Nature and Purpose by John F. Haught
John F. Haught, who received the Ph.D. from Catholic University, is professor of theology at Georgetown University. He has written extensively on religion and science. His books include The Revelation of God in History; What is God?, The Cosmic Adventure, Nature and Propose, and Religion and Self-Acceptance. Published by University Press of America, 1980. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock..
Chapter 4: Emergence
In traditional as well as in everyday habits of thinking we delineate at least four realms in nature: mineral, plant, animal, man.1 Correspondingly we tend to ascribe distinct qualities to each: the mineral realm is thought of as inanimate, the vegetative as animate, the animal as sentient, and the human as conscious to the point of self -- awareness. Evolutionary theory still maintains these distinctions, but it does so primarily in a temporal rather than a static sense. It hypothesizes that our universe has advanced in time from the inanimate, through the appearance of plant and animal life, culminating recently in the "emergence" of man with his capacity for language and reflective thought.
Our ordinary language would be thoroughly crippled if we did not continue to make these distinctions among hierarchically ordered levels or dimensions of cosmic phenomena.2 Yet scientific theory often disregards the crisp demarcations our ordinary language and thought place at the boundaries of the inanimate, vegetative, sentient and conscious dimensions of nature. Science today sees no such clear lines anywhere. Beginning with the conviction that the inanimate world of subatomic particles and molecules described by physics and chemistry constitutes the basic construction material of the plant, the animal organism and the human brain, many scientific thinkers have questioned the "reality" of any other realm than that accessible to physics and chemistry. Physico-chemical analysis is unable to discern directly what people for centuries have referred to as life and mind. And so the latter are relegated to the status of "epiphenomena." As such, life and mind are given only a derivative being since they lack in themselves the hard reality of the objects encountered by physics and chemistry. Consequently, there is no need to draw the traditional lines of ontological discontinuity where there is utter material homogeneity, that is, where atoms and molecules cut across all the former boundaries in the hierarchy of beings.
We have already sketched the mythic, cosmological and epistemological background of contemporary attempts to explain life and mind completely in terms of insensate physical stuff. Dualism, scientific materialism and the empiricist doctrine of perception jointly constitute a compelling and nearly ineradicable tradition of thought to which many scientists unknowingly appeal. However, even apart from the tenuousness of this tradition as exposed by Whitehead’s careful examination of it (only parts of which we have presented in the previous chapters), there are serious logical fallacies involved in its denial of the genuinely emergent character of life and mind. In the reduction of life and mind to atoms and molecules there lies an illogical maneuver of which Michael Polanyi has given the most devastating critique thus far.
Later in this chapter I shall provide a brief facsimile of Polanyi s critique. But for now, lest it appear to some readers that we are in dialogue with a phantom scientific ideal rather than with one that is seriously held, let us recall the famous statement of F.H.C. Crick, the celebrated Nobel-prize winning molecular biologist and author of the book, Of Molecules and Men:
The ultimate aim of the modern movement in biology is in fact to explain all biology in terms of physics and chemistry.3
Crick’s colleague, James Watson, goes even beyond this. He is convinced that not only heredity but other aspects of life as well are similarly reducible:
Complete certainty now exists among essentially all biochemists that the other characteristics of living organisms (for example, selective permeability across all membranes, muscle contraction, and the hearing and memory processes) will all be completely understood in terms of the coordinative interactions of. large and small molecules. 4
Occasionally scientific thinkers like physicist Gerald Feinberg go still further:
If the physiological aspects of life are explicable in terms of physics and chemistry, it is likely that human mental processes are as well. Conceivably, the situation might be otherwise, and there might be some phenomena involved in the human mind that are not found elsewhere in the world. In that case it would be necessary to extend physics to include the new phenomena as well. However, the continuity of structure and function from nonliving matter to living and from the simplest forms of life to the most complicated strongly suggests that even the most characteristic human activities such as thought and consciousness have an explanation, as yet only partly known, in chemical and physical phenomena. 5
I do not want to give the impression that the majority of scientists hold to this reductionist view. But since there are many influential ones who do, and since their opponents are at times unable to give reasons for their own opposition to reductionism, I think it is worthwhile to give our attention to the statements just quoted. It is important to do so ultimately because such assertions go hand in hand with the scientific repudiation of any teleological explanation. Accompanying the choice by many recent biologists to reduce their science to the level of physico-chemical analysis there is a vigorous public refutation of any of their colleagues who persist in leaning toward teleology. Ernst Mayr of Harvard represents this stance:
The proponents of teleological theories, for all their efforts, have been unable to find any mechanisms (except supernatural ones) that can account for their postulated finalism. The possibility that any such mechanism can exist has now been virtually ruled Out by the findings of molecular biology. 6
If teleology is imported into biology in the form of a "mechanism" then it deserves Mayr’s chastisement. (His caricature of teleologists is a typical one). But the attempt by Mayr, Monad, Crick, Watson, etc. , to explain life exclusively in molecular terms is no less reprehensible both for its naivete about the mythic, philosophical and epistemological tradition out of which it springs and for the deviations from logic in its "explanatory" procedures.
