Reasons in Nature
“There are Reasons in Nature!” says philosopher Dan Dennett. A hawk exists because it is more successful at survival and reproduction through its ability to fly. That is its “justification”, and the origins of the Practice of Justification, itself. In general, Dennett calls theses kinds of reasons “free-floating rationales” because they are reasons without a reasoner; reasons not Represented in a Mind but are discernible in the design of the creations of Mother Nature.
In this sense, Natural Selection is “a reason finder” and has filled this planet with a splendid array of living things operating for, or by, one reason or another. And interestingly, since these are Reasons, there are more and less effective and efficient ways — rational ways — of accomplishing them. Natural Selection is not only “a reason finder” but also “developer”. This is the implication of Darwin’s “Dangerous” (read Profoundly Revolutionary) Idea, argues Dennett.
(Natural Selection has discovered Powered Flight four times; first in insects, then dinosaurs, birds and finally bats. It is a “reason-finder” and “developer”. The Reason these creatures survived was, in part. their ability to fly. That is there Justification.)
(Nature is full of Reasons. Gliding is A Reason these animals exist. Only Persons have Reasons AND are sometimes aware of them. But these creatures “do not do badly” in there own way: Bluntnosed Flying fish, Flying Squirrel, Paradise snake, Borneo Flying Frog, Gliding Ant, Flying Dragon Lizard are just a few of Nature’s gliding creatures. I do not know the approximate number of species that Glide, but each of the classes above have several different species that do. And this is not to mention animals that “parachute”.)
(A “ballooning” spider! Note the thin thread coming from its abdomen. Another way Mother Nature has designed a creature to “fly”. Natural Selection, through its mechanical process of trial and error, has sought and discovered this Opportunity too, and perfected it. It justifies this creatures survival.)
Objects that have a purpose exhibit design. They are —by definition — interrelated and interacting with “their” environment, Not just caused. Some biologists become nervous here, and insist that Design in Nature is only “apparent design”; it is “seemingly designed”. It is, as if, they say, “Things are not really put together that well.” They fear that a design needs a designer, or that “adaptionist” thinking and talk of “purposes” is Teleological — as if nature is striving for some goal. They think this kind of talk places the creature and its environment in too tidy a package. It give the Creation too much “say” in relation to Its Creator, ‘the environment’. It is insufficiently causal, contingent, and, therefore, ‘unscientific’.
But, there are many things that are really well connected: their parts are defined by the point of their design, and design ‘flows out’ into the environment! (“Huston, the Eagle has landed!”) We can say ‘designed objects are Caused by their environment’, but in our broadest attempt to understand our world and our situation in it, we must recognize that that is only a half truth and the seed for significant confusion. It is better to say, “The two Inform each other!”
Now I know some of you are finding this idea strange — reasons in nature –— but part of its point is to establish Reasons in Persons and then having a basis for it Naturally! What scientist does not respect good reasons? So let’s give them a natural foundation!
That is what we do when we think in the widest context; we want a lot of things to fit together. The reasons for our behavior and the reasons ‘in’ our consciousness MUST come from nature but also be true to themselves at there own Level of Complexity. To think that thinking is really a chemical or neural or physic’s process, that “thinking” is primarily caused by these, is what the famous American philosopher John Dewey called, “the modern one-sidedness.”
So, this world of ours, and this planet Earth is Not Devoid Of Rhyme or Reason. As lonely and foolish as it all may seem, sometimes; some of that is our fault. It is a failure of Our Vision and Thought and Heart. Reasons abound around us. As smart as we are, in some ways; oh, how far we need to travel!
Getting really wide and two-sided, here, at The Nature Religion Connection! Enjoy!
(Well, that is the first dose! I better ‘pick up some steam’ fore I only have nine more to go. But, you must admit, it was short! Looking to gain some momentum and to nailing down “The Meaning Of Life, in ten easy doses!”)