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Darwin-L Message Log 1:149 (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.


<1:149>From msimon7@ua1ix.ua.edu  Thu Sep 16 14:26:44 1993

Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1993 14:29:25 -0600 (CDT)
From: Morris Simon <msimon7@ua1ix.ua.edu>
Subject: Re: Re: Lamarkianism in linguistic change
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

On Thu, 16 Sep 1993, JOHN LANGDON wrote:

> > Did Darwin knnow about allele frequencies?  If he didn't, doesn't this
> > statement imply that Darwin was not writing about that which is "really"
> > evolution?
> >
> In Darwin's defense, we must understand him to be writing about allele
> frequencies as well as he was able to understand them. All he knew about them
> was their phenotypic expression; thus he described evolution on that basis.

I agree. Darwin's overview of the process lacked specific mechanisms, much
in the way that Freud's view of the unconscious lacked neurophysiological
details which are commonplace today. Just as Freud's overview remains more
or less current in the light of electron microscopy, modern population
genetics supplies many of the molecular processes which contribute to the
gross observations of 19th century naturalists like Darwin and Wallace. It
is fairly typical in the empirical sciences to proceed from general theory
to particular causal discoveries. The theoretical natural selection of Darwin
is much the same 'natural selection' of today - we just know more about its
dynamics.

Morris Simon <msimon7@ua1ix.ua.edu>
Stillman College

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