The Logic of Emergence7
It is not illogical scientifically to break down organisms and minds as far as possible into their physical coefficients. Such an analytic procedure is not only commendable but also necessary as a part of any adequate understanding of life and consciousness. Rather what is logically repugnant is the denial of any ontological autonomy, any distinct reality, to life and mind simply because these are not formally discernible objects of physico-chemical scrutiny. What is objectionable is the implicit metaphysics that bestows the status of "reality" only on atoms, subatomic particles and molecules but not on comprehensive wholes endowed with life and consciousness. In other words what finally cannot withstand the test of logical criticism is the rejection of genuinely emergent dimensions in nature.
Following Polanyi, I shall argue that emergent novelty and ontological discontinuity can enter into our evolving universe without in any way violating or disrupting the physical continuity that obtains at the molecular level. The denial of purpose in nature by scientism rests partly on the assumption that the discontinuities in world process are not real but only apparent. And if apparent emergence can be reduced to sheer physical resultance, then there is no need to ask questions about final causation or about any transcendent source of novelty.
Thus it is crucial that we focus our discussion here on the question of the ontological status, (that is the question of the "reality") of life and mind, the most obvious instances of allegedly "emergent" phenomena. Is it consistent with sound logic to maintain that these are mere epiphenomena fully explicable in terms of physics and chemistry?
It is very difficult for anyone familiar with modern science to dispute the evolutionary picture of our world-in-process beginning with relatively unorganized matter, moving gradually toward more complex atomic, molecular, cellular, vegetative and animal structures, culminating after millions of years in the evolution of man.
Our question, then, is whether physico-chemical analysis (in combination with some version of the theory of "natural selection") is by itself sufficient to account for this gradual evolution of plants, animals and man out of less complex organizations of matter. Or put in other terms, is the current methodological ideal of scientific atomism sufficiently broad to explain life and mind as we experience them? Is a totally blind, unconscious physicochemical process capable of producing vision and rational self-consciousness? Can an essentially careless universe produce beings whose most admirable attribute is their propensity to care? Can a radically impersonal arranging and rearranging of molecules produce persons? Can a non-purposive movement of matter eventuate in beings whose very vitality depends upon their being animated by purpose?
Once dualism made it possible to siphon mentality out of the natural world, "matter" was left bereft of the perceptivity upon which alone cosmic purpose could be implanted. Then the stage was already set for the hypothesis that evolutionary emergence is at root impersonal and blind. The contemporary attempts to reduce biology to physics and chemistry are simply expressions of this very hypothesis.
The postulate that life originates purely by chance out of mindless and aimless shuffling of atoms and molecules is all part of our central question here concerning the logic of an emergent view of nature. Our entire discussion of this point may be focused on the question of the logic of the contention that biology and, by extension, neurophysiology are reducible to physics and chemistry. Cricks formula that biology is reducible to physics and chemistry is of central importance because, if it is logically coherent then emergence is indeed only an illusion, and the notions of final causation and purpose are dispensable in any intelligent attempt to understand nature.
Often today the biologist or neurophysiologist takes it for granted that all causation is mechanical. So when breakdown of a molecular process disturbs the functioning of an organism or of sentience and consciousness, he/she simply assumes also that molecular processes provide the full causal explanation for the successful achievements of organisms and minds. From the obvious fact that physico-chemical breakdowns cause the failure of performance by comprehensive wholes, the scientific atomist infers that physico-chemical processes cause their success as well. But such an inference is unwarranted, however attractive it initially appears. It employs the concept of causation in the same way in two entirely different situations, success and failure. Logically speaking, this is a category mistake.
