‘Sectarismo’

Substituto de la religión: Una interpretación parcialmente correcta del El Origen de las Especies por Juan Benet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juan Benet, que no había leído el Origen de las Especies, se refería en una entrevista a la Ciencia como Aparato de Convicciones.

En su libro titulado Londres Victoriano, este autor dedica unos párrafos memorables al Origen de las Especies, libro que, repetimos, no había leído, y por tanto no podía entender.

No obstante acierta en algunos de sus comentarios y destaca realmente lo que es esta obra: Un acontecimiento capital de la Época victoriana.  Empero, se equivoca al decir que el libro resumía treinta años de pacientes investigaciones biológicas. No hay ni una sola investigación biológica original en este libro.

Acierta plenamente en otros puntos de los que resumimos dos:

  1. El libro estaba llamado a cambiar la concepción intelectual del mundo
  2. Suponía la destrucción de los fundamentos de la religión, del Estado, de la familia y del orden social.

 

Pero lean ustedes estos párrafos, obra cumbre de la escritura sintética, por si pudiese habérsenos escapado algún otro aspecto importante, que seguro será digno de mención y crítica en posteriores ocasiones. Y fíjense sobre todo en los errores y en los aciertos al hablar de El Origen de las Especies, un libro, dice,… que resumía treinta años de pacientes investigaciones biológicas, lo cual es falso…y que estaba llamado a cambiar la concepción intelectual del mundo al desplazar las doctrinas mítico-religiosas y ocupar con una teoría científica el hueco dejado por ellas. Y esto último es cierto a medias, un libro destinado a desplazar una serie de doctrinas mítico-religiosas, cierto. Pero con… ¿con una teoría científica? No. Eso no es posible. Las doctrinas mítico-religiosas sólo pueden ser reemplazadas por otras doctrinas mítico-religiosas. Se equivoca de nuevo Benet. En el libro de Darwin no había teoría científica ni formulación lógica alguna.

Como bien dice al final de estos párrafos,  se trataba de algo que habían entendido bien las mentes ortodoxas-y las anglicanas, las más fieras. Se trataba  de sentar las bases para la destrucción de los fundamentos de la religión del Estado, de la familia y del orden social. Lo dicho. Lean, piensen y comenten…

….Comienza la cita de Londres victoriano…

Ciertamente, en sus últimos años Alberto había podido asistir a una auténtica erupción de la energía, del talento y del coraje de su pueblo; a un renacimiento —por segunda vez en el siglo— de la ciencia, de la industria y del arte. Cuando en el último cuarto de siglo Oscar Wilde acuñó el concepto de “Renacimiento inglés”, como tema central de sus conferencias en Gran Bretaña y Estados Unidos se estaba sin duda refiriendo a las grandes señales que había en la década de su nacimiento. En el año 1858 se procedió a la botadura del Great Eastern, un monstruo de hierro de 20 000 toneladas de desplazamiento, sólo superado en el siglo XX, que podía transportar 4 000 pasajeros alojados en cinco cubiertas y depositarlos al otro lado del Atlántico en cuatro días de navegación, aunque nunca llegó a hacerlo; Wallace y Darwin impartían sus primeras lecciones sobre la selección natural que apenas despertaron unas pocas controversias entre los especialistas: Maxwell enunciaba las leyes del campo electromagnético. Thompson, posteriormente lord Kelvin, definía los límites térmicos del universo. En aquellos años Dickens publica Tiempos difíciles, Pequeña Dorrit, La historia de dos ciudades y Grandes esperanzas; George Eliot, las Escenas de la vida clerical, Silas Marner y Adam Bede; Stevenson, La isla del tesoro, y De Quincey, la versión final de Las confesiones de un opiómano inglés: Fitzgerald,  la traducción de Rubbaiyat de Ornar Khayyam, y Morris, La defensa de Guenevere al tiempo que funda su compañía de textiles. Millais pinta Sir Isumbras, Vale of Rest y Autumn Leaves. Whistler At the Piano; Scott construye la capilla del colegio de Exeter. Stevens el monumento a Wellington y Landseer los leones de la columna de Nelson, un aditamento que en lo sucesivo se considerará obligado para toda clase de parlamentos, puentes, bancos y muscos. Speke descubre y explora el lago Nyanza y Livingstone el Nyassa; Stanley, en busca de este último, descubre las fuentes del Nilo.

