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- Darwiniana - 52/52 -


pp. 73-81.

XII-2. In noticing M. Naudin's paper in the Comptes Rendus, now reprinted in the "Annales des Sciences Naturelles," entitled "Variation desordonnee des Plantes Hybrides et Deductions qu'on peut en tirer," we were at a loss to conceive why he attributed all present variation of species to atavism, i.e., to the reappearance of ancestral characters (American Journal of Science, February, 1876). His anterior paper was not then known to us; from which it now appears that this view comes in as a part of the hypothesis of extreme plasticity and variability at the first, subsiding at length into entire fixity and persistence of character. According to which, it is assumed that the species of our time have lost all power of original variation, but can still reproduce some old ones--some reminiscences, as it were, of youthful vagaries--in the way of atavism.

XIII-1. London, 1862.

XIII-2. Hume, in his "Essays," anticipated this argument. But he did not rest on it. His matured convictions appear to be expressed in statements such as the following, here cited at second hand from Jackson's "Philosophy of Natural Theology," a volume to which a friend has just called our attention:

"Though the stupidity of men," writes Hume, "barbarous and uninstructed, be so great that they may not see a sovereign author in the more obvious works of Nature, to which they are so much familiarized, yet it scarce seems possible that any one of good understanding should reject that idea, when once it is suggested to him. A purpose, an intention, a design, is evident in everything; and when our comprehension is so far enlarged as to contemplate the first rise of this visible system, we must adopt, with the strongest conviction, the idea of some intelligent cause or author. The uniform maxims, too, which prevail throughout the whole frame of the universe, naturally, if not necessarily, lead us to conceive this intelligence as single and undivided, where the prejudices of education oppose not so reasonable a theory. Even the contrarieties of Nature, by discovering themselves everywhere, become proofs of some consistent plan, and establish one single purpose or intention, however inexplicable and incomprehensible."---("Natural History of Religion," xv.)

"In many views of the universe, and of its parts, particularly the latter, the beauty and fitness of final causes strike us with such irresistible force that all objections appear (what I believe they really are) mere cavils and sophisms."-- ("Dialogues concerning Natural Religion," Part X.)

"The order and arrangement of Nature, the curious adjustment of final causes, the plain use and intention of every part and organ, all these bespeak in the clearest language an intelligent cause or author."--(Ibid., Part IV.)

XIII-3. See Section I, Chapter 12.

XIII-4. "No single and limited good can be assigned by us as the final cause of any contrivance in Nature. The real final cause . . . is the sum of all the uses to which it is ever to be put. Any use to which a contrivance of Nature is put, we may be sure, is a part of its final cause."--(G. F. Wright, in The New-Englander, October, 1871.)

XIII-5. "No single and limited good can be assigned by us as the final cause of any contrivance in Nature. The real final cause . . . is the sum of all the uses to which it is ever to be put. Any use to which a contrivance of Nature is put, we may be sure, is a part of its final cause."--(G. F. Wright, in The New-Englander, October, 1871.)


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