Darwin-L Message Log 28: 31–56 — 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.”
----------------------------------------------- DARWIN-L MESSAGE LOG 28: 31-56 -- DECEMBER 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 email@example.com, or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server. Darwin-L is administered by Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:31>From GRANSOM@ucrac1.ucr.edu Tue Dec 19 17:39:37 1995 Date: Tue, 19 Dec 1995 15:39:15 -0800 (PST) From: GREG RANSOM <GRANSOM@ucrac1.ucr.edu> To: email@example.com Subject: RE: Affinity IN his book _Beyond Objectivism and Relativism_ (1983), Richard Berstein gives an account of his use of the term 'affinity' in the context of a discussion of the problem of grasping understandings and traditions deferent from our own current understanding and tradition: Berstein writes: "I have used the term 'affinity' to indicate the relationship that exists between us and the alien test or tradition that we seek to understand and appropriate." (1983, p. 142) Greg Ransom Dept. of Philosophy UC-Riverside _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:32>From PRSDRHS@UCHIMVS1.UCHICAGO.EDU Wed Dec 20 10:20:07 1995 Date: Wed, 20 Dec 1995 10:19 -0600 (CST) From: Dick Schmitt 708-848-4932 <PRSDRHS@UCHIMVS1.UCHICAGO.EDU> Subject: Elective Affinities To: DARWIN LIST <DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu> Peter H. Salus has already noted the use of "affinity" in the translation of Goethe's _Wahlverwandtschaften_ (Wahl = elective; Verwandtschaft = affinity); and indirectly that the term has roots in the "romantic" chemistry and physiology of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In Goethe's novel (1809), of course, the elective affinities stand for emotional attraction outside of existing bonds of marriage. The phrase has one afterlife (I suppose among many in German letters) in the sociology of Max Weber. According to Reinhard Bendix, Weber used the term "to express the dual aspect of ideas, i.e., that they were created or chosen by the individual ('elective') and that they fit in with his material interests ('affinity')." One passage of _The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism_ talks about "investigating whether and at what points certain 'elective affinities' are discernible between particular types of religious belief and the ethics of work-a-day life." Bendix, _Max Weber, An Intellectual Portrait_ (N.Y.: Anchor, 1962), pp. 63-64. Talcott Parsons translates the passage as "investigating whether and at what points certain correlations between forms of religious belief and practical ethics can be worked out." (pp. 91, last paragraph of pt. I). In this Parsons obviously carries on the work of "disenchantment" that Weber described as a center aspect of modern life! Dick Schmitt <firstname.lastname@example.org> _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:33>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Dec 23 00:11:37 1995 Date: Sat, 23 Dec 1995 01:11:21 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: December 23 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro DECEMBER 23 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1749: MARK CATESBY dies at London, England, aged 66. Catesby was born in Essex, England, and from 1712 to 1719 lived with his sister in the Virginia colony. The plants Catesby collected during his stay in America brought him to the attention of a number of prominent naturalists, including Sir Hans Sloane, and Catesby was commissioned to return to America specifically for the purpose of natural history exploration and collecting. From 1722 to 1726 he traveled through South Carolina, Florida, and the West Indies, and upon his return he published the acclaimed _Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands_ (1731-1743). This work will be used later by Linnaeus as the source for his descriptions of the North American bird fauna. 1790: JEAN-FRANCOIS CHAMPOLLION is born at Figeac, France. While still a boy at the Imperial Lycee in Grenoble, Champollion will become fascinated by Egyptian hieroglyphs and will devote himself to their decipherment. He will study Arabic, Chinese, Coptic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Persian, Sanskrit, and Syriac, and will come to believe that Coptic is the modern descendant of the language of the ancient Egyptians. His breakthrough in decipherment will come in the 1820s with study of the Rosetta Stone, a trilingual Greek, Coptic, and hieroglyphic inscription discovered by Napoleon's expeditionary forces in 1799. Champollion will correctly realize that some of the hieroglyphic signs are phonetic, some syllabic, and some ideographic, and his first decipherment will appear in 1822 in the monographic "Lettre a M. Dacier a l'alphabet de hieroglyphes phonetiques." His _Precis du systeme hieroglyphique des anciens Egyptiens_ will follow two years later. Champollion will die in Paris at the age of 41, reportedly from exhaustion after returning from an expedition to Egypt. 1810: EDWARD BLYTH is born at London, England. Although his mother will encourage him to enter the ministry, natural history will be Blyth's favorite study from a young age. While in his twenties, Blyth will publish a series of important papers on organismal variation that Darwin will later study with care, among them "An attempt to classify the 'varieties' of animals, with observations on the marked seasonal and other changes which naturally take place in various British species which do not constitute varieties" (_Magazine of Natural History_, 8:40-53, 1835). In 1841 Blyth will be appointed curator to the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal and will move from England to India, where will be remembered as one of the founders of Indian zoology. 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. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:34>From email@example.com Sat Dec 23 11:03:00 1995 From: Mark Hineline <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: December 23 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Date: Sat, 23 Dec 1995 07:31:46 -0800 (PST) Like many on the Darwin-l list, I'm sure, I am indebted to Bob O'Hara for the "Today in the Historical Sciences" postings. Therefore, I hope the following request does not seem too ungrateful (or ungraceful). Bob: Although I understand the convention involved in using the present tense to begin your historical vignettes, the "is born"s and "dies" stop me in my tracks every time. Could you be persuaded to use the past tense? I'm posting to the list so that should others think I am being a crank, they can say so. Best regards, Mark Hineline Department of History UCSD La Jolla, CA 92093 firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:35>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sun Dec 24 00:46:05 1995 Date: Sun, 24 Dec 1995 01:45:48 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: December 24 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro