Darwin-L Message Log 24: 31–67 — August 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 August 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 24: 31-67 -- AUGUST 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 August 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 Web Server at http://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. 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. _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:31>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Aug 19 03:53:33 1995 Date: Sat, 19 Aug 1995 16:53:08 +0800 (WST) From: Hugo Bouckaert <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: biological evolution and cultural change On Fri, 18 Aug 1995 email@example.com wrote: > >I am compelled to ask a slightly different question: Why do people risk > >their lives to save non-human objects? Why would anyone risk his/her life > >to save, say, a poodle from a burning building - an animal that didn't > >even exist in the EEA (environment of evolutionary adaptation)? I am not > >asking this facetiously; I have always been troubled by the unwillingness > >of neo-Darwinism to allow any room for human capacity to invent values. > >On the other hand, if it is allowed that humans are capable of acting quite > >contrary to their evolutionary design, can neo-Darwinism provide a clear > >line at which inclusive fitness stops and "artificial" concerns begin? > > > >J.Miller > > I'm a little bit afraid about using Darwinism concepts to understand > human attitudes in our society. People could confuse the biological > animal that we are with the cultural one. This biological animal has > evolved time enough and has an evolutionary history from which we can > identify especific behaviors and try to understand them. > But our modern,"artificial" and urban civilization is too young to being > asked about "Why do people risk their lives to save non-human objects?" > as if this was an atribute from human evolutionary history. I think that > those values shoud be discused in an anthopology perspective. I believe > that social humans are quite different from social bees. We must pay > attention to not simplify or adapt biological theories to our Ocidental > culture. > A.Lessinger firstname.lastname@example.org I tend to agree with the above comments, particularly because we, as humans, have developed the ability to autonomously represent the world in an "internalised" system of values and ideas - very likely made possible by our ability to represent and re-constitute the external world by means of language. As a consequence, we are unique in our abilily to make models of the world, guided by our cultural upbringing and not by anything like a form of natural selection operating on us. These models are then able to make us choose for a life of celibacy, for example - hardly in line with the Darwinian notion of maximising survival and reproductive success. Of course the execution of these models, over the long term is affected by selective contraint (eg celibates will have no offspring). But the propagation and persistence of people and the propagation and persistence of models (that are chosen by people) are two different things so that the fate of people and the fate of models has to be regarded as quite independent from one another. This may explain why cultural changes cannot be brought back to Darwinian paradigms. _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:32>From email@example.com Sat Aug 19 09:29:29 1995 Date: Sat, 19 Aug 1995 10:37:50 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Arlen D. Carey, sociologist & elvis clone) Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 440 firstname.lastname@example.org writes: >I'm a little bit afraid about using Darwinism concepts to understand >human attitudes in our society. People could confuse the biological >animal that we are with the cultural one. (additional text deleted) The nature-nurture _dichotomy_ alluded to in the above passage was pronounced dead in a _Science_ editorial (1988, i think). Why try to resuscitate an obsolete, inaccurate concept? Indeed, one of the most basic lessons taught in genetics and biology courses is that Phenotype=Genotype X Environment. I think one would be hard-pressed to find a neo-Darwinist who is ignorant of this point, or of the fact that many of the environments encountered by human populations have changed radically in the relatively recent past. If the point is that Darwinism's expansion should proceed with caution, then fine. But why not leave the issue open to empirical investigation? A growing scientific literature indicates the (varying) contributions of biological/evolutionary factors to human behavior and sociocultural patterns. What evidence exists indicating an autonomous cultural animal, i.e., that the human behavioral/cultural phenotype=environment. (or even p=e+g)? Arlen D. Carey email@example.com Department of Sociology office phone: 407/823-2240 & Anthropology office fax: 407/823-3026 Univ. of Central Florida home phone: 407/644-4934 Orlando Fl, 32816-1360 home fax: 407/644-4962 _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:33>From junger@pdj2-ra.F-REMOTE.CWRU.Edu Sat Aug 19 10:00:45 1995 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Sacrifices for non-relatives and dogs Date: Sat, 19 Aug 1995 11:02:07 -0400 From: "Peter D. Junger" <junger@pdj2-ra.F-REMOTE.CWRU.Edu> In response to the puzzlement as to why someone would sacrifice his life to save a non-relative, such as a puppy, I would like to point out three possible reasons, all consistent with Darwinian selection at the genetic level, but also consistent with the selection taking place at the cultural level. (Does it really matter to the random selective forces whether they select at one level rather than the other?) (i) Selection leads one to preserve relatives, but we don't have a very good relative detector--instead relatives are defined as being those who live with us (and have names or meet some other additional criteria). (ii) Selection leads one to preserve one's allies and puppies and other dogs are in the group as allies, as are one's friends. (This sort of "contractual" selection is dear to the heart of sociobiologists as I recall.) (iii) Since selection (genetic or cultural or whatever) has adapted us to a particular environment there is a large advantage to us (or our genes or memes) in preserving that environment, and the puppy is part of the environment. And then there is a fourth possibility. "Empathy" may be selected for in a social animal (or in a hunting animal that needs to be able to understand its prey) and a side effect of empathy is that one sometimes saves puppies with whom one has empathetic identification. The third possibility seems to me to be a very likely one, but to what extent has it been discussed? I suppose it is related to the concept of the "fitness of the environment", but I do not recall ever having come across it explicitly. -- Peter D. Junger--Case Western Reserve University Law School--Cleveland, OH Internet: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Bitnet: junger@cwru NOTE: email@example.com NO LONGER EXISTS _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:34>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Aug 19 15:00:08 1995 Date: Sat, 19 Aug 1995 09:57:23 -1000 From: Ron Amundson <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 440 On Sat, 19 Aug 1995 email@example.com wrote: <deleted original post...> > The nature-nurture _dichotomy_ alluded to in the above passage was > pronounced dead in a _Science_ editorial (1988, i think). Why try to > resuscitate an obsolete, inaccurate concept? Indeed, one of the most basic > lessons taught in genetics and biology courses is that Phenotype=Genotype X > Environment. I think one would be hard-pressed to find a neo-Darwinist who > is ignorant of this point, or of the fact that many of the environments > encountered by human populations have changed radically in the relatively > recent past. <deletions ...> > sociocultural patterns. What evidence exists indicating an autonomous > cultural animal, i.e., that the human behavioral/cultural > phenotype=environment. (or even p=e+g)? <sounds like something got cut out of that last sentence...