Darwin-L Message Log 5:69 (January 1994)

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.

<5:69>From ronald@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu  Thu Jan 13 02:32:42 1994

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 94 22:36:00 HST
From: Ron Amundson <ronald@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: On critiques of "neoDarwinism"

I shudder to question the opinions of our fearless leader in this
enterprise, but I think Bob O'Hara's appraisal of the criticisms of
neoDarwinism is too defensive.  There are indeed serious critics of
mainstream post-Synthesis evolutionary biology, and they're not just
out to gather Time magazine headlines -- in fact most of them get no
press at all.  This is not to say that science reportage on the issues
is _conscientious_... reporters are after sexy stories, after all.
But there are critics of varying degrees of contentiousness who claim
that mainstream evolutionary studies have systematically ignored
certain important topics of study.  The Brooks and Wiley
self-organizing-systems approach is one avenue of criticism; another
(my favorite) is the underrepresentation of embryological and
developmental-biological knowledge in mainstream evolutionary studies.

I'm reluctant to start email debates on the subject in Darwin-L,
both because I'm involved in plenty of them outside of Darwin-L,
and also because D-L is too important a forum to be clogged with
debates of this complexity.  But I will gather an annotated
bibliography of (what I see to be) the important developmentalist
literature critical of current mainstream evolution theory, and
post it to D-L.  And I'll ( at that time) invite any real
masochists to read a couple of my own recent ramblings on the

BTW, "orthogenetic" is a very misleading term to apply to the Brooks
and Wiley approach -- even if they do use it themselves.  Reduced
ranges of variation and biased probabilities of certain trajectories
is not very similar to what the great 19th c. orthogeneticists meant
by the term.

Finally, in the true historical spirit of Darwin-L, I will note that
the term "neoDarwinism" originally referred to Weismann's version of
Darwinism, which did indeed distinguish germ line from soma line
cells, and so rule out use-inheritance.  But that was all 50 years or
so before the Synthesis.  It is, of course, appropriate and customary
to refer to the results of the Modern Synthesis as "NeoDarwinism".  I
mean, hell, they're our words, aren't they?  (Linguists may have views
on that bit of armchair arrogance.)


Ron Amundson
Univ. of Hawaii at Hilo

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