DECEMBER 24 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1856: HUGH MILLER dies at Portobello, Scotland, a suicide at the age of 54. One of the great geological writers of the early nineteenth century, Miller's graceful prose earned fame for his many books, including _Scenes and Legends from the North of Scotland_ (1835), _The Old Red Sandstone_ (1841), and also _Foot-Prints of the Creator; Or, the Asterolepis of Stromness_ (1847), all of which attempted to reconcile Scripture and the geological record. In his later years Miller had begun to suffer increasingly from mental illness, the delusional aspects of which eventually led him to take his own life. Unknown he came. He went a Mystery -- A mighty vessel foundered in the calm, Her freight half-given to the world. To die He longed, nor feared to meet the great "I AM." Fret not. God's mystery is solved in him. He quarried Truth all rough-hewn from the earth, And chiselled it into a perfect gem -- A rounded Absolute. Twain at a birth -- Science with a celestial halo crowned, And Heavenly Truth -- God's Works by His Word illumed -- These twain he viewed in holiest concord bound. Reason outsoared itself. His mind consumed By its volcanic fire, and frantic driven, He dreamed himself in hell and woke in heaven. 1868: ETIENNE-JULES-ADOLPHE, DESMIER DE SAINT-SIMON, VICOMTE D'ARCHIAC drowns in the Seine river in Paris, a suicide. Following a short military career for which he received a life-time pension, d'Archiac turned to geology and became one of the leading stratigraphers in Europe. In addition to many research papers on paleontology and stratigraphic correlation, d'Archiac published a nine-volume _Histoire des Progres de la Geologie_ from 1847 to 1860, and served several times as president of the Societe Geologique de France. 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. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:36>From email@example.com Sun Dec 24 08:45:12 1995 Date: Sun, 24 Dec 1995 09:41:12 -0500 (EST) From: Jim Couper <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: December 23 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com I accept Mark Hineline's invitation to call him a "crank." A Christmas crank at that. Using the present tense is an acceptable literary device; always is and always is. firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:37>From email@example.com Sun Dec 24 16:31:07 1995 Date: Sun, 24 Dec 1995 12:30:31 -1000 From: Ron Amundson <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: December 23 -- Today in the Historical Sciences On Sun, 24 Dec 1995, Jim Couper wrote: >I accept Mark Hineline's invitation to call him a "crank." A Christmas >crank at that. Using the present tense is an acceptable literary device; >always is and always is. > firstname.lastname@example.org Not a crank. Just a historian. <joke suppression mode on> At the insistence of an editor/historian I once had to revise a 10,000 word manuscript for tense consistency. I was embarrassed to discover how promiscuously I had flopped back and forth between "Darwin writes" and "Darwin wrote". Philosophers, dealers in Timeless Truths, [timelessly] neglect tenses. I have no position on the dispute (unless I have to do the editting). But if we're _really_ going to be tensefully sensitive, shouldn't "Today in the the Historical Sciences" be "On This Date in Some Previous Year in the Historical Sciences"? I mean _today_ is 12/24/1995! So maybe the present tense is proper after all, under the literary pretence that _today's events_ are being reported. ;-) Cheers, Ron __ Ron Amundson University of Hawaii at Hilo ronald@Hawaii.Edu _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:38>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sun Dec 24 21:29:09 1995 Date: Sun, 24 Dec 1995 22:28:52 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Tense To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Apologies to Mark Hineline for making his head spin with my unusual tenses. ;-) I remember devoting some thought to this when I created the first "Today in the Historical Sciences" messages a couple of years ago, and each way I tried sounded a bit odd to me, with the one I settled on seeming to be the least so. The literary conceit is (as others have noted) that the messages are written on the date they mark, rather than today; i.e. the item for 20 May 1750 is written as though today were 20 May 1750. This use of what some people call the "dramatic present" is not very common, it's true, but I think it is used from time to time. One consequence that no one may have noticed is that the birth notices use future tense to talk about the person's life, while the death notices use past tense. This actually brings up some issues that are quite interesting in the historical sciences; disciplinary conventions, at least. I remember talking to a literary colleague once who complained that she had to keep correcting student papers that said "In this poem, Tennyson wrote that..." to what in her field was more conventional: "In this poem, Tennyson writes that...." Clearly, Mark would do just the opposite, as would most historians I suspect. (Maybe our students' heads are spinning, too.) I think Ron is certainly on to something when he says philosophers are less aware of this specifically because they think in terms of un-tensed abstractions. Does Kant argue in his work, or did he argue in his work? Philosophers, for whom the work is immediate, are more likely to use the first form. There is a problem in logic, I believe, relating to "future contingents." If I say, "The war will begin tomorrow", is my utterance true or false _today_? In traditional logic, _when_ a statement is uttered is not relevant to its truth value. Surely there is some interesting stuff to think about with respect to tensed language and historical understanding? I think Arthur Danto and Paul Ricoeur have both written on this. Can anyone provide any leads? Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner (Wishing a Merry Christmas to all among us who celebrate the holiday wherever they may be around the world.) Robert J. O'Hara (firstname.lastname@example.org; http://rjohara.uncg.edu) Center for Critical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts and Department of Biology 100 Foust Building, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, North Carolina 27412 U.S.A. