in the fall of 1954, i had tea with bertrand russell. in a television interview, he had said that were he to do it over again, he would not have gone into philosophy. i took the occasion to ask him what he would have chosen. physics, he said [and somehow i think he was confident that he would have won a nobel prize in that field rather than in literature.] were he alive today, i suspect he would say molecular biology, for that is where the most exciting scientific work is being done these days.
once again, my big sister, barbara, has put me onto a splendid book, which i have now begun to read. it is called ARRIVAL OF THE FITTEST, by andreas wagner. here is what barbara had to say.
'I know that (quite appropriately) your focus these days is on MARX, MARX, MARX...but I throw this out because it's what I'm thinking about these days!
I've been (sort of) following your blog -- it's pretty much of a slog for me. But my attention was caught by your reference to the BLS data sets. I have just read a remarkable book that I think could change the face of evolutionary biology forever, if taken seriously. It is called The Arrival of the Fittest by Andreas Wagner.
Wagner points out (correctly) that for all the progress in molecular biology etc, biologists still have no conceptual framework within which to try to understand the link between genotype and phenotype. [As you are probably aware, geneticists for the past half century since the modern synthesis have relegated what connects the two -- genotype and phenotype -- to a black box. Now that I think of it, it is rather like the invisible hand. ]
Wagner says that with the amount of data that has become available, and the computer power we now have, it is possible to begin to explore the links, and what he's done (in the popular book noted above, but also in a much more technical one that I am trying to read) is to start building the appropriate conceptual framework.
It occurs to me that any serious attempt to build the kind of socialist economic structure that you are talking about would have to go down the same path, finding a way to use the mountain of data available from sources like the BLS to create a conceptual framework that would make possible actually making the decisions that would have to be made.'
you can see why i always take her suggestions seriously. wagner's book, by the way, is charmingly written, a delight to read. i recommend it.