> > Arlen D. Carey > firstname.lastname@example.org Well, I didn't consider the original posting to be an especially damaging indictment of human evolutionary theorizing. But frankly I do not consider Prof. Carey's denial of the nature/nurture distinction to be very comforting. The 1988 Science article is one of dozens of obituaries announcing the death of the n/n distinction over the years. But saying it (repeatedly) doesn't make it so. Part of the problem is evidenced in Prof. Carey's two formulations of the relations amongst genotype, environment, and phenotype. (I'm not sure whether he meant them to be different.) First P = G x E, later P = E + G. Surely the between genotype and environment is neither additive nor multiplicative in its relation to phenotype. More importantly, neither of those oversimplified functions would justify the ritual denial of the nature/nurture distinction. The n/n distiction is easily recoverable from each of them. In the first, the Nature (G) contribution is merely P/E, and in the second it is P-E. Maybe human evolutionary biology can succeed _without_ adequately (coherently) denying the n/n distinction. That remains to be seen. But insisting on its denial while endorsing simplistic formulae of the relation between genotype and environment doesn't really add to our understanding of the problem. Does the following sound familiar? "We have abandoned the nature/nurture distinction. Every trait is a product of the interactions of genes and environment. The question is, how much influence comes from genes and how much from environment?" I hope it is obvious that the (imaginary) person who says that has _not_ abandoned the n/n distinction. The concept of norm of reaction must be involved in any _serious_ claim to have rejected the nature/nurture distinction. And once that's in the discussion, things get _really_ messy. Again, I do not intend this as an attack on human evolutionary theorizing. But it is (I guess) an attack on the claim often made by h.e. theorists (and others) to have risen above the nature/nurture distinction. Something as deeply misconceived as the n/n distinction is not so easily risen-above. Cheers, Ron __ Ron Amundson University of Hawaii at Hilo ronald@Hawaii.Edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:35>From email@example.com Sat Aug 19 16:13:06 1995 Date: Sat, 19 Aug 1995 15:13:13 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Ellery Lanier) Subject: fitness of environment >The third possibility seems to me to be a very likely one, but to what >extent has it been discussed? I suppose it is related to the concept >of the "fitness of the environment", but I do not recall ever having >come across it explicitly. Peter D. Junger asks about "fitness of the environment". Yes, I have read several books with that theme and title. One has an article by Rene duBois (spelling?) which I found excellent. I think the other was by Henderson, don't know his initials. ellery firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:36>From email@example.com Sun Aug 20 22:03:02 1995 Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 17:00:03 -1000 From: Ron Amundson <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Darwin on Essentialism? was: Re: Philosophical bent On Wed, 2 Aug 1995, some time ago, Mark Hineline wrote: (on the subject of Darwin as a philosopher...) > The Origin of Species grapples with two issues that have their roots in > philosophy: essentialism and causality. ... > Mark Hineline > Department of History > UCSD > La Jolla, CA 92093 > firstname.lastname@example.org I guess I do see Darwin as struggling with the _vera causa_ idea, as were Whewell and Herschell (as Mark pointed out in the deleted portions of the post). But does anyone have specific passages in mind in which Darwin deals with "essentialism"? I mean this as a serious question, and not a quibble. (I'm writing a paper on how philosophers and historians have interpreted preDarwinian biologists, and I'd like Darwin-L to do as much work for me as possible.) It is very unclear to me whether or not "essentialism" really mattered to preDarwinian biological thought. I know of a few specific cases where something like essentialism was openly stated. Hull cites a good one from Dana, and one from Lyall. Bob O'Hara posted a beautiful one from Buffon (on the day I finished the first draft of the paper I'm working on). Trouble is Buffon is generally regarded as a proto-evolutionist, not an essentialist-creationist. I have satisfied myself that essentialism was not a significant part of the idealistic morphology tradition. (Nor was "typology" in Mayr's sense of the term.) The question remains whether it was an important part of _any_ anti-transmutationist tradition. The natural theologians, after all, had the Argument from Design to prove divine creation ... essentialism would be just frosting on the cake. So I would not assume that the mere fact that Darwin argued _for_ evolution means that he was arguing _against_ essentialism. So the question is: In what parts of the _Origin_ did Darwin discuss essentialism specifically? And if anyone has any _other_ citations of preDarwinians (but post-Newtonians) discussing essentialism with respect to biology, I'm paying 25 cents apiece. (I put in the part about Newton just so I don't loose my shirt on Aristotle citations.) Cheers, Ron __ Ron Amundson University of Hawaii at Hilo ronald@Hawaii.Edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:37>From email@example.com Sun Aug 20 22:30:27 1995 Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 23:38:52 -0500 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Arlen D. Carey) Subject: Re: nature and nurture Ron Amundson writes: >But insisting on its denial while endorsing simplistic formulae of the >relation between genotype and environment doesn't really add to our >understanding of the problem. Fair enough. My formulae were simplistic, no doubt. I simply meant to argue that (1) both nature and nurture may contribute to human behavior and sociocultural patterns, and (2) therefore, it may be worthwhile (i.e., scientifically prudent) to include possible evolutionary/biological factors in our hypothesizing/theorizing about humans, given that there are theoretical and empirical grounds to do so. I previously stated (2) as follows (not excerpted in the response): >But why not leave the issue open to empirical investigation? A growing >>scientific literature indicates the (varying) contributions of >biological/ >evolutionary factors to human behavior and sociocultural >patterns. Overly simplistic formulae indeed may be of little value (sorry), but likely so too is anthropocentrism. A willingness to entertain and test plausible, holistic hypotheses may add to our understanding of the problem. --Arlen Carey (a _possible_ product of nature and nurture who will _definitely_ post no more on this issue, but rather work on the testing :>) _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:38>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Aug 20 22:54:01 1995 Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 20:51:47 -0700 From: email@example.com (Anton Sherwood) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Sacrifices for non-relatives and dogs > In response to the puzzlement as to why someone would sacrifice > his life to save a non-relative, such as a puppy, . . . An animal may _risk_ its life for many reasons having nothing to do with kin. (Don't hunters do so routinely?) We should not assume, because it takes such a risk and loses, that it would have done likewise knowing that death was _certain_ (or near-certain), which is what I understand by "sacrifice". Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\* DASher@netcom.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:39>From email@example.com Mon Aug 21 10:20:31 1995 Date: Mon, 21 Aug 1995 11:20:40 -0400 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: branching, shared ancestors, & extinction Dear friends of Darwin-List, I was perusing a recent Biology and Philosophy (v10 n3 July '95) and came across Bradley Wilson's "(Not So) Radical Solution to the Species Problem." I don't want to pull this group into the mud of _the species question_ (possibly as unsavory to our list owner as the creationist itching powder that settles onto this list periodically). Wilson's paper made me think about lineages and nodes. Though I am (more than) happy to hear what our members have to say about the bigger issues raised by problems of species definition, diagnosis, and importance, I have a more specific question. How far back do you have to go to find a common ancestor for any pair of individuals? We often use a phrase like "these two individuals share an ancestor that this third does not" to invoke the formidable machinery of cladistic thinking. We then begin to group pairs relative to a third this way. This approach works in part because we believe that lineages are fairly distinct (not much hybridization) and (not oftenly made explicit) there is quite a bit of extinction so that we have many lineages going extinct. This allows us (even under a model of allopatric speciation) to believe that the inferred nodes of the cladograms correspond to something close