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:39>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Mon Dec 25 00:35:05 1995 Date: Mon, 25 Dec 1995 01:34:48 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: December 25 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro DECEMBER 25 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1642: ISAAC NEWTON is born at Woolsthorpe, England. Following study at Cambridge University, from which he will graduate in 1665, Newton will make revolutionary breakthroughs in astronomy and mathematics, and after his death in 1727 he will be remembered as the principal founder of modern physical science. Newton's work in physics, however, will constitute only a fraction of his output, and he will devote almost as much time to studies of Biblical chronology as to mathematics. Believing that the ancient Temple of Solomon was a divinely-inspired model of the cosmos as a whole, Newton will teach himself Hebrew and attempt to calculate the exact length of the ancient cubit so that he can reconstruct the Temple's plan from Ezekiel's description of it in the Bible. Among Newton's many historical writings will be _The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended: To Which is Prefix'd, A Short Chronicle from the First Memory of Things in Europe, to the Conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great_ (London, 1728), and also _The Original of Monarchies_: "Now all nations before they began to keep exact accompts of time have been prone to raise their antiquities & make the lives of their first fathers longer than they really were. And this humour has been promoted by the ancient contention between several nations about their antiquity. For this made the Egyptians & Chaldeans raise their antiquities higher than the truth by many thousands of years. And the seventy have added to the ages of the Patriarchs. And Ctesias has made the Assyrian Monarchy above 1400 years older than the truth. The Greeks & Latins are more modest in their own originals but yet have exceeded the truth." 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. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:40>From email@example.com Mon Dec 25 11:42:03 1995 Date: Mon, 25 Dec 1995 09:43:09 -0800 (PST) From: "Lester H. Cole" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Tense Bob, No matter how tense we all get -- and exactly *how* does one split a hair? -- the important thing is this: "Today in the . . ." is a really neat thread, and I thank you for it! Merry Xmas Les Cole (firstname.lastname@example.org) _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:41>From email@example.com Tue Dec 26 08:30:38 1995 Date: Tue, 26 Dec 1995 18:27:45 +0400 To: DARWIN-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ari Nave) Subject: Measuring success, increased complexity Can anyone point me to the pinnacle articles on the following two subjects: 1. The idea of progress as it has been used in evolutionary theory, or evolutionary drives toward increased complexity or increased diversity. I am interested in papers which have discussed the directionality of evolution. 2. Measuring success between species (e.g. via biomass, species units...). 3. Work which has been done on Alu repeats. I need this info for a paper I am writing which compares the concept of race and ethnicity. I normally wouldn't bother you all by asking, but I am in Mauritius doing field work where there is no descent library. 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: email@example.com http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/anthro/nave _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:42>From firstname.lastname@example.org Tue Dec 26 15:20:16 1995 Date: Tue, 26 Dec 95 15:21:10 -600 From: email@example.com (Virginia Allen) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Today in the..... Let me second Les Cole's thanks for the "Today in..." thread. It's been easy to take it for granted as a kind of priceless but free educational bonus to lurking on this list for quite a while. Sometime the entries should be put together in a pile and published as a collection. I always save them for myself. Virginia Allen <email@example.com> _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:43>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Tue Dec 26 19:29:41 1995 Date: Tue, 26 Dec 1995 20:29:22 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Course on conservation of geological specimens (fwd from NHCOLL-L) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro --begin forwarded message-------------- Date: Tue, 26 Dec 1995 14:45:10 -0800 (PST) From: San Diego Natural History Museum <libsdnhm@CLASS.ORG> To: NHCOLL-L <NHCOLL-L@ucmp1.Berkeley.EDU>, Subject: Geological conservation course announcement PREVENTIVE CONSERVATION OF GEOLOGIC MATERIALS May 13-17, 1996 ADVANCED CONSERVATION OF GEOLOGIC MATERIALS May 20-23, 1996 presented by the San Diego Natural History Museum in conjunction with Yellowstone National Park sponsored by International Academic Projects, London Geological-origin specimens and objects in museums are subject to a wide range of causes of deterioration and damage. Recognizing, monitoring and isolating causes of damage to these collections is the focus of the preventive conservation course. In the advanced course, open to anyone who has completed the first course, participants work with interventive conservation measures to repair and restore geological materials. Course topics: * Nature, identification and characteristic degradation of mineral and stone types * Monitoring key environmental variables * Cleaning, adhesion, and consolidation * Special concerns of fossil and fossil-bearing materials * Special concerns of stone artifacts * Health and safety concerns * Weathering, salt migration, and efflorescence * Geological elements in art and architecture * Concerns of site conservation * Product information Course instructors: Chris Collins, Conservator, Geological Conservation Unit, Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge University. Mr. Collins heads the Geological Conservation Unit and is chair of the 1996 Second World Congress on Natural History Collections. He has taught the only post-graduate diploma course in geological conservation. Sally Shelton, Director, Collections Care and Conservation, San Diego Natural History Museum. Ms. Shelton specializes in preventive conservation techniques for natural history collections. She is a council member of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections and a graduate of the Cambridge course. Course site: Both courses will be hosted at Yellowstone National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior. Information on lodging, meals and transportation will be sent with the course readings to registrants. Course costs: $350 for registrations received before May 1, $375 after that. There is a combined registration fee of $650 for both courses. The advanced course is open to people who have previously completed the first course or who are registering for both courses together. Course fees do not include transportation, lodging or meals. Further information on International Academic Projects courses can be found at the Web site http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~tcfa313, or may be obtained from James Black, IAP, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, United Kingdom. phone (171) 387 9651, FAX (171) 388 0283. Further information and registration materials for the geological courses may be obtained by contacting Sally Shelton at the addresses below. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- | | | San Diego Natural History Museum | | P. O. Box 1390 | | San Diego, California 92112 USA | | phone (619) 232-3821; FAX (619) 232-0248 | | email LIBSDNHM@CLASS.ORG | | | ------------------------------------------------------------------------- --end forwarded message---------------- _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:44>From email@example.com Tue Dec 26 19:36:49 1995 Date: Tue, 26 Dec 1995 22:17:56 -0300 From: Maria Florencia Montero <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Tense I agree with wirh Cole and I hope you continue "Today in the...". By the way, that tense in Spanish is called "Historic Present". Prof. Raul Montero Constituyente 1663 Montevideo, Uruguay firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:45>From email@example.com Tue Dec 26 20:38:26 1995 Date: Tue, 26 Dec 1995 20:26:35 -0600 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: "Margaret E. Winters" <email@example.com> Subject: tense Many languages have a distinctive use of the present for historical narration, and I've always viewed the present in the Today in the Historical Sciences as that use. Sounds good in French too! Mostly I echo Les Cole's statement that the feature is a pleasure to read - fussing about tense really is splitting hairs! Cheers, Margaret Margaret E. Winters Academic Affairs Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Carbondale, IL, 62901-4517 Phone: (618) 549-0106 (Home); (618) 536-5535 (Office) firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:46>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Tue Dec 26 21:44:53 1995 Date: Tue, 26 Dec 1995 22:44:35 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Tense (and comparative perspectives on past time) To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro The issue of tense (generally speaking) appears to be quite complex and interesting. Here is the entry for "tense" in David Crystal's _A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics_ (3rd ed., 1991): TENSE. A category used in the grammatical description of verbs (along with aspect and mood), referring primarily to the way the grammar marks the time at which the action denoted by the verb took place. Traditionally, a distinction is made between past, present and future tenses, often with further divisions (perfect, pluperfect, etc.). In linguistics, the relationship between tense and time has been the subject of much study, and it is now plain that there is no easily stateable relationship between the two. Tense forms (i.e. variations in the morphological form of the verb) can be used to signal meanings other than temporal ones. In English, for example, the past-tense form (e.g. "I knew") may signal a tentative meaning, and not past time, in some contexts (e.g. "I wish I knew" -- that is, "know now"). Nor is there a simple one-to-one relationship between tense forms and time: the present tense in English may help to refer to future or past time, depending on context (e.g. "I'm going home tomorrow", "Last week I'm walking down this street..."). [RJO's note: this last example is what we have been calling the historical present, and it seems to give a sense of immediacy to the narration of past events.] Furthermore, if tenses are defined as forms of the verb, it becomes a matter of debate whether a language like English has a future tense at all: constructions such as "I will/shall go", according to many, are best analysed as involving modal auxiliary verbs, displaying a different grammatical function (e.g. the expression of intention or obligation, which may often involve futurity). English illustrates many such problems, as do other languages, where tense forms, if they exist, regularly display analytic difficulties, because of overlaps between tense and other verbal functions, such as aspect or mood. Alternative terminology (e.g. "past" v. "non-past", "future" v. "non-future", "now" v. "remote") will often be needed. A question for the linguists and anthropologists: are there any languages or cultures that have (from an English-speaking point of view) unusual ways of conceptualizing history or the past as a result of their unusual tense structure? I am not phrasing the question very clearly, but perhaps the intent is clear. We tend to take the notions of "past" and "history" to be core parts of human thinking, but are they for everyone? What about concepts like the Australian aboriginal "Dreamtime"? Is this a "time" in our conventional sense of the word? Is past tense or historical present used when speaking about it? I guess what I am asking about is comparative studies of how past time is conceived in different languages or cultures. Bob O'Hara firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:47>From email@example.com Tue Dec 26 22:17:45 1995 From: Mark Hineline <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Tense To: email@example.com Date: Tue, 26 Dec 1995 20:17:28 -0800 (PST) Now that Darwin-l list members have voted, unanimously, I am rather sorry I brought up the subject of tense. I am sure we all appreciate the work Bob does. That is not the issue. What is the issue, or was the issue, is the sense of inevitability -- of necessity -- in the convention used in "Today in the Historical Sciences." Of course, in any retelling of historical narrative, inevitability is inevitable. In the retelling, it is inevitable that *The Origin of Species* follows from the statement "Darwin is born." But *The Origin of Species* DID not follow from Darwin's birth. It was the consequence of umpteen contingencies (not least of which was the appearance in Darwin's mail of a letter from Wallace). As a historian, I prefer grammatical usage that conveys a sense of the contingent, rather than necessity. But I'll go on reading Bob's contributions because they are, as others have pointed out, a very nice service. Mark Hineline firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:48>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Wed Dec 27 00:14:12 1995 Date: Wed, 27 Dec 1995 01:13:53 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: December 27 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: email@example.com Organization: University of NC at Greensboro DECEMBER 27 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1831: His Majesty's Ship _Beagle_, Robert Fitzroy commanding, sets sail from Plymouth, England, for South America, after having been beaten back for several days by unfavorable winds. Charles Darwin will write in his diary: "A beautiful day, accompanied by the long wished for E wind. -- Weighed anchor at 11 oclock & with difficulty tacked out. -- The Commissioner Capt Ross sailed with us in his Yatch. -- The Capt, Sullivan & myself took a farewell luncheon on mutton chops & champagne, which may I hope excuse the total absence of sentiment which I experienced on leaving England. -- We joined the Beagle about 2 oclock outside the Breakwater, -- & immediately with every sail filled by a light breeze we scudded away at the rate of 7 or 8 knots an hour. -- I was not sick that evening but went to bed early." The Beagle will return five years later having circumnavigated the globe. 