Pero sin duda el acontecimiento capital de entonces fue la publicación por Darwin de El Origen de las Especies, un libro que resumía treinta años de pacientes investigaciones biológicas y que estaba llamado a cambiar la concepción intelectual del mundo al desplazar las doctrinas mítico-religiosas y ocupar con una teoría científica el hueco dejado por ellas.

No es fácil imaginar hoy en día una polémica que se trasladó hacia los principios morales y religiosos en que reposaba la sociedad en lugar de centrarse sobre los hechos o las familias de hechos estudiados por Darwin y reunidos todos en una única y lógica formulación. En el pasado, la ciencia era una actividad un tanto marginal y esotérica, casi una actividad de brujos, sus hallazgos sólo tenían una limitada aplicación en la vida social, y de hecho la ciudad y el campo podían vivir ajenos a ellos, y si sus teorías chocaban con las doctrinas oficiales bastaba con declararlas heréticas y dejar que siguiera el curso de la historia. Pero la Ilustración, los progresos y descubrimientos  científicos de los siglos XVIII y XIX y la Revolución Industrial, habían hecho de la ciencia, sobre todo de la experimental, uno de los pilares de la sociedad, tan imprescindible como los otros. En tiempos de Darwin, un conflicto entre ciencia y doctrina ofrecía ya pocas posibilidades de componendas y obligaba a elegir. La teoría de la evolución fue recibida con horror por las mentes ortodoxas-y las anglicanas, las más fieras- persuadidas de que cualquier hipótesis contraria a la creación del mundo por seis actos de potestad divina en seis días de una semana muy cargada de trabajo, suponía la destrucción de los fundamentos de la religión del Estado, de la familia y del orden social.

…Fin de la cita.

 

Bibliografía

Benet, J. 1989. Londres victoriano. Editorial Planeta. Barcelona.

Etiquetas:
Categorias: AAA (ver todas las entradas), Binomio Con-Con, Biología, Ciencia a debate, confusión, Confusión mental, Conocimiento, contradicción, Creación, Creencia, Crítica, Críticos de Darwin, Curiosidades y anécdotas, Darwinismo, Debates históricos y debates de ficción, Diseño, Diseño Inteligente (ID), Divulgación científica, Doblepensar, Dogmas, El destino del hombre en la Naturaleza, Evolución, Filosofía, Fraude, Fundación del Creacionismo en OSMNS, General, Hipótesis, Historia, Historia de la biologia, Historia Natural, Humanismo, Ideas, Ingsoc, Institucionalización de la ciencia, La sombra de Darwin, Lenguaje, Literatura, Materialismo, Método Científico, Mitos y Leyendas de la Ciencia, Objetivos de la biología, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, Origen de la biología, OSMNS, OSMNS Contradicciones, OSMNS Errores, OSMNS Falacias, Post-darwinismo, Progreso, Pseudociencia, Religión, Revoluciones, Sectarismo, Selección Natural, Ser humano, Significado de biología, Vida y costumbres de Charles Darwin, Visión del Mundo

Preparando el terreno

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

En un ensayo publicado en 1849 Darwin decía:

 

“… if the first description was originally imperfect, & had been superseded by any better description, it wd perhaps be better to omit all reference to it, for the sooner such an author’s name was buried in oblivion the better.”

 

Que traduzco:

 

Si la primera descripción era originalmente imperfecta  y ha sido superada por otra mejor, entonces sería mejor omitir toda referencia a ella, ya que cuanto antes se enterrase un autor semejante en el olvido, mejor.

