Ian Hentall

From JerryLettvin

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Bobo

I remember Bobo (a Border Collie mix?) being walked on a long leash through the Infinite Corridor. Jerry’s way of dealing with ill-posed or naïve questions, mine included I’m sure, was to suggest that they ask the dog. When I first met Jerry at 20C-007, as a jejune Zoology graduate of Oxford, in his impressive presence I had right away to defend my received views on natural selection. Jerry, of course, had a unique take on this. His view was that this had little to do with adaptation to the physical environment, and everything to do with animals selecting themselves (e.g., predator on prey)--or so I interpreted the oracular pronouncements. He promised to expound on this idea, but I guess it was not high on his list of topics because, sadly, I never did hear the full argument. The idea seemed somehow to connect, profoundly, with the bug detectors in the frog’s eye, and hence with experimental epistemology. So he craftily managed to turn the whole topic of evolution, with its very empirical flavor which I am pretty sure he disdained, into a branch of rationalist philosophy. I have many such memories, but never came near to acquiring his art of the anecdote.

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