Darwin-L Message Log 23: 1–30 — July 1995
Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences
Darwin-L was an international discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences, active from 1993–1997. Darwin-L was established to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among scholars, scientists, and researchers in these fields. The group had more than 600 members from 35 countries, and produced a consistently high level of discussion over its several years of operation. Darwin-L was not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin, but instead addressed the entire range of historical sciences from an explicitly comparative perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical geography, historical anthropology, and related “palaetiological” fields.
This log contains public messages posted to the Darwin-L discussion group during July 1995. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and error messages and personal messages accidentally posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster.
The master copy of this log is maintained in the Darwin-L Archives (rjohara.net/darwin) by Dr. Robert J. O’Hara. The Darwin-L Archives also contain additional information about the Darwin-L discussion group, the complete Today in the Historical Sciences calendar for every month of the year, a collection of recommended readings on the historical sciences, and an account of William Whewell’s concept of “palaetiology.”
------------------------------------------ DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 23: 1-30 -- JULY 1995 ------------------------------------------ DARWIN-L A Network Discussion Group on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu is an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Darwin-L was established in September 1993 to promote the reintegration of a range of fields all of which are concerned with reconstructing the past from evidence in the present, and to encourage communication among academic professionals in these fields. Darwin-L is not restricted to evolutionary biology nor to the work of Charles Darwin but instead addresses the entire range of historical sciences from an interdisciplinary perspective, including evolutionary biology, historical linguistics, textual transmission and stemmatics, historical geology, systematics and phylogeny, archeology, paleontology, cosmology, historical anthropology, historical geography, and related "palaetiological" fields. This log contains public messages posted to Darwin-L during July 1995. It has been lightly edited for format: message numbers have been added for ease of reference, message headers have been trimmed, some irregular lines have been reformatted, and some administrative messages and personal messages posted to the group as a whole have been deleted. No genuine editorial changes have been made to the content of any of the posts. This log is provided for personal reference and research purposes only, and none of the material contained herein should be published or quoted without the permission of the original poster. The master copy of this log is maintained in the archives of Darwin-L by email@example.com, and is also available on the Darwin-L gopher at rjohara.uncg.edu. For instructions on how to retrieve copies of this and other log files, and for additional information about Darwin-L, send the e-mail message INFO DARWIN-L to firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server at http://rjohara.uncg.edu. Darwin-L is administered by Robert J. O'Hara (email@example.com), Center for Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A., and it is supported by the Center for Critical Inquiry, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the Department of History and the Academic Computing Center, University of Kansas. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:1>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Jul 1 00:20:32 1995 Date: Sat, 01 Jul 1995 01:20:19 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: List owner's monthly greeting To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Greetings to all Darwin-L subscribers. On the first of every month I send out a short note on the status of our group, along with a reminder of basic commands. For additional information about the group please visit the new Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu). Darwin-L is an international discussion group for professionals in the historical sciences. It is not devoted to any particular discipline, such as evolutionary biology, but rather endeavors to promote interdisciplinary comparisons among all the historical sciences. Darwin-L was established in September 1993, and we now have over 600 members from more than 30 countries. I am grateful to all of our members for their continuing interest. Because Darwin-L has a large membership and is sometimes a high-volume discussion group it is important for all participants to try to keep their postings as substantive as possible so that we can maintain a high "signal-to-noise" ratio. Personal messages should be sent by private e-mail rather than to the group as a whole. Subscribers who feel burdened from time to time by the volume of their Darwin-L mail may wish to take advantage of the digest option described below. Different mail systems work differently, and not all subscribers can see the e-mail address of the original sender of each message in the message header (some people only see "Darwin-L" as the source). It is therefore very important to include your name and e-mail address at the end of every message you post so that everyone can identify you and reply privately if appropriate. Remember also that in most cases when you type "reply" in response to a message from Darwin-L your reply is sent to the group as a whole, rather than to the original sender. The following are the most frequently used listserv commands that Darwin-L members may wish to know. All of these commands should be sent as regular e-mail messages to the listserv address (email@example.com), not to the address of the group as a whole (Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu). 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For a comprehensive introduction to Darwin-L with notes on our scope and on network etiquette, and a summary of all available commands, send the message: INFO DARWIN-L To post a public message to the group as a whole simply send it as regular e-mail to the group's address (Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu). I thank you all for your continuing interest in Darwin-L and in the interdisciplinary study of the historical sciences. Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) Center for Critical Inquiry and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:2>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu Sat Jul 1 07:52:32 1995 Date: Sat, 01 Jul 95 07:52 CDT From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu> Subject: Re: Languages and dialects, species and subspecies To: email@example.com This is a belated response to Bob O'Hara's posting of 23 June, asking if linguists fret over questions of language vs. dialect. The quick- and-easy answer is a qualified no. The reason, it seems to me, is that very little--if anything--that's crucial depends upon the distinction between language and dialect (whatever that distinction may be). There do, of course, arise questions of relationship, as in the Native American cases Bob suggests, but I'm not aware of discussions which hinge crucially on a language/dialect distinction. One reason for this may be the enormous difficulty in establishing foolproof definitions to keep the two terms separate. Attributed to various linguists is the dictum "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy". That is, some dialects get lucky: their speakers, and eventual writers, gain political advantage over other speakers, a monolithic (in principle) standard is engineered out of the dominant group's speech, and we end up with what most people would call a language, as opposed to dialect. Is/was Latin a dialect? Sure, the dialect of Rome. Is/was Latin a language? Sure, in two ways: 1) totally banal: all dialects are languages, i.e. speech types with a grammar (regardless of whether anyone has written down the grammar, of course); 2) politically engendered: Romans succeeded in making a form of their speech the standard over a large geographical area for a long time span. More interesting, perhaps, than the language/dialect distinction, is the dialect/variant distinction. There seem to be two uses of dialect floating around. One is pretty much the same as the (North American) popular understanding: dialect=variant, and always implied is the idea "dialect of X". In this view the stereotypical speech of, say, Baltimore, Chicago and New Orleans represents three dialects of North American English. In the other usage, dialect and variant (or variety) are kept separate as terms. The linguistic situation of Italy may be a good example for illustration, comparing to North American English. There is such a thing as Standard Italian, studied in school, used in various publications, heard on radio and TV, and used by a large number of people. There are also local varieties of this, the Italian of Rome, of Florence, of Milan, Venice, etc. But natives of the country, linguists as well as laypersons, do not refer to these as dialects, but as regional Italians (l'italiano regionale di X). For there exists a linguistic type missing from the North American English situation: local languages with grammars distinct from Italian, not in any way descended from the standard