Darwin-L Message Log 28: 18–30 — December 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 December 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.”


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 December 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
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University of Kansas.


<28:18>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Mon Dec 11 10:08:57 1995

Date: Mon, 11 Dec 1995 10:08:49 -0600
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Punctuated Equilibrium at 20

[from Gary Cziko <g-cziko@uiuc.edu>]

To complement Jeremy Ahouse's critique of Dennett's critique of Gould, I
found an interesting article on punctuated equilibrium on the Web.


By Donald R. Prothero, Ph.D.

This article has been successful in showing me that puncuated equilibrium
is more than just "evolution by jerks."--Gary

Gary Cziko
Associate Professor              Telephone 217-333-8527
Educational Psychology           FAX: 217-244-7620
University of Illinois           E-mail: g-cziko@uiuc.edu
1310 S. Sixth Street             Radio: N9MJZ
210 Education Building
Champaign, Illinois 61820-6990



<28:19>From ddennett@diamond.tufts.edu Tue Dec 12 11:06:26 1995

Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 12:06:10 -0500 (EST)
From: Daniel Dennett <ddennett@diamond.tufts.edu>
To: "Jeremy C. Ahouse" <ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu>
Cc: Darwin List <Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu>
Subject: Re: Dennett Ch.10 review (1/2)

On Thu, 7 Dec 1995, Jeremy C. Ahouse wrote:

>         "For about a minute Dirk remained sitting motionless in his car a
> few yards away from his front door.  He wondered what his next move should
> be.  A small, cautious one, he rather thought.  The last thing he wanted to
> have to contend with at the moment was a startled eagle." (pg. 211 Adams
> 1988)
>         Over the last couple of months there has been some discussion of
> Daniel Dennett's characterization of Stephen Jay Gould as someone longing
> for miraculous explanations, out of touch with Darwinian explanations, and
> trying to push a political not a scientific agenda (ch. 10 Dennett 1995).
> These conclusions were clearly chosen for their rhetorical punch and by
> themselves might be enough to dismiss Dennett's project.  I have said as
> much on this list and have tracked the reviews of Dennett's book waiting
> for someone to resist his contentious style and empirically unencumbered
> arguments.
>         I recently listed all of the reviews I had uncovered (Gottlieb
> 1995; Holt 1995; Lewin 1995; Masters 1995; Maynard-Smith 1995; Papineau
> 1995; Ridley 1995; Rorty 1995), along with an anti-Gould sentiment from
> John Maynard-Smith's review.

A more or less up-to-date list of reviews (>40) is available from
my secretary at cogstud@pearl.tufts.edu

> My comments at this point provoked Dennett.
> He wrote to me and asked that rather than "badmouthing" his efforts I
> should "try to show, in some detailed way, where my [his] analysis is
> unfair, mistaken, or even misleading."
>         This note to Darwin-List is an explicit attempt to do what he
> requests.  I hope that having flushed him out once, he will embrace the
> debate and we will hear more from him.  Any of you who wish to return to
> the earlier discussions will find the Darwin-L logs archived at
> http://rjohara.uncg.edu/darwin/logs/.
>         Dennett's position regarding Gould is curious.  His disdain and
> dismissal of Gould is tied not to the work itself (in Dennett's estimation
> "a mild corrective to orthodoxy at best" (pg. 263 Dennett 1995)) but to the
> control that Gould seems to exert over Dennett's critics.  These foes have
> rejected or resisted Dennett's work and rubbed his face in the claim that
> 'Gould has shown that Darwinism is a crock'

[Ahouse's words, not mine, DCD]

> and so any appeals to Darwinism
> are hopeless.  If Dennett's arguments are not evaluated on their own merits
> by his colleagues and he sees Gould as the patron saint of those who would
> deny him, then we can understand his desire to bring Gould down.  But I
> want to distinguish the belief that Darwinism has been gutted of
> explanatory force (what Dennett views as the "Gould-myth") from what Gould
> has actually done or attempted.  I will be criticizing Dennett's
> misunderstanding of theories he ascribes to Gould and not second guessing
> the motives of Dennett's critics.  This may already put us at
> cross-purposes.

Gould has always made it clear that he holds scientists responsible not
only for their words, but for the likely misunderstanding of their words
by the wider public. I agree wholeheartedly, and over the years have
invited Steve to respond to the misunderstandings people outside biology
seemed to have of his own positions. So far, he has declined to do so,
which surprises me, since I would have thought he would share an
interest in avoiding widespread misunderstanding of his views. In the
opening of my chapter on Gould, I list a few of these:
"If you believe:

     (1) that adaptationism has been refuted or relegated to a
     minor role in evolutionary biology, or

     (2) that since adaptationism is "the central intellectual
     flaw of sociobiology" (Gould, 1993a, p.319), sociobiology
     has been utterly discredited as a scientific discipline, or

     (3) that Gould and Eldredge's hypothesis of punctuated
     equilibrium overthrew orthodox neo-Darwinism, or

     (4) that Gould has shown that the fact of mass extinction
     refutes the "extrapolationism" that is the Achilles heel of
     orthodox neo-Darwinism,

_then what you believe is a falsehood_. If you believe any of
these propositions, you are, however, in very good company--both
numerous and intellectually distinguished company." (DDI, p.265)

Now there is simply no question that these four propositions are widely
believed by the interested bystanders to whom Gould's words reach. The
primary goal of my chapter was to show that Gould had shown no such
things. I have invited Gould to help me clarify this matter by telling us
all if he in fact endorses any of these claims, but he has not responded
yet. Ahouse does not make it clear whether he agrees with me that Gould
has not shown any of these claims to be true. If he agrees, almost all our
disagreements over substance are resolved. The one remaining one of note
concerns my (tentative) diagnosis of how this pattern of miscommunication
by such a master communicator could have arisen. More on that below.

>         I find it odd to be an apologist for Gould, he can certainly fend
> for himself.  I will not try to simulate him for the Darwin-L.  My lack of
> appreciation for baseball (sorry, I am a basketball fan) rules me right out
> of contention as Gould's understudy.  I will try to comment as we go along
> when I differ with positions Gould has articulated.
>         If I have a position on the topic of the current state of
> evolutionary theory, it is that evolutionary biology is many leveled,
> complicated, and is carried on an ever shifting and expanding empirical
> base that when not attended to results in caricature.  We can see one
> example of this caricature in Dennett's book.

Explanations of science for a wider public, whether by Gould or me or
anybody else, are liable to misunderstanding because of the rhetoric and
attempts at simplification that are not just inevitable but actually
valuable. In this instance Ahouse has misunderstood me in several
regards, and so I am taking responsibility for trying to correct those
misunderstandings here.

>       I will begin by looking at some terminology that Dennett introduces
> early in the book, then move through the various arguments that Dennett
> touches on in the Gould chapter, and finish by speculating on who the
> audience for this book is and what may motivate Dennett's position.
>         Dennett makes a distinction between skyhooks and cranes.  Just so
> that you don't forget; skyhooks = miracles = bad and cranes = Darwinism =
> good.

