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Darwin-L Message Log 2:62 (October 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.


<2:62>From LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU  Mon Oct 11 12:49:05 1993

Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1993 12:49:05 -0500
From: "JOHN LANGDON"  <LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: manuscript polymorphism

In message <23100915225806@vms2.macc.wisc.edu>  writes:
> Bob O'Hara writes:
>
> "Unlike organisms, however, manuscripts aren't of any particular ploidy;
> rather, at most loci a manuscript will carry only one reading (haploid), at
> some loci it will carry two readings (diploid), and at some loci it might
> carry three or more readings (triploid or polyploid)."

It doesn't appear to me that you are describing "ploidy" of the manuscripts.
For a genetic analogy, you are describing polymorphisms. A gene or locus is
polymorphic if there is more that one variant to that sequence in the
population. A gene may be polymorphic in a haploid species or monomorphic in a
diploid species. Hence your multiple readings are more analogous to different
alleles of the manuscript.

> 	My points are that 1) although the text is polyploid, the
> text will be "expressed" uniquely if someone is reading it aloud (i.e. terms
> like "dominant" and "recessive" readings might apply); 2) the likelihood of
> the successful copying of diploid variants is not equal (are there biological
> situations which weight the inherited diploid "readings"?); 3) the variable
> likelihoods of successful copying depend on something external (the human
> copier) and cannot be predicted a priori.

The analogy here is with transcriptional repair mechanisms (repairing errors
that occur during DNA copying or scribal copying) plus some degree of natural
selection. Just as scholars decide to reject certain readings of a text,
natural selection may eliminate certain morphs of the gene.

JOHN H. LANGDON      email LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY    FAX  (317) 788-3569
UNIVERSITY OF INDIANAPOLIS   PHONE (317) 788-3447
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46227

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