 

Y que me gustaría completar y corregir para dejar de esta manera:

 

Si la primera descripción era originalmente imperfecta  y ha sido superada por otra mejor, entonces convendría olvidar la primera y así dar crédito a quien se ha limitado simplemente a copiar, sobre todo si este autor cuenta con el apoyo de la autoridad como en mi caso.

 

 

 

Aunque el ensayo original se perdió, afortunadamente su corresponsal Strickland guardó una copia de lo que en el se proponía. Ahora ha sido el Dr Sutton quien en su libro Nullius in Verba – Darwin’s Greatest Secret, nos ha recordado este entrañable caso para la historia.

 

Etiquetas:

Dr Sutton’s case in favor of Science

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mi comentario al artículo del  Prof. Mike Sutton en Bestthinking:

The De Facto “MacDarwin Industry” and it’s Member’s Pseudo-Scholarly Corporate Denial of the Very Existence of Uncomfortable New Facts

One of the major problems of contemporary Science is fraud: The extension of it and the lack of adequate mechanisms to stop and prevent it.

But fraud is not reduced to several hundred (or thousand) cases where results are invented, data modified or figures falsified according to the convenience of the authors. Fraud is not even limited to cases where articles in peer review journals, or even whole journals, are produced to satisfy particular interests.

Scientific fraud has profound causes that need to be investigated and uncovered. Some of them concern abusive use of language and excess of importance given to tradition. Both abuse of language and excessive support of tradition, can be done in favour of an authority, whose arguments are not anymore scientific.

Fraud includes also to copy, plagiarise results or ideas of another scientist.

Pierre Flourens (1794-1867), founder of Neurobiology and perpetual secretary of the Academy of Sciences of France during decades, in his book entitled Examen du livre de M Darwin sur l’Origine des Especes (1864) wrote:

Le fait est que Lamarck est le père de M. Darwin. Il a commencé son système.

Toutes les idées de Lamarck sont, au fond, celles de M. Darwin. M. Darwin ne le dit pas d’abord; il a trop d’art pour cela. Il effaroucherait son lecteur, et il veut le séduire; mais, quand il juge le moment venu, il le dit nettement et formellement.

(The fact is that Lamarck is the father of M. Darwin. He was who began his system.

All of Lamarck’s ideas are, basically, those of Mr. Darwin. Mr. Darwin did not say it first, he had too much art to say it. It would have frightened his readers, and what he wanted was to seduce them, but the moment arrived, he says it clearly and formally.)

In fact, at the time of publication of The Origin of Species, it was known that Darwin had copied from Lamarck, who was the first to develop a theory of Evolution, more than he recognized in his book. It was also known that Darwin had copied from Patrick Matthew and from Edward Blyth, who wrote about Natural Selection before Darwin, without giving to these authors due credit in The Origin of Species.

To solve these questions, from the third edition of The Origin of Species Darwin wrote an Historical Sketch that is included before the Introduction and by which he tries to give credit to many authors he apparently “forgot” to quote properly in the course of the book.

Nevertheless though obvious for some, it was not so generally known that Darwin had read a book by PierreTrémaux, whose information he used in the Origin of Species without quoting the author. Trémaux is not even mentioned in the Historical Sketch.

Darwin copied. That was known at the time of publication of The Origin of Species. But in Science to know is not enough. Once you know something, you have to give proofs of it. And proofs depend of the technologies available at each moment.

Now, new technologies of information search in the Internet, have allowed Dr Sutton to prove that indeed Darwin copied from Patrick Matthew.

The data obtained by Dr Sutton and the way he has presented the results, in a book and a peer review scientific journal, are impeccable.

But now it seems that these results are not of the taste of the establishment. The scientific establishment (SE) wants, it seems, to maintain Darwin as the founding father of Evolution while the founding father of Evolution is Lamarck. The SE also wants to maintain Darwin as the inventor of Natural Selection. But! 1) The inventor of Natural Selection is Patrick Matthew and 2) Natural Selection is an erroneous concept that results from the mistake of confounding selection with breeding, demonstrating the lack of understanding of the role of selection in the breeding process.Selection is limited to the farms and there is no selection in nature. The farm is never a model for nature.