In fact, my point is a bit subtler than that; skyhooks are any phenomena
that cannot be produced by a succession of algorithmic processes.  They
are not necessarily "miraculous" or "bad"; Roger Penrose's imagined
quantum gravity computers are an excellent case in point. He would
never say they were miraculous, nor would I--though I don't believe he
has shown them to be possible. They are skyhooks par excellence,
however. It makes perfect sense for any skeptic about the power of
Darwinian mechanisms to hunt for skyhooks; finding them is the hard part.

> This analogy is supposed to help us make some of the distinctions
> that were traditionally captured in the struggle about teleology and to
> reemphasize that evolution must constantly work with what it currently has;
> cranes can be used to build bigger cranes but you can't hope for ropes to
> hang from the sky.  Though Dennett is quite proud of the crane analogy it
> has the unfortunate feature of inviting lay readers to imagine a crane
> driver.  We should be cautious about a metaphor that invites such goal
> directedness.  It is ironic that someone who claims to have no allegiance
> to externalist teleology should deploy metaphors of skyhooks and cranes
> (What are they building?  Who is driving?).  I am certain that Dennett
> would reject this reading of his image, but I want to offer my reservations
> about the metaphor.
>       Dennett sees evolution as a process of exploring "design space" an
> abstract (possibly platonic) multidimensional space that has designs in it.
> I will prefer 'morphospace' leaving designs and all of the functionalism
> that they imply as hypotheses that should be deployed critically (this is,
> after all, the point of the Spandrels paper (Gould and Lewontin 1979), see
> below). You can imagine an individual organism moving on a trajectory
> through morphospace during development.  A population is a cloud in
> morphospace, when we add development the cloud gets bigger.  Design space
> sounds so end-directed and final.  Concentrating on a design space takes
> for granted part of what selectionist theories are meant to explain.  If
> everything selected is "designed" and selection is then used to explain
> design we have the kind of trivial conclusion that we depend on
> philosophers to save us from.  A change to 'morphospace' takes some of the
> shine off the skyhook/crane analogy but redirects us to a more important
> question; what variation is there for selection to act on.
>         Universal selectionist are not usually making claims about the
> distribution of variation.  But their (appropriate) emphasis on precisely
> that variation that is available to selection in a local population (a
> charitable reading of the admonition - "no skyhooks") can give the
> impression that they imagine some kind of normally distributed variance
> over all morphological variables.  The traditional picture of bell curves
> with selection acting to shift the population mean reinforces this notion.
> But as is generally acknowledged the neighborhood in morphospace that is
> actually explored by a given population is due to a complicated mix of
> mutations, translocations, inversions and other genetic events that have
> anything but uniform effects on morphology as they affect different
> regulatory and structural genes (a dichotomy that sounds more absolute than
> it is (compare Nijhout 1990)).  These, in turn, participate in
> developmental systems that facilitate and resist changes in morphospace and
> are have norms of reaction that can result in very different morphologies
> in different environmental contexts (another dichotomy,
> environmental/physiological, that implies a divide that isn't easy to
> sustain on close examination (this is a large literature, but see Gray
> 1992)).  Given this, what is the variance for each trait?  This is a major
> project in quantitative genetics (a good introductory discussion is Murphy
> 1979), and no amount of armchair biology will stand in for it.
>         The design-space that Dennett asks us to imagine arises from
> hypotheses that are made about structures (and behaviors - much of the
> preceding paragraph can be applied to an abstract behavioral space).  The
> core problem of something like a design space is that the appeal of a
> 'space' metaphor comes from the sense that there is a meaningful way to
> unpack the intuition of distance.  A space has some kind of metric that
> lets me say A is closer to B than it is to C.  If we don't really know what
> designs are close to others or if we are continuously surprised by how
> accessible one design is to another then our space will have an unusable
> metric and we will prefer to make an exhaustive list (1).
>         Dennett's self claimed contribution to evolutionary theory is that
> natural selection is an algorithm.  I have sympathies with the attempt to
> view biological processes computationally.  But he manages to dilute the
> term so much that in his own estimation, "... are there any limits at all
> on what may be considered an algorithmic process?  I guess the answer is
> No; if you wanted to, you could treat any process at the abstract level as
> an algorithmic process" (pg. 59 Dennett 1995).  So he gets marks for
> honesty.

Thanks. Ahouse ignores or misunderstands what I go on to say about the
conditions under which it is scientifically illuminating to treat a process
as algorithmic. His remarks below on "data structures" etc., deal with issues
amply covered by me in the book.

> At the same time, he misses a crucial part of thinking about
> algorithms; the importance of "data structures" - what is the universe over
> which an algorithm works.  What bridge principles allow me to add 1 apple
> to 1 apple and get 2 apples while adding 1 sand pile to 1 sand pile can
> result in 1 sand pile?  Dennett wants this algorithmic conception to lend
> an aura of guaranteed results to selectionism.  Not so fast.  There do
> exist algorithms that have provably guaranteed results; some examples can
> be found in any introductory text (Cormen, Leiserson et al. 1990).  It
> isn't clear what is guaranteed by a selectionist algorithm (2) if we don't
> include a lot of information about what kind of variance is possible and
> what the basis of selection is.
>         As artificial life models become more elaborate it may be that we
> will get a sense of both what is guaranteed and over what kinds of data
> types selectionist algorithms illustrate those guarantees (Fontana, Wagner
> et al. 1994).  There has a been rush to embrace computer models as an
> alternate laboratory for evolutionary questions (an interesting laboratory
> is described in Ray 1994).  It is important not to assume that we have
> reached this goal, as the journey has just begun.  Dennett has an
> opportunity to discuss these issues at length after he introduces Conway's
> "Life" game and though he acknowledges the skyhook nature of the rules that
> govern this game, I really hoped for a more intense light to be shown on
> the question of what the patterns perceived by Dennett as he watches the
> rules being iterated mean.  He talks about 'gliders' being annihilated by
> 'eaters' - but what do we learn about the kind of referent Dennett believes
> a model should have from this willingness to trade in very abstract
> entities.  What should alife models be modeling?  (There is a wonderful
> discussion to be had on this topic.)  How do you measure success (3)?
>         Understanding what kind of variation is possible and at what level
> selection occurs over those variations are what has driven the conversation
> about evolutionary biology at least since Darwin.  In his narrative,
> Dennett gets the story of evolutionary biology all wrong.  He places his
> emphasis on a divide between evil skyhook believers and righteous crane
> trusters.  This kind of divide was current in the 1860's (my historian
> friends tell me that it was overblown even then.  Did Darwin really, single
> handedly refute the Genesis creationists?) not in the 1960's or 1990's (4).
> The discussion in evolutionary biology is actually (to use Dennett-speak)
> how are the "cranes" made (in detail!) and what is the accessible
> neighborhood from a particular point in morphospace.  In these debates
> Gould and others have weighed in.
>         I entered Dennett's book via the chapter on Gould.  I was trying
> to understand Dennett's manic attack (Dennett 1993) on Gould's review of
> Cronin's book in the NYR (Gould 1992; Gould 1993).

My "manic" attack was provoked by a review that has been widely
recognized, by partisans on both sides, to be egregiously unfair and
nasty. It is not the first time Gould has unfairly blasted an opponent.
Much as I disagree with him, for instance, I sympathize with Philip
Johnson, author of DARWIN ON TRIAL, whose book was outrageously
misrepresented by Gould in a review. Ed Wilson, David Barash, and yes,
the late Richard Herrnstein, are among those whose views have been
caricatured, to use Ahouse's word, by Gould in the past.

