Darwin-L Message Log 1:108 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<1:108>From tclarke@uoguelph.ca  Sun Sep 12 22:44:14 1993

Date: Sun, 12 Sep 1993 23:29:40 -0400 (EDT)
From: Tom Clarke <tclarke@uoguelph.ca>
Subject: Re: Evolution in linguistics?
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Sun, 12 Sep 1993, J. Luke Matthews wrote:

> it's interesting how the name Lamarck comes up anytime the word
> 'intentionality' comes up when people talk about evolution. Changes in
> culture, society aren't different from changes in the non-human parts of
> the universe...their's plenty of intentionality out there too...after all
> (and this is admittedly an exaggeration) one reason there are no jellyfish
> on mountaintops is because jellyfish just hate montane environments. Animals
> and plants, monera, protista, and whatever else are squirming around out
> there do have some capacity to make some (perhaps severely limited) choices.

 Jellyfish aren't too keen on the cold either, but I keep finding them in
 that local dribble, the speed river.

   I believe I understand what you mean by the term intentionality -
 that the individuals within the population have some capacity to choose
their own destiny.  That isn't particularly lamarkian - intentionality is
 observed in sexual selection when by means of choice certain alleles
 are favored in the population over others.

  It only becomes lamarkian when a purpose external to the system
 is placed on the system... selective breeding, for example, is lamarkian.
 Cultural evolution, I would think, would follow a darwinian system,
 with ideas as the base unit instead of alleles.  However, certian theories
 of cultural evolution, eg Marxism, are definately lamarkian, proposing
 that human culture is following a pattern or heading towards some
 form of utopia.


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