or its regional varieties, but cognate to them, descended from the Latin which, presumably, once covered the Peninsula in the way that Italian does today. These are called the dialects of Italy (i dialetti d'Italia) , or the Italian dialects (i dialetti italiani). "Dialect of ..." doesn't make much sense in this situation (unless it's "modern dialect of Latin", which makes sense, but which in turn can't distinguish between the local language of a tiny village and the national languages of Italy, France, etc., modern dialects of Latin which ended up with armies and navies). FN-- Now, I really should mention that there have been and are local movements muddying the waters, usually allied to achieving some measure of political autonomy. It's going on in Sardinia right now (and in Corsica, vis-a-vis France): an attempt to create a standard (a limba sarda 'the Sardinian language') out of a chosen dialect. If it ever works, linguists will no doubt go along with it and call the new standard 'the Sardinian language', but with full knowledge of its humble origins (as also of Florentine-derived Standard Italian). Enough. Hope this helps a little bit. One point to draw from all this may be that the concept of dialect varies according to the linguistic situation in which it is employed. Tom Cravens firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:3>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Jul 1 11:58:48 1995 Date: Sat, 01 Jul 1995 12:58:38 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: July 1 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro JULY 1 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1646: GOTTFRIED WILHELM LEIBNIZ is born at Leipzig, Germany. One of the most brilliant and wide-ranging scholars of his age, Leibniz will be best remembered by future generations for his work in mathematics and philosophy, but his writings will span genealogy, history, jurisprudence, geology, and linguistics as well: "The study of languages must not be conducted according to any other principles but those of the exact sciences. Why begin with the unknown instead of the known? It stands to reason that we ought to begin with studying the modern languages which are within our reach, in order to compare them with one another, to discover their differences and affinities, and then to proceed to those which have preceded them in former ages, in order to show their filiation and their origin, and then to ascend step by step to the most ancient tongues, the analysis of which must lead us to the only trustworthy conclusions." 1858: CHARLES LYELL and JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER present three short papers by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace before the meeting of the Linnean Society at London, addressing their introduction to the Society's secretary, John Joseph Bennett: My Dear Sir, -- The accompanying papers, which we have the honour of communicating to the Linnean Society, and which all relate to the same subject, viz. the Laws which affect the Production of Varieties, Races, and Species, contain the results of the investigations of two indefatigable naturalists, Mr. Charles Darwin and Mr. Alfred Wallace. These gentlemen having, independently and unknown to one another, conceived the same very ingenious theory to account for the appearance and perpetuation of varieties and of specific forms on our planet, may both fairly claim the merit of being original thinkers in this important line of inquiry; but neither of them having published his views, though Mr. Darwin has for many years past been repeatedly urged by us to do so, and both authors having now unreservedly placed their papers in our hands, we think it would best promote the interests of science that a selection from them should be laid before the Linnean Society. Taken in order of their dates, they consist of: -- 1. Extracts from a MS. work on Species, by Mr. Darwin, which was sketched in 1839, and copied in 1844, when the copy was read by Dr. Hooker, and its contents afterwards communicated to Sir Charles Lyell. The first Part is devoted to "The Variation of Organic Beings under Domestication and in the Natural State;" and the second chapter of that Part, from which we propose to read to the Society the extracts referred to, is headed, "On the Variation of Organic Beings in a state of Nature; on the Natural Means of Selection; on the Comparison of Domestic Races and true Species." 2. An abstract of a private letter addressed to Professor Asa Gray, of Boston, U.S., in October 1857, by Mr. Darwin, in which he repeats his views, and which shows that these remained unaltered from 1839 to 1857. 3. An Essay by Mr. Wallace, entitled "On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type." This was written at Ternate in February 1858, for the perusal of his friend and correspondent Mr. Darwin, and sent to him with the expressed wish that is should be forwarded to Sir Charles Lyell, if Mr. Darwin thought it sufficiently novel and interesting. So highly did Mr. Darwin appreciate the value of the views therein set forth, that he proposed, in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, to obtain Mr. Wallace's consent to allow the Essay to be published as soon as possible. Of this step we highly approved, provided Mr. Darwin did not withhold from the public, as he was strongly inclined to do (in favour of Mr. Wallace), the memoir which he had himself written on the same subject, and which, as before stated, one of us had perused in 1844, and the contents of which we had both of us been privy to for many years. On representing this to Mr. Darwin, he gave us permission to make what use we thought proper of his memoir, &c.; and in adopting our present course, of presenting it to the Linnean Society, we have explained to him that we are not solely considering the relative claims to priority of himself and his friend, but the interests of science generally; for we feel it to be desirable that views founded on a wide deduction from facts, and matured by years of reflection, should constitute at once a goal from which others may start, and that while the scientific world is waiting for the appearance of Mr. Darwin's complete work, some of the leading results of his labours, as well as those of his able correspondent, should together be laid before the public. We have the honour to be yours very obediently, Charles Lyell Jos. D. Hooker Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to firstname.lastname@example.org or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:4>From email@example.com Sun Jul 2 17:35:28 1995 Date: Sun, 2 Jul 1995 15:34:17 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Anton Sherwood) To: email@example.com Subject: language vs dialect Tom Cravens wrote: > . . . . Attributed to various linguists is the dictum > "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy". . . . It is often quoted, but only once have I seen it attributed: to Max Weinreich (1894-1969). Who else has been blamed? -- I have heard that if you walk from Austria to the Netherlands, or from Portugal to Calabria, you find no sharp language borders but rather an accumulation of small differences in dialect. (I refer here to the vernacular, of course, not official or learned speech.) Will hypertext make posible a new kind of reference grammar, able to portray the two-dimensional Romance and West Germanic complexes in their full glory, replacing the paradigm of isolated standard languages? Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\* DASher@netcom.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:5>From jacobsk@ERE.UMontreal.CA Mon Jul 3 07:35:21 1995 From: jacobsk@ERE.UMontreal.CA (Ken JACOBS) Subject: Re: Languages and dialects, species and subspecies To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Mon, 3 Jul 1995 08:34:02 -0400 (EDT) Having stumbled into (over?) this thread rather late in its development, I wonder whether anyone yet has cited the standard, "a language is a dialect with an army"? The essence being, as I at least took it to be, that the greater the geopolitical/military significance (in the eyes of the beholder) of the people(s) speaking a dialect, the more likely would their `dialect' be seen as a true language. Which, as I think of it, is no less of a slippery definition than the "X% interfertility" standard on the biological scale. Happy 4th from the Great White North. Ken Jacobs Anthropologie U de Montreal _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:6>From email@example.com Mon Jul 3 10:39:32 1995 Date: Mon, 3 Jul 1995 08:39:17 -0700 (PDT) From: Stephen Straker <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Jeremy <email@example.com> Cc: Darwin List <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu>, firstname.lastname@example.org, "John B. Ahouse" <email@example.com> Subject: Re: evolution and creationism Coming into this discussion a little late, I wish to suggest an idea that has made much sense to me lately. In the midst of all these problems about teaching and knowing, wouldn't it make alot of sense simply to teach the HISTORY of ideas, work, and evidence concerning "species" from, say, 1750 to the present?? If this were done well, students would get to know "all" about evolution, what it really is, the various theories about how it happens, as well as all about the many different kinds of "creationist" hypotheses -- and then would have the whole business in perspective. I don't know how much time teachers have for these things at the various levels, but if science teachers were somehow required to KNOW the histories of the various sciences they teach (as well as to have some