> I had been told by a
> member of Darwin-L that I could find Dennett's thoughts on Gould in his new
> book (Dennett 1995).  While I did find some thoughts I was more confused
> than when I started.  This chapter is full of what seems to me to be at
> best uncharitable and at worst willful misreadings of Gould's writings.=

Again, I would like some actual citations of willful misreadings. I
checked the manuscript out with Gould and with some of his friends in the
field. Did they simply neglect to point out my willful misreadings?

> He paints Gould as some kind of anti-Darwinian throughout (compare Gould
> 1977).  I can't imagine Gould agreeing to this characterization.
>         Gould gets kudos for his 20+ year education of the American public
> and his anti-creationist stance.  Ah, but his prolific educating is but a
> way to fulfill his various agendas.  One of these is Gould's resistance to
> ultra-Darwinism which Dennett synonymizes with "his" no-skyhooks Darwinism.
> We find that Gould goes from one revolution to the next "crying wolf"
> (defying the moral of Aesop's fable).  This all amounts to the idea that
> Gould rejects "the very idea that evolution is, in the end an algorithmic
> process."  Given Dennett's attenuated all-inclusive sense of algorithm,
> what does this mean?
>         "The 'no skyhooks-allowed' Darwinism I have presented is, by
> Gould's lights, hyperDarwinism, an extremist view that needs overthrowing"
> (pg. 264 Dennett 1995). This sentence implies that Gould's description is
> pro-skyhooks, that hyper-Darwinism is identical with Dennett's previous
> presentation of neo-Darwinism, and that Gould buys this arrangement of the
> furniture.  I don't think that Gould would agree with or most fair readers
> would find in Gould a sky-hooks-allowed or -encouraged philosophy.

It's hard to say. Perhaps my diagnosis is wrong, in which case I am left
with no good explanation of the pattern of mistakes I describe in the
book, and which Ahouse has not yet rebutted. But I have tried to check my
theory out. On the one occasion on which I explicitly explained the
concept of skyhooks and cranes to Steve, (at a lunch with Danny Hillis
and John Brockman in the wake of the Cronin controversy), Danny and I
asked him if he agreed with us that all evolutionary processes were
ultimately all cranes--no skyhooks. Steve declined to commit himself. Fair
enough. I didn't want a snap judgment, and it was entirely likely that he
thought he was being asked to endorse something he hadn't fully
understood. So I left the incident out of my account in the book. I also
left out accounts of discussions I've had with Steve in his seminars at
Harvard and mine at Tufts. I'm still waiting for his considered judgment.

> Are we
> really to believe that neo-Darwinism is so free of empirical content that a
> priori no-skyhooks selectionism is all there is to it?  Is Gould really
> tilting at a careful no just-so stories, contingency aware, adaptation for
> only some things Darwinism?  I doubt it.  He makes his targets clear.
> Dennett may think that he has been unfairly placed into the bullseye but if
> in fact he isn't a Panglossian then why is he so nervous?
>         "After I began to notice that many of the most important
> contributions to evolutionary theory have been made by thinkers who were
> fundamentally ill-at-ease with Darwin's great insight, I could begin to
> take seriously the hypothesis that Gould himself is one of these." (pg. 267
> Dennett 1995)  If Dennett means that Gould is one of the important
> contributors to evolutionary theory who is interested in more than a priori
> selectionism then I suspect that even Gould would thank him for the
> compliment.  But it isn't meant that way - and probably won't be taken as a
> praise.  What is it that Dennett thinks all of those important contributors
> are doing with their time?  We have to (at least formally) allow that maybe
> their discomfort is with the kind of universalized Darwinism that Dennett
> wants to synonymize with what is presented in Darwin's work as seen through
> the eyes of Dawkins.
>         Dennett challenges the spandrels of San Marco paper (Gould and
> Lewontin 1979).  This is Gould and Lewontin's forceful statement against
> explaining every feature as an adaptation.  Dennett insists that none of
> the befuddled biologists who use this paper as a corrective for their
> students know what they are talking about (pg. 267-282 Dennett 1995).  Poor
> Dennett, even his ally Maynard-Smith allows that "By and large, I think
> their paper had a healthy effect.  There are plenty of bad adaptive
> stories... Their critique forced us to clean up our act and to provide
> evidence for our stories." (Maynard-Smith 1995)  So contra Maynard-Smith
> Dennett claims that Gould was preaching to the converted and no "good"
> evolutionists ever went to the excesses that the Panglossian adjective
> implied.

In fact, I quote an earlier remark of Maynard Smith to this very effect
on page 278: "The effect of the Gould-Lewontin paper has been
considerable, and on the whole welcome. I doubt it many people have
stopped trying to tell adaptive stories. Certainly I have not done so
myself." (1991) I myself offer the interpretation of the Spandrels paper
Ahouse endorses: it is a corrective to sloppy adaptationism, not a
refutation of adaptationism. (See discussion in DDI, pp270-1, and 278-9)
But Gould always rejects that reading of the paper. See, e.g.,
his essay in the Selzer volume, which I cite. Perhaps I have
misinterpreted it. If I have, then show me. If I have misinterpreted it,
the first two claims I listed at the outset must be doctrines that Gould
should disavow. That ought to be easy to check.

>         How could Dennett get it so wrong?  Maybe the path of the argument
> will help.  We are treated to a long explanation of how domes can be placed
> on walls without forming spandrels (which it turns out aren't even really
> called 'spandrels').  And it goes on and on - only to end by claiming that
> in fact not all features are adaptations; "Natural selection could still be
> the 'exclusive agent' of evolutionary change even though many features of
> organisms were not adaptations."  This simply moves the goal post.  If we
> synonymize 'evolutionary change' with 'natural selection' then sentences
> like the above are not very interesting.  Dennett's discussion of the
> Spandrels paper shows a pattern of an obsessive attention to the wrong
> details.  The spandrels paper is used and taught often because people do
> make the "adaptations everywhere" mistake.
>         Dennett's treatment of Gould and Vrba is curious, because he seems
> to buy (completely) the notion of appropriation of features that weren't
> designed for their current use.  In fact, his no skyhooks rule requires
> this of him.  He seems to be saying that since you can go back to a time
> when "you will find that every adaptation has developed out of predecessor
> structures each of which had some other use or no use at all" (pg. 281
> Dennett 1995) that there is no useful category for features not evolved
> under natural selection for their current use.  Does allowing this formal
> notion (everything is an exaptation) gut the word of any utility?  Most of
> the molecular evolutionist I know don't seem to think they need this word.
> But they certainly have the situation arise.

Ahouse has misunderstood my point about exaptation. So far as I can see,
he and I agree. My point was that exaptation was never an alternative to
adaptation, but rather  an orthodox and uncontroversial account of the
nature of adaptations. Its only target was the misbegotten concept of
preadaptation. So I presume that Ahouse would grant that anybody who
thought that Gould and Vrba had struck a blow against neo-Darwinism by
showing that exaptations abounded was simply confused. That was my point.