It is of course undeniable that the breakdown of molecular processes in the cell, organism or brain does occasion dysfunction or even death. So the failure of the comprehensive whole does indeed follow upon the breakdown of prerequisite biochemical processes. Furthermore, successful functioning of a cell, organism or brain is contingent upon the recurrence of the most basic physico-chemical processes in their adherence to the laws of nature. Were there not a certain invariance about the way in which carbon atoms bond with others under identical conditions, or about the manner in which protein synthesis is charted and activated by nucleic acids, life would be impossible altogether. But is it logically correct to infer from these platitudes that physico-chemical processes explain the successful achievements of an organism simply because their breakdown leads to the organism s failure?
Let us illustrate the kind of logic employed here. I hope it does not seem presumptuous on my part to state that the writing of this book has involved what is usually called "mental" activity. In some sense or other it is the achievement of the mind of the author. (I shall leave it to the readers charity to determine to what degree this may be so. ) The use of reason, the appeal to experience and common sense, the shaping of theses and propositions, their formulation in sentences, paragraphs and chapters -- all of these are the results of mental activity. If I have had any success in communicating meaning to the reader by writing this book, are physics and chemistry capable of completely explaining this achievement? The contentions of reductionist biology and neurophysiology lead us to expect that such explanation will eventually be forthcoming or can at least be provided in theory.
Of course, I would agree that in order to write a book successfully, the author’s physiological and neurological apparatus must indeed be operating normally. The breakdown of this operation would occasion the failure to produce an intelligible work. Further, the physico-chemical elements and activities that form the substrate of the author’s biological and mental acts must also be reliably patterned and programmed. Their avoidance of chaotic and whimsical jumbling is a necessary condition of such complex achievements as thinking and writing. But to call predictable biochemical processes a necessary condition of successful thought or writing does not make them exhaustive explanations. They are necessary but not sufficient conditions of the achievements of life and mind.
Physics and chemistry cannot completely explain the activity of writing a book, even in principle. No matter how thorough one’s knowledge of the intricacies of physics and chemistry may be, this knowledge alone is incapable of providing the rules for successful writing. Physics and chemistry tell us nothing about how to utilize language, grammar and literary style. We do not go to the physicist or chemist (as such) to learn how to think out and write a book. We consult the literary experts, those devoted to the study of composition, syntax and writing technique. The physicist or chemist is simply not formally concerned with these issues.
The "heuristic field," the realm in which inquiry moves for the physicist or chemist is different from that of the literary critic. And the logical inability of science to formulate the rules for intelligent mental activity such as the composition of an essay, corresponds to the ontological discontinuity between the dimensions of reality analyzed respectively by the natural sciences and by literary criticism. The clue to the logical irreducibility of the latter to the former may be seen in the disparity of the questions we address to each level. By no stretch of the imagination or of logic does physics ask literary questions of style or chemistry questions of grammar. The material formally dealt with by literary criticism must therefore lie in an area inaccessible to exhaustive physico-chemical analysis. We may conclude then that mental activity is logically irreducible to the apparently insensate material analyzed by physics and chemistry. Questions of literary or intellectual success and achievement simply make no sense at the physico-chemical level.
Is Biology Reducible to Physics and Chemistry?
If it is questionable whether mental activity such as the planning and writing of a book can be fully explained by the sciences of physics and chemistry, it may not be so doubtful that life is also resistant to exhaustive explanation in terms of atomic and molecular analysis. But the same violation of simple logic is present in biological reductionism as we have seen in the case of attempts to reduce mental achievements. The sciences of physics and chemistry (or biophysics and biochemistry) can specify the atomic and molecular processes in the cell (as in its self-replicative "mechanism," the DNA molecule or in protein synthesis out of amino acids). But these sciences are incapable by themselves of defining what life is or even of recognizing it when it occurs. For such identification and recognition a logically distinct science, biology, is required. This science is based upon our human ability to recognize achievement in the biosphere.
Biology can be designated as a science logically distinct from physics and chemistry because its heuristic field is constituted by questions directed toward whole organisms (plants and animals), cells and their "achievements" rather than toward atoms and molecules as such. There would be no biology were there no such comprehensive wholes endowed with achievement oriented properties unspecifiable by the basic sciences. Scientific reductionism, however, wants to reduce biology to physics and chemistry, to explain the properties of "life", by thorough specification of the particulars (atoms and molecules) that are integrated into cells and organisms.
