuíta George Coyne irá proferir no Congresso sobre o Impacto de Darwin, na Faculdade de Filosofia de Braga (10-12 de Setembro)


Coyne, George V., S.J. Vatican Observatory, Evolution and intelligent design: what is science and what is not

One of the principal issues involved in the debate about the supposed insufficiency of neo-Darwinian evolution and the contested validity of intelligent design explanations for biological phenomena is that to do with the meaning of science itself, as it has been understood since the time of Galileo. As a background to defending my claim that the intelligent design explanations are not science, I wish to present a fundamental distinction which is at the basis of understanding what science does and what it cannot, as such, do. This is the distinction between what is meant by “origins” and what is meant by “creation.” In so doing I wish to set a cosmological background to the discussion of biological evolution. Then I will give a brief history of scientific methodology in order to substantiate my claim that the intelligent design movement lies outside of that methodology.

2 de setembro de 2009

Christianity and Evolution


Publica-se a seguir o resumo da conferência plenária que será proferida na próxima semana pelo teólogo americano John Haught no Congresso sobre o Impacto de Drawin, na Faculdade de Filosofia de Braga.


Darwinian challenges to Christianity

Darwin challenges religious trust in a providential God who purposefully creates, influences and eternally cares for the world. Our religious ancestors did not have our knowledge of biological evolution, though they were certainly aware of the suffering of humans and other living beings. Darwinian science, however, vastly extends the story of life's suffering (and creativity as well) beyond that of traditional theological awareness. In what sense, then, after Darwin, might we still trust in divine providence, if at all? Is it perhaps possible that evolutionary portraits of life may open up fresh ways of thinking about God and cosmic purpose? After Darwin can we have a plausible understanding of God that is both consistent with traditional belief and adequate to the reality of evolution?

The presentation will outline a "theology of evolution" as one aspect of the theology of nature. It will begin by setting forth some of the apparent obstacles to a religious or theological interpretation of evolution. Second, it will discuss some of the ways in which theologians and religious thinkers have attempted to reconcile the idea of God with Darwin's picture of life. Finally, it will show how the idea of God can be appropriately understood in such a way as to render theologically intelligible the general features of nature that underlie biological evolution.

References:
Dawkins, Richard, River Out of Eden, (New York: Basic Books, 1995)
Dawkins, Richard, Climbing Mount Improbable (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996).
Dennett, Daniel C., Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995).
Haught, John F., God After Darwin, 2nd Editition (Boulder, Colo: westview Press, 2007
Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre, Christianity and Evolution, trans. René Hague (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1969).
Moltmann, Jürgen, “God's Kenosis in the Creation and Consummation of the World”, in
Polkinghorne, John, editor, The Work of Love: Creation as Kenosis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdman's Publishing Company, 2001..

Biology and Ethics


Publica-se o resumo da conferência plenária que o Prof. Francisco Ayala irá proferir no Congresso Internacional sobre o Impacto de Darwin na Ciência, na Sociedade e na Cultura (Faculdade de Filosofia de Braga, 10-12 Setembro)


Ayala, Francisco J. University of California, Irvine, USA, The Biological Foundations of Ethics

The question whether ethical behavior is biologically determined may refer either to the capacity for ethics (i.e., the proclivity to judge human actions as either right or wrong), or to the moral norms accepted by human beings for guiding their actions. I will propose: (1) that the capacity for ethics is a necessary attribute of human nature; and (2) that moral norms are products of cultural evolution, not of biological evolution.

Humans exhibit ethical behavior by nature because their biological makeup determines the presence of three necessary conditions for ethical behavior: (i) the ability to anticipate the consequences of one's own actions; (ii) the ability to make value judgments; and (iii) the ability to choose between alternative courses of action.

Ethical behavior came about in evolution not because it is adaptive in itself, but as a necessary consequence of man's eminent intellectual abilities, which are an attribute directly promoted by natural selection. That is, morality evolved as an exaptation, not as an adaptation.

Since time immemorial, human societies have experimented with moral systems. Some have succeeded and spread widely throughout humankind, like the Ten Commandments, although other moral systems persist in different human societies. Many moral systems of the past have surely become extinct because they were replaced or because the societies that held them became extinct.

The moral systems that currently exist in humankind are those that were favored by cultural evolution. They were propagated within particular societies for reasons that might be difficult to fathom, but that surely must have included the perception by individuals that a particular moral system was beneficial for them, at least to the extent that it was beneficial for their society by promoting social stability and success. Acceptance of some precepts in many societies is typically reinforced by civil authority (e.g., those who kill or commit adultery will be punished) and by religious beliefs (God is watching and you’ll go to hell if you misbehave). Legal and political systems, as well as belief systems, are themselves outcomes of cultural evolution.

References

Ayala, F. J. (1987). The biological roots of morality. Biology and Philosophy, 2, 235-252.

Barkow, J., Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (Eds.). (1992). The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cela-Conde, C., & Ayala, F. J. (2007). Human evolution: Trails from the past. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Copp, D. (2006). The Oxford handbook of ethical theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Darwin, C. R. (1871). The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. London: John Murray. (Also: New York: Appleton and Company, 1971).

de Waal, F. (1996). Good natured: The origins of right and wrong in humans and other animals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hauser, M. (2006). Moral minds: How nature designed our universal sense of right and wrong. New York: HarperCollins.

Maienschein, J., & Ruse, M. (Eds.). (1999). Biology and the foundations of ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ruse, M., & Wilson, E. O. (1986). Moral philosophy as applied science. Philosophy, 61, 173-192.

Sober, E., & Wilson, D. S. (1998). Unto others: The evolution and psychology of unselfish behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Spencer, H. (1893). The principles of ethics. London: Williams and Norgate.

Waddington, C. H. (1960). The ethical animal. London: Allen and Unwin.

Wilson, E. O. (1978). On human nature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.