In his book, Pierre Flourens also indicated that Darwin was abusing of language and that Natural Selection was an erroneous concept (he called in French natural election to remark the oxymoron).

Playing with words is one of the main strategies of the authority (SE) to maintain a position of force. But in science, scientific authority is also oxymoron, because the only authority in science (SE) must be based in reason, not in word games.

Not surprisingly then, one of the first effects of confronting Darwinism that Dr Sutton has experienced, has been the confrontation with the Wikipedia editors. Wikipedia, the Newspeak Dictionary that Orwell predicted in his novel 1984, is an important strategy made by the Party to maintain the authority. The authority of the Party is interested in maintaining Darwin and Natural Selection at the basis of Science. But Darwin copied from Matthew and Natural Selection is an oxymoron, a play of words that only generates much confusion.

Dr Sutton has published results showing that Darwin copied from Matthew. One would expect the general recognition of these results and as a consequence, many letters and articles of apologies and retractations by those authors that defend Darwin or have quoted him in the place where Matthew should be quoted. But what we see is completely different:

Instead or receiving acknowledgments for his discoveries, resulting of a well done work, Dr Sutton receives insults.

This is, unfortunately, the only signal that indicates the quality and irrefutability of Dr Sutton discovery. Insults only demonstrate the absence of arguments against Dr Sutton discoveries, i.e. claim the absence of arguments in defense of Darwin. Darwin copied.

It may take a longtime to recognize in the Scientific World that Darwin copied. This information is not coming from the sermon of a Creationist, but from hard and methodic work. The problem is that Pierre Flourens already wrote it in 1864.

Etiquetas:

La fascinante historia del Dr John van Whye, evaluador de una revista científica

La web Darwin Online dice del Dr van Whye:

His research has resolved some of the most intractable mysteries and debunked long-standing myths in the field such as Darwin’s delay, when Darwin received Wallace’s evolution essay, whether Darwin was the naturalist or only companion on the Beagle, where the legend of Darwin’s finches comes from, whether Darwin lost his faith when his daughter Annie died and whether it’s really just a straightforward fact that Bates and Wallace set out to the Amazon to solve the problem of the origin of species as tradition long held. He curated the restoration of Darwin’s Christ’s College rooms [see here & here] and the Wallace exhibition at the Science Centre Singapore.

 

(Su investigación ha resuelto algunos de los más insuperables misterios y ha desacreditado mitos de muchos años en el campo como el retraso de Darwin, cuando Darwin recibió el ensayo de evolución de Wallace, si Darwin era el naturalista o sólo el compañero en el Beagle, de dónde viene la leyenda de los pinzones de Darwin, si Darwin perdió su fe cuando su hija Annie murió y si esto es realmente solamente tras un hecho franco que Bates y Wallace se fueron al Amazonas solucionar el problema del origen de especies como mantiene una tradición mucho tiempo sostenida. Él se encargó de la restauración de las habitaciones de Darwin en Christ’s  y la exposición de Wallace en el Science Centre Singapore.  )

Desde hace algún tiempo  el Doctor Whye era miembro del panel de expertos consultivo de la revista Filozoficzne Aspekty Genezy (los Aspectos Filosóficos de Origen). Esta revista publicó en 2015 el artículo del Doctor Sutton titulado:  Sobre la Contaminación del Conocimiento: Nuevas Datos desafían las Reclamaciones de los Conceptos Independientes de Darwin y Wallace sobre la Hipótesis Previa-publicada de Matthew.

Poco después, el Doctor John Whye dimitió del panel de expertos de la revista.