>         Let me illustrate with an example from protein evolution (others
> have had plenty to say about organ-level exaptations (Gould and Vrba
> 1982)).  A protein involved in (5) transporting soluble antibodies from
> mother's milk across the lumen of the gut (FcRn) is a heterodimer.  The
> heavy chain of FcRn is related to the MHC class I proteins (paralogously)
> (6).  There is some circumstantial evidence that these proteins diverged
> around the time of the ancestor to lizards and mammals(Ahouse, Hagerman et
> al. 1993).  One of the domains of Ameiva lizard MHC class I is slightly
> more similar to part of the mouse FcRn heavy chain than the same domain
> from the MHC of other mammals.  This conclusion has recently received
> support from a group who has examined the genomic structure of the mouse
> gene (Kandil, Noguchi et al. 1995).  It turns out that FcRn uses a very
> different part of the molecule to bind its ligand (the antibody) that the
> MHC molecule does to bind its ligand (a peptide) (Burmeister, Huber et al.
> 1994).  Importantly the binding is not near the MHC peptide binding groove.
> Is this an example of what Gould and Vrba call 'exaptation'; "features of
> organisms are non-adapted, but available for useful cooptation in
> descendants" (Gould and Vrba 1982)?  The domain that is coopted for the
> function of binding in FcRn may be critical for the function of MHC - just
> not used for binding and subsequently appropriated.  In this context it
> could have a coherent use, since we aren't really ready to move back to the
> ancestor of all MHC extracellular domains.
>         Dennett tells us that Gould has complained that the target of his
> criticism is moving (pg. 281 Dennett 1995).  Gould's frustration that the
> neoDarwinian synthesis doesn't sit still, adsorbing and embracing new ideas
> as they make themselves known shouldn't get too much sympathy.  At the same
> time, being able to rapidly cleave to new ideas is not the same as always
> having stood for them yourself.  Dennett repeatedly belittles Gould's
> contributions by claiming that they were always there.  Priority is
> important and no one likes to be grabbed by the collar and told
> passionately how important it is to believe what one already believes.  So
> Dennett will need to argue more convincingly that all of Gould's mild
> correctives were an extant and vivid part of the synthesis to bring me on
> board.

I am quite prepared to grant that Gould's various campaigns have
corrected misconceptions--even major misconceptions, if you like--among
evolutionary  biologists. I am not prepared to grant that Gould has
brought neo-Darwinism to its knees, which is the message that is out there.
In fact, there are biologists who vigorously dispute Gould's claims to
have corrected their vision in important ways, but I don't take sides on
that issue.

>         Dennett then moves to a discussion of punctuated equilibrium (7).
> He does what he can to confuse a straightforward central claim;
> morphological stasis is found throughout the fossil record.  Adaptive
> gradualism does not lead us to expect this.  That's the main point.

The issue was confronted, and corrected, by Darwin himself (see DDI,
p.290, for the citation of Darwin's endorsement of punc ec.) Gradualism,
properly understood, is not "constant speedism". Adaptive gradualism
still reigns; is still endorsed by Gould. Or has he endorsed saltationism
in some forum I am unaware of?

> Dennett confuses the issue (as others have) by focusing on the punctuations
> not the equilibrium.  It is stasis that is surprising in a gradualist all
> features varying world.  How would you explain stasis if you don't let
> yourself appeal to constraints in variation?  You would depend on
> stabilizing selection - as people have.  But claiming that all stasis is
> due to stabilizing selection is a controversial move.  Is it discussed as
> such by Dennett?  Nope.

I don't use the term "stabilizing selection"; I discuss it in several places.

> He offers us the idea that species are
> intrinsically conservative, that species are tracking stable environments,
> and that it is due to a purely theoretical explanation (that we aren't told
> about) and from this we are to conclude that, "It is quite clear, then,
> that equilibrium is no more a problem for the neo-Darwinian than
> punctuation" (pg. 294 Dennett 1995).
>         Gould and others have taken the observation about stasis to make
> plausible species sorting as an explanation in macroevolutionary dynamics
> (Gould and Eldredge 1993; Gould 1994).  The discussion regarding species
> selection is ongoing and enthusiasm for or against it seems to have
> everything to do with what scale you are examining.  In explaining the
> diversity and abundance of various forms at a particular time and place we
> press a number of explanatory machines into service.  Dennett, it seems,
> would insist that every (evolutionary?) feature of distribution and
> abundance is best explained by local adaptation.

Why does it seem so? I do not see that I commit myself to any such claim.

> Is this true?  Certainly
> not.  We are then left with the issue of deciding what features to
> foreground as we tell the story of life.  Parts of that story invite
> highlighting adaptationism (the changes in primate limb structure (Fleagle
> 1988)) others macroevolutionary dynamics (extinctions in the marine fossil
> record (Raup and Sepkoski 1982)).
>         What do we know about variation and the accessible morphological
> neighborhood?  The last few years have yielded a bounty of information.
> Much of this work has come as thanks to years of Drosophila genetics (let
> us bow our heads in thanks to all those technicians and post-docs who
> maintained inbred lines for all those years!).
>         One of the important parts of the adaptationist tale has been the
> idea that similar environments can generate similar solutions (convergence
> or parallelism).  Examples that are often marched out involve the similar
> forms of marsupial and placental mammals (the marsupial cat and dog and the
> placental rabbit that moves just like a kangaroo) or the streamlining that
> is shared by dolphins and tuna.  Not bad examples.  The other side offers
> long lists of organisms that don't have convergent partners, my favorite is
> the woodpecker.  So what happens when one of the favorite examples from one
> column is yanked into the other...
>         The evolution of the eye stood for years as an example of
> independent evolution fulfilling the same need.  Vertebrates and mollusks
> have single lens eyes (though the photoreceptive cells under the lens have
> opposite orientation) while insects have compound eyes.  These differences
> had been taken to imply that the eye evolved (independently) numerous times
> (Salvini-Plawen and Mayr 1977).  Now it looks (pun!) as if the large
> morphological differences share a common developmental pathway for eye
> morphogenesis.  The evidence for homology in the developmental pathways
> comes from looking at the orthologous protein in mammals and flies.  The
> original paper claiming homology between mouse (Pax-6) and fly (eyeless)
> was in 1994 (Quiring, Walldorf et al. 1994).  Subsequent work in the same
> lab showed that misexpression of the eyeless protein could give rise to
> eyes on wings and legs.  This story was reviewed in Natural history in
> December of that year (Gould 1994) and a nice review recently came out in
> Current Opinion in Genetics & Development this year (Halder, Callaerts et
> al. 1995).  What do we take from this deep homology?  Does this mean that
> there is no selection - of course not!  But it does sensitize us to the
> importance of the lineage and suggests that at a minimum if there is even
> the slightest backdrop that can be used in a new context this developmental
> path has been followed and more challengingly maybe selection doesn't have
> the latitude that we might want to give it.  If the Pax-6 cascade hadn't
> been extant in the lineage that led to insects, chordates and mollusks
> would there have been eyes in these lineages?
>         Can the variation that selection operates on include a visit to the
> past?  Anyone interested in animal development these days will find
> themselves learning about a group of genes called the Hox genes.  These
> genes originally identified because their mutant forms resulted in
> transformations of body segments are fascinating.  These mutants underline
> the ability of small genetic changes to have profound morphological
> consequences (not news - but underlined nonetheless).  Even more
> fascinating is recent work showing that changes in some Hox genes can
> result in ancestral morphologies reemerging.  The ancestral condition for
> the mammalian ear ossicles is a single bone homologous to the stapes
> (stirrup).  The familiar malleus (hammer) and incus (anvil) are derived
> from the articular (lower jaw) and quadrate (upper jaw).  Scrambling the
> Hoxa-2 gene in mice changes the pharyngeal arches during development
> resulting in the ancestral condition (Lufkin, Mark et al. 1992).  A similar
> thing is seen in Hoxb-8 and Hoxc-8 manipulations where rib and vertebral
> atavisms are seen (Pollock, Tadru et al. 1995).  The ancestral one wing per
> segment can be seen in manipulations of insect Hox genes (Carroll,
> Weatherbee et al. 1995).  The hypothesis that flowers derived from leaf
> tissue is lent support by plant mutants that show whole flower structures
> where anthers, stamens, petals and sepals can be replaced by leaf tissue
> (Weigel and Meyerowitz 1994).  This should not be taken to imply that the
> intricate derived states (getting the four whorls of flower tissue from
> leaf tissue) are only a couple of mutations away from the ancestral
> condition, rather these mutations emphasize that certain (surprising?)
> forms are close to extant forms and evolutionary dynamics may be dependent
> on the possibilities that are "stored" in these developmental pathways.
> (see also Day 1995)
>         I raise the examples of deep homology and atavism to remind you
> where one of the foci of current discussion in evolutionary biology rests.
> The argument is not in some kind of tension between mystics and realists.
> To read Dennett you wouldn't get the sense that any of this was happening.
> How misleading is it to write a book that avoids the current intellectual
> activity in the discipline?