to that shared ancestor that is shared by our monophyletic clade. To help you visualize the situation at the opposite extreme. Imagine a population in which every member (sexually or asexually) leaves offspring. This results in a very bushy tree of lineages. In the asexual situation (assume bifurcation) each generation will generate 2*n offspring. Clearly this won't last as the exponential growth is not sustainable. But while it does we have a situation (assuming everyone dividing synchronously) where every past member of lineage has extant offspring in the population. If there is any hybridization among the lineages the bush becomes very tangled. And our catch phrase about sharing an ancestor becomes messy. In a sexual population with every member leaving offspring we have an ever expanding reticulate web. If we overlay geographical limits to finding mates we now have pockets of relatively higher in breeding. If we now allow isolation and the evolution of isolating mechanisms or recognition mechanisms (Patterson 1993) we can start having populations that cohere in the sense that as a group they share a pool of ancestors. But they won't necessarily share a single ancestor at the time of their isolation. If we impose on this the important observation that there is a probability of 1.0 that you have an ancestor but a <1 probability that you have descendants we start pruning the bush (winding up with a more tractable "tree" of life). What level of lineage extinction is required for the nodes that we generate by group I am looking for a discussion of this phenomenon. What elements of an organisms natural history will make the nodes at the time of isolation correspond to something close to individual ancestors. I have a copy of _the Theory of Branching Processes_ (Harris 1963,1989) that discusses the Galton and Watson work (late 1800s) on the problem of the extinction of family names. Where has this work gone specifically in the historical reconstruction/inference field? Thank you for any hints. - Jeremy _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:40>From email@example.com Mon Aug 21 10:28:57 1995 Date: Mon, 21 Aug 1995 11:29:07 -0400 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: my refs for branching, ancestors, & extinction Dear friends of Darwin-List, I forgot to add the references to my previous question. Harris, T. E. (1963,1989) The Theory of Branching Processes. Initially printed by Springer. Reprinted by Dover 1989. QA274.7H37 1989. Patterson, H.E.H. (1993) Evolution and the recognition concept of species: collected writings. Ed. S.F. McEvey. Johns Hopkins. QH380.P38 1992. Wilson, B. (1995) A (Not-so-radical) Solution to the Species Problem. Biology & Philosophy. Kluwer. v.10 n.3 July 1995. p339-356. thanks, Jeremy _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:41>From email@example.com Mon Aug 21 12:29:52 1995 Date: Mon, 21 Aug 1995 13:29:20 -0400 (EDT) From: Gary Willingham-Mclain <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Darwin on Essentialism? was: Re: Philosophical bent Excerpts from mail: 20-Aug-95 Darwin on Essentialism? by Ron Amundson@hawaii.edu > So I would not assume that the mere fact that Darwin argued _for_ > evolution means that he was arguing _against_ essentialism. So the > question is: In what parts of the _Origin_ did Darwin discuss > essentialism specifically? For a first example of a passage strongly indicating Darwin's anti-essentialism I would propose the first 15 paragraphs of the second chapter of the first edition of the Origin, especially paragraphs 11 through 15. Gary Willingham-McLain _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:42>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Aug 21 18:41:03 1995 Date: Mon, 21 Aug 1995 19:42:38 -0400 (EDT) From: J MIller <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Evolutionary Psychology Arlen D. Carey <email@example.com> wrote (in part): > Why try to > resuscitate an obsolete, inaccurate concept? Indeed, one of the most basic > lessons taught in genetics and biology courses is that Phenotype=Genotype X > Environment. I think one would be hard-pressed to find a neo-Darwinist who > is ignorant of this point, or of the fact that many of the environments > encountered by human populations have changed radically in the relatively > recent past. If the point is that Darwinism's expansion should proceed > with caution, then fine. But why not leave the issue open to empirical > investigation? A growing scientific literature indicates the (varying) > contributions of biological/evolutionary factors to human behavior and > sociocultural patterns. What evidence exists indicating an autonomous > cultural animal, i.e., that the human behavioral/cultural > phenotype=environment. (or even p=e+g)? My worry is not so much about the nature/nurture dichotomy per se, as it is about the methodology of neo-Darwinism and its Evolutionary Psychology branch. It seems that nowadays evolutionary psychologists no longer believe that _every_ manifestation of altruism can be reduced to a handful of evolutionary principles. While some instances of human altruism appear to be reasonably susceptible to a Darwinian explanation (e.g. David Buss' study of human mate preferences), others, such as homosexuality for instance, have proven to be more recalcitrant. Insofar as I know, all efforts to show that homosexuals are extraordinarily helpful to their siblings have proven unsuccessful. To account for these lacunae, evolutionary psychologists speak of the "misfiring" of a mental organ that is operating in an environment for which it was not "designed." To me, this sort of gap-filling raises the red flag immediately, for it renders the theory unfalsifiable. If both successes and failures of the hypothesis are counted to its credit, then how are we to go about testing it? If it is conceded that some instances of altruism are not explicable in evolutionary terms, there has has to be some reason for it, some distinctive quality that separates adaptive from non-adaptive altruism. In short, the very least evolutionary psychology needs to do to retain its credibility is to explain _why_ these "misfirings" occur in some cases and not in others. This is why I am surprised to find very little attention devoted to this crucial issue in recent publications on evolutionary psychology. Perhaps someone could direct me to source where this question is given a more diligent treatment than I've been able to find. J.Miller _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:43>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Aug 22 09:41:22 1995 From: Mark Hineline <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Darwin on Essentialism? To: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Tue, 22 Aug 95 7:41:20 PDT I cannot do better than has already been done by citing the first edition of the *Origin*, but a second best is a valuable secondary source (which Ron undoubtedly knows well enough): John Beatty, "Speaking of Species" in David Kohn, *The Darwinian Heritage*. Hope that's right -- I don't have the reference in front of me. Beatty's argument is that Darwin used the terminology of natural historians, but did so in such a way as to strip essentialism from the meaning of "species." However, Ron, if you have a notion of fixity of species that does not entail essence, let us in on it, please. Mark Hineline Department of History UCSD La Jolla, CA 92093 email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:44>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Aug 22 10:42:08 1995 Date: Tue, 22 Aug 1995 09:42:13 -0700 To: email@example.com From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ellery Lanier) Subject: essentialism Would someone please send an adequate definition of Essentialism. Ellery email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:45>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Aug 22 10:43:12 1995 Date: Tue, 22 Aug 1995 08:40:51 -0700 From: email@example.com (Ron Roizen) Subject: Re: Darwin on Essentialism? To: firstname.lastname@example.org This may or may not be of interest re this topic, but many years ago I tried to come up with a metaphor that captured the mindset of essentialism through which some of Darwin's more critical friends and colleagues viewed his new theory. What came to mind was a lending library. Every year new editions of books come in, these being slightly different from the previous editions. The library's users check out books. In the ordinary course of events some books are returned and some books are lost. Hence the population of books in the library is under constant processes of expansion (new editions) and pruning (differential book loss). Now suppose that an analyst of all this were to make the bold