Ignorance is Bliss?

OrganizedKhaos's picture

Chance is defined as  the unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause. In the Origin of Species, Darwin's view on this topic is that those occurrences that we recognize as chance are in fact a pattern and our ignorance which makes it impossible for us to acknowledge its existence. To think that stories of evolution that exist today (in my years of education and schooling) incorporate the aspects of chance within them makes me think about the way in which science and literature are very much connected. 

If one looks at the Great Chain of being and the way in which it is described as a foundational story which other story of life have grown from can then Darwin's story be foundational? Like stories told and passed down from generation to generation evolution is just like literature. The focus and plots of literature change based on the time period or situation in that country much like the story of evolution, no? We talked about Roughgarden and her positive approach to to the telling of the story of evolution, one that is now appropriate and can be appreciated by society. Thus, have not other stories grown from his findings and suggestions?

But, I guess understanding what foundational truly means is also a problem  that many people share different meanings for. I too left class a little fuzzy on what foundational truly meant. What really sparked my attention was the discussion on chance and the comfort we share as humans in naming the unexplainable and leaving it as that. I too share a comfort in the unknown or as Darwin would suggest my ignorance and the way in which I allow or blame certain things on chance and out of my control. Being omniscient would be scary and I in no way strive to be that. I like to think that chance is sprinkled along the plan sketched out for my life, and i'm ok with it. Chance and destiny are twin sisters in my book cant have one without the other. why not?

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Sarah Schnellbacher's picture

Chaos Theory and Destiny

Both your post and your name OrganizedKhaos remind me of a section of a Contemporary Physics course I took in  Spring 2010 with Professor Mark Matlin on Chaos Theory. During our discussion group we talked about how Darwin doesn't really attribute evolution to chance but says rather that chance is really just our own ignorance on all the contributing factors. In my Contemporary Physics class we looked at iterations and how they created fractal patterns. At a certain point the fractal patterns would become so complicated that the results of the iteration began to look entirely random, but really the results did follow a pattern; the pattern was just too complicated to appear to us as a pattern. Darwin says basically the same thing. He attempts to give simple observable examples in which as many variables as possible are controlled but fully accepts that nature is a chaotic system. There is a pattern as to who will survive and why organisms posses their current traits, but the infinite number of variables in nature make it impossible for us humans to ever understand the pattern. I like to think therefore that I do have a destiny in this sense but it is shaped by my free will in choosing which path to take at each node of a giant fractal pattern that is my life.

Image: http://www.enchgallery.com/fractals/fractal%20images/orange-tree2.jpg

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