1839: "My first child was born on December 27th, 1839," Charles Darwin will write in his _Autobiography_, "and I at once commenced to make notes on the first dawn of the various expressions which he exhibited, for I felt convinced, even at this early period, that the most complex and fine shades of expression must all have had a gradual and natural origin." 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. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:49>From email@example.com Wed Dec 27 12:54:04 1995 Date: Wed, 27 Dec 1995 13:52:36 -0500 (EST) From: Bayla Singer <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Tense (and comparative perspectives on past time) To: email@example.com I've been pondering the question of tense in a different context; Biblical Hebrew has, according to my textbook, only two "tenses" -- perfect and imperfect. The verb does change form, via prefixes & suffixes, but the same morphological process of accretion also provides for indications of gender, number, posession, & position, so I don't know if these are technically 'tenses' or not. There is one school of Biblical interpretation which holds, quite independently of grammar, that there is "no before and after" in the Jewish Bible; that it is entirely within reason to suppose characters from apparently separate time periods might confer with each other -- Moses and Abraham, for example. --Bayla Singer firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:50>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Thu Dec 28 20:05:10 1995 Date: Thu, 28 Dec 1995 21:04:51 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: Tense, inevitability, historicity To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro Regarding the use of "historical present", Mark Hineline interestingly writes (or wrote): >What is the issue, or was the issue, is the sense of inevitability.... >Of course, in any retelling of historical narrative, inevitability is >inevitable. In the retelling, it is inevitable that *The Origin of >Species* follows from the statement "Darwin is born." But *The Origin >of Species* DID not follow from Darwin's birth. It was the consequence >of umpteen contingencies (not least of which was the appearance in >Darwin's mail of a letter from Wallace). As a historian, I prefer >grammatical usage that conveys a sense of the contingent, rather than >necessity. Mark is right to want to get across the non-inevitable character of history, and historians have long commented on this problem. I myself, however, don't detect a difference in inevitability when the past tense or the "historical present" tense is used -- it seems to me that the sense of inevitability comes from the narrative structure more than the tense, but others may well disagree here. What the device of present tense produces when I read it is more a sense of immediacy -- of "being there" rather than hearing about the events afterward. This may be why this particular grammatical structure is sometimes also called the "dramatic present" as well as the "historical present." Perhaps linguists have investigated the circumstances under which speakers or writers lapse into the dramatic present, and the specific effects it may have on hearers. Does anyone happen to know? In passing I note an interesting remark on historical contingency and narrative that a friend pointed me to in the Wall Street Journal: And many, such as David Shulman of Salomon Brothers, went badly astray by puzzling over what broad "story" or "scenario" was unfolding -- as if one only had to choose the script to which events would necessarily conform. As the bearish Mr. Shulman discovered, stories are imposed on markets only in retrospect. The script doesn't exist. Bob O'Hara, Darwin-L list owner Robert J. O'Hara (email@example.com; 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. Postscript: Virginia Allen kindly suggested that the Today in the Historical Sciences messages be published somewhere. I appreciate the suggestion very much, but I fear they aren't original enough work to warrant that (being derived from standard sources like the _Dictionary of Scientific Biography_ and others). The ones I have written have been gathered together on the web, however, and can all be found on the Darwin-L web server at http://rjohara.uncg.edu. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:51>From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Dec 29 14:43:12 1995 Date: Fri, 29 Dec 1995 14:58:41 -0500 (EST) From: Patricia Princehouse <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Tense, inevitability, historicity To: firstname.lastname@example.org On Thu, 28 Dec 1995 DARWIN@steffi.uncg.edu wrote: > Regarding the use of "historical present", Mark Hineline interestingly > writes (or wrote): > > >What is the issue, or was the issue, is the sense of inevitability.... ... > >I prefer > >grammatical usage that conveys a sense of the contingent, rather than > >necessity. When I joined Darwin-L, I was put off by the use of the historical present for somewhat the same reasons Mark has expressed. However, after a couple months, I came to enjoy the game of not knowing what direction the author will be facing when I get the day's installment of "Today". Bob says: > What the device of present tense produces when I read it is more > a sense of immediacy -- of "being there" rather than hearing about > the events afterward. I'm not sure I feel any greater sense of "be here now" but I certainly engage more with the text -if for no reason other than novelty. It's sort of like reading a non-idiomatic statement in both one's native language & a foreign language. You tend to think they "really mean" the same thing, yet they feel just a little different (something like using the term bauplan when it's no more precise (ie less metaphorical) than any number of English equivalents). -Patricia email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:52>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Sat Dec 30 01:16:22 1995 Date: Sat, 30 Dec 1995 02:16:03 -0400 (EDT) From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu Subject: December 30 -- Today in the Historical Sciences To: firstname.lastname@example.org Organization: University of NC at Greensboro DECEMBER 30 -- TODAY IN THE HISTORICAL SCIENCES 1705: GEORG WOLFGANG KNORR is born at Nuremberg, Germany. At the age of eighteen Knorr will become an apprentice engraver, and will spend much of his life writing and publishing finely-illustrated natural history works. His most important volume will be the encyclopedic folio _Sammlung von Merckwurdigkeiten der Natur und Alterthumern des Erdbodens_ (_Collection of Natural Wonders and Antiquities of the Earth's Crust_) (1755). 