As I make plain (e.g., p.323), there are lots of fascinating
controversies within evolutionary biology that I do not discuss in DDI
precisely because however they come out, they don't promise--or
threaten--to undo the fundamental Darwinian idea, which is the focus of
my book.

>         Dennett ends his chapter on Gould with a discussion of Gould's
> Burgess Shale book (Gould 1989).  Dennett writes, "Gould speaks here not
> just of unpredictability but of the power of contemporary events and
> personalities to "shape and direct the actual path" of evolution.  This
> echoes exactly the hope that drove James Mark Baldwin to discover the
> effect now named for him: somehow we have to get personalities -
> consciousness, intelligence, agency - back in the driver's seat.  If we can
> just have contingency - this will give the mind some elbow room so it can
> act, and be responsible for its own destiny, instead of being the mere
> effect of a mindless cascade of mechanical processes!  This conclusion, I
> suggest, is Gould's ultimate destination, revealed in the paths he has most
> recently explored." - (pg. 300 Dennett 1995)  This doesn't resonate with my
> take on Gould's project.  I leave it to you to put this analysis somewhere
> on the spectrum from on-target to uncharitable to misleading.

The effort by Gould to keep Darwinian thinking away from "personalities"
and the societies formed of them is an obvious and large part of Gould's
project. Here he suggests that "modern punctuationalism" (see full quote
on p300 of DDI) has as one of its benefits a new appreciation of the
"power of personalities to shape and direct the actual path." It is quite
a stretch from the Burgess Shale to a claim about how personalities might
be a (rival? independent?) force in nature. The only way I can see to
fill in the gaps in his argument is to suppose that he sees the Burgess
Shale as undercutting neo-Darwinism. And that's pretty much what he says.

(You'd be amused at how wildly he has been misread on this score. I was
fascinated to learn from one fellow academic--not a biologist but a
fellow philosopher who is, I had thought, science-literate--that
Wonderful Life demonstrated that the Burgess fauna HAD NO COMMON
ANCESTORS! As far as this fascinated reader was concerned, WL was a
demonstration of multiple events of Special Creation during the Cambrian
explosion. If that wasn't what Gould was saying, what was the big deal?)

I will also provide some marginal comments on the second Ahouse essay.

Dan Dennett


<28:20>From ddennett@diamond.tufts.edu Tue Dec 12 11:31:49 1995

Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 12:31:34 -0500 (EST)
From: Daniel Dennett <ddennett@diamond.tufts.edu>
To: "Jeremy C. Ahouse" <ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu>
Subject: Re: Dennett Ch.10 review (2/2)

On Thu, 7 Dec 1995, Jeremy C. Ahouse wrote:

>         It trivializes the breadth of Gould's Burgess Shale book to focus
> on two conclusions.  But let's push ahead with Dennett as he focuses on
> contingency and disparity.  Contingency he takes as obvious and not worth
> raising... implying that Gould is trading in trivialities.  You will have
> to decide if Gould's compilation of progressivist human (male) centric
> iconography justifies making this point to the audience that would be
> interested in this book.  The second question is; how do we measure and
> assess the direction of morphological change through time?  And when we
> unpack this; what are the dynamics of variation in the lineages in the tree
> of life?  Mark Ridley in his review complained that Gould has energized
> this argument with a mistaken criterion; the use of higher taxonomic
> categories (Ridley 1990).  I agree with the point that Ridley has to make.
> This problem in systematics (what, if anything do grade based higher level
> taxa mean) is still open.  Gould claims to have other criteria (Gould 1991)
> including raising points about cladograms that use a large number of
> loss-of-feature character state transitions.  In doing so he implicitly
> raises the thorny issue of character weighting in a cladistic framework.
> Both sides of this debate are worth spending time with (Gould 1993; McShea
> 1993; Ridley 1993).  Get yourself a copy of the wonderful coffee table book
> on the Burgess (just out in paper Briggs, Erwin et al. 1994) and see how
> you would classify this fauna.  Dennett does not address this important
> issue.

I cite McShea (p.303), which provides the interested reader with all the
pointers needed to pursue this interesting issue. I deleted a longer
discussion of this point because it did not impinge enough on my main
question, which was: why does Gould think the Burgess Shale fauna are so

>         He does however hammer away at contingency (which, remember, he
> thinks is a trivial point); "evolution can be an algorithm, and evolution
> can have produced us by an algorithmic process, without it being true that
> evolution is an algorithm for producing us" (pg. 308 Dennett 1995).  If you
> are attracted to his use of the word algorithm to mean process then once
> again he is falling into line with Gould although you wouldn't sense that
> from the tone.  I think it falls to Dennett to show that the lay audience
> for Gould's books have all long ago rejected any teleological leanings and
> so don't need to be reminded that humans are not the point of the
> narrative... even more challenging is that there is no narrative in the
> traditional sense.  This is what Gould, who knows how to tell a good story,
> must grapple with.  How do you deliver in an engaging way the message that
> there is no simple narrative, no simple moral to be drawn from the history
> of life?

I agree that Gould's lay audience has "teleological leanings" in
abundance. If the only message of the book was that these are deeply
mistaken, it would not puzzle me at all, and I'd add it to the catalogue
of fine Gould educational products. But Gould claims that the Burgess
Shale revolutionized (or should revolutionize) the thinking of

>         Ironically Gould and Dennett share the desire to remove the comfort
> of the idea that the world exists solely for us and that humans are the
> inevitable result of evolution.  Though (contra Gould) Dennett may be
> arguing that some kind of sentience is inevitable.  In making the case
> against teleology Gould insinuates these ideas more gently, without
> insisting that his religious colleagues are lazy and dishonest; compare
> "those evolutionists who see no conflict between evolution and their
> religious beliefs have been careful not to look as closely as we have been
> looking, or else hold a religious view that gives God what might we call a
> merely ceremonial role to play" (pg. 310 Dennett 1995).  The symbolic and
> mystical traditions that humans use to find personal (and importantly,
> social) identity and meaning shouldn't be so summarily dismissed.

