Consilience Conference Celebrates Unity of Knowledge In Biology, Social Science, and Humanities – free audiotaped interviews
What makes the answer to one question more important than the answer to another question in attempts to understand proximate and ultimate cause across the levels of analysis that are required to link sensory input to evolution and behavior? Evolution of the genotype and its phenotypic expression can only be congruently addressed via the gene, cell, tissue, organ, organ system pathway. No part of this pathway lies outside what is required for a coherent understanding of consilience.
The requirements for proximate bottom-up causal organization and proximate top-down causal activation of this pathway include the reciprocity that is ultimately required for evolution. These requirements are met in the following example of cause and effect.
1) Nutrient chemicals cause receptor-mediated changes in intracellular signaling that cause stochastic gene expression – a bottom-up approach to the biology of consilience.
2) The metabolism of nutrient chemicals to pheromones allows chemicals from the social environment to cause receptor-medicated changes in intracellular signaling that cause stochastic gene expression – a top-down approach to the biology of consilience.
3) Organisms without the ability to acquire sufficient nutrient chemicals do not produce the required pheromones and they do not reproduce via receptor-mediated gene activation. Evolution does not occur.
4) Organisms with genetically predisposed behaviors that allow them to acquire sufficient nutrient chemicals establish their ecological niche via receptor-mediated gene activation. Evolution occurs.
Genetically predisposed nutrient dependent ecotypes establish pheromone dependent social niches. These nutrient dependent ecotypes and social niches are fundamental requirements for evolution in species from microbes to man.
The nutrient chemical / pheromone dependent social niche contributes to similarities and differences in the neurogenic niches required for invertebrate and vertebrate brain development and behavior. Adaptive evolution of the brain and behavior is calibrated by nutrients, but it is standardized and controlled by pheromones.
A fundamental question that incorporates proximate and ultimate cause has become one of pattern recognition. Why isn’t the reason for the conserved molecular biology common to all species addressed as the most important of all questions to be answered?
A basic understanding of this conserved molecular biology is required for a coherent understanding of evolution, its congruence, and the pattern recognition of consilience (i.e., the gene, cell, tissue, organ, organ system pathway). Nutrient chemicals and pheromones cause changes in intracellular signaling and gene expression in cells of tissue in the most important organ of all organ systems involved in behavior: the brain.
Conciliatory caveat: An evolved brain is not required. Nutrient chemicals and pheromones cause changes in intracellular signaling and behavior in unicellular organisms and in all species via molecular mechanisms that are so similar as to be readily recognized in a pattern of evolution.
When this pattern recognition is too technically difficult to detail, scientists could simply say that all organisms are what they eat and their peers recognize them via the pheromones they produce. Food preferences and people preferences develop due to receptor-mediated events driven by chemicals, or simply put it’s the “chemistry”. Once this pattern is recognized we could simply say that ultimately, olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans, as was my conclusion in Kohl (2012).
Kohl, J. V. (2012). Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors. Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, 2, 17338 – DOI: 17310.13402/snp.v17332i17330.17338.