assertion that books were actually "evolving"--one edition ultimately "changing into" (mindful of all the difficulties/complexities of meaning that term implies) another--in this library! Our commonsense essentialism about books, book editions, and how books come into being would augur strongly against giving this analyst much of a hearing! My hunch is that those of Darwin's friends and colleagues who saw his theory through the lens of their ingrained essentialist conception of species had a similar "incapacity" (I've got some reluctance about that term!) to see "change" in the nominalist way that Darwin's conceptual system regarded it. Species were much like the aforementioned library books/editions to them--every book/edition had an Author. _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:46>From email@example.com Tue Aug 22 11:04:13 1995 From: Mark Hineline <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: essentialism To: email@example.com Date: Tue, 22 Aug 95 9:04:11 PDT Ellery Lanier asked for a definition of "essentialism." This is tricky for historians, some of whom (historicists) are very careful to talk about the meaning of a word in close context. But broadly and popularly, Ernst Mayr defines it on p. 40 of *One Long Argument*: "... all the variable phenomena of nature, according to [essentialism], are a reflection of a limited number of constant and sharply defined *eide* or essences." Or forms or ideas. Even more broadly, essentialism is the notion that some aspect of the type or species is invariant across time and space. Mark L. Hineline Department of History UCSD San Diego, CA 92093 firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:47>From email@example.com Tue Aug 22 13:01:19 1995 Date: Tue, 22 Aug 1995 12:01:23 -0700 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Ellery Lanier) Subject: essences Ellery Lanier thanking Mark Hineline for a neat description. Especially the last sentence about invariance across time and space. Reminded me of when I was studying George Santayana and his Doctrine of Essences. Kind of a Platonic Realm of Ideas with no existential reality. They make useful tools for trapping the flux of the physical world so we can contemplate it. Thank you. ellery firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:48>From email@example.com Wed Aug 23 10:18:43 1995 Date: Wed, 23 Aug 95 11:19:02 -0400 Subject: iiwi & oo (fyi) From: Jeremy C. Ahouse <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "Darwin List" <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> from Discover magazine: A century ago the iiwi, a nectar-drinking Hawaiian bird, drank mostly from the showy flowers of the lobelia family. This made sense: the iiwi has a long, down-curved bill that is perfectly adapted for reaching into the deep corolla, or petal array, of a lobelioid. But since many lobelioid species have been extinguished in Hawaii over the past century, mainly by grazing cows and goats, the iiwi has switched to the ohia tree, a Hawaiian member of the myrtle family. "We observed iiwis feeding primarily on ohia flowers, which have no petals and no corollas whatsoever," says University of Hawaii zoologist Leonard Freed. A bird doesn't need much of a bill to drink nectar from an ohia; indeed, ohia flowers used to be monopolized by the short-billed and economically named oo, which, fortunately for the iiwi, went extinct at the turn of the century. Freed wondered whether the iiwi might be becoming more oo-like, billwise, as it adapts to ohias. So he and zoologist Thomas Smith of the University of California at Berkeley compared the bills of 87 iiwis collected as museum specimens in 1902 with the bills of 135 live iiwis. The results would have made Darwin proud: iiwi bills have gotten about 3 percent shorter on average since the birds switched to the more easily accessible ohia nectar. Says Freed, "We wondered why a bird with such an unusual bill was feeding on such a mundane flower." _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:49>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Wed Aug 23 17:58:31 1995 Date: Wed, 23 Aug 1995 18:58:20 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: The Zeitgeist it is a-changing (long) To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro A colleague directed me to the following essay which appeared earlier this week in the _Wall Street Journal_. It focuses on the historical revival in architecture, but Darwin-L members may find parallels in their own fields. I think Darwin-L can be considered a part of the general phenomenon the author is describing. Bob O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org) --begin included text------------------ THE GREAT REVIVAL by David Brooks The Wall Street Journal, 21 August 1995, p. A8 [American baseball player] Cal Ripkin has the best view of one of the more significant cultural events of the age. The Baltimore Oriole shortstop is playing in his 2,116th consecutive game tonight, but even more impressive is Camden Yards, the stadium he plays in. Cities like Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago and Arlington, Texas, are building baseball parks that look like the grounds of 70 years ago, and everybody adores them. Meanwhile, everybody hates the stadiums they used to love, the futuristic megaliths of the 1960s and '70s, such as the Houston Astrodome and Philadelphia's Veterans' Stadium. Watching Mr. Ripkin chase Lou Gehrig's consesecutive-game record, in throwback park Camden Yards, one gets the feeling that we may be entering one of those periods of historic revivalism, when people move forward by recovering the past. Revivals happen periodically -- the Italian Renaissance and the American founding in 1776 were two of the grander revivalist moments -- and now the whiff of revivalism is all around. In economics, the neoclassical school inspired by Adam Smith sets the tone after decades of neglect. In poetry, the formalist school is thriving, bringing back some of the older styles after decades of free-form. And in politics, people on all sides talk about restoring civic institutions and community spirit, a project that leads inevitably back to the ancient Greeks. The Neoclassicists Architects were rediscovering sources as far back as the mid-1970s, and some have decided that the past is passe, and have thrown away any classical references as if they were lastyear's neckties. But there is a thriving school of architecture, the neoclassicists, whose members are most advanced in their attachment to the past. They met in Chicago last month to guage their progress. "We are in a state of all-out war," the movement's godfather, Leon Krier, declared. For while the neoclassicists feel the winds of history (and public support) behind them, they are scorned by the architectural establishment. Feeling embattled at home, they seemed to treasure each other's company at their Chicago conference. Mr. Krier was given a standing ovation before he spoke. Belgian architect Maurice Culot was given sustained applause before his talk, and had to pause for several minutes because he was crying. Their enemies include the modernists, who built the giant steel and glass towers, the massive public housing projects and the concrete plazas that created what Norman Mailer famously labeled "empty landscapes of psychosis." But the neoclassicists are also against the more contemporary post-modernists and deconstructionists, who borrow classical forms and add them to their glass and marble towers, corporate parks and other projects -- a fake pediment here, a column there. The neoclassicists regard this as kitsch, which pilfers indiscriminately from the past, as if it were a toy box, without transmitting any real and universal values. The neoclassicists believe that the builders of the past created an architectural vocabulary, tested over the centuries, that reflects something universal in human nature. The buildings they particularly admire -- the Pantheon in Rome, the U.S. Capitol, Thomas Jefferson's quad at the University of Virginia -- communicate messages that have appealed to people for hundreds of years. The job for current architects, the neoclassicists argue, is to adapt the classical language to immediate needs. "Great cultures imitate universal ideas while lesser ones copy particular cultures," says Mr. Krier in a rebuke to current conceptions of multiculturalism. The neoclassicists can certainly be too dogmatically antimodern, and sometimes their buildings are a little bizarre. You see a building that looks like it dates from 1780, then you discover a neoclassicist finished it in 1984. But much of their work is beautiful, appropriate and a lot friendlier to humans than the modernist towers they often replace. Thanks to their