These changes will not supplant philosophy by science but will allowthe two disciplines to combine their resources in the pursuit offundamental questions, like the nature of life.
Artificial life willaffect philosophy in a variety of ways: by facilitating progress ondeep and traditional philosophical questions, some of which, like thenature of life, are presently being ignored; by focussing attentionto important new questions, like the nature of supple adaptation; andby bringing a new level of clarity and precision to these issues,with empirical and quantitative techniques like usage statistics.
Even populations of thetiny clay crystallites that make up mud seem to have the flexibilityto adapt and evolve by natural selection (Cairns-Smith 1985, Bedau1991), and so do autocatalytic networks of chemical species (Bagleyand Farmer 1992), yet to our ordinary way of thinking evolvingpopulations of crystals or chemicals involve no life at any level.
This worry starts with the idea that individual organisms arethe entities that are alive, then observes that the whole evolvingpopulation of organisms is necessarily of a different logicalcategory than an individual organism, and so concludes that lifecannot consist in a population undergoing supple adaptation.
Our dealing with sensible objects is a constantexercise in the necessary lessons of difference, of likeness, of order,of being and seeming, of progressive arrangement; of ascent from particularto general; of combination to one end of manifold forces.
Once inhale the upper air, being admitted to behold the absolutenatures of justice and truth, and we learn that man has access to the entiremind of the Creator, is himself the creator in the finite.
Thisloose but coordinated zig-zagging in groups of waves is a sign of ametastable dynamic in an ecology of predictors&endash;clear evidenceof the unpredictably co-evolving selection criteria that drivessupple adaptation.
That essence refuses to be recordedin propositions, but when man has worshipped him intellectually, the noblestministry of nature is to stand as the apparition of God.
I only wish to indicate thetrue position of nature in regard to man, wherein to establish man, allright education tends; as the ground which to attain is the object of humanlife, that is, of man's connection with nature.
We learn that the highestis present to the soul of man, that the dread universal essence, whichis not wisdom, or love, or beauty, or power, but all in one, and each entirely,is that for which all things exist, and that by which they are; that spiritcreates; that behind nature, throughout nature, spirit is present; oneand not compound, it does not act upon us from without, that is, in spaceand time, but spiritually, or through ourselves: therefore, that spirit,that is, the Supreme Being, does not build up nature around us, but putsit forth through us, as the life of the tree puts forth new branches andleaves through the pores of the old.
In short, they might all sayof matter, what Michael Angelo said of external beauty, "it is the frailand weary weed, in which God dresses the soul, which he has called intotime."It appears that motion, poetry, physicaland intellectual science, and religion, all tend to affect our convictionsof the reality of the external world.
The first and last lesson of religion is, "The things that are seen, aretemporal; the things that are unseen, are eternal." It puts an affrontupon nature.
Finally, religion and ethics, whichmay be fitly called, -- the practice of ideas, or the introduction of ideasinto life, -- have an analogous effect with all lower culture, in degradingnature and suggesting its dependence on spirit.
Turgot said, "Hethat has never doubted the existence of matter, may be assured he has noaptitude for metaphysical inquiries." It fastens the attention upon immortalnecessary uncreated natures, that is, upon Ideas; and in their presence,we feel that the outward circumstance is a dream and a shade.