An old man named Daniel Baker, living near Lebanon, Iowa, was suspected by his neighbors of having murdered a peddler who had obtained permission to pass the night at his house. This was in 1853, when peddling was more common in the Wes... Read more of Present At A Hanging at Scary Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational

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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

The Spontaneous Activity Of The Organism

What is particularly luminous in all the theories that express the most
recent anti-Darwinian tendency is that they tend to bring into prominence
the mysterious powers of living organisms, by means of which, instead of
passively waiting for natural selection and the continual accumulation of
unceasing variations, they are able spontaneously and of themselves to
bring forth what is necessary for self-maintenance, often what is new and
different, of course not unlimitedly, but with considerable freedom and
often with a surprising range of possibilities. It is, perhaps, partly the
fault of the one-sidedness of strict Darwinism that this consideration has
been so slowly brought into prominence and subjected to investigation and
experiment. It is bound up with the capacity that all forms of life have
of reacting spontaneously to "stimuli" and, to a certain extent, of
helping themselves if the conditions of existence be unfavourable. They
are able, for instance, to produce protective adaptations against cold or
heat, to "regenerate" lost parts, often to replace entire organs that have
been lost, and, under certain circumstances, to produce new organs
altogether. If all this be true, it seems almost like caprice to follow
only the roundabout theory of the struggle for existence, and not to take
account of these spontaneous capacities of the living organism directly
and before all other factors in the attempt to explain evolution. There is
no end to the illustrations that are being adduced, that must force
investigation to pass from merely superficial considerations of the
struggle for existence type to the deeper and more real problems

An effectively modified and adapted type of Alpine flora has not been
evolved by a laborious process of selection lasting for many thousand
years; the organism may quickly and immediately produce the new characters
by its own reaction. Crustaceans gradually transferred from a salt-water
to a fresh-water habitat, or conversely, produce in a few generations the
type of a new "species" with correlated variations (Schmankewitsch). Birds
weaned by careful experiment from a diet of seeds to one of flesh, or
conversely, produce changes of effective correlation and adaptation in the
characters of their alimentary system. Plants that have been deprived of
their normal organs for absorbing water and prevented from growing new
ones produce entirely new and effective "hydatodes."(50)

It is instructive to notice that Darwinism seems likely to be robbed of
its stock illustration, namely, "protective coloration." By its own
internal power of reaction, and sometimes within one generation, and even
in the lifetime of an individual, an organism may assume the colour of the
substratum beneath it (soles, grasshoppers), of its surroundings (Eimer's
tree frogs), the colour and spottiness of the granite rock on which it
hangs, the colour of the leaves and twigs among which it lives (Poulton's
butterfly pupae), and even that of the brightly coloured sheets of paper
amidst which it is kept imprisoned. Certain spiders assume a white, pink,
or greenish "protective coloration" corresponding to the tinted blossom of
the plants which they frequent, and so on.(51) Eimer alleged that direct
psychical factors co-operated in bringing about these changes. In any
case, all this carries us far beyond the domain of mere naturalistic
factors into the mystery of life itself. Even what is called the
"influence of the external world," and the "active acquirement of new
characters," have their basis and the reason of their possibility in this
domain. And the whole domain is saturated through and through with

A recognition of the impressive secret of the organism led Gustav Wolff to
become a very pronounced critic of Darwinism, especially in the form of
Weismannism. As far back as 1896, in a lecture "On the present position of
Darwinism," in which he dealt only with Weismann, he criticised and
analysed that author's last attempt to uphold Darwinism by the
construction of his theory of "germinal selection." He concluded with the

"That a spirit of earnestness would once more enter into biological
investigation, which would no longer attempt to find in nature just what
it wanted to find, but would be ready to follow truth at all costs, and to
approach the riddle of life with an open mind."

His "Beitraege zur Kritik der Darwinischen Lehre," which appeared first as
papers in the "Biologisches Centralblatt," did not see the light in book
form until 1898. The doctrine of selection was regarded as so unassailable
that no publisher would take the risk of the book. Its appearance is a
sure indication of the general modification of opinions that had taken
place in the interval. The first and second essays are merely critical
objections to the theory of selection, very similar to those frequently
urged before, but more precisely stated.(52) The third is intended to show
that there is in the forms of life themselves, as a faculty of adaptation
peculiar to them, a primary purposiveness, which is unquestionably active
throughout the lifetime and development of every individual, but which is
also the deepest cause of "phylogenesis," or the formation of a race. This
doctrine makes both the Darwinian and Lamarckian theories merely
secondary. For the phenomena which suggest the Lamarckian interpretation
presuppose this most essential factor--the primary adaptiveness. Wolff
concludes with a very striking instance--discovered by himself--of this
primary adaptiveness of the organism--the regeneration of the lens in the
newt's eye.

More comprehensively, but from a precisely similar standpoint, Driesch has
followed up the discussion of this problem.(53) He is, of all modern
investigators, perhaps the one who has most persistently and thoroughly
worked out the problem of causal and teleological interpretation, and he
has also thrown much light on the scientific and epistemological aspects
of the problem. That he could, in a recent volume of the "Biologisches
Zentralblatt," write a respectful and sympathetic exposition of the
Hegelian nature-philosophy--as regards its aims, though not its methods--is
as remarkable a symptom as we can instance of the modern trend of views
and opinions.(54)

Next: Contrast Between Darwinian And Post-darwinian Views

Previous: Eimer's Orthogenesis

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