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Re: Evolution was Re: 2012 US presidential race



Technically and historically, "evolution" means ontogeny, or developmental 
change. It's use for what we now think of as evolution is due to the 
developmentalist, or Lamarckian, notion of evolution as a predetermined 
trajectory (Lamarck's "tree" diagram is effectively a road map of pathways a 
species might evolve), which was adopted by Spencer before Darwin and imposed 
upon him thereafter.

Evolution *does* mean "change over time" - that is its general sense. In this 
sense it applies to stars, tectonic plates and political stances of parties. It 
also refers to (but does not mean) descent with modification, as Fisher 
demonstrated in 1930 when he wrote "Evolution is not Natural Selection" in the 
Genetical Theory.

I think it is better to call descent with modification "phylogeny" and natural 
selection "natural selection", etc. Just for clarity. And ontogeny "ontogeny". 
And leave "evolution" to advertisers, and Romans reading scrolls.

On 17/04/2012, at 1:55 AM, David Marjanovic wrote:

> Let's see if I can extract something on-topic from this post...
> 
>> Well, I don't want to be 'that guy' again, but there are different
>> ways to reject evolution. You could be opposed to Darwin's theory
>> only (still believing in 'change over time') or be generally opposed
>> to the idea of evolution entirely (no old earth).
> 
> Evolution does not mean "change over time".
> 
> Evolution means "descent with heritable modification".
> 
> The _theory of evolution by mutation, selection and drift_ is what _explains_ 
> evolution. (And biodiversity past and present. And why the similarity of 
> organisms is arranged in a tree shape, as opposed to every other shape or a 
> random distribution. And biogeography, again in four dimensions, not just 
> three. And ecology. And... and... and...) -- The earliest version of that 
> theory was presented by Darwin & Wallace (1858) and Darwin (1859), but 
> calling the theory as it exists now "Darwin's theory" misses the point.
> 
> ...Yeah, I know the term "evolution" is used in other fields than just 
> biology -- with completely different meanings, so they're off-topic. "Stellar 
> evolution" is the _ontogeny_, the individual development, of a star; no 
> descent, no inheritance.

-- 
John Wilkins | john@wilkins.id.au
Associate, Philosophy, University of Sydney
"Were all men philosophers, the business of life could not be executed, and
neither society, nor even the species, could long exist." William Smellie, 1791
Species: A history of the idea http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/11391.php