Let us again resort to an illustration in order to portray the absence of logic involved in this attempt at exhaustive reduction. Explaining life solely in terms of physics and chemistry would be analogous to explaining how a town got built simply by demonstrating the crafts of making and laying bricks. 8 These latter are of course a necessary condition for the successful construction of a town; and the conceptions of the architect and town planner are dependent for their implementation upon the competency of masons. But the character of the town cannot be apprehended even by the most meticulous examination of the processes of making and laying bricks. Operational principles are involved in building a town that cannot be grasped by a specification of the features of brick-work. We must also consult the architect and, even more, the town planner in order to understand more fully how the town came to be and what its true character and purpose are.
To hold that biology is reducible to physics and chemistry is no less absurd than trying to explain the building of a town exclusively by specifying the skills of making and placing building materials. Knowledge of biochemical processes is not coextensive with knowledge of life. Of course the successful achievements of organisms (adaptation and reproduction, for example) are impossible without the proper combinations of atoms and molecules in the genetic and developmental processes. But specification of these combinations says nothing about the possible organizing principles that "harness" biochemical processes and integrate them into hierarchically higher dimensions of being -- life and mind.
Brick making and brick laying activities leave themselves open to being controlled and ordered by the schemes of the architect and higher yet, the town planner. Without the purposiveness of the town planner and the architect, the brick laying process might still go on, but in an utterly random and haphazard way. Fortunately for the town planner, brick laying is a flexible enough process that it can be regimented so as to produce an endless variety of patterns corresponding to the planner’s designs. Brick laying is not frozen into a routine so rigid that it mechanically and blindly runs its course impervious to any purposeful ordering by an extraneous principle of control. While the laying of bricks must fall within the limits of basic laws of physics and thus be determined "from below", it is indeterminate enough to be sequestered and styled by ordering agencies operating "from above."
However, if we look at a town merely from the point of view of the physical laws involved in masonry (laws concerning gravity, bonding of particles, evaporation, etc), we tend to focus on the determinism "from below" that is a necessary condition for brick laying. And while we are doing so we put in brackets consideration of the over -- all indeterminacy in the brick laying process which leaves it open to being determined from above by a higher organizational principle. I am suggesting that perhaps the same sort of single-level approach is being taken today by those who reduce the science of life to molecular biology. Their gaze is so penetratingly fixed on the physico-chemical "building blocks" of life that they abandon any consideration of the openness of the whole chain of chemical reactions and atomic constituents to being harnessed by a hierarchically higher dimension whose focus is achievement and performance of skills. It seems entirely logical for us to hypothesize that the invariant physico-chemical reactions occurring in the cell (especially in DNA) leave themselves open to being ordered in a wide variety of ways by organizational principles the formulation of which is proper not to physics and chemistry but to biiology.
The processes described by physics and chemistry are not so inflexible that they cannot be harnessed by higher, biotic principles in order to produce life and evolution. Without abrogating or even modifying the laws that determine bondings and pairings of atoms or molecules, principles pertaining to the biotic dimension can still control and orient physico-chemical processes in an extravagantly abundant variety of ways. In order to understand life we must consult those whose business it is to detect and formulate these higher organizational principles, i.e. the biologists. We should not expect, however, that these principles will be stated with the same precision and sharpness as the laws of physics and chemistry. For the principles of biology will have to deal with the elusive logic of achievement, whereas in the hard sciences there is no such experience as success or failure.
Continuity and Discontinuity
A common feature of most modern theories of evolution is their emphasis on the gradual, continuous movement of the universe toward organic complexity out of the more primitive phases of its unfathomable past. The absence of sudden qualitative leaps of matter from one kind to another (as depicted by geology, paleontology, comparative anatomy, embryology and other sciences) reinforces the gradualist hypothesis. And a physico-chemical perspective on evolutionary theory further blurs apparent discontinuities. The basic sciences are unable to discern any clear quantum leaps in the temporal-historical transitions from the non- living, through the living, to the conscious. So devotees of scientific atomism conclude to the ontological homogeneity of evolutionary phenomena. They look for simple mechanical causes that might account for the imperceptibly slow evolution of complex organic structures. And then they specify these "mechanisms" as the sole causal factors in the "emergence" of life and mind.
This line of inquiry and explanation may lead the micro-biologist to anticipate answers to the questions of life exclusively on one level, that of mechanical causation. Consequently, what starts out as biology may gradually drift over into a mechanistically understood physics and chemistry. The properly biological questions initially raised by our personal, empathetic encounter with the performances of whole living entities are edged out by preoccupation with the molecular constituents of life. The heuristic field is narrowed down; and a return is then seldom made to the question of what life is as we spontaneously recognize it in the achievements of animals and cells. Our intuition that life is ontologically distinct from non-living aggregates is strongly suspect as vitalistic and pre-scientific.
