Darwin-L Message Log 6:98 (February 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<6:98>From MNHAN125@SIVM.SI.EDU  Fri Feb 25 13:14:29 1994

Date: Fri, 25 Feb 1994 12:12:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Structuralism and evolutionary theory
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

    First, a brief intoduction: I am a graduate student at George Washington
University in Washington DC. My major is anthropology, but I have been in-
creasingly drawn into issues of evolutionary theory, morphology, and
    I am currently taking a course in theory in socio-cultural anthropology.
In this course, we have been discussing the merits and faults of structuralism
as a theoretical orientation. One student asked if one could define evolution
in a structralist arguement, with oppositions, reductionism, and hidden meaning
A brief search of the literature did not find any examples of this kind of
self-examination by evolutionary theorists or any applications of structuralist
thinking to a scenario, i.e. the evolution of flight.
    Is there a study of evolutionary theory which tries to define the structure
of our inquiries into the past? I thought it was an interesting problem, as it
would not only demonstrate the way we think about evolution, but how we ask
questions and what answers we are looking for. I realize that this might not
be a simple question, or one that can be defined by a structuralist paradigm,
but I was curious to know what insights or references the group might have.

                                                 Gary P. Aronsen

    P.S. thank you to all who gave me information about the number of bones in
fish skeletons (yes, that was me who needed that information). I am still
working on it, an may even write an NSF grant to count all of the bones of all
of the fish in all of the world (mad, you say? That's what they said about John
Cleve Symmes Jr., and look what happened to him!).

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