patron, Prince Charles, neoclassicists are designing Paternoster Square in London, and tearing down a horrible modernist office complex. Thomas Beeby has designed the new Harold Washington Library in Chicago's Loop, which is controversial but a mixture of classical learning and Chicago toughness. The neoclassicists are also involved in the new and much praised "urbanist" suburbs -- such as the Disney development in Florida, Celebration -- that are designed to look more like old villages, with a common green and active street life, than your normal sprawling American suburb. There are a lot of Greek-looking columns in their stuff, but it is hard nonetheless to precisely define a distinctive neoclassical style. What is important is the way they defer to historical authority. And this is the link between them and revivalist movements in other spheres. Revivalists put a lot of emphasis on historical continuity and on the slow accretion of knowledge. "Tradition is the bridge between the ideals of the past and the needs of the present," said Robert Adam, one of the speakers at the conference. Modernists, on the other hand, regard the past as a burden, not a teacher. The power of modernism lies in the "desire to wipe out whatever came earlier," to achieve "a radically new departure," wrote Paul De Man, who was an American deconstructionist. Around World War I, many intellectuals and artists came to the conclusion that they had the power to rip away the confining past and bend history according to their plans. So Lenin tore up the Russian past to create a communist utopia. Artists and writers discarded convention and began their work with a clean slate. For many architects, the emphasis was on rational planning and sweeping away confusing old idiosyncracies. "Is a reasonable urban development thinkable when each inhabitant lives in his own home with garden?" I don't think so," said Walter Gropius in 1930. Le Corbusier, one of the most influential urban planners of the century, decided that streets should be cleared so that they could be factories for traffic. "Cafes and places of recreation will no longer be a fungus that eats up the pavements of Paris," he wrote. And if you look at the big developments in American cities -- with oversized plazas and big highways through city centers -- you can see his influence. "There are people who like things as they are. I can't hold out any hope for them. They have to keep moving further away," said Robert Moses, New York's master builder. Since modernism, artists and some architects have assigned themselves places in the permanent avant-garde, whose job it is to perpetually tear down what came before, and to shock the reactionary middle classes. Modernists thought they could understand and direct history. In much milder form, but in keeping with the spirit of the age, many macroeconomists in the 1960s thought they knew how to fine-tune an economy. The modernist architects thought they could liberate human nature with concrete. These projects were doubtless exhilirating to design, not so great to live in. Few have that sort of self-confidence anymore. But the various post-modernists, who came next, did not try to tap back into historical authority, but instead decided that there was no authority since little could actually be known and no truths were fixed. In 1965, Philip Johnson, who went on to design the AT&T building in New York, was probably just trying to sound with-it when he announced that morality was a sham: "It's feudal and futile. I think it is much better to be nihilistic and forget about it all. I mean, I know I'm attacked by my moral friends, but really, don't they shake themselves up over nothing?" For many of today's leading academics, the meaning of a building or a set of standards shifts from one moment to the next. Reborn Again Well, nothing looks so dated as yesterday's vision of the future. Modernism and post-modernism can seem irrelevant fast. The movements produced a few geniuses, but their genius died with them, while the classical style seems to get reborn every century or so. And this may be one of those times. Or if it is not a neoclassical age, then perhaps it will be at least some sort of historicist one. In global events, many have noticed that history seems to be unthawing, after a century of frozen animation (sometimes with awful results, as in Bosnia). Our international politics is beginning to resemble the politics of the pre-modernist period. That is to say, it is no longer about utopianism (fascist or socialist), or about apocalypse; instead it's just one damn thing after another. A revivalist period would end a century that had more than its share of arrogance, when people thought they could reshape society through revolution (a la Lenin) or understand human nature through science (as some psychiatrists and sociologists did). The present wouldn't appear as some sort of unprecedented crisis, or as meaningless, and the future wouldn't offer utopia. Rather, we'd just play on, trying to learn from our predecessors and so surpass them -- the way Cal Ripkin does. --end included text-------------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:50>From email@example.com Thu Aug 24 09:59:53 1995 Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 11:00:05 -0400 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: Cronin, Gould and vitriol Darwin-L, Thanks to Bob O'Hara's recommendation I read Griffiths' "The Cronin Controversy". Thank you, Bob. This sent me back to the New York review by Gould and the response by Dennett. Nasty stuff. I must say that Gould criticizing Cronin seems much more "on task" than Dennett's angry response. Do any of you know more about what inspires the heat in this debate/attack? I was just handed a recent short interview with Gould that was published in Scientific American. This was a very catty piece about Gould - who resists the goading from the interviewer and gives down to earth answers to the barbed questions. Is there something up that accounts for Gould coming in for this kind of treatment? Are people mad because Punk Eek was a little too self proclaimed? Are they jealous that he reaches so many with his essays? Are they miffed that (like me) they went to see him speak and he talked about baseball the whole time?! Dennett is the latest spokesmodel for "true" Darwinism with his recent book. Was he &/or his style of Darwinian selection attacked at some point by Gould? Thanks ahead of time for your thoughts and any further references. (e.g. has Dennett responded to Gould's defense of his NYReview?) - Jeremy p.s. my own feelings on this issue [of emphatic gene centrism] are that Dawkinsian selfish genes don't help me understand developmental hierarchies and their evolution well at all. I am about to head off to do my postdoc with Sean Carroll to study the developmental genetics of butterfly wing patterning and I don't see what mileage I get out of viewing the regulatory circuits that we will be examing from a solely genes eye view. __________________________________________________________ Jeremy Creighton Ahouse Biology Dept. Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 (617)736-4954 Lab 736-2405 FAX email@example.com _ _ /\\ ,'/| "The journey of discovery _| |\-'-'_/_/ begins not with new vistas __--'/` \ but with having new eyes / \ with which to behold them." / "o. |o"| - Marcel Proust | \/ \_ ___\ `--._`. \;// ;-.___,' / ,' _-' _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:51>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Aug 24 11:30:33 1995 Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 12:30:44 -0400 To: Andrew Burday <email@example.com> From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: Re: Cronin, Gould and vitriol Cc: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List) Andy asked me for refs so I thought I would cc them to the list. Griffiths, P.E. (1995) "The Cronin Controversy" Brit. J. Phil. Sci. v46 p122-138. Gould, S.J. (1992) "The Confusion over Evolution" New York Review of Books. 19 November. p47-54. Maynard-Smith, J., D. Dennett, & S.J. Gould (1993) "Confusion over Evolution: An Exchange" New York Review of Books. 