1723: AUGUSTUS QUIRINUS RIVINUS dies at Leipzig, Germany. Trained in medicine at the universities of Leipzig and Helmstedt, Rivinus became a lecturer in medicine at Leipzig in 1677. He devoted most of his energies to the study of materia medica and botany, and the precise characterizations he gave of many plant groups in his _Introductio Generalis in Rem Herbariam_ (1690) and his series _Ordo Plantarum_ (1690-1699) anticipated the later floral studies of Linnaeus and Tournefort. Today in the Historical Sciences is a feature of Darwin-L, an international network discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences. Send the message INFO DARWIN-L to email@example.com or connect to the Darwin-L Web Server (http://rjohara.uncg.edu) for more information. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:53>From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Dec 29 15:50:31 1995 Date: Fri, 29 Dec 1995 21:37:17 -0100 To: email@example.com From: Andrew Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: Today in the..... On 29 December 1995, Andrew Brown will also thank Bob O'Hara for his charming and thought-provoking Today messages. Andrew Brown Religion writer for the Independent newspaper in London but right now footling at home email@example.com _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:54>From firstname.lastname@example.org Sat Dec 30 14:41:30 1995 Date: Sat, 30 Dec 1995 12:42:42 -0800 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List) From: email@example.com (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: rejoinder to DCD (part 1 of 2) rejoinder to DCD (part 1 of 2) Jeremy C. Ahouse Biology Department Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 ph: (617) 736-4954 fax: (617) 736-2405 email: firstname.lastname@example.org ______ Hello Darwin-L (and other interested friends), Dan Dennett has responded promptly to my review of his chapter on Gould in "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" (from now on DDI, Dennett 1995). I will offer some thoughts as a rejoinder. I will begin with a few comments to specific things he writes and then pull back to a different vantage point and ask what draws some people to vapid rather than epicurean selectionism in popular expositions. Dennett seems to want release from technical descriptions of algorithms; "I am not cleaving to one of the standard concepts of algorithm," but has yet to realize that this could undermine his excitement about the guarantee that he hopes for when invoking a selectionist process. Further discussions on Cranes and Skyhooks (thank you Larry Moran) have left me even less enthusiastic about this analogy. Not only does it draw the false dichotomy between believers in miraculous ropes hanging from the heavens against those who would use only materialist cranes building on their previously built foundations, and encourage lay readers to imagine that there is some kind of volition to the cranes (they are building some "thing") but they also imply a direction. Why think of evolution as building a vertical structure up to the sky, where the skyhooks are located? Why up, why cranes? The catalog of living forms does not support this kind of linear (ever higher) progression. So we are left with an analogy that doesn't work as history or is a good description of current tensions and it has unseemly invitations to sloppy thought. In his response to my points about Gould and his arguments Dennett insists: "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. What I tried to cast serious doubt on was Dennett's understanding of Gould's positions. Actually I tried to do three things; challenge the utility of Dennett's main metaphors (cranes vs. skyhooks and natural selection as an algorithm whose results are guaranteed), show that Dennett misunderstood or misrepresented Gould's positions, and finally to reassert that selectionism does not by itself and a priori fill the demands of an evolutionary biology. Dan is correct, I did not engage the sociological claim that the creative force of a worldwide network of passionate Darwin dreaders summon forth a mythical Gould. (Should we envision a ceremony with hexagrams painted on the red clay with blood from a flamingo?) My experience does not include these mythmakers. To the extent that I see mythic confusion it is members of the cult of the gene, who have gone even(!) beyond Dawkins with single genes for rape, sexual orientation, IQ, obesity... (for an attempt to stem this tide see Rose 1995). None of these one simple gene: one complex trait world-views is required by ultra-selectionism. If you make your notion of traits complicated enough you can salvage the excesses of gene-centrism (1). But they are the result of popularized reductionist panselectionism much sooner than anti-Darwinism is the result of Gould's writings. With Dennett there is only the claim that his colleagues think some dumb things (evolution didn't happen, the Burgess fauna don't share common ancestors, ...). These "colleagues" may be representative (2) of a cult of anti-Darwinists (lurking in every archway) but Dennett does not give us any compelling reason to think so. There is a real and muddled actively anti-evolution minority of our citizenry who do have an agenda in our schools - but they are no friends to Steve Gould. I suspect that the majority opinion in this country (I am writing in the US but my comments may apply in other places) is one of no considered opinion. I take it as our task as evolutionists to work unflaggingly with this large group. More interesting is Dennett's next claim; that the mythic Gould (face ringed by snakes and eyes burning with a cold fire) has "encouraged" the real Gould (fewer snakes, warmer eyes) to invent a non-existent enemy "ultra-Darwinism" (though I suspect Gould, real or mythic, would prefer "ultra-selectionism") to burn in effigy. I don't see Dennett proving this claim either. Michael Coffin insisted to me that Gould's preference for arguments that make contingency and constraint central (to what Coffin sees at the expense of adaptationism) have a major flaw in being untestable (or should we say unverifiable?). I think this is an interesting avenue to pursue. When amassing the circumstantial evidence in an evolutionary story in what situations are adaptationist "hypotheses" more or less examinable than constraint and contingency "hypotheses". Dennett believes that good adaptationism includes attending to other factors and as I read Gould he would make the symmetrical claim about contingency and constraint. Is being impressed by the exquisite intricacies of nature the same thing as measuring natural selection? I hope we can pursue this line. We have to allow that relieving his audience of their misunderstandings of Gould's writings (reasserting Gould's intentions) really was Dennett's intent. I will leave it to you to judge whether this is accurate self reporting. Little of chapter 10 trumpets the contributions of Dennett's "real Gould." Rather, this chapter is an exercise in savaging the mythic Gould through the shallow readings that I challenged in my previous note. Dennett takes shelter in the claim that he has no issues with the "real" Gould (if we ignore his continuous