Charles Darwin Essay Outline

Charles Darwin Essay Outline-75
The first is the nonconstancy of species, or the modern conception of evolution itself.

The first is the nonconstancy of species, or the modern conception of evolution itself.

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The testing of historical narratives implies that the wide gap between science and the humanities that so troubled physicist C. Snow is actually nonexistent—by virtue of its methodology and its acceptance of the time factor that makes change possible, evolutionary biology serves as a bridge.

The discovery of natural selection, by Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, must itself be counted as an extraordinary philosophical advance.

Up until 1859, all evolutionary proposals, such as that of naturalist Jean- Baptiste Lamarck, instead endorsed linear evolution, a teleological march toward greater perfection that had been in vogue since Aristotle’s concept of Scala Naturae, the chain of being.

Darwin further noted that evolution must be gradual, with no major breaks or discontinuities.

This process of nonrandom elimination impelled Darwin’s contemporary, philosopher Herbert Spencer, to describe evolution with the now familiar term “survival of the fittest.” (This description was long ridiculed as circular reasoning: “Who are the fittest?

Those who survive.” In reality, a careful analysis can usually determine why certain individuals fail to thrive in a given set of conditions.) The truly outstanding achievement of the principle of natural selection is that it makes unnecessary the invocation of “final causes”—that is, any teleological forces leading to a particular end. Furthermore, the objective of selection even may change from one generation to the next, as environmental circumstances vary.

The first two narratives were ultimately refuted by evidence incompatible with them.

All the known facts, however, fit the Alvarez theory, which is now widely accepted.

The situation differs dramatically with regard to concepts in biology.

Many biological ideas proposed during the past 150 years stood in stark conflict with what everybody assumed to be true.


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