Science Short Questions On Ontology And Ecology Answer

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Question :

Short Answer Questions (50%) (200 words each)

1. In his 2011 book Philosophy and Simulation: The Emergence of Synthetic Reason, Manuel DeLanda claims that “what is different today from the early twentieth century views is the epistemological status of emergence: it does not have to be accepted as a brute fact but can be explained without fearing that it will be explained away. What has remained the same is the ontological status of emergence: it still refers to something that is objectively irreducible”.

In other words, while our understanding of particular mechanisms of nature may get better and better, no matter the discovery of ‘facts’ there still seem to be certain ‘things’ that require explanation.

DeLanda gives ‘Life’ and ‘Mind’ as examples – pick one of these concepts and explain how it might be considered as (ontologically) emergent.

2. “Although Lucretius rejected the term atomus, he remained absolutely true to one aspect of the original Greek meaning of the word ἄτομος (átomos, ‘indivisible’), from ἀ- (a-, ‘not’) + τέμνω (témnō, ‘I cut’). Being is not cut up into discrete particles, but is composed of continuous flows, folds, and waves”.

(Thomas Nail, Lucretius I: An Ontology of Motion, 2018)

Explain how the English word atom might not mean the same as it did for the Greeks.

3. In his 2004 paper ‘Towards a Process Philosophy of Chemistry’, Ross Stein quotes the earlier work of process philosopher John Cobb: “Instead of viewing molecules as machines, we should view them as ecosystem.”

Explain how well such an ecological approach would include recent developments described as quantum chemistry.

4. Kielmeyer, in his 1793 essay ‘‘On the Relationships of the Organic Forces’, reasoned that since the lowest classes, in which the individuals are so numerous, are productive of the most numerous species, we are readily permitted to assume that the force through which the series of species are produced, in respect of its nature and laws, is probably one with the force through which the different developmental stages are effected.”

Explain how such a statement might seem to support the claim that

ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny

Essay Question (50%) (1000 words)

“‘Our ideas,’ said Claude Bernard, ‘are only intellectual instruments which serve to let us penetrate phenomena; they must be changed when they have played their part, as one changes a blunted lancet when it has served long enough.’”

(Henri Bergson, ‘The Philosophy of Claude Bernard’ [1913])

Using the development or demise of particular scientific discipline as an example, write a short essay illustrating Bernards claim.

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Answer :

Answer 1:

Ontological status of Emergence implies to things that are objectively irreducible. Considering the example of mind as irreducible whole entity, they were disregarded by realist philosophers as mind is the reified generality and cannot be considered as legitimate inhabitants of objective reality. Also is was observed to be difficult to see that concept of emergence applying to mind in general. However mind can be taken as the example of ontological/emergent   due to the concrete wholeness of mind with assembly of neurons  and the widespread circuit which starts and  end in the neurons. The mind can be considered as awhile and emergent considering the properties and tendency of the mind system as a whole. The presence of neurons in the mind and the interactions among its different parts to produce the waves/currents justify its wholeness. If the mind does not have a given structure, composition and properties, the neuron currents cannot be generated. The working of the mind is the result of the interaction of the arts of the brain and the ability of its part to exercise their own capabilities. The parts of the mind cannot be separated and made to work independently. Thus the mind justifies the ontological commitment of objective existence and an entity to be considered as (ontologically) emergent. 

Answer 2:

English word atom was devised and meant that the world is made up of these discrete particles atoms which are indivisible. That everything in the world is made up of numerous particles of different types in different combinations.  However Greeks rejected the term “atomus” (atom) but believed in  ἄτομος (átomos, “indivisible”), from ἀ- (a-, “not”) + τέμνω (témnō, “I cut”). This means that any being in the world cannot be made up of particles (atoms) because a being cannot be cut into discrete particles. Greeks believed that every being is composed of continuous flow, folds and weaves. So instead of discrete particles, the discrete things are made up of corporeal flows (corpora) that move together (conflux) and also fold over themselves (nexus) in a woven knot work (contextum).  Lucretius believed that the things only emerge and have their being within which is immanent to the flow and flux of matter in motion. Thus for Greeks atom is not a round discreet particle. Discreteness of the things is the result of continuous folded matter which is uncut, undivided and in continuous motion. Thus for Greeks atomism reintroduced transcendence to the continuum of matter in motion disregarding the presence of discrete particles or English atoms.