The whole book is addressed to this challenge to these traditions. I don't
think 586 pages is a summary dismissal.

>         It is important to recognize that some of Gould's distinctions were
> intended as therapeutic, designed to pull people from careless habits.
> Dennett in firm possession of a pristine adaptationism (8) would not
> formally make any of these mistakes and so may not need the correctives.
> But he has yet to demonstrate that the larger population of biologists (or
> Gould's lay audience) had nothing to gain from spandrels, stasis, or
> contingency.
>         What drives Dennett's narrative?  One possibility was offered to me
> at a seminar.  I wondered aloud who this book was for.

I have just said: it is for all those who think that Darwinian thinking
is a threat that must be contained. People who believe this come in many

> A computer
> scientist suggested that maybe it was for the Alife crowd.  They enjoy the
> assumption that the "evolution" that is seen in simulations is deeply
> representative of what has happened on this planet.  This position is much
> easier to sustain if you strip all the bothersome (intricate) details out
> of the biological picture and synonymize evolution with a simple
> selectionism.
>         Mark Ridley's review of "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" (Ridley 1995)
> makes the point that while "natural selection arguably is the universal
> explanation for biological adaptation, it is not for evolution."  This
> raises the possibility that Dennett is really more of a Spencerian,
> enthusiastic about selectionist models and ready to use them whenever and
> wherever he can?  While I share his enthusiasm for the wonderful
> possibilities that natural selection suggests, the strident and self
> righteous tone of "Dangerous Idea" will leave this book only the audience
> of the converted, and they would probably prefer something more nuanced and
> careful (e.g. Keller and Lloyd 1992; Sober 1994).  I don't want to blunt
> Dennett's enthusiasm for evolutionary biology - champions are to be prized.
> Though I fear that his enthusiasm is for selectionist theories not for
> explaining the distribution and abundance of living forms, and this induces
> him to walk in with a bit too much baggage, he "knows" too much.  "The
> action of thought is excited by the initiation of doubt, and ceases when
> belief is attained..." (Peirce 1932). Maybe we can make a place safe enough
> for him to put some of those bags down and luxuriate in the intricacies of
> the biological world and let a little doubt shine in.

Please don't overlook my last comment, below, on the footnote on algorithms.
D Dennett
> ____
>         Thank you to the list for all the encouragement, please comment
> heartily.  Thank you also to Ron Amundson, Hugh Pendleton, Craig Story,
> Gary Cziko, and John Barthel for various levels of comment and sparring.
> ____
> (1) It remains a possibility that 'space' (design or morpho) is just
> Dennett's way of discussing a point set and that there is no need to have
> any sense of distance (a metric).  I think that this move looses an
> interesting and important intuition.
> (2) Genetic algorithms (a current vogue in computer science) are used
> "experimentally" not analytically to solve particular problems.  This area
> is full of questions about how a problem is to be encoded and how the
> solution landscape is related to the "genetic" operators that are used in
> the simulation.  To get a sense of what is currently happening in the alife
> community visit http://www.krl.caltech.edu/~brown/alife/,
> http://alife.santafe.edu:80/~joke/zooland/, or
> http://alife.santafe.edu:80/alife/.
>         It has been suggested to me that I am not charitable enough to a
> possible metaphorical reading of algorithm (i.e. that Dennett's use of
> algorithm is looser and does not entail all that it would technically
> entail).  I will resist granting this (unless Dennett expressly asks for
> this kind of release) because he seems to trade on our enthusiasm for
> guaranteed results from algorithms to say that Natural Selection carries a
> guarantee.

The suggestor is right, and then some.
See the footnote in DDI page 52, where I explicitly explain why I am not
cleaving to one of the standard concepts of algorithm. Note that Ahouse
himself uses my (familiar) concept of algorithm when he discusses, in the
previous footnote, "genetic algorithms"; genetic algorithms are not
algorithms in the restricted sense. In fact, there is a good deal of
discussion of this very issue in DDI, scattered through the book. Look up
"algorithm" in the index.

> (3) "At the beginning you achieve success if you are interesting to a
> growing audience.  If nonexperts at your game begin to use it
> metaphorically,  leading to other interesting conversations, you have
> success-two.  If you get beyond this stage, make a research project out of
> determining criteria for success." (Pendleton 1995)
> (4) While there are certainly still creationists in American society and
> there are many people who know very little about the distribution and
> abundance of living forms and so don't feel that they need a theory of
> evolution to explain the world that they see around themselves.  But
> Dennett isn't weighing in on that debate.  Is Dennett claiming that Gould's
> discussion of the adaptationist program, punctuated equilibrium, the
> Burgess Shale, etc... is a critical part of the armamentarium of
> creationists?

No. See DDI, pp.265-66 (wherein you will also find the following: "The
real Gould has made major contributions to evolutionary thinking,
correcting a variety of serious and widespread misapprehensions, but the
mythical Gould has been created out of the yearnings of many
Darwin-dreaders, feeding on Gould's highly charged words,and this has
encouraged, in turn, his own aspirations to bring down 'Ultra-Darwinism,"
leading him into some misbegotten claims." That sentence expresses the
main theme of the chapter on Gould. Ahouse has not cast serious doubt on
it that  I can see.


<28:21>From g-cziko@uiuc.edu Fri Dec 15 09:28:05 1995

Date: Fri, 15 Dec 1995 09:29:13 -0600
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: g-cziko@uiuc.edu (CZIKO Gary)
Subject: Dennett-Ahouse Discussion on Web

[from Gary Cziko <g-cziko@uiuc.edu>]

I have put Dennett's response to Jeremy's Ahouse critique of Dennett's
discussion of Gould on the World Wide Web at



Gary Cziko
Associate Professor              Telephone 217-333-8527
Educational Psychology           FAX: 217-244-7620
University of Illinois           E-mail: g-cziko@uiuc.edu
1310 S. Sixth Street             Radio: N9MJZ
210 Education Building
Champaign, Illinois 61820-6990



<28:22>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sun Dec 17 12:33:49 1995

Date: Sun, 17 Dec 1995 13:33:35 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: An invitation to join the Ray Society
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Most systematists will be familiar by name with the Ray Society, a British
society founded in 1844 to publish important new and historical works in
natural history.  Named for the seventeenth-century naturalist and
antiquarian John Ray, the society has published more than 150 volumes
(Charles Darwin's barnacle monograph among them) in its century and a half
of existence.  (Linguists may possibly know of John Ray also, from his
_Dictionariolum Trilingue_ of 1675, an early comparative dictionary of
English, Latin, and Greek, as well as from his other early works on English
dialect geography.)