sophistication in philosophy of science), they would certainly be better science teachers. I know there's alot of debate and discussion about HPS in science teaching. I think this "problem" of creationism and evolution is exactly the kind of problem where good history of science would help alot -- not to avoid the issues but to clarify all and get them in perspective. Stephen Straker firstname.lastname@example.org Arts One // History (604) 822-6863 or -3430 // -5173 or -2561 Vancouver, BC (604) 734-4464 or 733-6638 Canada V6T 1Z1 FAX (604) 822-4520 _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:7>From email@example.com Mon Jul 3 18:27:51 1995 Date: Mon, 3 Jul 1995 19:27:52 -0400 To: Darwin List <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy) Subject: Re: teaching the Hx of evolution >Coming into this discussion a little late, I wish to suggest an idea >that has made much sense to me lately. In the midst of all these >problems about teaching and knowing, wouldn't it make alot of sense >simply to teach the HISTORY of ideas, work, and evidence concerning >"species" from, say, 1750 to the present?? I like Stephen's idea of teaching evolution by rehearsing the history. I see three issues to be overcome if we were to follow his lead. 1. The worry from the historians will be; how do we do this without tilting completely to the victors (especially in Science class). i.e. how do we avoid the modernist exercise of telling a story of individual decontextualized heros who build steadily to our current (e.g. best) understanding. 2. The problem for the creationists is that this telling will (apropriately) marginalize them even further as historical defenders of the faith against evolution were probably a bit more sophisticated than the current crop. Check out these pages for a flavor of what it looks like today: ftp://calvin.edu/pub/chemistry/ASA/ASA.html http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/crs/crs-home.html http://www.usit.net/public/capo/capohome.html 3. We are up against O'Hara's 'archipelago' problem; namely that his students won't even look up unfamiliar words when reading. I take this to be surrogate measure of their level of interest and attention span. Adding a short history of evolutionary ideas in a course that may already be full of important ideas may overburden these (island-less) students. Now we are up to 5 (by my count) different solutions that either soften the tension between evolutionism and creationism OR explain why we must walk into this conflict especially cautiously: >> 1. no-domain-overlap: ... >> 2. God as Descartes'-deceiver: ... >> 3. Psychological denial: It was suggested that students can keep a >> stock of factoids in their heads (enough to pass exams) but that this >> knowledge is kept at a distance from actual ownership... 4. the 'archipelago' problem: ... 5. sacred pedestals: S.J. Gould's column in Natural History (7/95) suggests that our own sense of self importance blocks our ability to embrace evolutionary theories. (I wish that I could include the graphic that accompanies Gould's article, it captures my feelings well. Please go look it up. Call Number: QH1 N13) - Jeremy __________________________________________________________ Jeremy Creighton Ahouse Biology Dept. Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 (617)736-4954 Lab 736-2405 FAX email@example.com _ _ /\\ ,'/| "But oh, beamish nephew, _| |\-'-'_/_/ beware of the day, __--'/` \ If your Snark be a Boojum! For then / \ You will softly and suddenly / "o. |o"| vanish away, | \/ And never be met with again!" \_ ___\ - L. Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark `--._`. \;// ;-.___,' / ,' _-' You may use PGP to send me private email. My public key is available by fingering my account. Information about PGP encryption can be found on the web at http://web.mit.edu/network/pgp.html _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:8>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Tue Jul 4 00:26:58 1995 Date: Tue, 04 Jul 1995 01:26:48 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: July 4 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro JULY 4 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1795 (200 years ago today): KARL EDUARD IVANOVICH EICHWALD is born at Mitau, Latvia. Following study of science and medicine at a number of European universities, Eichwald will take his doctorate in medicine at the University of Vilnius in Lithuania in 1819, and will work for a time as a physician. Successive teaching appointments at the Universities of Dorpat, Kazan, and Vilnius will widen his experience in zoology, botany, and paleontology, and he will eventually take up a teaching post in St. Petersburg in 1838, remaining there for the rest of his career. Eichwald will become one of the leading paleontologists of Russia, and will make substantial contributions to the development of a geologic column for eastern Europe. His monumental _Lethaea Rossica ou Paleontologie de la Russie_, a comprehensive synthesis of Russian paleontology, will appear over the course of fifteen years beginning in 1853. Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to email@example.com or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:9>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Jul 4 02:30:13 1995 Date: Tue, 4 Jul 1995 09:27:56 +0200 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Evolution and Catholics On Thu, 29 Jun 1995, Charbel Nino El-Mani <email@example.com> wrote : (...) >I think that creationism is stronger in USA because, historically, US >religious formation is related to christian fundamentalism. In Brazil, >catholic church was far more important than protestant ones (which are >now in expansion. Creationism in the horizon?...). It seems catholic >church was not so dedicated to combat evolution. Am I right, or is this a >kind of false impression, arising from the fact that post-darwinian >debates in England were between fundamentalist protestant christians and >evolutionists? > >Charbel Nino El-Hani >Institute of Biology, Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. It seems to me that in the catholic church there is a more open view on science, at least since the 18th or 19th century. Last century, the official timetable of the _Universitas_Catholica_Lovaniensis_ started with the date of creation of the World, as this was taken at the time from a literal reading of the Genesis. However, after the publication of _The_Origin_of_Species_, much debate arose, and Darwinism was officially reconciled with theology, as - for example - the Catholic University of Louvain sent an envoy to the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the publication of _The_Origin_of_Species_. Canon Henry de Dorlodot, Professor of Geology and Paleontology, subsequently published in 1921 a book entitled "Le Darwinisme au point de vue de l'orthodoxie catholique" (Darwinism from the Catholic Orthodoxy Point of View). In this book, it is shown how many references to evolution are found in the Scriptures and in the writings of Saints and Fathers of the Church. Many priests, and particularly jesuits, were important in the development of paleontology as a science, such as Theilard de Chardin. In Louvain, the laboratory of paleontology was directed until recently by Fr Prof Bone, S.J. I may be wrong or oversimplifying, but I think that scientific research is encouraged in the catholic church as a way of knowing more about God, through His creation, but also for its own sake as a quest for knowledge and understanding of the world for the good of human beings. I can thus only agree with Eugenie C. Scott <firstname.lastname@example.org>, who wrote on Fri, 30 Jun 1995 : (...) >Thank your for your information on Brazil. There is indeed a big >difference between Catholic theology and Protestant fundamentalism >regarding evolution. Perhaps it is the influence of Teilhard de Chardin >(doubtless others, too!) but official Catholic doctrine is not hostile to >evolution. Maybe the word "official" is important here: a hierarchical >institution like the Catholic church, which sets theology from on high, >is in a better position to control the beliefs than the more >congregational organization of most Protestantism. Some conflicting views remained, as to the importance of Natural Selection in the evolution of humanity, but these tend to be resolved now in a separation of theological and paleontologicical research. Nobody asks whether Neanderthal man had a soul or not! Here are three refs which discuss these subjects : Bowler, P.J. 1989 Evolution: The History of an Idea. University of California Press, Berkeley, 432 pp. de Dorlodot, H. 1921. Le Darwinisme au point de vue de l'orthodoxie catholique. Premier volume : L'origine des especes. Collection Lovanium, Vromant, Bruxelles, 193 pp. Lack, D. 1957. Evolutionary Theory and Christian Blief. Methuen, London, 128 pp. Best wishes, Gabriel =========================================================== Gabriel NEVE o o Unite d'Ecologie et de Biogeographie \ / Universite Catholique de Louvain *** Y *** Croix du Sud 5 * * I * * B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve * *I* * Belgium * *I* * * * I * * EMAIL: NEVE@ECOL.UCL.AC.BE *** *** Fax : +32/10/473490 Tel at work : +32/10/473495 at home : +32 10 61 62 36 =========================================================== _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:10>From email@example.com Tue Jul 4 06:36:45 1995 Date: Tue, 4 Jul 1995 07:36:35 -0400 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Donald Phillipson) To: email@example.com Subject: Bible vs. evolution Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Peter