Ahora en un comunicado de prensa el Doctor John Whye dice:

I resigned from the panel of the journal when I learned  that they had misrepresented the nature of the journal when inviting me to join the panel. It was described as a journal about science and origins, when in fact  supports the creationist ideology called Intelligent Design. I had at any rate never had any further contact with them, so no content in the journal was ever seen by me before publication.

Dr Suttons allegations about a purported influence of Matthew on Darwin and Wallace are not new.

This conspiracy theory is so silly and based on such forced and contorted imitations of historical method that no qualified historian could take it seriusly.

 

Que traduzco:

 

Dimití del panel de la revista cuando supe que, al invitarme a formar parte del panel, habían falsificado la naturaleza de la revista. Me lo habían descrito como una revista  sobre la ciencia y orígenes, cuando de hecho apoya la ideología creationista llamada Diseño Inteligente. Yo nunca había tenido más contacto con ellos, ni vi contenido alguno de la revista antes de su publicación.

Las alegaciones de doctor Sutton sobre una pretendida influencia de Matthew sobre Darwin y Wallace no son nuevas. Esta teoría de la conspiración es tan tonta y basada en tales imitaciones forzadas y retorcidas del método histórico que ningún historiador calificado podría tomarse en serio.

 

O sea que las pruebas aportadas por el Dr Sutton (Darwin copìó de Matthew) en lugar de servir al Dr van Whye para su auténtico fin (ver un fraude) le han servido para darse cuenta de que estaba en el panel de expertos de una revista favorable al diseño inteligente, para la cual al parecer no había evaluado ni un solo artículo. Bien, cada cual es libre de opinar a favor o en contra de la evidencia. Pero entonces… ¿De qué teoría de la conspiración habla el Dr van Whye?

 

Etiquetas:

Bad news for the Darwinist sector

 

Dr Michael (Mike) Sutton, criminologist, is the founding General Editor of the Internet open access Journal of Criminology. As a Reader in Criminology, he teaches hi-tech crime and crime reduction, and is founding Director of the Centre for the Study and Reduction of Hate Crimes at Nottingham Trent University. In the field of Hate Crimes, Sutton has published journal articles on the subject of inter-racial relationships, hate-crimes and associated violence.

Since 2014, Dr Michael Sutton has been writing about the results of his academic research into the discovery of natural selection.  This led to an investigation of possible plagiarism by Darwin and Wallace of the prior-published original ideas a previous author: Patrick Matthew.

Sutton’s work will lead to two spectacular results. The first has already come and it is the fact-led demonstration that Darwin and Wallace ‘more-likely-than-not’ copied from Matthew without giving any credit. In Science, as a principle, something has to be demonstrated even if it appears obvious. Although the fact that Darwin and Wallace copied may appear obvious, the conclusive proof by Dr Sutton consists of a valuable series of documents obtained with new technologies. Results have been published by diverse means:

A book: Nullius in Verba: Darwin’s Greatest Secret. Published as an e-book by Thinker Media USA

A research article: On Knowledge Contamination: New Data Challenges Claims of Darwin’s and Wallace’s Independent Conceptions of Matthew’s Prior-Published Hypothesis

 

This article is now an interesting research resource in itself since it seems that one of the journal’s expert and eminent Darwinist advisors, Dr John van Wyhe, resigned in the wake of the journal publishing the proven facts that Darwin lied about the prior-readership of Matthew’s book.

The Blog:

http://patrickmatthew.com/

Among this information it is highly recommended to read Dr Sutton’s letter to the Royal Society:

http://patrickmatthew.com/protest%20to%20the%20royal%20society.html

Besides all results, Dr Sutton is also the protagonist of a verbal diatribe with Wikipedia, demonstrating again that 1) Wikipedia is the Newspeak Dictionary, the prophecy that Orwell published in his novel 1984,  and 2) that the Wikipedia editors have an enormous interest to support by keeping afloat now proven lies, fallacies, myths and other deceits disseminated by Darwin scholars.

