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Activity Of Consciousness
Aim And Method Of Naturalism
Autonomy Of Spirit
Consciousness Of The Ego
Constructive Criticism
Contrast Between Darwinian And Post-darwinian Views
Creative Power Of Consciousness
Criticisms Of The Mechanistic Theory Of Life
Crities Of Darwinism
Darwinish In General
Darwinism And Teleology
Darwinism In The Strict Sense
De Vries's Mutation-theory
Differences Of Opinion As To The Factors In Evolution
Eimer's Orthogenesis
Evolution And New Beginnings
Feeling Individuality Genius And Mysticism
Freedom Of Spirit
Fundamental Principles Of Naturalism
Goethe's Attitude To Naturalism
Haeckel's Evolutionist Position
How All This Affects The Religious Outlook
How The Religious And The Naturalistic Outlooks Conflict
Individual Development
Intuitions Of Reality
Is There Ageing Of The Mind?
Lamarckism And Neo-lamarckism
Machnical Theories Criticism
Mind And Spirit The Human And The Animal Soul
Mystery : Dependence : Purpose
Natural Selection
Naturalistic Attacks On The Autonomy Of The Spiritual
No Parallelism
Other Instances Of Dissatisfaction With The Theory Of Descent
Pre-eminence Of Consciousness
Preyer's Position
Religion And The Theory Of Descent
Spontaneous Generation
Teleological And Scientific Interpretations Are Alike Necessary
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Space
The Antimony Of Our Conception Of Time
The Antimony Of The Conditioned And The Unconditioned
The Characteristic Features Of Darwinism
The Conservation Of Matter And Energy
The Constructive Work Of Driesch
The Contingency Of The World
The Dependence Of The Order Of Nature
The Development Of Darwinism
The Ego
The Fundamental Answer
The Law Of The Conservation Of Energy
The Mechanics Of Development
The Mystery Of Existence Remains Unexplained
The Organic And The Inorganic
The Position Of Bunge And Other Physiologists
The Problema Continui
The Real World
The Recognition Of Purpose
The Religious Interpretation Of The World
The Spontaneous Activity Of The Organism
The Supremacy Of Mind
The Theory Of Descent
The True Naturalism
The Two Kinds Of Naturalism
The Unconscious
The Unity Of Consciousness
The Views Of Albrecht And Schneider
The Views Of Botanists Illustrated
The World And God
Theory Of Definite Variation
Theory Of Life
Various Forms Of Darwinism
Virchow's Caution
Virchow's Position
Weismann's Evolutionist Position
What Is Distinctive In The Naturalistic Outlook
What Is Distinctive In The Religious Outlook

Crities Of Darwinism

Let us turn now to the other side. What is opposed to Darwinism in the
biological investigations of the experts of to-day is in part simple
criticism of the Darwinian position as a whole or in some of its details,
and in part constructive individual theories and interpretations of the
evolution of organisms.

A. Fleischmann's book, "Die Darwinsche Theorie,"(39) is professedly only
critical. He suggests no theory of his own as to the evolution of life in
contrast to Darwin's; for, as we have already seen in connection with his
earlier book, "Die Deszendenztheorie," he denies evolution altogether. His
agnostic position is maintained, if possible, more resolutely than before.
Natural science, according to him, must keep to facts. Drawing conclusions
and spinning theories is inexact, and distracts from objective study. The
Darwinian theory of selection seems to him a particularly good example of
this, for it is built up a priori on theories and hypotheses, it stands
apart from experimentation, and it twists facts forcibly to its own ends.
It has, however, to be acknowledged that Fleischmann's book is without any
"apologetic" intentions. It holds equally aloof from teleology. To seek
for purposes and aims in nature he holds to be outside the business of
science, as Kant's "Critique of Judgment" suffices to show. After having
been more than a decade under the charm of the theory of selection,
Fleischmann knows its fascination well, but he now regards it as so
erroneous that no one who wishes to do serious work should concern himself
about it at all. Point by point he follows all the details of Darwin's
work, and seeks to analyse the separate views and theories which go to
make up Darwinism as a whole. Darwin's main example of the evolution of
the modern races of pigeons from one ancestral form, Columba livia, is,
according to Fleischmann, not only unproved but unprovable.(40) For this
itself is not a unified type. The process of "unconscious selection" by
man is obscure, and it is not demonstrable, especially in regard to
pigeon-breeding. It is a hazy idea which cannot be transferred to the
realm of nature. The Malthusian assumption of the necessity of the
struggle for existence is erroneous. Malthus was wrong in his law of
population as applied to human life, and Darwin was still more mistaken
when he transferred it to the organic world in general. It was mere
theory. Statistics should have been collected, and observations instead of
theories should have been sought for. The alleged superabundance of
organisms is not a fact. The marvellously intertwined conditions in the
economy of nature make the proportion of supply and demand relatively
constant. And even when there is actual struggle for existence, advantages
of situation,(41) which are quite indifferent as far as selection is
concerned, are much more decisive than any variational differences. The
theory does not explain the first origin of new characters, which can only
become advantageous when they have attained to a certain degree of
development. As to the illustrations of the influence of selection given
by Darwin, from the much discussed fictitious cases, in which the fleet
stags select the lithe wolf, to the marvellous mutual adaptations of
insects and flowers, Fleischmann objects that there is not even
theoretical justification for any one of them. The spade-like foot of the
mole is not "more useful" than the form of foot which probably preceded it
(cf. Goette), it is merely "different." For when the mole took to
burrowing in the earth and adapting itself to that mode of life, it ipso
facto forfeited all the advantages of living above ground. The postulated
myriads of less well-adapted forms of life are no more to be found to-day
than they are in the fauna and flora of palaeontological times. The famous
giraffe story has already been disposed of by Mivart's objections. As to
the whales, it is objected that the earliest stages of their whalebone and
their exaggerated nakedness can have been of no use, and a series of other
alleged selective effects of "utility" are critically analysed. The
refutation of the most brilliant chapter in the Darwinian theory, that on
protective coloration and mimicry, is very insufficient. A long concluding
chapter sums up the fundamental defects of the Darwinian theory.

For the most part, Fleischmann simply brings forward objections which have
been urged against the theory of selection from the first, either by
naturalists or from other quarters. The chief and the most fatal of these
which are still current are the following: The theory of selection does
not explain the actually existing discontinuity of species. The real
characteristics which distinguish species from species are in innumerable
cases quite indifferent from the point of view of "utility" (Naegeli,
Bateson). "Selection preserves the good and weeds out the bad." But where
does the good come from? (De Vries). The first beginnings of what may
later be useful are almost always useless. The theory of selection might
perhaps explain the useful qualities, but not the superfluous, useless, or
directly injurious characters which actually exist. Confirmation of the
theory of descent may be found in the palaeontological record, but it
affords none of the theory of selection. Natural selection is continually
being neutralised by subsequent inter-crossing and reversion. Natural
selection may indeed prevent degeneration within the limits of the species
by weeding out what is weak and bad, but it is powerless beyond these
limits, and so forth.(42)

These ever-repeated and ever-increasing objections are purely critical. As
this is true of Fleischmann's whole book, it is therefore unsatisfactory.
It leaves everything in the mist, and puts nothing in place of what it
attempts to demolish. But attempts are being made in other quarters,
especially among the Lamarckians, to build up an opposition theory.

Next: Lamarckism And Neo-lamarckism

Previous: Natural Selection

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