The Ray Society is still active, though it is now quite small, and I thought
some of the readers of Darwin-L might care to join to bolster its ranks and
to assist its fine publishing tradition.  Annual membership is an
unbelievable 4 Pounds (British), and the benefits of membership consist
almost entirely of discounts (more than %50 in some cases) on Society
publications.  The publications are often specialized monographs, but others
are of general evolutionary and historical interest.  Recent titles range
from _The Phylogenetic Systematics of Freeliving Nematodes_ and _British
Prosobranch Molluscs_ to a facsimile edition of Gilbert White's _Natural
History and Antiquities of Selborne_ and (on the sesquicentennial of the
Society) a beautiful portfolio of fine natural history illustrations
published in Ray Society monographs over the years.  For those in the
vicinity of London there is also an annual meeting.

The Ray Society has been doing one thing quietly and very well for 150
years: publishing current and historical monographs in natural history. As
a member you would not only be helping it continue, you would also become a
part of a long and distinguished tradition to which Darwin himself and most
of his contemporaries belonged.

"I have had a circular from the Ray Society" wrote Charles Darwin in 1845,
"& I do not know to whom to pay my guinea."  Not wanting to leave you in
that condition, you may send your 4 Pounds to:

     Dr. N. J. Evans, Honorary Secretary
     c/o The Natural History Museum
     Cromwell Road
     London SW7 5BD
     United Kingdom

Start 1996 off right, as a new member of the Ray Society.

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu; 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.


<28:23>From michaels@SciFac.usyd.edu.au Sun Dec 17 15:23:56 1995

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 08:25:01 +0800
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: michaels@SciFac.usyd.edu.au
Subject: research fellowship in Sydney




The Unit for the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of
Sydney seeks applications for the post of Research Fellow to undertake a
project in the history of the New South Wales Red Cross Blood Transfusion
Service (NSW BTS).  The initial appointment will be for one year (12
months) from from taking up the post, and is renewable for a further two

The major responsibility of the Research Fellow during the period of the
appointment will be to write a book on the history of the NSW BTS, using
the archives of the Service, oral interviews with members and former
members of the BTS, and other appropriate historical materials. We, and the
grantor, are looking for someone able to write innovative and--important
this--accessible scholarship. It is expected that the typescript will be
submitted for publication during the final year of Fellowship. In addition
to this responsibility (the 'Project'), the Research Fellow will also be
strongly encouraged to:

1.      undertake and publish research,  on issues related to the history
of the NSW BTS or on other matters in HPS and HPM;

2.      offer one undergraduate course in the history of medicine/science.
The course will be offered on a two-hours per week basis for one semester;

3.      participate in the Unit for HPS's activities, particularly its
seminar programme and postgraduate meetings;

The successful applicant will have: (a) a doctorate in history of science
or medicine, or in a cognate field; (b) demonstrated accomplishments in
independent scholarly research and publication in areas appropriate to the
Project; (3) breadth of background in current history of science/medicine
and other appropriate areas.

Salary in the first year will be A$42,189, rising by increments in the
subsequent years. In addition to the salary, the Fellow will have $2000 in
research expenses per annum and have access to WP facilities, etc. It is
hoped that the Fellow will take up his or her position in mid-1996.

This is an attractive position offering opportunities for exciting research
and for teaching experience. The Unit for HPS at the University of Sydney
has a lively graduate programme in HPS and HPM. The University has an
excellent research library, while Sydney itself offers a splendid
cosmopolitan environment, with fine weather and outstanding cultural

For informal information and to register interest, please contact Dr
Michael Shortland, Unit for the History and Philosophy of Science, F07
University of Sydney, Sydney NSW 2006. Fax (61-2) 351 4124. Tel (61-1) 351
4801. Email: Michaels@scifac.su.oz.au.

Michael Shortland                      Email :  michaels@scifac.su.oz.au
Unit for the History and
Philosophy of Science F07    _--_|\
University of Sydney       /       \
Sydney NSW 2006            \_.--._ /*
                                         Fax   : 02 351 4124
                                         Tel   : 02 351 4801


<28:24>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sun Dec 17 18:16:25 1995

Date: Sun, 17 Dec 1995 19:16:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: "Affinity" in the historical sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro

Systematists will recognize the term "affinity" as a somewhat old-fashioned
synonym of the term "relationship".  It was common in the nineteenth century
to refer to the affinities of a taxon, meaning the relationships of that taxon
to others, and although it isn't all that commonly used today, one does still
see it in print from time to time.

I began to wonder about the range of the concept the other day when I noticed
a description of a book that examines the concept of chemical affinity in the
nineteenth century:

    Levere, Trevor H.  1993.  _Affinity and Matter: Elements of Chemical
       Philosophy 1800-1865_.
    Affinity served as a unifying concept both within chemical theory and
    between chemistry and physics.  It also played a crucial role in the
    development of the concept of matter, which was significant for the
    history of ideas.  This book stresses these two aspects of affinity,
    relating them to one another and to their nineteenth-century
    intellectual background in science, philosophy, and religion.  The
    development of the concept of affinity is introduced through Newton's
    legacy to the eighteenth century and is then studied through the
    contributions of major nineteenth-century natural philosophers
    including Davy, Faraday, Berzelius, Oersted, and Berthelot.

I wonder if any of our linguists can tell us whether the term "affinity"
has been used in historical linguistics; do people talk about "the affinities
of Hittite", for example, when discussing what languages are related to
Hittite?  Does the term carry any special connotations in other historical

Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner

Robert J. O'Hara (darwin@iris.uncg.edu; 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.


<28:25>From anave@ucla.edu Mon Dec 18 20:50:38 1995

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 06:34:32 +0400
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: anave@ucla.edu (Ari Nave)
Subject: Re: "Affinity" in the historical sciences

In anthropology, an affine is someone to whom you are related through
marriage, as opposed to someone to whom you are related consanguinally,
that is, genealogically other then marriage.  Most people take consanguinal
relations to be equated with genetics.  Dwight Read at UCLA specialized in
kinship.  His distinction between they types o kinship relations shows how
the terms are used in anthropology:

A relationship by marriage is an affinal relationship.  Otherwise, it is a
consanguineal relationship.   Note that kinship is a cultural construct, not
an identification of genetic relationships.  A distinction is usually made
between genitor/genetrix and pater/mater.  The former being, of course
genetic fatehr and mother.  The latter is the socially recognized father and
mother (who need not be the biological parents).  Kris Lehman, at the U. of
Illinois, has just written an article arguing that a third distinciton needs
to be made: geneological father/geneological mother (i.e., the persons who
are recognized when computing geneological relationships).  My arguement is
that kinship, as identified via kin terms, is a cultural construct abstacted
from notions of geneology and kinship is the consequence of the mapping of
this construct onto a set of persons.  In this view, there is no such thing
as "fictive kin"--a notion that assumes "kin" is coterminous with
genealogical relationships.  But whether one views "kin" as genealogy, or as
what is defined via terminology, genetic relationships do not determine
kinship.  In our system we have a native ideology that emphasives "blood
connection" as part of kinship, which then lends itself to a seeming
refinement via genetics (i.e., determining paternity via DNA), but even in
our own system we do not insist upon genetic connecttion to define kinship
relationships.  For example, a recent court case agreed that the lesbian
partner of a woman who bore a child was, legally, a parent of the child.  The
court agreed that the child had two parents (which was the understanding of
the child), namely her mother and her mother's lesbian partner.  Or, consider
adoption.  While we tend, in our society, to distinguish between "real
parent" and "adopted parent," that distinction is certainly not universal.