Dr Sutton’s second discovery – is one that he does not agree with at all – but in my opinion is yet to come. And when it does come, it will fall down by its own weight as soon as the first one has had the necessary diffusion.

The second discovery will consist of the fact that what Darwin and Wallace, neither of them being professional scientists, copied from Matthew; and that they tried to pass for a scientific theory something that does not have any value in science. Nature does not select and the concept of Natural Selection is simply a mistake that is compelling only because it plays so well on words.

Etiquetas:

Esas cosas que los ingleses han impuesto en todo lugar, según don Pío Baroja

 

 

Para una buena crítica sobre los ingleses nada mejor que sus propios literatos. Así, por ejemplo David Herbert Lawrence, en su obra Mujeres Enamoradas, indicaba que en Inglaterra nunca se bajaba el pistón;  Henry James nos hacía ver que a los ingleses no les gustan las situaciones netas, observación que resultaba de gran interés en el ámbito del darwinismo y la Biología Evolutiva;  Orwell nos recordaba, entre otras cualidades,  su mundialmente famosa hipocresía, su sonambulismo y su incapacidad para la filosofía.

Particularmente graciosa era la cuestión moral en manos de Henry James, quien en su obra “La Copa Dorada”,  relaciona la moral de los ingleses con aquello  que puede ser su base y sustento: las tazas de té. La relación es sencilla y directa: A más té, más moral.

Pero también hay jugosos comentaristas del temperamento inglés fuera de los confines de la isla, en el continente. Así en su obra Las ciudades, Pio Baroja nos recuerda cuatro cosas que los ingleses han impuesto en todo lugar:

  1. Las salsas embotelladas
  2. La carne sangrante
  3. La frialdad clásica en los hoteles y… ¿Cómo no? Unas páginas antes:
  4. El pragmatismo darwiniano, al que César Moncada presume ante su amigo Alzugaray de haberle añadido algunos matices.

 

Imagen de #SapereCondiviso

 

Etiquetas:

¿Será la religión una cuestión de élites?

En su entrada titulada Relationship between religion and science, Wikipedia contiene una información que la confirma como lo que hace tiempo venimos advirtiendo: La pesadilla que Orwell predijo en su novela 1984: El Diccionario de Neolengua.

A fecha de hoy (11 de febrero de 2016), al tratar sobre la relación entre Religión y Ciencia indica:

While the conflict thesis remains popular for the public, it has lost favor among most contemporary historians of science and the majority of scientists in elite universities in the US do not hold a conflict view.

 

Es decir:

 

Mientras la tesis del conflicto sigue siendo popular, ha perdido el favor de los historiadores contemporáneos de la ciencia y de la mayoría de los científicos en las universidades de élite de los Estados Unidos, quienes no mantienen tal visión del conflicto.

 

Ahora bien: ¿Por qué la plebe, la gente, la pobre gente, mantiene esa visión de la relación entre Religión y Ciencia como un conflicto?

¿No será acaso porque el Partido se ha empeñado en ello?. ¿No será porque la autoridad, representada entre otros por el Diccionario de Neolengua ha decidido que los pobres no tienen derecho a una Religión que no sea la de la Ciencia o la de la Evolución?

Etiquetas:

Comentario a una frase de Carl Sagan que parece de Descartes

 

La frase es la siguiente:

La primera gran virtud del hombre fue la duda y el primer gran defecto la fe

¡He ahí la verdadera voz de la razón! , ¡Cuánta verdad condensada en tan breve frase! Diríamos que es Descartes redivivo quien habla a través de Carl Sagan. Acierta: Nunca tengamos certeza de nada, porque la sabiduría comienza con la duda.

Ahora que, veamos……..bien pensado…….y siendo efectivamente la duda una gran virtud de la que habla Sagan como ya hablase Descartes………

¿No podría ser cierto justo lo contrario?, es decir:

 

La primera gran virtud del hombre fue la fe y el primer gran defecto la duda

Porque cierto es que basar el conocimiento en la duda equivale a participar en un campeonato de atletismo descansando sentado en el sillón de la casa de uno, o también a pintar magnificos cuadros  con un color único, o a escribir partituras musicales que sólo contengan el silencio.