Simons (email@example.com) asked firstname.lastname@example.org from Salzburg June 22 : Is anti-evolutionism only American? since when there have been particularly interesting comments by Eugenie Scott, Ian Lowe &c. LATE B.C. NEWS FOR Eugenie Scott who wrote June 26: > Canadian law, I am informed, is not as clear on this issue as > the US Constitution's First Amendment....our BC liaison has a controversy on > his hands over the school district of Abbottsford which has had since 1983 > an "equal time" for creation and evolution provision in its > regulations. It is currently being challenged by the BC Minister of > education. The British Columbia Schools Act forbids religious instruction in public schools. The BC minister of education therefore ordered the Abbotsford school board to delete all mention of non-evolutionary theories from its local biology curriculum guide, which specified (since 1983) equal time pro and con. Resistance in Abbotsford is led by a school board chairman who also teaches at a small evangelical college, and there are several thriving fundamentalist congregations in the town. The minister has the power to write the curriculum guidelines himself, but has given Abbotsford until September to draft material that conforms to the Schools Act. The first attempt directed teachers to allow non-biological explanations, to allow debate of (unspecified) theories, and to respect students' views without showing a preference for any one theory. Minister Charbonneau vetoed this as attempting to introduce creationism without naming it. He has been reported as saying: "The religious right in the States is exerting considerable political power through seizing hold at the local level. If we have here a situation where the religious right thinks they are able to seize hold of a portion of the public school system in BC, they will be disapppointed, because I will not let that happen." GENERALLY I suggest that anti-evolutionism is a peculiarly American phenomenon but not a primary one. It is derived from other institutions that are peculiarly American: biblical literalism and a multiplicity of dissenting Christian denominations that compete for members but share the same theology and politics. You do not find in other countries nearly the same intensity of Biblical literalism or the sheer number of independent Protestant denominations, let alone their being intimately associated. So you do not find in other countries the Bible-based opposition to evolution that is characteristic of the USA today. (Of course, the world-wide permeation of US culture in the last 100-150 years has blurred this picture.) Elements of Americanism seem to include: 1. Reverence for the printed word. This was normal in Europe centuries ago, where literacy and books were rare, but much less so since they became abundant (by steam printing and compulsory schooling in the 19th century). Perhaps because of its recent "frontier" tradition, reverence for the printed word seems much stronger in the USA today than elsewhere: i.e. in debate, Americans suggest more often than other people that a single book on a topic of argument settles the matter decisively. (Current literary and intellectual fashion, be it observed, has swung to an antipodal opposite. Post-modernism and deconstruction do not suggest generally that no single book can settle any subject: they suggest that the meaning of a book is never what it literally says, or that no book has any meaning at all. This suggests a quasi-religious conversion to the opposite of the received wisdom, of reverence for the printed word.) 2. American history and the American constitution combine to support better than European countries the emergence of a multiplicity of independent Christian congregations -- and even a few genuinely non-Christian religions, most obviously the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints, Christian Science, and Scientology. It is, however, noticeable that these are all scripture-oriented religions, whether their book is the Bible or something else. It is a pleasant paradox that all these (including the non-Christian ones) fit in so well with the American tradition that they coexist peacefully and form successful alliances (the "Moral Majority") without losing their independence, which tends to confirm the congregational or dissenting strand in American history and culture. The many American sects are politically secure, i.e. each is recognized by the state and general society (viz. their ministers allowed to perform marriages, the churches enjoying tax-exempt status etc.) so they can afford to be liberal about each other. None proclaims (as the Catholic church used to) that there is "no salvation outside our (one true) church." This political liberality is unrelated to theology. Some sects in the recent past maintained strict race segregation (and could cite Biblical support for it) but this did not inhibit their collaborating with Negro branches of their churches when it was to their mutual advantage. Similarly, some sects interpret such Biblical elements as kosher food regulations to proscribe such modern practices as blood transfusion -- but the American tradition of polymorphous tolerance allows individuals to vary their behavior without impeaching their beliefs or theology, or supposing non-members of the sect ought to follow the same rules. (Opposition to abortion may be the principal exception to this.) 3. So few ordained and licensed American Protestant clergymen read any other language than English that monolingualism sustains a characteristic American Protestant attitude to the Bible. In Europe until very recently, theological training before ordination required some knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew. European pastors usually knew the Bible in two or more languages, and were familiar with its origins as a human compilation (of the 3rd or 4th century) and a translation, not put into English, German, etc. until the Renaissance. Protestants since Luther have valued Bible study more than the authority of popes and bishops: so that Bible knowledge is much more important in all the Protestant denominations than it is in Catholic faith and practice. The Anglican liturgy is so organized as to read the whole Bible aloud every year (the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice) in the two "Lessons" of every Matins and Evensong. In principle, even an illiterate would thus come to know the Bible well, if he were a faithful churchgoer. The Catholic hierarchy has always encouraged priests to reread Bible and breviary, but never set out to expose the congregation to every word of the Bible on a systematic basis. I believe many American denominational leaders (such as the founders of the Mormon and Jehovah's Witnesses denominations) had no academic training in theology, and knew no language but English, and were for that reason more likely to interpret the English Bible literally, as a divine gift verbatim -- and to feel threatened by any form of contradiction, whether a non-literal interpretation of the Bible or the argument that, as a document written by men over 1,000 years, its contents had to be interpreted in relation to those times. Comparisons with Judaism and Islam might be interesting, since these two world religions are also scripture-oriented. Although Judaism and Christianity both use the same Old Testament, Bible-based anti-evolutionism seems much rarer in Judaism than in American Protestantism; i.e. Judaism seems more like European Protestantism in that respect. Since Islam gives unique status to Arabic, as the language in which God dictated the Koran, it would be interesting to know whether Islamic fundamentalists react to evolutionism the same way as Christman fundamentalists. One indicator of modern liberalism is that it no longer seems important either that Roman Catholicism anathematized Darwinism at a certain date and later withdrew its condemnation. In the late 19th century Darwinism was so important that Roman doctrine mattered; in the early 20th, Roman doctrine was so important that its application to evolution mattered; but neither now in 1995, it seems. I've no idea how well they work, but there are nowadays Pontifical Academies of Science and whatnot, to help popes avoid painting themselves into unscientific corners as in the case of Galileo. It may be relevant that, while the liturgy and church structure of Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism are extremely similar, and the theology different only in isolated domains (papal doctrine and Mariology) the Anglican church never bet the whole farm for or against any particular point of science. I'd like to hear from Moslems what Koranic discussions of biology there might be, and how Islamic scholarship tends to approach evolution. A collateral inquiry might be how modern Calvinism relates its traditional doctrine of Predestination to science. It suggests to me (though formulated before Newton) a totally mechanistic world view, that did indeed predominate until this century but has now been contradicted by a variety of discoveries (from Einstein to Heisenberg to modern genetics.) (Core Anglican doctrine is the Thirty-Nine Articles, written in 1562, which every Anglican priest must sign before ordination. This lays down Trinitarian theological doctrine in some detail, e.g. that Jesus was the Son of God, born of a Virgin, crucified and resurrected etc., and says "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation," listing the Canonical books of the Bible, as well as the non-essential Apocrypha. Other articles deal with doctrinal points such as free will (contra Calvin), sin and forgiveness, salvation, predestination, etc. and church government, e.g. sacraments, authority of ministers, church synods, marriage of priests etc. None of the 39 Articles insists the Bible is literally true in every particular.) To sum up, we are used to associating Bible-based anti-evolutionism with "fundamentalism" or doctrinal rigidity. In America, however, I think Bible-based anti-evolutionism is also partly fuelled by doctrinal liberalism. The many US dissenting sects (and possibly Mormons, Christian Scientists etc.) swallow their political and doctrinal differences to agree to the Constitutional separation of church and state while (for example) endorsing that Congress's daily deliberations should begin with a prayer by a recognized minister of religion, political parties should hold "prayer breakfasts," and so on. This works in America because all denominations stand on an equal footing, regardless of their size, theology, church structure, and so on -- the obvious confirmation being the acceptance of such non-Christian religions as Mormonism and Scientology on a par with Roman Catholicism and the Anglican episcopal church. Biblical literalism appears to be the reason why only in American religious discourse do the oldest anti-Darwinist arguments survive in the late 20th century, notably Bishop Usher's chronology (that the Creation took place in approx. 