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Biofiction, Philosophy, Pheromones, and Spirituality

Posted on January 26, 2011 by jim.

“Can fiction be philosophical? Even novelists trained in philosophy have sometimes insisted no.”

Biofiction| see The Philosophical Novel

“Neural networks from beehives to brains solve problems through the exchange and the selective cancellation and modification of signals.” from Greg Bear’s presentation to the American Philosophical Society, see the full text here:

Greg and I were members of Howard Bloom’s International Paleopsychology Project. Howard wrote “The Global Brain,” which in the context of Greg’s “…from beehives to brains…” is indicative of the means by which problem solving has evolved from the use of chemical signals, like pheromones, to the molecular networks of the signaling, regulatory, and metabolic types that generate behavior via brain circuitry operating in real time. The honeybee has emerged as a model for all this, and by all this, I mean everything about the birds,  the bees, and us.

Prognostic/prophetic, indeed as my friend Alice Andrews commented about biofiction; I’ve seen nothing of its equal. The International Paleopsychology Project probably helped to generate more ‘raw insight’ (Greg’s term), than most people will ever realize.  Unfortunately, I don’t know how to market raw insight and the ‘hard science’ makes it difficult for me to market pheromones; I get too caught up in it–even in the science fiction, as it becomes scientific fact. Fortunately, it makes my life in the lab less mundane that it otherwise might be, especially when I’m working in the microbiology department.

The gene-swapping that goes on in bacteria was called conjugation  when I first learned of in in the early 70’s.  At that time, I don’t think that anyone realized how important conjugation might be.  Even now, after it’s potential has been detailed in Darwin’s Radio and in Darwin’s Children —  two science fiction novels by Greg Bear — most people do not think in terms of cause and effect at the molecular level. Those who do will continue to have a problem attempting to detail the levels of complexity that link our genes to our behavior. This problem with the levels of complexity exists despite animal models that begin with single-celled organisms. These organisms lovingly extend their molecular mechanisms to the Global Brain. But love is a philosophical term, isn’t it? How could it have anything to do with the biological basis of conjugation (i.e., part of marital love)?

No, I am not suggesting that we look at love as if we are mere products of our biology. I am suggesting that the levels of complexity that are involved in love might show that we are more than just products of our biology — a philosophy that some might say adds spirituality to what others will continue to insist is biofiction.



Retired medical laboratory scientist

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