14 January. p43-44. see also: Hull, D.L. (1992) "Sex and sensibility" Nature v356 16 April. p623-624. _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:52>From email@example.com Thu Aug 24 20:41:26 1995 Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 20:45:06 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (CZIKO Gary) Subject: Dennett vs. Gould Jeremy > Thanks to Bob O'Hara's recommendation I read Griffiths' "The >Cronin Controversy". Thank you, Bob. This sent me back to the New York >review by Gould and the response by Dennett. Nasty stuff. I must say >that Gould criticizing Cronin seems much more "on task" than Dennett's >angry response. > > Do any of you know more about what inspires the heat in this >debate/attack? I think Dennett does a pretty good job at explaining his problem with Gould in _Darwin's Dangerous Idea_. Have you read Dennett's "Bully for Brontosaurus" section? Dennett concludes that Gould is reaching for "skyhooks" in his explanation of evolution (as opposed to selectionist "cranes."). I don't think this is really the case, but I find much of Dennett's criticism of Gould quite enlightening (as well as his critic of Chomsky). >I was just handed a recent short interview with Gould that was published >in >Scientific American. Could you provide this reference as well? Thanks.--Gary ------------------------------------------------------------------ Gary Cziko Associate Professor Telephone 217-333-8527 Educational Psychology FAX: 217-244-7620 University of Illinois E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org 1310 S. Sixth Street Radio: N9MJZ 210 Education Building Champaign, Illinois 61820-6990 http://www.uiuc.edu/ph/www/g-cziko/ ------------------------------------------------------------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:53>From email@example.com Thu Aug 24 22:03:43 1995 Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 11:00:20 +0800 (WST) From: Hugo Bouckaert <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: fitness of environment On Sat, 19 Aug 1995, Ellery Lanier wrote: > >The third possibility seems to me to be a very likely one, but to what > >extent has it been discussed? I suppose it is related to the concept > >of the "fitness of the environment", but I do not recall ever having > >come across it explicitly. > Peter D. Junger asks about "fitness of the environment". Yes, I have read > several books with that theme and title. One has an article by Rene duBois > (spelling?) which I found excellent. I think the other was by Henderson, > don't know his initials. > ellery > firstname.lastname@example.org The concept of the "fitness" of the environment is an important one, and I dealt with it extensively in my PhD thesis. What is particularly important is that beneficial environments can be bequeathed to offspring. Odling-Smee has a chapter called "Niche Constructing Phenotypes" in Plotkin's (1988) The Role of Behaviour in Evolution (MIT Press). This chapter, I think, makes some interesting observations in this regard. Hugo Bouckaert Bouckaer@central.murdoch.edu.au _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:54>From email@example.com Thu Aug 24 22:50:40 1995 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Fitness of the Environment: its comsic ultimate Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 23:55:06 EDT From: Joshua Lederberg <email@example.com> > Peter D. Junger asks about "fitness of the environment". Yes, I have read > several books with that theme and title. One has an article by Rene duBois > (spelling?) which I found excellent. I think the other was by Henderson, > don't know his initials. N.B. That's Rene Dubos. L.J. Henderson ------ This concept is explored to the ultimate in: Barrow JD & Tipler FJ The anthropic cosmological principle. Oxford 1987. They argue that the universe is so constructed that the laws of physics and chemistry make the evolution of (intelligent) life possible, with minor deviations precluding this. The weak form of ACP is that any other universe would have evolved no intelligent observers to describe it. None to tell the tale They conjecture a strong form, something like this: that an unobservable universe could not exist. Perhaps a pro-anthropicist can explain better. "No tale to tell?" The book nevertheless is crammed with fascinating bits of data, especially about the (physical) constants of nature, and their bearing on the evolvability of life. DARW-ists will want to examine their paleo-etiological method. Bill Press wrote an extensive critique in Nature, ca. 1987-88. ------ Reply-to: (J. Lederberg)firstname.lastname@example.org Prof. Joshua Lederberg The Rockefeller University 1230 York Avenue New York, NY 10021-6399 _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:55>From robert.richardson@UC.EDU Fri Aug 25 08:45:38 1995 Date: Fri, 25 Aug 1995 09:47:44 -0400 From: robert.richardson@UC.EDU (R. C. Richardson) Subject: Re: Dennett vs. Gould To: email@example.com In response to a question about the differences between Gould and Dennett, Gary Cziko responds: >I think Dennett does a pretty good job at explaining his problem with Gould >in _Darwin's Dangerous Idea_. Have you read Dennett's "Bully for >Brontosaurus" section? > >Dennett concludes that Gould is reaching for "skyhooks" in his explanation >of evolution (as opposed to selectionist "cranes."). I don't think this is >really the case, but I find much of Dennett's criticism of Gould quite >enlightening (as well as his critic of Chomsky). When I worked through the book by Dennett, including the section on Gould, I was not very taken by it, and think the discussion of Gould was not very enlightening. I think the core problem with Dennett's book, including the section on Gould, is a relatively undiscriminating account of evolutionary biology. I did not read it, though, with an eye to seeing what light it shed on the controversy over the Cronin book in the NYRB. The question I would ask is *why* that discussion was enlightening. If it is not true that Gould is looking for "skyhooks," then how does Dennett's discussion of Gould's various reservations over adaptationist theorizing shed light on the issues over Cronin's views? There is an interesting discussion of Cronin by G. C. Williams as well. He makes a number of points, among them that Gould is unusual in giving such a negative review of Cronin. There's a sociological point there, and it doesn't get to the question whether Gould or Dennett or Cronin is right; but Williams gives us a good deal of detail. He also does not share Gould's negative assessment of the book. Alas, I read this while I was gone and don't have the exact citation with me. It was, though, in the Quarterly Review of Biology, quite recently (I think). Robert C. Richardson email: Robert.Richardson@uc.edu Professor of Philosophy office phone: 513-556-6327 University of Cincinnati dept. fax: 513-556-2939 _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:56>From BURGHD@utkvx.utk.edu Sat Aug 26 10:44:07 1995 Date: Sat, 26 Aug 1995 11:44:04 -0400 (EDT) From: BURGHD@utkvx.utk.edu Subject: Re: DARWIN-L digest 447 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Re Cronin's book A colleague here at Univ. Tenn. also had a rather negative review of this book in ETHOLOGY about a year or so ago (Christine R. B. Boake). Gordon M. Burghardt - email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:57>From ggale@CCTR.UMKC.EDU Sat Aug 26 14:38:10 1995 Date: Sat, 26 Aug 1995 14:38:06 CST From: ggale@CCTR.UMKC.EDU To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: Fellowship Announcement Please post/disseminate the following announcement as widely as possible. Thank you. Fellowship Announcement The University of Utah Center for Human Genome Research is offering a one year fellowship for research and teaching in the ethical, legal and social implications of human genetic research. Applicants from a variety of disciplines are invited to apply, including (but not necessarily restricted to) bioethics, philosophy, law, education, public policy, genetic counseling, medicine, nursing, psychology, public health, history of science, sociology, anthropology and communications. Applicants must have a graduate level degree, but individuals from the full spectrum of experience and seniority are invited to apply. Send requests for information to: Jeffery R. Botkin, M.D., M.P.H. Director, Genetic Science in Society Program Eccles Institute of Human Genetics University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah 84112 Tel: 801/588-3640 Fax: 801/588-3642 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:58>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Aug 26 23:48:26 1995 Date: Sun, 27 Aug 1995 00:48:18 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Re: branching, shared ancestors, & extinction To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Jeremy Ahouse asks about most-recent-ancestors in genealogical webs, and mentions also the work on the related problem of extinction of surnames. There is a burgeoning area of research in population biology that goes by the name of "coalescence theory" that addresses these issues, but I have not kept up with the original literature on it. Can any Darwin-L readers give us a quick summary of this work, and where it came from? I would think it would be of considerable interest to historical