To those who profess this suspicion J.S. Haldane’s reflections of a few decades ago on the uniqueness of biology would be embarrassingly out of date:
That a meeting-place between biology and physical science may at some time be found there is no reason for doubting. But we may confidently predict that if that meeting-place be found, and one of the two sciences is swallowed up, that one will not be biology.9
It is not all clear today in the encounter of biology with the physical sciences that the digestive process runs in the direction Haldane predicted.
However, there is a sensible alternative to the reductionistic interpretation. Marjorie Grene, a disciple of Polanyi, clearly exemplifies this option. She maintains that it is possible for us to accept the causal physical continuity in nature’s evolution while at the same time affirming an ontological discontinuity among the "levels" that emerge in the process:
. . . to insist on epistemological and even ontological discontinuity is not to deny historical continuity, for conditions which are continuous can give rise to, or trigger, systems which once in existence are self-sustaining and hence not explicable entirely in terms of the conditions which produced them. The discontinuity of emergence is not a denial of continuity but its product under certain conditions.10
Denial of the reality of emergence pivots on an inability to hold together logically the concept of temporal-historical continuity with that of ontological discontinuity. And yet there is no logical incoherence in thinking of nature as a hierarchy of distinct dimensions integrating a continuous, unbroken chain of physico-chemical occurrences, (just as the architect’s designs do not interrupt the continuity of the brick laying process, but simply impose a determinate structure onto it. ) In fact allowances can also thus be made for the role of chance in the emergence of life and in the mutations that are required for the evolution of new species.
Our hypothesis is that the evolving universe is a field of ontologically distinct patterns of ordering principles that may be released and become "incarnate" as the result of random triggering circumstances but that cannot be adequately accounted for simply by the specifying of such circumstances.
A simple picture may illustrate the compatibility of a historically continuous set of triggering circumstances (involving randomness) with the emergence of entities governed by such novel ordering principles. Suppose a flame is accidentally triggered by the friction of two highly combustible materials. 11 In a simplistic sense we may say that the chance rubbing together of the materials explains why the flame appears. Or, in a scientific context, we may insist that the intense release of kinetic energy produces sufficient heat energy to ignite the combination of chemicals. In either case, however, we are still talking merely about triggering causal events. We are not yet defining what a flame is. In order to define more fully what a flame is we would have to go beyond the mechanical or physico-chemical description of its origin. We would have to recognize that it is an open system sustained by a continuous input of gases from the environing atmosphere and from the burning material, and giving off heat energy into the environment. Without a surrounding field sustaining it there could be no flame at all. Once the flame appears on the occasion of random triggering circumstances its nature and activity are not rendered fully explicable simply by specifying the chain of occurrences leading up to it. The "field" in which it appears must also be taken into account. Within its environing field the flame possesses a stability, a constant though to some extent variable form, open to the influx of atoms and the steady outflow of energy and waste material. This constancy implies that there are ordering principles in its field stabilizing the flame that were not present in the triggering circumstances that produced it. To understand a flame then we must also posit the existence of and try to formulate these "ordering principles" as well.
Polanyi insists that "it is a fundamental property of open systems . . . that they stabilize any improbable event which serves to elicit them."12 And since live organisms are open systems "the first beginning of life must have likewise stabilized the highly improbable fluctuation of inanimate matter which initiated life."13 Randomness is somehow domesticated by these open systems. Therefore we must postulate the presence in our emergent universe of a field of organizing factors, extraneous to triggering circumstances, that allow new types of order and functioning to burst forth and to persist.
In a sense roughly comparable to our picture of a flame it is possible (without in any way abandoning the notions of purpose and emergence), to hold that life also appeared by "chance." It is entirely possible that a random triggering event or series of events (lightning or some form of electricity charging a primordial soup of methane, ammonia, etc. ; bombardment by cosmic radiation and other hypothetically random occurrences) was the occasion through which a whole new dimension, that of the biosphere, flooded onto the terrestrial scene. Understanding what life is, however, requires more than hypotheses about the triggering circumstances that released it in the first place. In order to know life we must become aware (tacitly at least) of the surrounding field of life-stabilizing factors and of the phenomena of achievement toward which all life and evolution are oriented. The fact that forms of life can succeed or fail (in the performance of a skill, in the discovery of a suitable environment, in reproducing, in warding off death, injury, etc.) places them at a different level of being from purely physical processes to which the terms success and failure are inapplicable. (How can any chemical reaction be called a success or failure in itself?) Consequently, knowing life means becoming aware of the ordering principles that direct it towards its achievements and that give it stability. 14
We have been maintaining that physics and chemistry logically cannot deal with these ordering principles. Are we therefore to deny the reality of such principles? Or are we not rather called upon simply to relativize the cognitive prowess of physical science? If we take the latter approach our universe would no longer necessarily appear alien to the operative presence of purpose. How such purpose might specifically manifest itself in out emergent universe, though, is the subject of the following chapter.