La duda es necesaria, fundamental. Igual que lo es el descanso para el atleta, el color blanco para el pintor o el silencio para el músico, pero sólo con la duda no hay ciencia posible.

 

 

Etiquetas:

Vasconcelos sobre el darwinismo II

 

“Los británicos predican la selección natural, con la consecuencia tácita de que el reino del mundo corresponde por derecho natural y divino al dolicocéfalo de las islas y sus descendientes… (…)…Lo cierto es que ninguna raza se basta a sí sola, y que la Humanidad perdería, pierde, cada vez que una raza desaparece por medios violentos”.

Etiquetas:

Darwin y la tragedia griega

 

Tratando del lenguaje de OSMNS y refiriéndose a expresiones como selección natural, lucha por la vida y otras semejantes, Stanley Edgar Hyman escribe:

 

In fact, these terms are much more than metaphors. They people the world of nature with protagonists and antagonists where previously we had seen only a solitary cactus or a growing seed. Moreover, the dramatic action they summon up is tragic. In Gilbert Murray’s terms, the basic ritual stages of tragedy are agon or contest, sparagmos or tearing apart, then anagnorisis or discovery and epiphany or joyous showing forth of the resurrected protagonist. Darwin’s struggle for existence is clearly Murray’s agon and sparagmos, and his natural selection or survival of the fittest, anagnorisis and epiphany. For the final exultation that the Greeks felt at the affirmation of Reliving Dionysus, Darwin substitutes a quieter tragic satisfaction.He writes:

When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.” The Origin concludes: “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life….


De hecho, estos términos son mucho más que metáforas. Ellos llenan a la naturaleza de protagonistas y antagonistas donde antes habíamos visto solamente un cactus solitario o una semilla que crece. Por otra parte, la acción dramática que convocan es trágica. En términos de Gilbert Murray, las etapas rituales básicas de la tragedia son agon o confrontación, sparagmos o lucha, anagnórisis o descubrimiento y la epifanía o final feliz, mostrando finalmente al protagonista resucitado. La lucha por la existencia de Darwin  es claramente agon y sparagmos de Murray, y su selección natural o supervivencia de los más aptos, son respectivamente anagnórisis y epifanía. Para la exaltación final que los griegos sentían en la afirmación de revivir a Dionisio, Darwin sustituye una más tranquila trágica satisfacción. Él escribe:

Cuando reflexionamos sobre esta lucha nos podemos consolar con la completa seguridad de que la guerra en la naturaleza no es incesante, que no se siente ningún miedo, que la muerte es generalmente rápida y que el vigoroso, el sano, el feliz, sobrevive y se multiplica.

Y OSMNS termina:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life,

Referencia

DARWIN THE DRAMATIST [1]

Stanley Edgar Hyman [2]

The Centennial Review of Arts & Science

Vol. 3, No. 4, 1859-1959: Darwin-Marx Centennial (FALL 1959), pp. 364-375

 

The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life appeared in 1859, and immediately caught the imagination of the world.

The first edition sold out on the day of publication, and the second shortly after. Within a few years most of the thinking world was convinced[3] of the evolution of species, as it had not been by Buffon, Lamarck, Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus, Robert Chambers’ Vestiges of Creation, or anyone else. It has rarely been doubted that this enormous effect was achieved by the power of scientific argument, that is, by the book’s rhetorical organization[4]. This was certainly Darwin’s view[5]. He begins the book’s final chapter: “As this whole volume is one long argument.” One of Darwin’s latest biographers, Sir Arthur Keith, in Darwin Revalued, best states the prevailing view: “In the Origin he had assembled such a solid mass of observation” that conviction followed inescapably. There can be no doubt that the book’s rhetorical effectiveness is great.