linguists also as it could be applied to the origination and extinction of lexical items, etc., in languages. Can anyone tell us more about the extinction of surnames research? Bob O'Hara 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. _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:59>From email@example.com Mon Aug 28 07:05:48 1995 Date: Mon, 28 Aug 95 08:07:40 EDT From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kent E. Holsinger) To: email@example.com Subject: Re: branching, shared ancestors, & extinction >>>>> "Bob" == DARWIN <DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu> writes: Bob> Jeremy Ahouse asks about most-recent-ancestors in Bob> genealogical webs, and mentions also the work on the related Bob> problem of extinction of surnames. There is a burgeoning Bob> area of research in population biology that goes by the name Bob> of "coalescence theory" that addresses these issues, but I Bob> have not kept up with the original literature on it. Can any Bob> Darwin-L readers give us a quick summary of this work, and Bob> where it came from? I would think it would be of Bob> considerable interest to historical linguists also as it Bob> could be applied to the origination and extinction of lexical Bob> items, etc., in languages. Can anyone tell us more about the Bob> extinction of surnames research? Coalescent theory is indeed a burgeoning area of research in population genetics. It was introduduced by the probabilist J. F. C. Kingman in a pair of papers in 1982 (Kingman 1982a,b) as an alternative way of understanding the process of genetic drift in finite populations. The original papers are *very* mathematical, they are quite heavy going unless you are comfortable with the mathematics of Markov processes. Rick Hudson (1990) has a very readable summary of the theory and some of its applications. The idea is actually very simple. In a finite population some genes present in one generation will be lost in the next generation, simply as a result of the process of sampling gametes to form zygotes. Similarly, some genes represented by only a single copy in one generation will be represented by two copies in the following generation. It might be diagrammed roughly as follows in a haploid population: Parents 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 | /| | |\ | | | Offspring 1 3 3 4 5 5 7 8 9 Notice that gametes 2 & 6 are not represented among the offspring, while gametes 3 & 5 are represented twice. Now if we think about the process going back in time, it's obvious that eventually all the genes represented among the offspring are ultimately derived from a single gene some time in the distant past. The time at which two genes are derived from a single common ancestor is referred to as coalescent event, and the whole process is referred to as the coalscent. If the genes are neutral and the original sample of genes is a relatively small proportion of the total number of genes in a population, then there are fairly simple formulas for calculating the time back to the first coalescent event, the time to coalescence of all alleles in the sample, and so on. As for Bob's suggestion that coalescent theory could be applied to origination and extinction of lexical items in languages, I'm not so sure. For something like coalescent theory to be applicable to historical linguistics, two requirements would have to be fulfilled: (1) Multiple instances of the "same" item must exist simultaneously in a single "population". (The quotes mean that I don't know how to apply these concepts to linguistics, or if they even can be applied. In population genetics, "same" refers to alleles at a single locus, and "population" refers to a single intebreeding unit.) (2) The items must be genealogically related, i.e., the items that currently exist are "copies" of items that existed in more ancient populations. (In pouplation genetics "copying" consists of DNA replication. Again, I don't know whether a comparable concept exists for linguistic items.) -- Kent Kent E. Holsinger Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology University of Connecticut, U-43 Storrs, CT 06269-3043 Kent@Darwin.EEB.UConn.Edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:60>From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Aug 28 07:11:15 1995 Date: Mon, 28 Aug 95 08:13:10 EDT From: email@example.com (Kent E. Holsinger) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: branching, shared ancestors, & extinction After posting my last message I realized that I neglected to include the references I cited. Sorry about that. Hudson, R. R. 1990. Gene genealogies and the coalescent process. Oxford Surveys in Evolutionary Biology 7:1-44. Kingman, J. F. C. 1982a. The Coalescent. Stochastic Processes and Their Applications 13:235-248. Kingman, J. F. C. 1982b. On the genealogy of large populations. Journal of Applied Probability 19A:27-43. _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:61>From email@example.com Mon Aug 28 08:09:42 1995 Date: Mon, 28 Aug 1995 09:09:54 -0400 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: Re: Coalescent >The idea is actually very simple. In a finite population some genes >present in one generation will be lost in the next generation, simply >as a result of the process of sampling gametes to form zygotes. >... Now if we think about the >process going back in time, it's obvious that eventually all the genes >represented among the offspring are ultimately derived from a single >gene some time in the distant past. The time at which two genes are >derived from a single common ancestor is referred to as coalescent >event, and the whole process is referred to as the coalscent. Then would we make the claim that speciation "events" are correlated with a spike in the frequency of coalescent events? Or rather that soon after isolation (given a model of allopatric speciation for sexual species) we would have (in retrospect) many coalescents? thanks, p.s. Kent, you mention Hudson (1990) and Kingman (1982a,b). Could you give us the journals. _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:62>From email@example.com Mon Aug 28 09:18:07 1995 Date: Mon, 28 Aug 1995 10:18:19 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: SYSTEMATICS IN PREHISTORY Darwin-List folks, I came across a whole book (with hypertext links) at the Univ of Washington's anthro dept web page: Robert C. Dunnell's SYSTEMATICS IN PREHISTORY. "A hyper-text version of a out-of-print classic book on unit construction. First published in 1971, this book has influenced several generations of archaeologists. Essential reading for scientists interested in building a historical science." (http://weber.u.washington.edu/~anthro/anthrostart.html) - Jeremy __________________________________________________________ Jeremy Creighton Ahouse Biology Dept. Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 (617) 736-4954 Lab 736-2405 FAX firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:63>From email@example.com Mon Aug 28 14:56:29 1995 Date: Mon, 28 Aug 95 15:57:52 EDT From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kent E. Holsinger) To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Coalescent >>>>> "Jeremy" == Jeremy C Ahouse <firstname.lastname@example.org> writes: >> The idea is actually very simple. In a finite population some >> genes present in one generation will be lost in the next >> generation, simply as a result of the process of sampling >> gametes to form zygotes. ... Now if we think about the process >> going back in time, it's obvious that eventually all the genes >> represented among the offspring are ultimately derived from a >> single gene some time in the distant past. The time at which >> two genes are derived from a single common ancestor is referred >> to as coalescent event, and the whole process is referred to as >> the coalscent. Jeremy> Then would we make the claim that speciation Jeremy> "events" are correlated= with a spike in the frequency of Jeremy> coalescent events? Or rather that soon= after isolation Jeremy> (given a model of allopatric speciation for sexual Jeremy> species)= we would have (in retrospect) many coalescents? That's actually an interesting question. It turns out that the genealogical relationships of alleles at any single locus may not match the genealogical relationships of the species from which they were connected. To see why, let's follow the history of three alleles chosen at random from an ancestral species population. Label these alleles 1, 2, and 3, and suppose that 1 and 2 share a more recent common ancestor than either does with 3, i.e., the genealogical tree for the alleles looks like /\ / \ /\ \ / \ \ 1 2 3 (For some reason population geneticists have the convention of drawing geneaological