Ari Nave
                   Dept. of Anthropology
                   University of California, Los Angeles
                   Los Angeles, CA 90024-1553

Field site:   (till 31 March 1996)
                  3 Queen Alexandra Street, Beau Bassin
                  Republic of Mauritius
                  Tel./Fax. (230) 464-3896

e-mail:  anave@ucla.edu


<28:26>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Tue Dec 19 00:14:07 1995

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 01:13:51 -0400 (EDT)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: December 19 -- Today in the Historical Sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


1815: BENJAMIN SMITH BARTON dies at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Barton was
one of the first professional botanists in the United States, and published
the first American textbook on the subject, _Elements of Botany_, in 1803.
While serving as professor of natural history, botany, and materia medica at
the University of Pennsylvania, Barton amassed the largest natural history
library and herbarium of his day.  He had hoped to publish a complete flora
of North America in collaboration with Thomas Nuttall, but was not able to
complete it before his death.

1861: NIKOLAI IVANOVICH ANDRUSOV is born at Odessa, Russia (now Ukraine).
Andrusov will study geology and zoology as a student at Novorossiysk
University, and will travel extensively in Russia and central Europe
collecting fossils.  He will marry Nadezhda Genrikhovna Schliemann, daughter
of the archeologist Heinrich Schliemann, in 1899, and six years later will
become professor of geology and paleontology at the University of Kiev.
Andrusov will be best remembered for his many geological and zoological
investigations of the Black Sea region.

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 listserv@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu or connect
to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information.


<28:27>From rozan@uog9.uog.edu Tue Dec 19 01:20:29 1995

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 17:32:11 +0000 (WET)
From: "Yigal Zan, R.L. H-Anderson" <rozan@uog9.uog.edu>
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: "Affinity" and fictive kinship

Re Nave's commenents, the Yapese of Micronesia certainly recognize fictive
kinship as such; they have a category called suwon, which denotes fictive
parent/child relations between persons in an overlord or overseer estate
(the "parents") and persons in a related serf family (the "children"),
with specific sets of obligations associated with each side in the dyad.

Not only do the Yapese recognize this relation outside normal kinship
relations, which in addition to recognized biological relations in
marriage include all sorts of adoptions, but they extend it to the
Carolinians living in the coral islands to the east of Yap, in a
relationship called sawei (first described by Wm. Lessa of UCLA, by the
way), in which high ranking Yapese from certain estates in two chiefly
villages are the "parents" of specific families in the coral islands. All
participants recognize that this is fictive kinship;  nonetheless the
prescribed behaviors of sponsorship (feeding, giving to the "children"
whatever they ask, etc.) and obedience (deferential posture, providing
small items of food and handicrafts when commanded to, remaining silent
until spoken to, etc.) are performed when the relevant interactive
contexts arise. One might call this "political kinship" but the behavioral
model is regular kinship.  Rosalind Hunter-Anderson


<28:28>From ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu Tue Dec 19 08:35:32 1995

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 09:35:16 -0500
To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List)
From: ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu (Jeremy C. Ahouse)
Subject: introductory Cladistics text


        I just came across a good introductory text to use with your
students.    It is 4 years old, so you may all know about it already, but
just in case, here is bibliographic and ordering information.

        - Jeremy

     LC Call Number: QH83 .C613 1991
              Title: The Compleat cladist : a primer of phylogenetic procedures
                      / E.O. Wiley, D.R. Brooks, D. Siegel-Causey, V.A. Funk.
   Publication Info: Lawrence, Kan. : Museum of Natural History, University of
                      Kansas, 1991.
  Phys. Description: x, 158 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
        Series Name: Special publication / the University of Kansas, Museum of
                      Natural History ; no. 19
              Notes: "October 1991."
              Notes: Includes bibliographical references (p. [129]-135).
           Subjects: Cladistic analysis.
           Subjects: Zoology--Classification.
           Subjects: Phylogeny.
     LC Card Number:    92224478 //r93
               ISBN: 0-89338-035-0

Beth Huerter, KU Publications Administrator, wrote me:
        You may order the cladist from The University of Kansas; by fax
(913-864-5335) by email (huerterb@falcon.cc.ukans.edu) or by mail
(Publications, KU Natural History Museum, Lawrence, KS 66045).

Payment may be by check, PO or credit card. To use your credit card I
need the number and the expiration date.

The cost is $14.95 plus $2.00 for shipping and handling.

        Jeremy C. Ahouse
        Biology Department
        Brandeis University
        Waltham, MA 02254-9110
ph:     (617) 736-4954
fax:    (617) 736-2405
email:  ahouse@hydra.rose.brandeis.edu

        "I am a carnivorous fish swimming in two waters, the cold water of
art and the hot water of science." -Salvador Dali


<28:29>From mew1@siu.edu Tue Dec 19 13:27:00 1995

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 13:15:39 -0600
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
From: "Margaret E. Winters" <mew1@siu.edu>
Subject: Affinity

Since I am avoiding other work for a few minutes, I checked the
index of each of the historical linguistics texts on my shelf
(Lehmann, Hock, Labov [on phonological change], Crawley, Fox, among others)
for any entry under "affinity" - and found none.  I also tried the couple
of histories of the field I have here (H. Pedersen, G. Sampson) and had
no luck there either.  My impression is that the term is old fashioned
in historical linguistics and was never used much.  Come to think of it,
I associate it with Sir William Jones's speech on the relationship of
Greek, Latin, and Sanscrit where he talks of the affinity among them.
But there the use is rather more ordinary language than a technical term.

I used to be active with Darwin-L a couple of years ago, but have been
off long enough that I should reintroduce myself - I'm a Romance historical
linguist by training, working in that area and more general historical
linguistics within the framework of Cognitive Grammar - explanations to be
furnished if asked for.  I'm full-time in administration now at Southern
Illinois University at Carbondale, but keep up some research in what I
laughingly refer to as my spare time.

Happy holidays to all,

Dr. Margaret E. Winters
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs (Budget and Personnel)
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Carbondale, IL  62901

tel: (618) 536-5535
fax: (618) 453-3340
e-mail:	mew1@siu.edu


<28:30>From peter@usenix.org Tue Dec 19 16:35:00 1995

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 95 14:36:03 PST
From: peter@usenix.org (Peter H. Salus)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re:  Affinity

I agree with Margaret Winters that ``affinity'' rarely, if ever,
occurs in the 19th or 20th century linguistic literature, but I
relate it to both Jones and to the English translation of
Goethe's ``Wahlverwandtschaften'' -- Elective Affinities.  This,
in turn was a chemical allusion on Goethe's part, derived from
Torborn Olof Bergmann's _De attractionibus electivis_ (1775),
translated into German by Tabor in 1785.  I.4 of Goethe's
novel is full of exposition of the chemistry and puns
derived from it.  Interestingly, we know that Goethe had
read Jones.


Peter H. Salus	#3303	4 Longfellow Place	Boston, MA 02114
	+1 617 723-3092

Darwin-L Message Log 28: 18-30 -- December 1995                             End

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