pleas that Gould take a stand on the crane analogy and the demand that the real Gould be responsible for the actions of Dennett's antinomian Gould). I said early in my review that: "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." By reemphasizing his enthusiasm for Gould, Dennett seems to be saying that we are indeed at cross-purposes. That he doesn't actually intend to say anything negative about Gould's work, just Gould-myth's work. To paraphrase, it isn't that Gould believes these things but rather that people with a particular anti-Dennett agenda have read Gould in a certain way and so since they think these things, they must be convinced that Gould-myth is wrong. So then Dan and I may be much closer than you might have thought on reading Ch 10 of his book. In answering my critique Dennett repeats the following claim: 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", 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. (DDI, p.265) He then goes on to try to show not that these conclusions are actually false, but that Gould (or is it mythic Gould?) hasn't shown them to be the case. Let me comment on these points in order: 1. I think it is safe to say that Dennett thinks that adaptationism is the main game in town. If you make sure to avoid just-so stories, admit that everything is an exaptation, and remember to include some of the "fascinating controversies within evolutionary biology that I [he] do not discuss in DDI". 2. He may or may not think that sociobiology is flawed, but (surprisingly?) doesn't think that sloppy hyperadaptionism (what Gould clearly means by 'adaptationism') is the chief problem for Sociobiology. As this conversation develops it will be interesting to hear from Dennett what the central intellectual flaw is in the subject that is now using the moniker 'Darwinian Psychology' (!?). Maybe Dan thinks there are so many flaws that identifying a central one is a waste of time. If so he is probably right. 3. Did Gould and Eldredge really claim that punctuated equilibrium overthrew neo-Darwinism. I guess it depends in part on how "neo" you go. Dennett as we have seen is happy to filigree adaptationism to include any new information. I don't really have a problem with this, but if you are going to argue that an ever expanding neo-Darwinism holds every new observation then this does become a strongly historical debate. Was stasis really a vivid prediction of the gradualist world view? 4. Does Dennett mean that "extrapolationism" is not an Achilles heel for adaptationism or that mass extinctions aren't the way to show this? I think even Gould would be happy to admit that mass extinctions due to external causes (meteors etc...) are trivial ways to undermine a cluster of adaptations. And while they do undercut extrapolationism this isn't nearly as interesting as the claims about developmental constraints and canalization that make extrapolationism difficult to sustain. Or maybe this is a case like sociobiology where Dennett agrees that successful extrapolationism should not be used to judge the success neo-Darwinism. If this last is the case, he is again agreeing with Gould. Dennett goes on to say: 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... 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. It is difficult to know what to do with Dennett's immoderate "falsehoods." 1. Gould has argued that adaptationism is less important than pan-adaptationists would claim. 2. He has argued strongly against prejudice masked as "science" in sociobiology. 3. Giving a name, punctuated equilibrium, to a common pattern (stasis) in the fossil record has required additional hypotheses to be deployed by gradualists. Even if gradualism is not equivalent to constant speedism, discussions about the dynamics of rate of morphological change is precisely the topic that Gould and Eldredge wanted to bring into the foreground. 4. Precious few biologists think that you can predict future shapes and adaptations using no theory but natural selection. Maybe armchair philosophers are more sanguine (3) about the possibility of predicting without reference to an empirical base. I hope that my comments about the intricacies of developmental genetics in my earlier critique have helped to disabuse Dennett and others of this hope (a nice historical review of the relationship between development and evolution can be found in Gottlieb 1992)). continued... _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:55>From email@example.com Sat Dec 30 14:41:55 1995 Date: Sat, 30 Dec 1995 12:43:07 -0800 To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu (Darwin List) From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jeremy C. Ahouse) Subject: rejoinder to DCD (part 2 of 2) rejoinder to DCD (part 2 of 2) Jeremy C. Ahouse Biology Department Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 ph: (617) 736-4954 fax: (617) 736-2405 email: email@example.com So as we reposition these "devastating" falsehoods on a more sober foundation, we see that Gould has had a salutary effect on these debates, even though he has not necessarily won them. Many others have also worked to elaborate these issues. So while I agree that Gould has not proved Dennett's "falsehoods" I am not impressed by this claim. Dennett has chosen to disprove the overstated, presumably this comes from his sole empirical claim that "there is simply no question that these four propositions are widely believed by the interested bystanders." No question? Are the interested bystanders served by Dennett's intemperate critique? Or rather, has Gould himself given a more nuanced reading to these topics? There is no reason to become "pan-Gouldian" in the face of Dennett's excessive criticism of Gould's doppelganger. At the same time the presumption that these issues have all be resolved by the a priori commitment to all-explanatory selectionism found in DDI is premature. What attracts some biologists and some who would reflect on biology to the kind of oversimplification that we find in Dawkins' work and now reflected in Dennett's? I was reading an essay in Elliot Sober's recent collection ("Why not solipsism?" in Sober 1994) that lead me to the following. It is a somewhat tentative suggestion - but I thought it might push this discussion forward. A case can be made that early commitment to the reality of theoretical terms allows science to flourish. Briefly, if you insist that your sense impressions are caused by an external reality then you can start making abductions and this is a much more helpful heuristic for generating hypotheses than solely inducing over statistical correlations in sense impressions (4). On his way to trying to provide the conditions when non-solipsism (theoretical terms are real and thus causal) is more adaptive than a puritan solipsism (you are only allowed to make inductions over statistical correlations in your sense impressions) he argues that deploying hypotheses is in itself an adaptive heuristic. Maybe we can see part of Dennett's debate with Gould as being between