relationships in the opposite way from systematists.) Now suppose our ancestral species population splits into two daughter species. Label the daughter species A and B. There are several possible configurations of alleles in the daughter species, given that each will receive at least one. A B a 1,2 3 b 1,3 2 c 2,3 1 d 3 1,2 e 2 1,3 f 1 2,3 Notice that of the six possible combinations only two, a and d, result in the most closely related alleles being part of the same species population. Put another way, two thirds of the time, the most recent common ancestor of an allele in the species population that received two of the ancestral alleles is found in the *other* daughter species, not its own. This argument applies immediately after the split between the populations, and only to alleles that are selectively neutral. After the species have been separate for some time, the coalescent process operating in each one independently will result in alleles within a species sharing more recent common ancestry with one another than they do with alleles from other species. The average time to coalescence of all genes in a population is roughly four times the effective population size. So if a species has been around longer than that, chances are that neutral alleles are more closely related within than between species. If the alleles are maintained by natural selection, however, transspecific polymorphisms can be maintained for a very long time. There are examples I can find the references for from the major histocompatiblity complex loci in mammals and for self-incompatibility loci in plants. -- Kent Kent E. Holsinger Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology University of Connecticut, U-43 Storrs, CT 06269-3043 Kent@Darwin.EEB.UConn.Edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:64>From email@example.com Mon Aug 28 15:49:02 1995 Date: Mon, 28 Aug 1995 16:32:26 -0400 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: Re: Coalescent & lineage egs. D-List, Interesting how once you start thinking about something you find it everywhere. Kent has given a specific language and clarification to the question I asked about how well gene lineages fit into organism lineages into population,species, etc... lineages. In the 18 August Science there is a short research news article on "ancient" DNA by Nigel Williams. Along the way Williams touches on the work of Andrew Merriwether. Merriwether is interested in knowing how many founding lineages are responsible for the human populations in the New World. Previous work has shown that native Americans have a small subset of the number (namely 4) of lineages that can be identified with a mitochondrial marker. Using mitochondrial DNA from 1300 Native americans from more than 40 populations and DNA extracted from mummified tissue of 300 individuals at burial sites Merriwether finds the traditional 4 lineages and can go on to divide them into 9 subtypes that (and this is relevant to the D-list group) are "all over the linguistic map." cheers, - Jeremy William, N. (1995) "The Trials and Tribulations of Cracking the Prehistoric Code" Science. 18 August. v269. p923-924. _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:65>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Wed Aug 30 23:39:32 1995 Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 00:39:25 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: More on essentialism To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Ron Amundson was asking about pre-Darwinian references to essentialism. I have another nice one that I have used in class, though it isn't strictly biological. Since my beginning students are not necessarily science majors, I often use literary and historical sources to illustrate the concepts we talk about, and this little verse from Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American Transcendentalist writer, is a nice synopsis of essentialism: In countless upward-striving waves The moon-drawn tide-wave strives; In thousand far-transplanted grafts The parent fruit survives; So, in the new-born millions, The perfect Adam lives. Not less are summer-mornings dear To every child they wake, And each with novel life his sphere Fills for his proper sake. It appears at the beginning of the essay called "Nominalist and Realist" published in the second series of Emerson's essays in 1844. The Transcendentalists were neo-platonists more or less, so it isn't surprising to find essentialism an important aspect of Emerson's thought. Interestingly, there is a later Emerson essay (pointed out to me by a student originally) called "Illusions" that is quite interesting in this context. Emerson is typically very up-beat and inspirational, but "Illusions" begins with a verse that takes a very different tone: Flow, flow the waves hated, Accursed, adored, The waves of mutation: No anchorage is. Sleep is not, death is not; Who seem to die live. House you were born in, Friends of your spring-time, Old man and young maid, Day's toil and its guerdon, They are all vanishing, Fleeing to fables, Cannot be moored. See the stars through them, Through treacherous marbles. Know, the stars yonder, The stars everlasting, Are fugitive also, And emulate, vaulted, The lambent heat-lightning, And fire-fly's light. .... Much of the essay is devoted to the sadness of disillusionment, of losing the cherished and happy beliefs of childhood, etc., and the annoying people (even if what they say is true) who uncover the mysteries we enjoy: Amid the joyous troop who give in to the charivari, comes now and then a sad-eyed boy, whose eyes lack the requisite refractions to clothe the show in due glory, and who is afflicted with a tendency to trace home the glittering miscellany of fruits and flowers to one root. Science is a search after identity, and the scientific whim is lurking in all corners. At the State Fair, a friend of mine complained that all the varieties of fancy pears in our orchards seem to have been selected by somebody who had a whim for a particular kind of pear, and only cultivated such as had that perfume; they were all alike. The year this was published? 1860. Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (email@example.com) 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro http://rjohara.uncg.edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:66>From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Aug 31 07:31:48 1995 Date: Thu, 31 Aug 95 05:32:30 PDT From: email@example.com (Peter H. Salus) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: More on essentialism Bob, It seems to me only fair to note that the second Emerson verse you cite (Illusions) is a paraphrase from Hrsikesha's speech in the Mahabharata, which E. also used in Brahma (pub. 1867). Most of Emerson's Sanskrit ``knowledge'' stems from the translations of Sir William Jones, whose ``Shakuntala,'' was first published in America by Emerson's father. Not wanting to be excruciating about this, you might want to glance at my Preface to S.S. Pachori's ``Sir William Jones: A Reader,'' OUP, 1993; as well as a number of other pieces I've done on Jones over the past 30+ years. Peter ________________________________________________________________ Peter H. Salus #3303 4 Longfellow Place Boston, MA 02114 +1 617 723-3092 _______________________________________________________________________________ <24:67>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Thu Aug 31 12:46:42 1995 Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 13:46:24 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: August 31 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro AUGUST 31 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1815: HEINRICH ERNST BEYRICH is born at Berlin, Germany. Beyrich will study natural science at the Universities of Berlin and Bonn, and will come to specialize in paleontology. While travelling through Europe he will make the acquaintance of many of the leading geologists of his day, and will eventually take up a teaching post at Berlin where he will remain for his entire career. Commissioned in 1842 to survey the geology of Silesia, he will publish his results as "Uber die Entwickelung des Flotzgebirges in Schlesien", a work that will establish him an a prominent figure in the European geological community. He will play an important role in the founding of the German Geological Society in 1848, and will become director of the Berlin Museum of Natural History in 1873. His extensive publications on the geology and paleontology of central Europe will lay the groundwork for many future investigations. 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. _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 24: 31-67 -- August 1995 End
© RJO 1995–2016