4000 BC, calculated from the generations of man from Adam to Jesus chronicled in the Bible) or Gosse's "omphalos" theory, discussed in Darwin-L last year. Gosse belonged to a fervent but very small Bible-oriented English dissenting sect called Plymouth Brethren, that probably survives to this day. (Incidentally, I question whether it is just to call the omphalos theory "anti-evolutionary" or antiscientific. It seems to me to aim very explicitly at reconciling pre-Darwinist signs of evolution with the divine word of the Bible. Of course it is unfalsifiable, which makes it "unavailable" to science -- where it is also not needed (cf. Ockham.) But it remains available to religion, because of its strong orientation towards valuing material science as the informed wonder and worship of the inventive mind of God. Even none of his books is nowadays read for pleasure, Gosse is on a continuum between the nature poets (obviously Wordsworth, Tennyson, etc. and possibly earlier Pope and others influenced by Newton -- and the anti-mechanistic Blake) and such contemporary writers as Hubert Reeves and many environmentalists. This is why the omphalos theory could still be practically useful at Abbotsford BC.) -- | Donald Phillipson, 4180 Boundary Rd., Carlsbad | | Springs, Ont., Canada K0A 1K0; tel: (613) 822-0734 | | "What I've always liked about science is its independence from | | authority"--Ontario Science Centre (name on file) 10 July 1981 | _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:11>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Wed Jul 5 00:10:11 1995 Date: Wed, 05 Jul 1995 01:09:57 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: July 5 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro JULY 5 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1795 (200 years ago today): ANTONIO DE ULLOA Y DE LA TORRE GIRAL dies at Isla de Leon, Cadiz, Spain. A naval officer and explorer, Ulloa travelled to America in the 1730s and 1740s to conduct navigational research under the auspices of the Paris Academy of Sciences. The results of his expedition, _Relacion historica del viaje a la America meridional_, were published in Madrid in 1748. Ulloa played an important role in the establishment of the royal natural history collection at Cadiz in 1752, and his extensive service in Spain's American colonies led to the further publication of _Noticias americanas: Entretenimiento fisico-historico sobre America meridional y septentrional-oriental_ in Madrid in 1772. Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to firstname.lastname@example.org or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:12>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu Wed Jul 5 16:27:28 1995 Date: Wed, 05 Jul 95 16:27 CDT From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu> Subject: Re: language vs dialect To: email@example.com Anton Sherwood asks who other than Max Weinreich has been blamed/ credited with the saying "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy". I've heard at least two other sources given, Fred Householder and Charles Hockett. Anton: do you have a precise reference to the Weinreich quote? Tom Cravens firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:13>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Thu Jul 6 20:57:56 1995 Date: Thu, 06 Jul 1995 21:57:42 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Analogues of the species/subspecies//language/dialect problem? To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro There are obviously a great many similarities between species and subspecies on the one hand, and languages and dialects on the other, as we have been discussing. The boundaries of these different entities are often fuzzy because they are products of historical descent, and the problems they manifest are very different from simple classificatory problems where history is irrelevant (such as deciding whether some particular color is an instance of the class "red" or the class "yellow".) Can anyone think of any other disciplines that deal with entities that have these same characteristics/problems, disciplines other than linguistics and systematics? What have geologists had to say (in a philosophical vein) about "formations", "members" and the like; anything? (Of course these entities aren't populational in the way that species and languages are.) Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org; http://rjohara.uncg.edu) Center for Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:14>From email@example.com Thu Jul 6 21:37:37 1995 Date: Thu, 6 Jul 1995 19:36:25 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Anton Sherwood) To: email@example.com Subject: Re: language vs dialect Tom Cravens reasonably asks: > Anton: do you have a precise reference to > the Weinreich quote? Alas, no. *\\* Anton Ubi scriptum? _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:15>From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Jul 7 05:54:06 1995 Date: Fri, 7 Jul 1995 12:56:59 +0200 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter Simons) Subject: Historical entities with fuzzy boundaries Alongside organisms and languages, what about stars, galaxies, other astronomical objects? They have histories, they begin, change and end, they fall into different classes or types, and the boundaries between types are unsharp. There are big differences of course, but... Peter Simons email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:16>From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Jul 7 09:50:27 1995 Date: Fri, 7 Jul 1995 07:50:18 -0700 (PDT) From: Scott DeLancey <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: language vs dialect On Wed, 5 Jul 1995, Tom Cravens wrote: > Anton Sherwood asks who other than Max Weinreich has been blamed/ > credited with the saying "A language is a dialect with an army and > a navy". I've heard at least two other sources given, Fred Householder > and Charles Hockett. Anton: do you have a precise reference to > the Weinreich quote? That's Uriel Weinreich, isn't it? Thats the source most people seem to agree on, but my impression is that he *said* it, not *wrote* it, so there isn't a cite to give. (I've heard several other sources named, starting with Sapir, but Weinreich is the name that keeps coming up from folks who might know. Very definitely not Householder (I was a grad student at Indiana while Householder was still there, and oral tradition preserved his bon mots; that wasn't one of them). Hockett sounds very unlikely too. Scott DeLancey email@example.com Department of Linguistics University of Oregon Eugene, OR 97403, USA _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:17>From CHODGES@OREGON.UOREGON.EDU Fri Jul 7 11:21:20 1995 Date: Fri, 07 Jul 1995 09:21:08 -0700 (PDT) From: CHODGES@OREGON.UOREGON.EDU Subject: Chauncey Wright and Evolution To: DARWIN-L <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Charlie Hodges here; I've just skimmed through Edward H. Madden's book (1963) _Chauncey Wright and the Foundations of Pragmatism_ and decided to take a closer look at some of Wright's essays on evolution. In particular, I'm interested in the following essays: "The Philosophy of Herbert Spencer", "Limits of Natural Selections", "Evolution by Natural Selection", "The Genesis of Species", and "Evolution of Self-Consciousness" from the volume edited by Charles Eliot Norton (1878) _Philosophical Discussions by Chauncey Wright_. According to Madden, Darwin was favorably inclined toward "Limits of Natural Selection" and had "The Genesis of Species" privately reprinted and distributed in England. I am an archaeology graduate student with a rapidly growing interest in selectionist approaches to archaeological explanation. My problem is that I haven't done philosophical analysis since I was an undergraduate and I would like some guidance to help me approach Wright. My feeling is that Wright, since he is writing about natural selection before the synthesis with genetics, might be very appropriate in an archaeological context where trait transmission is not necessarily (or at least not obviously) controlled by genes. Anyway, if someone would be willing to share with me their views on Wright's arguments, even if superficially, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Charles