those who are enthusiastically rush to embrace natural selection as the locus of explanation and those who would choose among a number of loci. As Bob Richardson wrote to me "Gould doesn't have a yearning for skyhooks. He just doesn't think there's a single type of crane." This view makes part of the debate between vapid and epicurean selectionists hinge on the utility of various theoretical terms. Do you start with vapid selectionism and then add filigrees until the full complexity of the theory stretches from one horizon to the other resulting in an epicurean selectionism... or do you dispense with the exclusive emphasis on selectionism (happy to be spared from the excesses of just so stories, false implications of gradualism, politically expedient sociobiology, ...) and build the story back up with a contemporary take on heritability and the potential of a genome and its (mutation, inversion, contextual) neighborhood? The theoretical entities in the second approach are more detailed and models built from them may be more intricate. This doesn't make this approach superior. Some parts of physics has had great success using less than detailed models of the world. Cladistics has had a terrific effect on systematics (and slowly taxonomy) with it's admittedly caricature models of trait state changes. (Why prefer the shortest tree?) And Dennett seems to feel that popular expositions are especially prone to comic exaggeration: 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. This still allows that the theoretical terms you cleave to can depend on the problem you are working on and a judgment on what will expedite your work. Dennett seems to feel that selectionist models facilitate understanding irrespective of the domain of inquiry. I respectfully demur. Jeremy C. Ahouse Biology Department Brandeis University Waltham, MA 02254-9110 ph: (617) 736-4954 fax: (617) 736-2405 email: firstname.lastname@example.org ________ notes: (1) Some people don't feel that a detailed understanding of development is necessary to understand the dynamics of the evolutionary process. It is black box that can generally be ignored but might be nice to fill in as we have time. A recent interview with Richard Dawkins highlights this position. Skeptic: What are the areas in biology into which Darwinism should be extended? Dawkins: ...Then there's the embryological gap. In our Darwinism we postulate that there are genes for this and genes for that. We just leave the embryological causal link between genes and phenotype as a black box. We know that genes do, in fact, cause changes in phenotypes and that's all we really need in order for Darwinism to work. But it would be nice to fill in the details of exactly what goes on inside the black box. This interview with Richard Dawkins can be found at http://www.skeptic.com/03.4.miele-dawkins-iv.html. (2) It is disheartening how many people make it through college without even a smattering of evolutionary biology. I think Dennett would agree with this sentiment. I can't imagine a more interesting topic than learning about the distribution and abundance of living forms and their detailed history and individual development. Dennett is seduced and fascinated by the power of the selectionist argument. While I think the argument is interesting and can be motivated by looking at living forms, I don't think that the argument itself is the sole the reason for our enthusiasm. (3) Those of you with an interest in language evolution might enjoy this from the American Heritage Dictionary Third edition. Word History: Perhaps one has wondered what the connection between sanguinary, "bloodthirsty," and sanguine, "cheerfully optimistic," could be. The connection can be found in medieval physiology with its notion of the four humors (blood, bile, phlegm, and black bile). These four body fluids were thought to determine a person's temperament, or distinguishing mental and physical characteristics. Thus, if blood was the predominant humor, one had a ruddy face and a disposition marked by courage, hope, and a readiness to fall in love. Such a temperament was called sanguine, the Middle English ancestor of our word sanguine. The sources of the Middle English word were Old French sanguin and Latin sanguineus, the source of the French word. Both the Old French and Latin words meant "bloody," "blood-colored," Old French sanguin having the sense "sanguine in temperament" as well. Latin sanguineus in turn was derived from sanguhs, "blood," just as English sanguinary is. The English adjective sanguine, first recorded in Middle English before 1350, went on to refer simply to the cheerfulness and optimism that accompanied a sanguine temperament, no longer having any direct reference to medieval physiology. (4) Maybe an example will be help to clarify this distinction. (I will lift Sober's.) Tiger images may cause you to have beliefs that lead to behaviors (like "hide" or "move quietly"). If you now perceive images of dismembered antelopes you can either wait until you have enough dead antelope image experiences to make inductions over the statistical correlations between dead antelopes and the presence of danger (tigers) or the non-solipsist can use a tiger theory that "explains" the dead antelopes and allows the conclusion; "present danger" before the statistical correlations would warrant. ________ references: Dennett, D. C. (1995). Darwin's dangerous idea: evolution and the meanings of life. New York, Simon & Schuster. Gottlieb, G. (1992). Individual Development and Evolution: The Genesis of Novel Behavior. New York, Oxford University Press. Rose, S. (1995). "The Rise of Neurogenetic Determinism." Nature 373(2 February): 380-382. Sober, E. (1994). From a biological point of view: essays in evolutionary philosophy. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. _______________________________________________________________________________ <28:56>From email@example.com Sat Dec 30 23:23:34 1995 Date: Sun, 31 Dec 1995 14:29:31 +0900 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: email@example.com (John Constable) Subject: Hugh Miller Memorial Sonnet Dear Dr. O'Hara: In Today in the Historical Sciences for the 24th of December you described Hugh Miller, and quoted a sonnet about him. I am at present collecting poems, both metrical and non-metrical, for an anthology, concentrating on materials actually by scientists (I put a letter in *Nature* this summer about the project), and so am very curious to know the source of the Miller piece. Sorry to trouble you with this. Yours sincerely, John Constable. John Constable, Department of International Culture, Faculty of Integrated Human Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida Nihon-matsu-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-01, J A P A N. Tel: 075 711 8892 Fax: 075 753 6647 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org _______________________________________________________________________________ Darwin-L Message Log 28: 31-56 -- December 1995 End
© RJO 1995–2016