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Biology Articles » Evolutionary Biology » An Effort to Explain the Process of Body Formation » Chapter 4

Chapter 4
- An Effort to Explain the Process of Body Formation

The description by R.Ardrey of the development of the slug is apparently completely unobjectionable, but on further consideration one finds unexplainable phenomena. It is a question of a process that has to result that the forming of a body on a higher level than the cells of which it has been formed.

Neither phase one nor phase two means in itself any problem. It is a question of an amount of selfish cells, which are living in territories and in phase two it is has reference to a very simple body. Neither of those phenomena consists of anything new, but it is the transformation between them, that is unexplained.

What requires an explanation is the presence of the latent altruism that according to my assumption has developed within the territory and which is being activated in connection with the rise of the level and that has to result the forming of a body on a higher level. How has this higher level been able to develop in a territory population consisting of selfish cells and what kind of force has caused the rise of level?

Darwinism ought to imply that cells regarded as individuals only can have selfish properties and that they not shall be able to act in an altruistic way. It can also be expressed that biological individuals not by their own force are able to act altruistically and thus transform into a higher level with an unselfish cooperation.

These selfish cells thus behave after the level rise in a way that has not been predicted in the theories. One may again make reference to Bettelheim’s prisoners. Was their change of attitude something that was accomplished by their selfishness, something that they intentionally and consciously decided to carry out, and if it was not so, from where came their change of attitude?

Altruism according to my definition in chapter 1 has reference to that which arises in connection with the forming of a body. This kind of altruism means that the cells are being sacrified when the body dies, except for the cells of reproduction. Through the mediation of these the complete genetic matter can be transferred to the next generation.

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I return to the situation I described in the preceding chapter and that was illustrated by three pictures.

That course of events seems to be in conflict with the principles of Darwinism, there arises altruism. That altruism is clearly demonstrated in the description by Ardrey and can not be denied.

In the state being established after picture 2 the history ought to have reached an end and the experiment turned out to be unsuccessful, at least if one sticks to what Darwinism is teaching:

“Yet Darwinian theory advocates no higher principle beyond individuals pursuing their own self-interest – i.e. the representation of their own genes in future generations.” [12]. In the catastrophe situation I have assumed, apparently some unknown force has affected the territory, thus creating a latent altruism that finally has brought about the momentarily transfer from the lower state of life to a higher.

Here is embedded a difficulty for the thought that is not easily overcome. If regarding the chin of events from the perspective of the lower level, that of the cells, the higher level and the transfer into it seems to be unexplainable, it is impossible to concretize for the cells and that is a general experience. The presence of different levels of life is nonetheless something that awakes many questions In order to give a concrete form to the impossibility of a cell perspective upon the body, one can as an intellectual experiment try to familiarize oneself with the situation of a cell, situated in its context within a body, for example an eye. I have chosen my example from normal bodies; it is difficult to give a concrete form to something within such an incomplete body as the slug. The cell has its very restricted and local task; it obeys the instructions from the superior function, i.e. its programming. It is not able to have an apprehension of the context where it has its task, not about the outer world, not even that an outer world exists. Its apprehension is restricted to the phenomena of the cell world. And, if it, e.g. due to a mutation should loose its altruism and become selfish; the whole coherence of the body would appear to be meaningless and maybe hostile.

That it all does not seem to be in agreement with the doctrine of evolution appear to be obvious, or rather, it is a question of phenomena that are not being considered by this doctrine.

The behaviour of the cells does thus not agree with Darwinism; here it is a question of a jump in the development that is incommensurable with that theory. Accept then that exception from or addition to the doctrine of evolution by restricting its validity to biological individuals, directly subjected to the environmental pressure! For individuals in the process of forming a body and for individuals in a body other laws are apparently other laws valid.

Different experiments that have been performed in order to solve the problem of body forming assume as something obvious that it is a question of a continuum – a continuous development from simple collections of cells to functioning bodies. In that case there is no need for the concept of altruism, which does not belong to the doctrine of evolution. My starting point is that selfish cells can not form a selfish body, if first not their selfishness has been eliminated. They must in other words first become altruistic. Altruism as an inescapable element of life does not belong to the doctrine of evolution and my claim constitutes therefore a departure from it. But the basic selfishness of life is not questioned, which can easily be shown.

I test a hypothesis, a guess among many; perhaps this can simplify the equation. The slug is obviously beginning its development from zero and its situation is therefore maybe comparable to that of the hypothetic first molecule, as one would imagine it. Its properties are the reproductive ability and selfishness. All that has thereafter been developed can be derived from those properties and from the interaction of the first molecule’ with the environmental pressure; all abilities which are required in order to survive.

One can approach the problem by investigating what the phase-one cells are loosing in connection with the level rise and what is originally characterizing the slug of phase two; i.e. which properties that have been eliminated with the individual phase-one cells and which properties that have arisen in the common body. It is obviously the reproduction that is now managed by the slug on behalf of the cells and selfishness, which is characterizing the slug, the cells simultaneously being altruistic.

These are the properties that can be supposed to have characterized the hypothetic ‘first molecule’. The new specimen on a higher level than the cells has to begin from the same situation as the ‘first molecule’, hence from zero and the cells are now only important as constituents and instruments of the body.

The cells are physically unchanged.. It is in connection with the level rise only a question of a “change of attitude”. What later undergoes a change is only their behaviour.

Ordinary properties do not change momentarily; they are stable on the short or the long run and can become changed among others due to the environmental pressure. Selfishness and altruism, however, can not be counted among these ordinary properties that can become an object to a development. Here it is a question of a transition from a free state at a lower level to another, controlled state at a higher level. That a change of state takes place momentarily and not through a successive development demonstrates that it is not a question of ordinary properties.

The selfish slug hence exists on a higher level than the selfish cells of phase one. It is not in any case a question of a transfer of properties from the cells to the slug. “The active force”, whatever it is, has created a genuine identity. The cells still have their identity as cells, but they have lost their selfishness; they are altruistic, controlled by the superior function. The cells have made over to the slug to resolve the reproduction problem and can no more exist separately. There is no turning back and they have only one task, to obey the orders of the slug.

This model can be imagined to be effective for the slime molds, living in a territory, and with the same signification but realized in other ways it can be assumed to be valid in other cases of body forming.

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