Hodges firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:18>From email@example.com Fri Jul 7 14:25:11 1995 Date: Fri, 07 Jul 1995 12:22:30 -0700 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Richard Meyer) Subject: species/language To: email@example.com On parallels 'twixt species/subspecies and language/dialect: While I have enjoyed following the dialogue, are we perhaps in both cases talking about nothing? Sure, Mayr and others have given us a definition of species based on reproductive isolation, but we really don't know how to apply or test that notion. So if we must define species, say it is what a competent taxonomist says it is and don't try to impose unproven characteristics on what you observe in nature. It sounds like the linguists are saying the same thing about language and dialect. When you really try to find "living" proof of a distinction, it disappears. Both species and language are simply words, and what we think they mean are mental constructs only hypothetically applicable to the real world. I think Bob O', for all his virtues, is conferring undeserved credibility to the notion of reproductive isolation in the framing of the comparative look at species and language. I will grant that individual organisms do reproduce with the passage of time, and that what we perceive as "kinds" of organisms persist over time and thus have a history. In like manner, socially-connected people talk to each other, and we perceive kinds of talk that persist over time and thus have a history. But we should take care to distinguish real things like organisms and talk from abstract perceptions like species and language. Richard Meyer Department of Biological Sciences Humboldt State University Arcata, CA 95521 phone 707/826-3245, fax 707/826-3201, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:19>From email@example.com Fri Jul 7 16:00:21 1995 From: Mary P Winsor <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: species definition To: email@example.com (bulletin board) Date: Fri, 7 Jul 1995 16:59:59 -0400 (EDT) I am doing a tiny bit of research on a famous (or infamous) 1925 lecture by C. Tate Regan, ichthyologist at British Museum, where he defines a species as whatever a competent taxonomist chooses to call a species (really he said "A species is a community [which he defined as `a number of similar individuals that live together and breed together'], or a number of related communities, whose distinctive morphological characters are, in the opinion of a competent systematist, sufficiently definite to entitle it, or them, to a specific name." Some of us will be discussing species definitions at the International Soc. for History, Philos., and Social Studies of Biology meeting in Belgium in a few weeks. We know this is an area of eternal strife and confusion, and I doubt this group would find it rewarding. But Tate Regan's approach reminded me of the language-as-dialect-with-army-and-navy idea. Is there an analogue, that is, has the distinction between mere dialect and full-fledged language been defined as "whatever is distinct enough that a compete linguist has called it a language"?? Polly Winsor firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:20>From email@example.com Sat Jul 8 08:37:55 1995 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Species, languages, ... what else Date: Sat, 08 Jul 1995 09:42:04 EDT From: Joshua Lederberg <email@example.com> <<<<<< Can anyone think of any other disciplines that deal with entities that have these same characteristics/problems, disciplines other than linguistics and systematics? Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Date: Thu, 06 Jul 1995 21:57:42 -0400 (EDT) >>>>>>> Fritz Zwicky's Morphological Astronomy, and Martin Harwit's Astrophysical Concepts are interesting treatments of the problems of classification in astronomy. But if you want interesting analogies, I think you want to go beyond material classifications. As suggested: species/languages have a history (evolve) and the units interact with one another in an interesting way that reflects that history. It is hard for me to think of inanimate objects that would have that property; though of course that reflects a subjective judgment of what's interesting. The units might be (bio)molecules, cells, organisms, sets of organisms, and their issue like ideas [embracing language]. You've already put your finger on one manifestation, namely "disciplines" themselves; and their reflections in the classification of ideas, books [Dewey decimal e.g.]. Histogenesis tends to have less fuzzy boundaries than species, but the lymphoid system can well be described as a zoo. Ask what are the boundaries of an organism, when you contemplate syncytia, symbioses. There is something rather special about language, with linguistic interaction and evolution feeling rather like interbreeding as a way to sustain the coherence and identity of the complex. and geographic and other isolating mechanisms (class) likely to lead to speciation. and all the nice metaphors of mutation and recombination. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:21>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu Sat Jul 8 12:32:05 1995 Date: Sat, 08 Jul 95 12:31 CDT From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu> Subject: Re: species/language To: firstname.lastname@example.org I know naught of species, but if I've grasped his point, I think Richard Meyer essentially is correct regarding the language/dialect question: it's a pseudo-problem. That is, (preface everything with 'it seems to me'; I can't pretend to speak for everyone in a field as divided and contentious as linguistics) we can quibble endlessly over the definitions of language vs. dialect, but to little practical purpose, for nothing--or at least very little--scientific hinges crucially on the usage. Even the semi-technical use of 'dialect' in the example of Italy's linguistic situation is really just short-hand for something like 'local language not derived from the national standard'. The distinctions observed in popular usage (cf. 'mere dialect' vs. 'full- fledged language') seem to be defined not linguistically in any cogent way, but by socio-political success, e.g. something along the lines of a language being written, or having a codified prescribed grammar, or being the instrument of a great literature, or--armies and navies again-- being the enforced or accepted standard of a political entity. While such success or lack thereof is certainly of interest to speakers, and excellent grist for the sociolinguistic mill, ranked status is of little interest itself in the world of nuts-and-bolts linguistic analysis. (Putting aside the practical interest of finding funding for research--a very complex socio-political can of worms!) Tom Cravens email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:22>From prsdrhs@UCHIMVS1.UCHICAGO.EDU Sat Jul 8 19:45:48 1995 Date: Sat, 08 Jul 1995 19:45 -0600 (CST) From: Dick Schmitt <prsdrhs@UCHIMVS1.UCHICAGO.EDU> Subject: Analogues To: firstname.lastname@example.org > Can anyone think of any other disciplines that deal with entities that have > these same characteristics/problems, disciplines other than linguistics and > systematics? What about Max Weber's historical/sociological "ideal types", especially the "elective affinity" between the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism? Of course that has generated an extensive critical literature, generation after generation, but much of it has misinterpreted what Weber was up to, often as some simplistic causal relation. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:23>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Jul 8 23:11:30 1995 Date: Sun, 09 Jul 1995 00:11:12 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Species and languages, armies and navies, and nominalism To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Regarding species and languages Richard Meyer writes: >I will grant that individual organisms do reproduce with the passage of >time, and that what we perceive as "kinds" of organisms persist over time >and thus have a history. In like manner, socially-connected people talk >to each other, and we perceive kinds of talk that persist over time and >thus have a history. But we should take care to distinguish real things >like organisms and talk from abstract perceptions like species and >language. And Tom Cravens replies: >I think Richard Meyer essentially is correct regarding the >language/dialect question: it's a pseudo-problem. That is...we can >quibble endlessly over the definitions of language vs. dialect, but to >little practical purpose, for nothing -- or at least very little -- >scientific hinges crucially on the usage. I probably agree with Richard more that he may think I do here. I tend to regard "the species problem" in systematics as something of a pseudo- problem also, just as Tom regards the language/dialect problem. It is a problem only when we ask the species (or subspecies, etc.) that systematists recognize to play more precise roles in our work than they are able to. The situation is like that presented by cartography in many ways: if I want to know how many bodies of water there are in North Carolina I can just look at a map and count them up: one, two, three, etc. But if I then go out and walk around in the world I may discover that there is a little stream running through the UNCG campus that wasn't on the map, and so my count of bodies of water was incorrect. Do I then go and say that the map was wrong and worthless? Not at all; the map represented the space in question to a certain level of detail, and if I was expecting it to tell me