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Darwin-L Message Log 1:129 (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.


<1:129>From JLV@tusk.gc.edu  Wed Sep 15 07:54:20 1993

Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1993 7:55:54 -0500 (CDT)
From: JLV@tusk.gc.edu (Jesse Vaughan)
Subject: Re: Lamarkianism in linguistic change
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

My understanding of evolution comes from a background in paleontology.  As
I see it, evolution is the observation that the oldest rocks contain the
remains of the simplest organisms and that progressively younger rocks
contain the remains of progressively more complex organisms.  Evolution,
then, boils down to the FACT that "things change."  Maybe we geologists and
paleontologists assume this, and tend to SAY "evolution" when we actually
MEAN "processes or mechanisms that have resulted in evolution."  When
speaking to fellow geologists/paleontologists, each of us understands the
assumption.

What is not completely understood, and that makes for lively discussions,
are these processes or mechanisms.  Any discussion of what CAUSED the
change should be separated from the FACT that things have changed.  If we
do this, there should be no reason to restrict the term "evolution" to the
life sciences.  Cultures do undergo evolution, but the processes behind
that evolution are obviously different from the processes of organic
evolution in the paleontological sense.

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