Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything

Bride.Ru

Books Menu

Home
Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog

 

- Darwiniana - 3/52 -


primordial differences between species and species at their beginning have not been effaced, nor largely obscured, by blending through variation. Consequently, whenever two reputed species are found to blend in Nature through a series of intermediate forms, community of origin is inferred, and all the forms, however diverse, are held to belong to one species. Moreover, since bisexuality is the rule in Nature (which is practically carried out, in the long-run, far more generally than has been suspected), and the heritable qualities of two distinct individuals are mingled in the offspring, it is supposed that the general sterility of hybrid progeny interposes an effectual barrier against the blending of the original species by crossing.

From this generally-accepted view the well-known theory of Agassiz and the recent one of Darwin diverge in exactly opposite directions.

That of Agassiz differs fundamentally from the ordinary view only in this, that it discards the idea of a common descent as the real bond of union among the individuals of a species, and also the idea of a local origin--supposing, instead, that each species originated simultaneously, generally speaking, over the whole geographical area it now occupies or has occupied, and in perhaps as many individuals as it numbered at any subsequent period.

Mr. Darwin, on the other hand, holds the orthodox view of the descent of all the individuals of a species not only from a local birthplace, but from a single ancestor or pair; and that each species has extended and established itself, through natural agencies, wherever it could; so that the actual geographical distribution of any species is by no means a primordial arrangement, but a natural result. He goes farther, and this volume is a protracted argument intended to prove that the species we recognize have not been independently created, as such, but have descended, like varieties, from other species. Varieties, on this view, are incipient or possible species: species are varieties of a larger growth and a wider and earlier divergence from the parent stock; the difference is one of degree, not of kind.

The ordinary view--rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's--looks to natural agencies for the actual distribution and perpetuation of species, to a supernatural for their origin.

The theory of Agassiz regards the origin of species and their present general distribution over the world as equally primordial, equally supernatural; that of Darwin, as equally derivative, equally natural.

The theory of Agassiz, referring as it does the phenomena both of origin and distribution directly to the Divine will--thus removing the latter with the former out of the domain of inductive science (in which efficient cause is not the first, but the last word)--may be said to be theistic to excess. The contrasted theory is not open to this objection. Studying the facts and phenomena in reference to proximate causes, and endeavoring to trace back the series of cause and effect as far as possible, Darwin's aim and processes are strictly scientific, and his endeavor, whether successful or futile, must be regarded as a legitimate attempt to extend the domain of natural or physical science. For, though it well may be that "organic forms have no physical or secondary cause," yet this can be proved only indirectly, by the failure of every attempt to refer the phenomena in question to causal laws. But, however originated, and whatever be thought of Mr. Darwin's arduous undertaking in this respect, it is certain that plants and animals are subject from their birth to physical influences, to which they have to accommodate themselves as they can. How literally they are "born to trouble," and how incessant and severe the struggle for life generally is, the present volume graphically describes. Few will deny that such influences must have gravely affected the range and the association of individuals and species on the earth's surface. Mr. Darwin thinks that, acting upon an inherent predisposition to vary, they have sufficed even to modify the species themselves and produce the present diversity. Mr. Agassiz believes that they have not even affected the geographical range and the actual association of species, still less their forms; but that every adaptation of species to climate, and of species to species, is as aboriginal, and therefore as inexplicable, as are the organic forms themselves.

Who shall decide between such extreme views so ably maintained on either hand, and say how much of truth there may be in each? The present reviewer has not the presumption to undertake such a task. Having no prepossession in favor of naturalistic theories, but struck with the eminent ability of Mr. Darwin's work, and charmed with its fairness, our humbler duty will be performed if, laying aside prejudice as much as we can, we shall succeed in giving a fair account of its method and argument, offering by the way a few suggestions, such as might occur to any naturalist of an inquiring mind. An editorial character for this article must in justice be disclaimed. The plural pronoun is employed not to give editorial weight, but to avoid even the appearance of egotism, and also the circumlocution which attends a rigorous adherence to the impersonal style.

We have contrasted these two extremely divergent theories, in their broad statements. It must not be inferred that they have no points nor ultimate results in common.

