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CRITICISM OF MECHANICAL THEORIES

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
Feeling Individuality Genius And Mysticism
Freedom Of Spirit
Fundamental Principles Of Naturalism
Genius
Goethe's Attitude To Naturalism
Haeckel's Evolutionist Position
Heredity
How All This Affects The Religious Outlook
How The Religious And The Naturalistic Outlooks Conflict
Immortality
Individual Development
Individuality
Intuitions Of Reality
Irritability
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
Mysticism
Natural Selection
Naturalism
Naturalistic Attacks On The Autonomy Of The Spiritual
No Parallelism
Other Instances Of Dissatisfaction With The Theory Of Descent
Parallelism
Personality
Pre-eminence Of Consciousness
Preyer's Position
Religion And The Theory Of Descent
Self-consciousness
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
Underivability
Various Forms Of Darwinism
Virchow's Caution
Virchow's Position
Weismann's Evolutionist Position
Weismannism
What Is Distinctive In The Naturalistic Outlook
What Is Distinctive In The Religious Outlook



The Constructive Work Of Driesch








What in Reinke's case came about almost unperceived, Driesch did with full
consciousness and intention, following the necessity laid upon him by his
own gradual personal development and by his consistent, tenacious
prosecution of the problem. The acuteness of his thinking, the
concentration of his endeavours through long years, his comprehensive
knowledge and mastery of the material, the deep logicalness and consistent
evolution of his "standpoints," and his philosophical and theoretical
grasp of the subject make him probably the most instructive type, indeed,
we may almost say, the very incarnation of the whole disputed question. In
1891 he published his "Mathematisch--mechanische Betrachtung
morphologischer Probleme der Biologie," the work in which he first touched
the depths of the problem. It is directed chiefly against the merely
"historical" methods in biology, used by the current schools in the form
of Darwinism. Darwinism and the Theory of Descent have been so far nothing
more than "galleries of ancestors," and the science ranged under their
banner is only descriptive, not explanatory. Instead of setting up
contingent theories we must form a "conception" of the internal necessity,
inherent in the substratum itself, in accordance with which the forms of
life have found expression--a necessity corresponding to that which
conditions the form-development of the crystal.

Experimental investigations and discoveries, and further reflection,
resulted, in 1892, in his "Entwicklungsmechanische Studien," and led him
to insist on the need for what the title of his next year's work calls
"Biologie als selbstaendige Grundwissenschaft." In this work two important
points are emphasised. The first is, that biology must certainly strive
after precision, but that this precision consists not in subordination to,
but in co-ordination with physics. Biology must rank side by side with
physics as an "independent fundamental science," and that in the form of
tectonic. And the second point is, that the teleological point of view
must take its place beside the causal. Only by recognising both can
biology become a complete science.

In the "Analytische Theorie der organischen Entwicklung" (1894) Driesch
picks up the thread where he dropped it in the book before, and spins it
farther, "traversing" his previous theoretical and experimental results.
In this work the author still strives to remain within the frame of the
tectonic and machine-theory, but the edges are already showing signs of
giving way. Life, he says, is a mechanism based upon a given structure (it
is however a machine which is constantly modifying and developing itself).
Ontogenesis(98) is a strictly causal nexus, but following "a natural law
the workings of which are entirely enigmatical" (with Wigand). Causality
fulfils itself through "liberations," that is to say, cause and effect are
not quantitatively equivalent; and all effect is, notwithstanding its
causal conditioning, something absolutely new and not to be calculated
from the cause, so that there can be no question of mechanism in the
strict sense. And the whole is directed by purpose.(99) The vital
processes compel us to admit that it seems "as if intelligence determined
quality and order." Driesch still tries to reconcile causes and purposes
as different "modes of regarding things," but this device he afterwards
abandons. We cannot penetrate to the nature of things either by the causal
or by the teleological method. But they are--as Kant maintained--two modes
of looking at things, both of which are postulates of our capacity for
knowing. Each must stand by itself, and neither can have its sequence
disturbed by the interpolation of pieces from the other. In the domain of
the causal there can be no teleological explanation, and conversely; one
might as well seek for an optical explanation of the synthesis of water;
but both are true in their own place. The Madonna della Sedia, looked at
microscopically, is a mass of blots, looked at macroscopically it is a
picture. And it "is" both of these.

Driesch's conclusions continue to advance, led steadily onwards by his
experimental studies. In the "Maschinentheorie des Lebens,"(100) he
attacks his own earlier theories with praiseworthy determination, and
remorselessly pursues them to the monstrous conclusions to which they
lead, and shows that they necessarily perish because of these. He had
previously declared, at first emphatically, later with hesitation (we have
already seen why), that every single vital process is of a
physico-chemical kind, on the basis of a given "structure" of living
beings. But now he considers the living organism as itself a result of
vital processes--that is, of development. If this also is to be explained
mechanically (as physico-chemical processes based on material structure),
then the ovum must possess in parvo this infinitely fine structure, by
virtue of which it fulfils its own physiological processes of maintenance,
and also becomes the efficient cause of the subsequent development. It
must bear the type of the individual and of the species, as a rudiment (or
primordium) within its own structure. Every specific type must, however,
according to the theory of descent, be derived through an endless process
of evolution, by gradual stages, from some primitive organism. Just as in
the mechanical becoming of the individual organism, so the primitive
protovum must also be extraordinarily intricate and complex in its
organisation if it is to give rise to all the processes of evolution and
development involved in the succeeding ontogenies, phylogenies,
regenerations, and so forth. This is a necessary conclusion if the
machine-theory be correct, and if we refuse to admit that vital phenomena
are governed by specific laws. This consequence is monstrous, and the
theory of the tectonists therefore false. But if it be false, what then?