I cannot end this chapter without emphasizing that there are respected biologists who take exception to scientific reductionism. Sir Alistair Hardy, I am sure, speaks for many:
I shall shock some of my colleagues when I say that I feel a sympathy for Shaw’ s elderly gentleman in Back to Methuselah who said, "they tell me there are leucocytes in my blood and sodium and carbon in my flesh. I thank them for the information and tell them there are black beetles in my kitchen, washing soda in my laundry and coal in my cellar. I do not deny their existence but I keep them in their proper place." We must keep physics and chemistry to their proper proportions in the scheme of life.15
And Barry Commoner issues a forceful warning about the eventual environmental consequences of the methodological program of resolving biology into physics and chemistry:
I sometimes think that the difficulties we now face in controlling water, air, and soil pollution, and the undue dissemination of radioactive materials, are the result of a common impression that "the boundary between life and non- life has all but disappeared. "In fact if we do not mend our ways the statement may, after all, turn Out to be true. 16
What Commoner is suggesting is that the reductionist agenda has more than purely theoretical implications. If we really start believing that life is reducible to the inanimate, it might not be long before we have foisted this "ontology of death" onto the actual world itself. In this chapter, at any rate, I have argued that reductionist methods contradict the most basic elements of simple logic.
1 For a lucid, but somewhat oversimplified statement of the traditional hierarchy of "levels" of reality cf. E. F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed (New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1978),
2 With Paul Tillich, I prefer the term "dimension" to "level": "Under the dominance of the metaphor ‘level’ the inorganic either swallows the organic (control) or the organic processes are interfered with by a strange ‘vitalist’ force (revolt). . ." Systematic Theology Vol. III, p. 14. Although I shall occasionally resort to use of the term "level" for the sake of clarity, I shall usually employ the term "dimension" or "realm in order to avoid the possible vitalistic interpretations that writers like Schumacher have fallen into by enslavement to the term "level." The term "dimension" allows for an interpenetration of the realms of nature more consistent with the "organismic" view we have been developing.
3 Francis H. C. Crick, Of Molecules and Men (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1966), p. 10: note that Crick italicizes the word all.
4 J. D. Watson, The Molecular Biology of the Gene (New York: W. A. Benjamin, Inc., 1965), p. 67 (emphasis mine).
5 Gerald Feinberg, The Prometheus Project (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1969), p. 25. Crick’s, Watson’ s and Feinberg’s beliefs echo those of Jacques Loeb: "The ultimate aim of the physical sciences is the visualization of all phenomena in terms of groupings and displacements of ultimate particles, and since there is no discontinuity between the matter constituting the living and the non-living world, the goal of biology can be expressed in the same way." Quoted by John Hermann Randall, The Making of the Modern Mind (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), p. 480.
6 Ernst Mayr, "Evolution," Scientific American Vol. 239, No. 3, (Sept. 1978), p. 50.
7 The following is to a great extent a restatement or paraphrasing of arguments given by Michael Polanyi in The Tacit Dimension (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1967), esp. pp. 29-52; Personal Knowledge (New York: Harper Torch Books, 1964), esp. pp. 327-405; Knowing and Being, ed. by Marjorie Grene (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969), pp. 225-39.
8 The analogy of brick making is suggested by Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension pp. 35 ff. However, I have taken considerable liberties with it here.
9 Quoted by Sir Alistair Hardy, The Living Stream (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), pp. 265-66.
10 Marjorie Grene "The Logic of Biology," in The Logic of Personal Knowledge (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1961), p. 199.
11 The image of the flame is adapted from Polanyi, who in turn has borrowed it from W. Ostwald. Cf. Personal Knowledge pp. 384 ff.
12 Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, p. 385.
13 Ibid. , p. 384.
14 Cf. Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, pp. 381-405.
15 Hardy, p. 284.
16 Barry Commoner, "In Defense of Biology," in Man and Nature ed. by Ronald Munson (New York: Dell Publishing Co., 1971), p. 44.