Sunday, December 16, 2007

On On the Origin of the Species

More accurate this should probably be entitled On On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life but it just doesn't fit you see, and I'm sure you'll agree it really doesn't matter, does it?

After the mild fury that had arising from the ambers of a particularly brief conversation, I did go on and do some reading. I read about something I thought I already knew about, about which I think most people have at least a concept of - Darwin's theory of Evolution. Except that it wasn't Darwin's, it was Anaximander's, Hutton's, Monboddo's, Lamarck and a Darwin a whole two generations before young Charlie. Darwin's original presentation of his findings was done alongside a fellow 'transmutationalist' Alfred Wallace.

See it wasn't evolution, on account of the latin origin of this phrase referring to the 'unrolling of a scroll', with its rather heavy religious connotations, no it was infact referred to as transmutations.

And my dearest pedant was at pains to remind me that On the Origin of Species (or The Origin of the Species as it was referred to in its 6th Edition), did not refer only to those characteristics which were passed on through mating. Indeed that is true, Darwin even suggested that the forces of inheritence are in exact opposition to those of adaptation. Perhaps we should take into account, however, that Mendel's Experiments on Plany Hybridisation was first published in 1865, a good four years after On the Origin of Species. Darwin held the Lamarkian view that if you use your right arm more, your son will have a larger right arm. Makes sense to me.

Touted as the funkiest new atheist in town, he did infact hold some rather divine thoughts, the final line of On the Origin reading, 'There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone circling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginnig endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.'

Though Darwin was by now to ill to partake, no-one noticed too much and the debate regarding the holy monkey race went on, and somehow eventually everyone just knew. You just know don't you? When are we going to learn that knowledge is not assumption? When are we going to learn that even when we think we do know we are infact just offering explanations of the patterns? We don't know.

Oh and incidently. Urgh

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