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Darwin-L Message Log 2:71 (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.


<2:71>From LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU  Tue Oct 12 08:15:39 1993

Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1993 08:15:39 -0500
From: "JOHN LANGDON"  <LANGDON@GANDLF.UINDY.EDU>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: manuscript polymorphism

It appears to me that there are two different types of polymorphic variations
to the manuscripts in this discussion. One, just described by Margaret Winters
and really what I was talking about earlier, is scribal/typographic error in
the copying or reprinting of a manuscript. This is most analogous to genetic
transmission with mutation, constraints, selection, etc. and to true evolution
of a haploid organism.

The other kind, apparently that referred to by O'Hara and others, is simply a
question of interpretation of a printed manuscript. Since that variation does
not change the manuscript, the genetic analogy is more complex.
  Different readings over time is not a genetic polymorphism unless one
interpreter influences another. This is more of a phenotypic interaction with
the environment.
  If one views all the alternative readings somehow embedded in the
manuscript before anyone reads it, one is simply looking at adaptive
flexibility, like knowing several languages and being able to speak any one at
will.

Do we really want a genetic model for the latter phenomenon?

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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