The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 25 December 2019 - Page 22

A genetically engineered fluorescent green rabbit and a mouse with an ear on its back are cited as examples of the presence of intelligent design as a principle of life forms. Evolution, it is argued, as a biological limit and explanation comes to an end in the twenty-first century. This so-called principle of intelligent design is of course "scientific" intelligent design which raises the obvious question as to whether this is in accordance with the philosophical concept of intelligence. William James argues in his work "The Principles of Psychology" that the concept of intelligence is a descriptor of the "way" an intelligent life form does something or solves problems. His citation illustrates the principle of the freedom humans possesses in choosing how to act. A magnet attracts iron filings but if you insert a cardboard strip in between the magnet and the strip the filings will never reach its goal. On the other hand, if Romeo is attracted by Juliet but her family places a fence between his goal and himself, he will find a way to eliminate the obstacle of the fence and find a way to his goal, Juliet. Intelligence, then, does not refer to any particular goal but rather to the way in which we achieve that goal that will include thinking critically about how to solve the problem. The iron filings when it reaches the magnet without any intervening obstacle is not intelligent. In the light of these reflections, one can wonder whether the use of the word "intelligent" in this principle of intelligent design is an appropriate term to use in relation to the insertion of genes into organisms that do not naturally possess these genes. If rabbits needed to be found in the dark or mice were hard of hearing then, of course, these feats of "engineering" would be motivated and may deserve the term "intelligent". Indeed it seems difficult to even say whether there was any point to the "goal" that was achieved considering that no natural processes were involved. On the contrary, these experiments appeared to require the disruption of natural processes. Of course, these "experiments" are revealing of the practical reasoning capacities(or lack thereof) of the scientist. The whole process positively reeks of the lack of intelligence of earlier "experiments" such as the splitting the atom which managed to produce a weapon that could destroy humankind in a world war(One must admire the consistency of Science: if the universe began with a Big Bang human life might as well end with a little bang). There is, as has been pointed out on a number of occasions, nothing in the scientist's assumptions or methodology that will enable him to evaluate whether just because something can be done, it ought to be done or ought not to be done. Harari has, on a number of occasions, used the term "imagination" in relation to nations, human rights etc which are intelligent "creations" of moral and political agents respecting the processes of cultural evolution from families to villages to city-states to nations. For Aristotle, this process(up to the level of the city-state) was both organic and intelligent. It wasi exactly because science lacked the "tools" and concepts to describe the process of cultural evolution that Freud was forced to resort to mythology and its "Intelligent " theory of what is important to