The critical path

On 1 november 2018

The fallacy in current evolutionary theory concerns a discrepancy between Sexual Selection and Biodiversity. In Biosemiotic theory these axioms can be positioned on two different levels of habit taking and meaning giving. Biodiversity refers to differences on the species level. Biodiversity is about the origin of species. How did the finch split into two finch species that no longer mutually sexually interact? Biodiversity is about the origin of new species which have apparently differently adapted to changing environments. Biodiversity is about evolutionary questions as: ‘How did two or more new species evolve from a last common ancestor?’

In ‘Bekwame Minnaars’, a book on the evolution of sex, cognition and curiosity in humans, I describe a possible developing proces that has led to humans on the one hand and other primates like currently living chimpanzees and bonobo’s on the other hand. Humans and chimps share a generally accepted last common ancestor.

According to Robert Ulanowicz in his book ‘A third window; Natural life beyond Newton and Darwin’ evolutionary processes evolve ‘path dependent’. By this he means to point to Darwin’s shrub. Once evolution has taken a certain ‘path’ a newly developing species can not change ‘paths’. A fish species can and will never evolve like a finch species, because from an evolutionary perspective they live on separated ‘branches of the Darwin shrub’. Ulanowicz distinguishes between patterns of conservation and alteration. Alteration of a species can only occur if all crucial patterns of conservation are reliably functioning.

Within a species individuals with well functioning conservation patterns can give meaning to the Umwelt by taking new habits. Individuals are the changing ‘power’ in every species. It is alongside creative and inventing individuals that a species as a whole can evolve on a ‘critical’ species specific path.

Sexual selection concerns choices between individuals and different individual features and characteristics within the same species. Sexual selection is the female choice between two or more males within a certain species. In biological theory the latter is called biological variation. Sexual selection occurs on the level of biological variation, not on the level of biological diversity. Sexual selection is evolution and alteration of aan existing species. This species has the possibility of taking new habits on a species specific ‘critical path’.

In the SSIH it is stated that the generally accepted sexual selection criteria are to coarsely-woven. Sexual selection in biological theory equals female choices for a healthy, strong and fertile partner regardless of the species. Sexual selection in biological theory overlooks the ‘critical evolutionary path’ on which the females find themselves. Sexual selection in biological theory is actually denying biodiversity and species specific features and characteristics. A female fish selects her sexual partner on other criteria then a female lemur, because they belong to different species and they are on another ‘critical evolutionary path’.

The current axiom of Sexual selection focusses solemnly on reproduction. Females are supposed to choose purpose driven with one objective only, namely producing offspring. Biosemiotic theory tells us that signs and meaning have been important in evolutionary processes. Biosemiotics distinguishes between endosemiosis and exosemiosis. Endosemiosis concerns internal signs like feelings and representations in the brain. Exosemiosis concerns external signs like perceptions and individuals of the same species; the significant others. Both endo- and exosemiosis generate meaning. Meaning (and choice) precede behaviour.

What if meaning generated by endo- and exosemiosis leads to personally motivated choices as:

‘I like the presence of your company.’

‘You smell good.’

‘You are funny.’

‘I once saw you solving a problem.’

‘I copied your new behaviour of food gathering. You are smart.’

‘I know from experience that you are sociable and kind.’

‘I want sex.’

Sexual selection is possible on any given feature, gesture, behaviour, newly invented habit of a male. Sexual selection is about meaning and representation of Yes or No in the female brain. In the female brain the present and the (social) past are reference for choosing a specific male and representing him as the choice for Yes or No. The female choice takes place in the present, but the (social and environmental) past is part of her frame of reference.

Motivated and represented (Yes or No) selection of the female for a specific male precedes sexual choice, precedes sexual behaviour, and in the end precedes vertical evolutionary genetic transformation to offspring. The latter leading to new genetic habits and to new biological variation in the next generation.

As Hoffmeyer states: ‘Evolution has no purpose. Individuals try to survive and to life pleasantly. individuals are sign perceiving, meaning driven, creative and inventing creatures.’

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