Driesch answers this question in the books published in subsequent
years.(101) In these he attains his final standpoint, and makes it more
and more secure. The "machine-theory," and all others like it, are now
definitely abandoned. They represent the uncritical dogmatism of a
materialistic mode of thought, which binds all phenomena to substance, and
refuses to admit any immaterial or dynamic phenomena. The alleged initial
structure is nowhere to be found. The pursuit of things into the most
minute details leads to no indication of it. The chromatin, in which the
most important vital processes have their basis, is very far from having
this machine-like structure; it is homogeneous. The formation of the
skeleton, for instance, of a Plubeus larva is due to migratory
spontaneously moving cells (comparable to the leucocytes of our own body,
whose migrations and activities remind one much more of a social organism
than of a machine). The organism arises, not from mechanical, but from
"harmoniously-equipotential systems": that is to say, from systems every
element of which has equal functional efficiency; so that each individual
part bears within itself in an equal degree the potentiality of the
whole--an impossibility from the mechanical point of view.

Driesch had given an experimental basis for this theory at an earlier
stage, in his experiments on the initial stages of the development of
sea-urchins, starfishes, zoophytes, and the like. A Planarian worm cut
into pieces developed a new worm of smaller size from each part. A
mutilated Pluteus larva developed a new food-canal, and restored the whole
typical form. His experiment of 1892 went farther still, for he succeeded
in separating the first four segmentation-cells of the sea-urchin's egg;
and from each cell obtained a developing embryo. These facts, he
maintains, compel us to assume a mode of occurrence which is dynamically
sui generis, a "prospective tendency" which is a sub-concept in the
Aristotelian "Dynamis." And the essential difference between this kind of
operation and a mechanical operation is, that the same typical effect is
always reached, even if the whole normal causal nexus be disturbed. Even
when forced into circuitous paths the embryo advances towards the same
goal. Thus "vitalism," that is, the independence and autonomy of the vital
processes, is proved. The effect required is attained through "action at a
distance," a mode of happening which is specifically different from
anything to be found in the inorganic world, and which has its
directive, for instance, in the regeneration of lost parts, not in
anything corporeal or substantial, but in the end to be attained.

In his work on "Organic Regulations," Driesch collects from the most
diverse biological fields more and more astonishing proofs of the activity
of the living as contrasted with physico-chemical phenomena, and of the
marvellous power the organism has to "help itself" and to attain the
typical form and reach the end aimed at, even under the greatest diversity
in the chain of conditions. The material here brought forward is enormous,
and the author's grasp of it very remarkable; and not the least of the
merits of the book is, that the bewildering wealth and diversity of these
phenomena, which are usually presented to us as isolated and uncoordinated
instances, is here definitely systematised according to their
characteristic peculiarities, and from the point of view of the increasing
distinctness of the "autonomy" of the processes. The system begins with
the active regulatory functions of living matter in the chemistry of
metabolism (see particularly the phenomena of immunisation), and ascends
through different stages up to the regulations of regeneration. There
could be no more impressive way of showing how little life and its
"regulations" can be compared to the "self-regulations" of machines, or to
the restoring of typical states of equilibrium and of form in the physical
and chemical domain, to which the mechanists are fond of referring.

The facts thus empirically brought together are then linked together in a
theory, and considered epistemologically. We may leave out of account all
that is included in the treatment of modern idealism,
immanence-philosophy, and solipsism. All this does not arise directly out
of the vitalistic ideas, though the latter are fitted into an idealistic
framework. Extremely vivid is the excursus on respiration and
assimilation. (All processes of building up and breaking down take place
within the organism under conditions notoriously different from those
obtaining in the laboratory. It is radically impossible to speak of a
living "substance" according to the formula CxHyOz, which assimilates and
disassimilates itself [sibi].) Excellent, too, are Driesch's remarks on
materialistic elucidations of inheritance and morphogenesis. It is quite
impossible to succeed with epigenetic speculations on a material basis
(cf. Haacke). Weismann is so far right, he admits, from his
materialistic premisses when he starts with preformations. But his theory,
and all others of the kind, can do nothing more than make an infinitely
small photograph of the difficulty. They "explain" the processes of
form-development and the regeneration of animals and plants, by
constructing infinitely small animals and plants, which develop their form
and regenerate lost parts. And Driesch holds it to be impossible to
distribute a complicated tectonic among the elements of an equipotential
system. In denying the materialistic theory of development, Driesch again
determinedly "traverses" his own earlier views. He does this, too, when he
now rejects the reconciliation between causality and teleology as
different modes of looking at things. The teleological now seems to him
itself a factor playing a part in the chain of causes, and thus making it
teleological. The key-word of all is to him the "entelechy" of Aristotle.

In his last work on "The Soul," Driesch follows the impossibilities of the
mechanical theories from the domain of vital processes into that of
behaviour and voluntary actions.





Next: The Views Of Albrecht And Schneider

Previous: Constructive Criticism



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