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The Evolution of Darwinism
by David Hawkes
Popular perception notwithstanding, the theory of natural selection was accepted by every serious evolutionist long before Darwin. Earlier scientists interpreted it as the clearest possible evidence for intelligent design of the universe. William Paley's Natural Theology (1802), for example, employs the famous image of the "great watchmaker" to account for the perfect adaptation of creatures to harmonious ecosystems. Darwin's innovation, which may appear small but is in fact immense, lay in his claim that natural selection is the only cause of evolution.
In one sense, this was merely a change of emphasis: The impulse of pre-Darwinian evolutionists, faced with incontrovertible evidence of natural selection, had been to ask why it occurred. They sought after the "final cause" of evolution, and they found it in the proposal of an intelligent designer. But one of the essential principles of modern science is that such final causes are unknowable. Science must limit itself to "efficient" or "material" causes; it must not ask why things happen, but how. Darwin applied this principle to evolution. Whereas his predecessors had seen the adaptation of organisms to their environment as the effects of design, Darwin saw the physical development of creatures as the sole cause of evolution. The great watchmaker had been overthrown. As Stephen J. Gould (who died as this issue was going to press) shows in The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Darwin's breakthrough was essentially methodological. Darwinism is what you get when you focus on the micrological details, resolutely refusing to lift your eyes to the level of the whole. Over the course of the nineteenth century, this methodological sine qua non for scientific investigation was imposed on every discipline, but it originated in the "dismal science" of economics. The "political economy" of Adam Smith began from the material actions of individuals in pursuit of their own selfish ends, and extrapolated from this micrological level to abstract generalizations about the economy as a whole. What Smith calls "the economy" is thus an amalgamation of all the self-interested actions of individuals, and precisely the same is true of what Darwin understood as "evolution." In fact, Darwin consciously and deliberately imported Smith's economic methodology into biology in order to refute natural theology's argument from design. As Gould baldly puts it, "the theory of natural selection is, in essence, Adam Smith's economics transferred to nature." He is reluctant to dwell too long on this kinship, no doubt because he under! stands the severity of the threat it poses to Darwinism's pretensions to objectivity. Gould's ally and sometime collaborator Richard Lewontin has criticized him for such reticence in several exchanges first published in the New York Review of Books. Lewontin has called Gould's work "curiously unpolitical" for failing to draw out the implications of "the overwhelming influence of ideology in science." For Lewontin, "Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is obviously nineteenth-century capitalism writ large," and attempts to press it into the service of psychology are "pure reification." http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20020610&s=hawkes

This is a fascinating article but it is still a series of confusions. The plain fact is that Darwin's natural selection is a problem and Gould's obscure dance around this fact and the illusion he has resolved this with a new paradigm is the central feature of his book.
Gould's punctuated equilibrium is a great idea, but where is the resolution of the dynamic? Gould's refusal to consider evolutionary directionality is a symptom of the absence of any real extension to Darwin, as is the obvious confusion over economies.
Gould's comparison with Adam Smith is revealing. Anyone who makes this comparison doesn't understand evolution and has no theory, the charge of ideology being correct.
The confusion here arises from fancy footwork over natural selection and the attempt to rescue Darwin even as he is being superceded, saving the cultural icon.

The issue is not just refuting Paley, but the Kant's and the real Hume. Dempski makes it clear at least in his tripartite distinction, chance, necessity, or design.
The real issue is as always, chance or necessity, this phrase by Monod having been confused by said Monod himself.
The place of 'necessity' in evolution, and the relationship of this to chance and to a real mechanics of evolution has NEVER been explicated because never observed. It is worth reading S. Kaufmann's At Home in the Universe here. For it deals with this issue, essentially, of chance versus necessity. He may have the wrong theory, but he is at least clear that we have not observed evolution in crucial cases. Perhaps, he says, we can reconstruct the element of necessity (my words).

Punctuated equilibrium might be an indication of this missing factor, the real theory with some beef. But the context of trilobites is not promising to get it straight.
The point is that punctuated equilibrium means a bump in the record, and that might be an indication of the action, completely unknown, of this factor of necessity.

Paley is not the issue, what is the issue is the naturalism process of necessity which might also show directional or teleological action. As Kant warned, in the context of his own refutation of design, the action of teleology in relation to necessity is highly obscure and difficult to make an object of knowledge.
And in that vacuum the rival Creationist and Big Science hype machines duke it out in the essentially futile terms so obvious present in Gould's very length much ado about nothing much, no theory except window dressing in the discovery natural selection is not the real mccoy, and the added confusion over the red herring of economic processes.

Just how far off Darwin is can be seen by looking at the eonic model, at http://eonix.8m.com

John Landon
Website on the eonic effect
http://eonix.8m.com
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