In the first place, they practically agree in upsetting, each in its own way, the generally-received definition of species, and in sweeping away the ground of their objective existence in Nature. The orthodox conception of species is that of lineal descent: all the descendants of a common parent, and no other, constitute a species; they have a certain identity because of their descent, by which they are supposed to be recognizable. So naturalists had a distinct idea of what they meant by the term species, and a practical rule, which was hardly the less useful because difficult to apply in many cases, and because its application was indirect: that is, the community of origin had to be inferred from the likeness; such degree of similarity, and such only, being held to be con-specific as could be shown or reasonably inferred to be compatible with a common origin. And the usual concurrence of the whole body of naturalists (having the same data before them) as to what forms are species attests the value of the rule, and also indicates some real foundation for it in Nature. But if species were created in numberless individuals over broad spaces of territory, these individuals are connected only in idea, and species differ from varieties on the one hand, and from genera, tribes, etc., on the other, only in degree; and no obvious natural reason remains for fixing upon this or that degree as specific, at least no natural standard, by which the opinions of different naturalists may be correlated. Species upon this view are enduring, but subjective and ideal. Any three or more of the human races, for example, are species or not species, according to the bent of the naturalist's mind. Darwin's theory brings us the other way to the same result. In his view, not only all the individuals of a species are descendants of a common parent, but of all the related species also. Affinity, relationship, all the terms which naturalists use figuratively to express an underived, unexplained resemblance among species, have a literal meaning upon Darwin's system, which they little suspected, namely, that of inheritance. Varieties are the latest offshoots of the genealogical tree in "an unlineal" order; species, those of an earlier date, but of no definite distinction; genera, more ancient species, and so on. The human races, upon this view, likewise may or may not be species according to the notions of each naturalist as to what differences are specific; but, if not species already, those races that last long enough are sure to become so. It is only a question of time.

How well the simile of a genealogical tree illustrates the main ideas of Darwin's theory the following extract from the summary of the fourth chapter shows:

"It is a truly wonderful fact--the wonder of which we are apt to overlook from familiarity--that all animals and all plants throughout all time and space should be related to each other in group subordinate to group, in the manner which we everywhere behold--namely, varieties of the same species most closely related together, species of the same genus less closely and unequally related together, forming sections and sub-genera, species of distinct genera much less closely related, and genera related in different degrees, forming sub-families, families, orders, sub-classes, and classes. The several subordinate groups in any class cannot be ranked in a single file, but seem rather to be clustered round points, and these round other points, and so on in almost endless cycles. On the view that each species has been independently created, I can see no explanation of this great fact in the classification of all organic beings; but, to the best of my judgment, it is explained through inheritance and the complex action of natural selection, entailing extinction and divergence of character, as we have seen illustrated in the diagram.

"The affinities of all the beings of the same class have sometimes been represented by a great tree. I believe this simile largely speaks the truth. The green and budding twigs may represent existing species; and those produced during each former year may represent the long succession of extinct species. At each period of growth all the growing twigs have tried to branch out on all sides, and overtop and kill the surrounding twigs and branches, in the same manner as species and groups of species have tried to overmaster other species in the great battle for life. The limbs divided into great branches, and these into lesser and lesser branches, were themselves once, when the tree was small, budding twigs; and this connection of the former and present buds by ramifying branches may well represent the classification of all extinct and living species in groups subordinate to groups. Of the many twigs which flourished when the tree was a mere bush, only two or three, now grown into great branches, yet survive and bear all the other branches; so with the species which lived during long-past geological periods, very few now have living and modified descendants. From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these lost branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera, which have now no living representatives, and which are known to us only from having been found in a fossil state. As we here and there see a thin, straggling branch springing from a fork low down in a tree, and which by some chance has been favored and is still alive on its summit, so we occasionally see an animal like the Ornithorhynchus or Lepidosiren, which in some small degree connects by its affinities two large branches of life, and which has apparently been saved from fatal competition by having inhabited a protected station. As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramification."

It may also be noted that there is a significant correspondence between the rival theories as to the main facts employed. Apparently every capital fact in the one view is a capital fact in the other. The difference is in the interpretation. To run the parallel ready made to our hands: [I-4]

"The simultaneous existence of the most diversified types under identical circumstances . . . the repetition of similar types under the most diversified circumstances . . . the unity of plan in otherwise highly-diversified types of animals . . . the correspondence, now generally known as special homologies, in the details of structure otherwise entirely disconnected, down to the most minute peculiarities . . . the various degrees and different kinds of relationship among animals which (apparently) can have no genealogical connection . . . the simultaneous existence in the earliest geological periods, . . . of representatives of all the great types of the animal kingdom . . . the gradation based upon complications of structure which may be traced among animals built upon the same plan; the distribution of some types over the most extensive range of surface of the globe, while others are limited to particular geographical areas . . . the identity of structures of these types, notwithstanding their wide geographical distribution . . . the community of structure in certain


Darwiniana - 3/52

Previous Page     Next Page

  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8   10   20   30   40   50   52 

Schulers Books Home



 Games Menu

Home
Balls
Battleship
Buzzy
Dice Poker
Memory
Mine
Peg
Poker
Tetris
Tic Tac Toe

Google
 
Web schulers.com
 

Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything