Biological evolution as a philosophy, not a science

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: October 26, 2016

There is no indication in the abstracts that any of the presenters are going to address the facts that link quantised energy to polycombic ecological adaptation and virus-driven energy theft from hecatombic evolution to all pathology in all living genera.
Virus-mediated archaeal hecatomb in the deep seafloor (2016) provides details on the hecatombin evolution of all patholgoy
From Fertilization to Adult Sexual Behavior (1996) provides details on the polycombic ecological adaptation of all healthy longevity.
For these experts to address nothing known to serious scientists about the energy-dependent biophysically constrained RNA-mediated protein folding chemistry that links angstroms to ecosystems in all living genera attests to the fact that they are the last of their kind. Let’s wish them good riddance and hope that the current generation will be able to dismiss all their nonsense and begin to make scientific progress outside the level of control by aged academics who have not aged well.
New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives
Nov. 7 to Nov. 9, 2016

Location: The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Developments in evolutionary biology and adjacent fields have produced calls for revision of the standard theory of evolution, although the issues involved remain hotly contested. This meeting will present these developments and arguments in a form that will encourage cross-disciplinary discussion and, in particular, involve the humanities and social sciences in order to provide further analytical perspectives and explore the social and philosophical implications.

Recorded audio of the talks will be available on this page after the event has taken place.

Excerpts from the schedule of talks

Single level and unilinear causation is replaced by multilevel and reciprocal causation.

Newly discovered molecular genetic phenomena have been easily accommodated by orthodox evolutionary theory in the past, and this appears to hold also for phenomena such as epigenetic inheritance today.

Plastic responses to specific conditions often comprise functionally appropriate trait adjustments, resulting in an individual-level, developmental mode of adaptive variation. Environmental responses can extend across generations via effects on progeny growth and fitness, a form of inherited yet non-genetic adaptation.

The theory of evolution of phenotypic plasticity is an important extension to neo-Darwinism, but does not necessitate a major revision of its foundations. The same conclusion applies to epigenetic mechanisms including interactions between genes or tissues in development, and to transgenerational phenotypic effects such as somatic inheritance, maternal effects and DNA methylation.

An alternative representation understands heredity as an outcome of developmental processes. I will suggest that this perspective helps to clarify how different mechanisms of inheritance contributes to evolution.

The first step in articulating a fully processual view of evolution is to describe the processes that sustain persisting lineages. Doing so should provide fresh perspectives on the processes that can produce changes in lineages.

…there are few well-worked case studies of potential developmental bias, as well as little understanding of how important the process has been in shaping the evolution of animal form.

…niche construction co-directs adaptive evolution by imposing a statistical bias on selection (an externally expressed form of developmental bias).

…‘non-coding’ RNAs rich in repetitive mobile DNA sequences function as key regulators of complex adaptive phenotypes, such as stem cell pluripotency. The intersections of cell activities and Read-Write genome modifications provide a rich molecular and biological foundation for understanding how ecological disruptions can stimulate productive, often abrupt, evolutionary transformations.

Genes contain information in this sense, but so do epigenetic factors, as many biologists have recognised. The term ‘epigenetic’ is ambiguous, and I introduce a distinction between epigenetic and exogenetic inheritance to clarify one aspect of this ambiguity.

I examine the evidence for the ubiquity of epigenetic inheritance, present models of population epigenetics, and discuss the involvement of epigenetic inheritance in adaptive evolutionary change and macro-evolution. I argue that considering the many evolutionary consequences of epigenetic inheritance requires an extension of the evolutionary synthesis beyond the current neo-Darwinian model.

Animal/plant development occurs in concert with microbes, and microbiome constitution is determined in part by the animal/plant, which may select particular microbes. In my talk I will focus on the most integrated symbioses, where microbes pass from a mother to offspring and thus represent part of host heredity. I will discuss why hereditary symbiosis evolves, how it widens our view of evolutionary processes, and how it affects what we mean by an ‘individual’.

The physics of organisms must therefore interact with their genomes to produce the phenotype1,2. Reverse engineering from physiological models is then required to understand genotype-phenotype relations3. There is no privileged level of causality4, nor privileged level of selection5. Evolution involves interaction between several processes at multiple levels, as Charles Darwin also believed5,6. Without understanding these interactions, gene-centred approaches will continue to produce disappointing results in healthcare7,8, including trans-generational disease risks.

I explore the formal and scientific justification for evolutionary anthropomorphism and consider its application to the understanding of adaptive design at the level of genes, individuals and societies.

The capacity of organisms to respond in their own lifetimes to new challenges in their environments probably appeared early in biological evolution. At present few studies have shown how such adaptability could influence the inherited characteristics of an organism’s descendants.

…an evolved organism can only be treated as agent-like to the extent that its phenotypic traits have complementary rather than antagonistic functions, i.e. contribute to a single overall goal. Where this is not the case, e.g. because of unresolved intra-genomic conflict, the metaphor of agency ceases to be applicable.

Here I propose the concept of ‘developmental niche construction’ as a framework to integrate findings from fields ranging from molecular biology to developmental psychology. It elucidates how a diverse range of mechanisms contributes to the transgenerational transfer of developmental resources.

How, then, are we supposed to understand the cultural evolutionary project itself, which seems to rely on a closely allied distinction between ‘organic’ and ‘cultural’ evolution?

…in the context of what we know about the evolutionary history, anthropology, and biology of Homo sapiens sapiens it is clear that an evolutionary approach should be among the principal modes of inquiry. At present we are faced with a few different narratives as to exactly what such an evolutionary approach entails. However, one point is clear: we need a robust and dynamic theoretical toolkit…

Here I first offer an overview of the major discoveries in this field, which increasingly suggest that this ‘second inheritance system’, built on the shoulders of the primary genetic inheritance system, occurs widely amongst vertebrates and possibly in insects and other invertebrates too.

Regardless of whether we accept exogenetic changes – including developmental niche construction – as consistent with an extension of, or break with the evolutionary synthesis, Homo erectus has often been proposed as the locus at which more ‘human like’ modes of behaviour (and presumably more biocultural evolution) is seated.

It seems only appropriate for domestication to serve once again as a model system for assessing how recent insights into the role of multiple shaping processes and forms of inheritance can be incorporated into an extended understanding of evolution.

See: Kalevi Kull: Censorship & Royal Society Evo Event


Nobody wants to belong to the party of losers. One of the best strategies in such a case is evidently an interpretation of the change as a gradual accumulation of knowledge while their work has always been at the cutting edge.

See also: Royal Society


Biological evolution exists only as a philosophy, not a science.

My comment: Continuing to present their philosophy at a time when quantised energy has been linked to polycombic ecological adaptation and hecatombic evolution has been linked from virus-driven energy theft to all pathology is a game being played by the party of losers.  The works they are presenting have fallen far behind the cutting edge research that links top-down causation to biologically-based cause and effect.

See for instance: Understanding and accounting for relational context is critical for social neuroscience

James Vaughn Kohl “New data on how genetic predispositions are epigenetically linked to phenotypically distinct neuroanatomy and behaviors is provided in the honeybee model. Across-species comparisons from insects to vertebrates clearly show that the epigenetic influence of food odors and pheromones continues throughout the life of organisms that collectively survive whereas individuals do not. These comparisons also attest to the relative salience of sensory input from the rearing environment. For example, when viewed from the consistency of animal models and conditioned behaviors, food odors are obviously more important to food selection than is our visual perception of food. Animal models affirm that food odor makes food either appealing or unappealing. Animal models reaffirm that it is the pheromones of other animals that makes them either appealing or unappealing.

Socioaffective neuroscience and psychology may progress more quickly by keeping these apparent facts in mind: Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans (Keller et al., 2007; Kohl, 2007; Villarreal, 2009; Vosshall, Wong, & Axel, 2000).”
— Kohl, JV (2012) Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology 2012

  • 17 Apr 2014 at 03:07am

George F R Ellis This is absolutely correct and forms part of the larger concept that top-down causation is a key factor not just in the way the brain works but in broader contexts in biology and even physics. This is explored here:

  • 25 Apr 2014 at 07:49am

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