all bodies of water including streams 3' wide then I wasn't being realistic in my expectations. Similarly, if I ask "How many species of parulid warblers are there?" and one "map" tells me 115 and another tells me 120, I shouldn't be too disturbed. What I should then ask is, "What is the consequence to my theory/paper/conclusion/policy if the question can't be answered more precisely than this?", because it may be that it cannot. I've explored this cartographic analogy in one of my own papers; people interested in the topic might find some useful ideas there: O'Hara, R. J. 1993. Systematic generalization, historical fate, and the species problem. _Systematic Biology_, 42:231-246. There is an interesting political aspect to this issue, of course: if one has laws that protect species (but not subpecies), then it becomes important to governments and policy makers to be able to decide whether any particular population is a species or a subpecies. American linguists would probably find that if the US Congress were to pass a law that somehow protected endangered languages, but did not protect "mere" dialects, a lot of people would suddenly start talking about the language/dialect distinction. They might not make any particularly novel contribution to the topic nor solve it, but more discussion would arise. Richard's original comment leads me to ask another question, however. The strong version of Richard's position is usually called the "nominalist" view of species: species as such don't really exist in nature, only individuals exist; we humans may invent species names, but these are just convenient labels for our own use, and don't actually reflect some real thing in nature. Here is the question: has anyone ever proposed and defended a genuinely nominalist view of languages, i.e. that there really aren't any languages as such, just individual speakers, and that what we call "languages" are just mental constructs for our own convenience? Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org; http://rjohara.uncg.edu) Center for Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:24>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Mon Jul 10 00:14:17 1995 Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 01:15:33 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: July 10 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro JULY 10 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1802: ROBERT CHAMBERS is born at Peebles, Scotland. He will become a popular and prolific writer and publisher, especially of works on Scottish character and history. Chambers will be best remembered, however, for his widely read and controversial _Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation_, which will be published anonymously in 1844. The _Vestiges_, "the first attempt to connect the natural sciences into a history of creation", will comprehensively trace the development of the human race, of animals and plants, the earth, and the cosmos as a whole: "if we could suppose a number of persons of various ages presented to the inspection of an intelligent being newly introducted into the world, we cannot doubt that he would soon become convinced that men had once been boys, that boys had once been infants, and, finally, that all had been brought into the world in exactly the same circumstances. Precisely thus, seeing in our astral system many thousands of worlds in all stages of formation, from the most rudimental to that immediately preceding the present condition of those we deem perfect, it is unavoidable to conclude that all the perfect have gone through the various stages which we see in the rudimental. This leads us at once to the conclusion that the whole of our firmament was at one time a diffused mass of nebulous matter, extending through the space which it still occupies. So also, of course, must have been the other astral systems. Indeed, we must presume the whole to have been originally in one connected mass, the astral systems being only the first division into parts, and solar systems the second." Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to firstname.lastname@example.org or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:25>From junger@pdj2-ra.F-REMOTE.CWRU.Edu Sun Jul 9 06:20:28 1995 Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 07:22:56 +0100 From: "Peter D. Junger" <junger@pdj2-ra.F-REMOTE.CWRU.Edu> Subject: Re: Species and languages, armies and navies, and nominalism To: email@example.com On Sun, 9 Jul 1995 Robert J. O'Hara <DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu> wrote: > Richard's original comment leads me to ask another question, however. The > strong version of Richard's position is usually called the "nominalist" view > of species: species as such don't really exist in nature, only individuals > exist; we humans may invent species names, but these are just convenient > labels for our own use, and don't actually reflect some real thing in > nature. Here is the question: has anyone ever proposed and defended a > genuinely nominalist view of languages, i.e. that there really aren't any > languages as such, just individual speakers, and that what we call > "languages" are just mental constructs for our own convenience? Doesn't the contrast between ``languages as such'' and ``individual speakers'' rather miss the mark? Leaving aside, for the moment, the possibility of speaking to oneself, is it not pretty clear that speaking--or language use, or whatever one chooses to call it--must involve more than one individual speaker? So would not the contrast be between ``languages as such'' and ``individual conversations''--or between ``languages as such'' and the communicative practices of a particular community, with the community itself being a construct whose members are the ``individual speakers''. But doesn't the fact that I often speak to myself suggest that I am not an ``individual speaker'', but rather a construct made of up, among other things, of individual acts of speaking? And once one realizes that, is one not well along on the path to realizing that there is nothing that we ever come across that is not exactly a construct? And isn't that path the path of the Buddha's teaching that everything is inextricably connected to and dependent upon everything else, so that there is no individual self or essence to be found? But rather than dwelling on such weighty matters, let me give you an example of another ``discipline''--now there's a real construct for you!--that can get upset over the issue of how one can tell one species from another. As I mentioned here a couple of years ago, I am interested in the evolution of the ``forms of action''--the various claims that one has to make if one is going to bring a valid law suit--in the common law system. I have noticed that at least one legal historian can get into a squabble--or perhaps only half of a squabble--over the issue of whether a fourteenth century writ is a writ of ``trespass on the case'' or of ``assumpsit''; the underlying issue being whether the modern action of ``assumpsit'' descended from the action ``on the case'' or whether there was an ancestral form of ``assumpsit'' that was contemporary with the original action ``on the case''. (At least I think that was what the issue is.) -- Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Bitnet: junger@cwru NOTE: firstname.lastname@example.org NO LONGER EXISTS _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:26>From email@example.com Sun Jul 9 11:20:25 1995 Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 09:21:45 -0700 (PDT) From: Timothy Hunt <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Analogues of the species/subspecies//language/dialect problem? On Thu, 6 Jul 1995 DARWIN@steffi.uncg.edu wrote: > Can anyone think of any other disciplines that deal with entities that have > these same characteristics/problems, disciplines other than linguistics and > systematics? > > Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Archaeology is a prime example of a discipline which has long struggled with the problems of unit construction in an historical science. Parsing the temporal and spatial continuum of the archaeological record into meaningful units with which to measure cultural change and social interaction has been a problematic (and often unexamined) endeavor since the inception of the discipline (Dunnell 1971,1986). Unit construction is of particular importance when using Darwinian approaches to the explanation of cultural change in prehistory: units which represent sets of interacting individuals must be defined within which variability can be tabulated into phenotypic frequencies, changes in which are explained by the use of evolutionary mechanisms. One of the biggest problems, of course, is identifying the appropriate scale for a particular empirical situation: what is the *individual*, what is the *deme* (Dunnell 1995)? The other problem is to isolate one set of interacting individuals from other sets (Lipo, et al 1995). The following references pertain to some of these issues. Dunnell, R. C. 1971 Systematics in Prehistory. New York; Free Press. (also WWW hypertext version available at: http://weber.u.washington.edu/~anthro/BOOK/book.html) Dunnell, R. C. 1986 Methodological Issues in Amercanist Artifact Classification. Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 9:149-207. Dunnell, R. C. 1995 What Is It That Actually Evolves? In, Evolutionary Archaeology, edited by P. A. Teltser, pp. 33-50. