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Re: Aquatic Plants Teleology

> Date: Tue, 11 Nov 1997 20:26:41 -0500 (EST)
> From: JOlson8590 at aol_com
>  Unless I have missed something, there are no strategies that depend upon
> _asking_ the plants what they "want" or even what they "need." 
> Roger's arguments come perilously close to such statements as, e.g. "roots
> seek out and crack water lines and sewers." There is no malevolent
> subterranean intelligence operating. With plants, there is no intelligence at
> all. No reasoning. No decision making. Plants do what plants do because they
> are plants. The plants that exist today are here and alive solely because
> their particular DNA programs cell divisions and differentiations that result
> in mechanical structures that are favorable to life. They do not have hearts,
> they do not think. All living things could be said to "expend energy," as
> that is at the heart of what "life" is. Life, at least temporarily, violates
> entropy. Temporarily.

We all know that plants don't "think" or "feel" the way people do, and "roots
seek out and crack water lines and sewers" is shorthand for "roots exhibit a
tropism that causes them to grow towards increasing water content in the soil. 
This may result in the roots penetrating cracks in water lines and sewers. 
As the roots grow, they may pry open the cracks and cause serious leakage".

Ditto, "plants prefer ammonia to nitrate" means that plants will take up and
use ammonia more readily than nitrate, given both available ("given the choice")
or that plants given nitrogen in the form of ammonia will grow better than 
those give nitrogen in the form of nitrate.

> My views come from BioPhysics, BioChemistry, and Horticulture research that I
> have studied in the Iowa State University Library, from my own undergraduate
> and graduate course work, from teaching and Extension work, and from
> attendance at Seminars for Faculty and Graduate Students in the above
> disciplines, among others. 
> If one wishes to view plants in a different way, so be it. Different strokes
> for different folks.  Don't be surprised if your statements are viewed with
> skepticism, especially with the members of this List!  We rather like a good
> argument. :-)

Many of us have a science background, but we know that when we speak teleo-
logically about plants or any living thing, we are not really serious about
them "knowing" or "wanting" or "preferring" or "intending" or "trying", it's
just figurative speech, and less bulky, more conversational than reiterating
that "due to their evolutionary histories plants will respond to environmental
stimulae by tending to..."