The Initial and Second Darwinian
Darwinism | time | ideology | worldview | methods | Neo-Darwinian synthesis
1864, a term coined by Thomas Henry Huxley,
not a monolithic concept but a persuasion of mind.
"theory of descent with modification through natural selection."
Natural selection competed with inheritance of acquired
traits, teleology and abrupt (punctuated) changes, as reasons for changes
in the descendants of common ancestors.
Shifting interpretations of Darwin's work.
Darwin as a person.
There are shades of differences in the meaning of Darwinism over time:
- Theory of evolution, Darwin thought of several causes
of change over time (evolving) such as pangenes, use and disuse of organs,
blending inheritance and frequency of sympatric radiation where one species
splits into two different species.
- Evolutionism rejected an essentialist view of existence
and an ahistorical approach to reason that dates back to Anaximander in ancient
Greece and was common in sociology and linguistics after Buffon in the
- Anticreationism denies both the fixity (constancy)
of species and the special creation of distinct life-forms. Among the earliest
forms of Darwinism believed in by Deists as well as agnostics who held
to four findings:
Anti-ideology refers to the power of naturalistic
or materialistic explanations for change by Darwin to run counter to the
prevailing ideas of reductionism, determinism, design, predictability,
progress and perfectibility that characterized the thought of those who
opposed Darwin's arguments.
- descent from a common ancestor
- humans as part of the Animal kingdom
- rejection of special creation
- belief in the mutability (inconstancy) of species [i.e. species
may change over time].
Categories of the positions taken by those
who argued against Darwin:
||typology, types of body plans make for differences among
||reductionism, or reducing all material causes to matter
in motion, Newtonian.
||teleology, or telos the end result dictates the original
condition and the means or designs.
Selectionism was not really adopted widely by biologists
until well after World War One (1930s-40s), though in 1889 Alfred Russel
Wallace referred to natural selection in his book entitled Darwinism as
possessing "overwhelming importance . . .over all other agencies in the production
of new species."
Variational evolution is very distinct from transformational
(use or disuse of body parts) or saltational (change by mutations) means
Creed, refers to the incorrect assumption that Darwinians
are Darwinists by philosophers or historians. Mayr after Recker argues
instead that "it is as difficult to define a Darwinian as it is to Define Darwinism." (99) Besides drastic differences among Darwin's advocates as
to the character of human descent, the gradual quality of changes in species
over time and the widespread rejection of natural selection, all did hold
to the belief that common descent of all life on earth was not brought
about by special (supernatural) creation.
New Worldview may be held after World War Two (1945)
by those who base biological ideas on Darwin, but Darwinism was not a worldview,
or even an ingredient in his worldview or those of his followers. Mayr argues
that "In his writings Darwin never upheld such a worldview." (p. 102.) Many who see
the struggle for existence or survival of the fittest as the Darwinian
worldview look to Herbert Spencer (writer and railway engineer) and not
Darwin to support what Mayr sees as "the most useless definition
I can imagine." (pp. 103 -104.)
New Methodology insists Mayr "was to present the evidence
on which he based his inference, and he used these inferences to support
his conjectures. The greater the number and variety of pieces of evidence
he could cite, the more convincing the inferences became." (pp. 104 - 105.)
"one of the by-products" of Darwin's refutation of existing
beliefs, "was the inevitable reinterpretation of evolution as a historical
process subject to temporary contingencies."
Ernst Mayr, One Long
Argument, p. 96.
synthesis, 1942, term coined by Julian Huxley.
came together in stages
Darwinism | time | ideology | worldview | methods | NeoDarwinian synthesis