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. Lipo, C., M. Madsen, and T. Hunt 1995 Artifact Style Dynamics: Population Structure, Cultural Transmission, and Frequency Seriation. Papers and poster presented at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Minneapolis, MN, 2-5 May, 1995. (also WWW hypertext version available at: http://www.law.washington.edu/~madsen/saa/) ______________________________________________________________________________ Tim Hunt, Graduate Student Phone: (206)685-6970 Department of Anthropology, Box 353100 FAX: (206)543-3285 University of Washington Office: Denny Hall 421 Seattle, WA 98195 EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:27>From email@example.com Sun Jul 9 11:29:33 1995 Date: Sun, 9 Jul 1995 12:33:34 -0500 (GMT-0500) From: Andrew Burday <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Species and languages, armies and navies, and nominalism On Sun, 9 Jul 1995 DARWIN@steffi.uncg.edu wrote: > strong version of Richard's position is usually called the "nominalist" view > of species: species as such don't really exist in nature, only individuals > exist; we humans may invent species names, but these are just convenient > labels for our own use, and don't actually reflect some real thing in > nature. Here is the question: has anyone ever proposed and defended a > genuinely nominalist view of languages, i.e. that there really aren't any > languages as such, just individual speakers, and that what we call > "languages" are just mental constructs for our own convenience? Well, it's going to depend on what you mean by "languages as such". If you mean languages as public entities, used by many speaker/hearers but not defined in terms of any of them, then yeah, there are nominalists about language. One of them is a minor researcher called Noam Chomsky. Perhaps you're heard of him? ;*) Chomsky thinks that public languages are just abstractions from the grammatical knowledge of speakers. He endorses many of the points that have been made on the list about how political and normative issues make their way into the individuation of languages. In that sense, he does think that there are "no languages as such, just individual speaker[/hearer]s". However, he thinks that individuals' grammatical knowledge, realized as structures of their brains, is very much a part of the real world. Furthermore, he thinks there are facts as to which parts of a person's knowledge constitute knowledge of language. In that sense, he is not at all nominalist about language. The study of language is the study of a well-defined part of the human mind -- "ultimately", as he likes to say, the brain -- and as such is very much the study of something that exists in an observer-independent reality. So there definitely ARE languages; but they're internal to individuals. In the stronger sense of denying that there is any observer-independent thing that deserves to be called 'language', MAYBE the philosopher Donald Davidson has denied it. See his 'A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs', in _Truth and Interpretation_, ed. E. Lepore. However, it's not clear that Davidson is denying that there is any such thing as language, as opposed to denying that language is the kind of thing it has usually been taken to be. (I tend to think he is denying that there are languages. I think that denying the distinction between knowing a language and knowing one's way around in the world generally adds up to denying that there are languages. But the point could be -- has been, by my supervisor -- debated.) I don't know of any clear cases of denying that there is anything in nature that deserves to be called 'language'. There probably are some such cases. Arguably, some work in AI could be seen as doing that. Some AI workers seem to believe that there is no principled distinction to be made between knowing a language and knowing all sorts of arbitrary facts about the world. If that were combined with a dismissal of public languages, I guess it would add up to a complete denial of the existence of language as such. I'm a little out of my field here, though. Of course, there are all kinds of positions that get called 'nominalism'. I've been trying to limit myself to the position that O'Hara outlined. Getting into more global nominalisms -- in fact, just distinguishing the various flavors -- would take us off on a rather long tangent. Best, Andrew Burday firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:28>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu Mon Jul 10 20:05:55 1995 Date: Mon, 10 Jul 95 20:07 CDT From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu> Subject: Re: Species and languages, armies and navies, and nominalism To: email@example.com Let me follow up very briefly on Andrew Burday's excellent precis of Chomskyan beliefs in answer to Bob's question, with a (sort of caricatured, but not, I think, misleading) extreme version of the Chomskyan paradigm. Language exists, if it exists at all, only in the mind of the individual speaker. Chomsky distinguishes (reformulating a bit some terms of Saussure's) between *competence* (the speaker's linguistic knowledge, typically subconscious in the sense that a typical native speaker of English, for example, can't articulate what the difference is between 'say' and 'tell', but can produce results which illustrate the distinction) and *performance* (actual, real-world utterances, only faintly and imperfectly reflecting the speaker's linguistic knowledge). One way to look at it is that the first is language, the second is manifestations of language. Humans come into the world predisposed to speak human language. A good part of the natural, first-language acquisition of whatever language the child is exposed to is in part a process of sorting out what constraints on this universal human grammar are relevant to the particular language being acquired. Thus, in a sense -- this is stretching it, but not distorting enormously, I don't think -- the child is born with 'language', and only (!) needs to sort out which peculiarities are appropriate to the language of interest, i.e. the one being heard constantly. I think there may be two points in this which are relevant to the present discussion. Language as language faculty surely exists only within the individual (banal). And a particular language--English, Tagalog, whatever-- also exists only as a set of rules and constraints in the mind of the speaker. The second is a particular manifestation of the first, and what we hear is an implementation of the second. Language communities are groups of people which share very similar (probably never identical) language-particular grammars. Tom Cravens firstname.lastname@example.org Caveat: This is a watered-down personal interpretation of Chomskyan presuppositions, not necessarily reflective of what I hold to be justified. _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:29>From PTENGLOT@summon.syr.edu Fri Jul 14 07:53:44 1995 From: "Peter T. Englot (Graduate School)" <PTENGLOT@summon.syr.edu> Organization: Syracuse University To: email@example.com Date: Fri, 14 Jul 1995 08:54:45 EST5EDT Subject: Species/Languages Tom Cravens wrote about Chomsky's hypotheses on language: > I think there may be two points in this which are relevant to the present > discussion. Language as language faculty surely exists only within the > individual (banal). And a particular language--English, Tagalog, whatever-- > also exists only as a set of rules and constraints in the mind of the > speaker. The second is a particular manifestation of the first, and what > we hear is an implementation of the second. Language communities are > groups of people which share very similar (probably never identical) > language-particular grammars. To take Tom's post one step further (though I'm not sure I understand his use of the term "language faculty"): Chomsky's hypothesis about all human languages being variants of a single human language, or "grammar," seems to rest on the assumption that all humans share a genetic heritage. After all, the Chomskyan argument is that this grammar isgenetically encoded. How else would humans have arrived at the hypothesized present state of sharing a grammar, but by sharing a genetic heritage for that grammar? The counterproposal that the present state was reached through the separate evolution of identical grammars seems improbable statistically. I'm interested in reactions to this problem from those who study physical evidence of human evolution, as well as from linguists. Being relatively new to the list, I don't know whether or not this has been discussed before. If it has been, I apologize for raising it. Peter Englot Syracuse University PTENGLOT@SUMMON.SYR.EDU (315) 443-4492 "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made." Kant _______________________________________________________________________________ <23:30>From JMARKS@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu Fri Jul 14 08:36:31 1995 Date: Fri, 14 Jul 95 09:27:48 EDT From: Jon Marks <JMARKS@YaleVM.CIS.Yale.Edu> Organization: Yale University Subject: Don't believe everything you read To: darwin-l <firstname.lastname@example.org> Here's something that may amuse some on this list. I'm not very far into "The Language of Genes" by Steve Jones, which may still turn out to be the greatest book on human biology ever written by a snail geneticist. But here's a notable quotation from p. 15: The most famous line in The Origin of Species expresses the hope that "light may be shed on man and his origins." [Don't bother to look it up. It's p. 488 of the 1st ed.: "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." Apparently still not famous enough.] --Jon Marks _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 23: 1-30 -- July 1995 End
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