Answer 3:

The ecological approach of Ross stein in considering molecules as ecosystem is because   of the various chemical changes and bio catalytic functions being carried out in molecules. While Quantum chemistry is a recent powerful tool to study the properties of molecules and their reactions. Quantum chemistry uses various tools to understand, model, and predict molecular properties and their reactions, properties of nanometer materials, and reactions and processes taking place in biological systems. The ecological approach can form base for the recent developments in quantum chemistry by considering the advanced relational and holistic enzymology. Enzymes are the fluctuating protein matrix and there is simultaneous interaction of enzyme with its bound substrate and the energy rich bath of aqueous solvent results in catalytic transformation of substrate by enzyme. The Enzyme can be seen as outworking, through time, of chemical potential that is inherent in solvent-protein substrate showing a dynamic unity. Thus the enzyme is seen as ecosystem-in-process with the result and condition for evolution. 

Answer 4:

Ontology recapitulates phylogeny is a bio genetic law that states that the stages an animal embryo undergoes during development are a chronological replay of that species' past evolutionary forms. Thus each embryo's developmental stage represents an adult form of an evolutionary ancestor. As per the law if any one studies the stages of embryological development they can study the history and diversification of life on Earth. Thus the above law implied that researchers could study evolutionary relationships between taxa by comparing the developmental stages of embryos for organisms from those taxa. This law goes back to support the theory that all species on earth share the common ancestor.  The statement given by Kielmyer seems to support the above law as Kielmer also mentions that the same force produces series species and affects different development stages. There is a connection between the development stages and the series of species in both the statement and bio genetic law.

Essay question:

Bernard Claim says that any idea how so ever flexible it may be initially will never have the same flexibility as a thing. Thus if we give too much emphasis on what is apparently visible to known to us we are constraining ourselves from knowing and inventing more. Therefore we should be ready to abandon one idea/thought for another. Applying it to science it is Bernard said that when any general theory is made in science, the only thing which is certain is that all these theories are false. They are all partial and temporary truth and this fact only motivates us for further investigation, innovation and discoveries.   This claim can be verified with the example of development of Genetics scientific discipline. 

Genetics or Genomics is the study of genes, genetics and inheritance. This discipline originated to study the theories of origin and evolution of species and their variability.  The discipline was introduced by Charles Darwin and Wallace in 1858 when they described the evolution of new species and evolution of new forms. However the role of genes was not known at that time. There was no idea as to existence of some sorts of genes that are passed on to offspring. The curiosity led to Gregor Mendel, though his experiments on sweet pea plants, know about inheritance. He identified that there is a unit/particle that does not change and is passed on to the of spring as heredity.

Later it was known that the unit of hereditary is not discrete but is located in nucleus of the cell. These units were identified as chromosomes. It was considered that protein in the nucleus is the genetic factor. However, in the mid-20th century it was determined that the nucleus has the material called nucleic acid and DNA is the genetic material not protein. This knowledge and idea of DNA containing genetic material to start further research on genetics and gradually, Watson and Crick determined the structure of DNA. Once the structure was determined some other scientists suggested that DNA contained a genetic code. The code was discovered in the 1960’s.  This information was further used to penetrate into the process that is used by the code and led to the discovery of the process of transcription and translation and led to formation of the “central dogma of molecular biology”. Thus it can be observed only when something was considered to be false or incomplete there was further investigation into it. The further studies revealed that the older was wring and led to formation of new ideas. 

Similar is there with the scientific discipline of developmental biology. The science investigates on the generation and development of the shapes, sizes and structural features of organisms. This discipline have puzzled philosophers and scientists equally for two millennia. 

In the late 19th and early 20th century, Wilhelm Roux  believed that a fertilized egg contains inherited elements that represent different organismal characteristics. During the process of cellular division, these elements become unequally distributed among daughter cells leading to distinct cell fates. Thus resulting different shapes and features of even siblings. On the other hand   Driesch argued that each cell even after division retained its full potential and even then there was differentiation in the features of the offspring/daughter cells.  

Study by more scientists like Driesch’s led to the interpretation that development and the autonomy of an organism had epistemological dimensions.  This idea was denied and considered false by some scientists, This disagreement and further explanations led to new experiments leading to the views  on the nature of differentiation in early ontogeny (e.g., to what degree cells are pre-specified). There came another familiar philosophical theme which ran through these discussions, both epistemological and metaphysical, is the status of reductionism in biology.  The theory targeting on reducing the explanations and studies to the smallest possible entity.  This lead to the start of another discipline of science by the name of embryology.  By the middle of 20th century, embryology—the scientific discipline studying development—slowly transformed into developmental biology with a variety of reworked and recalcitrant elements. 

Thus it can be observed that whenever the existing ideas and thoughts are challenged and refused there is some new development or knowledge that is gained which becomes the new idea. This process of leaving the older idea to give way to new ideas leads to development and better understanding. If we would stick to one idea and resist its change there will be no development special in science.  Thus,  Bernard’s claim  that any idea should be used to penetrate a phenomena and once it is done, that idea should be replaced by new ones. This how the science and knowledge developments has taken place leading to development of  existing science disciplines, demise of some disciplines and birth of new disciplines.