Darwin states his theories simply and plausibly[6], bolsters them with a great deal of convincing evidence (beginning close to home with domestic animals) and scrupulously notes the difficulties and puzzles remaining. Yet the problem remains. The evidence to establish the idea of evolution by natural selection inductively was not really available in 1859[7], and many of Darwin’s processes[8] turn out on closer examination to be plausible hypotheses[9], and his causes tautologies[10]. Nor does the vehemence of the reaction pro and con suggest the characteristic effect of a scientific demonstration.

 

I

 

I would submit that The Origin of Species caught the imagination of its time as a dramatic poem, and a dramatic poem of a very special sort. This view would certainly have surprised Darwin. He was under no illusions about his literary powers, and although he worked quite hard at the writing and rewriting of this book, he saw its prose as “incredibly bad.” [11] His effort was to produce the straightest possible piece of factual writing, and he was only dissuaded by the publisher, John Murray, from calling the book An Abstract of an Essay on the Origin of Species. It is the judgment of a popular textbook that Darwin’s work “cannot be said to belong to literature, if in the definition of literary work is presupposed an effort toward artistic expression.”

Theodore Baird, whose “Darwin and the Tangled Bank” is one of the few efforts I know to correct this conventional estimate, boldly claims that the Origin is not only a work of literature, but “the complicated literary expression known as tragedy.” It is here that any literary consideration should begin. The Origin is much less overtly dramatistic than the Journal of Researches, with the act-scene fitnesses of the earlier book here confined mostly to the great historical pageant of palaeontology, as when Darwin notes that the geological strata mark “only an occasional scene, taken almost at hazard, in an ever slowly changing drama.” The key term in the Origin is “the struggle for existence.” Darwin explains:

In looking at Nature, it is most necessary to keep the foregoing considerations always in mind—never to forget that every single organic being may be said to be striving to the utmost to increase in numbers; that each lives by a struggle at some period of its life; that heavy destruction inevitably falls either on the young or old, during each generation or at recurrent intervals.

All through the book, he refers to “a constant struggle going on,” “the constantly-recurring Struggle for Existence,” “victory in the battle for life,” and so on. From this struggle comes “natural selection,” or, in Herbert Spencer’s more vivid phrase that Darwin adopted, “the survival of the fittest.” Darwin was quite aware that all these terms were ‘metaphoric, a heightening of much less dramatic processes. He writes of “struggle for existence”:

 

I should premise that I use this term in a large and metaphorical sense including dependence of one being on another, and including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny. Two canine animals, in a time of dearth, may be truly said to struggle with each other which shall get food and live. But a plant on the edge of a desert is said to struggle for life against the drought, though more properly it should be said to be dependent on the moisture. A plant which annually produces a thousand seeds, of which only one of an average comes to maturity, may be more truly said to struggle with the plants of the same and other kinds which already clothe the ground. The mistletoe is dependent on the apple and a few other trees, but can only in a far-fetched sense be said to struggle with these trees, for, if too many of these parasites grow on the same tree, it languishes and dies. But several seedling mistletoes, growing close together on the same branch, may more truly be said to struggle with each other. As the mistletoe is disseminated by birds, its existence depends on then, and it may methodically be said to struggle with other fruit-bearing plants, in tempting the birds to devour and thus disseminate its seeds. In these several senses, which pass into each other, I use for convenience’ sake the general tetra of Struggle for Existence.

 

He writes similarly of “natural selection”:

 

In the literal sense of the word, no doubt, natural selection is a false term; but whoever objected to chemists speaking of the elective affinities of the various elements?—and yet an acid cannot strictly be said to elect the base with which it in preference combines. It has been said that I speak of natural selection as an active power or Deity; but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets? Everyone knows what is meant and is implied by such metaphorical expressions; and they are almost necessary for brevity.

 

In fact, these terms are much more than metaphors. They people the world of nature with protagonists and antagonists where previously we had seen only a solitary cactus or a growing seed. Moreover, the dramatic action they summon up is tragic. In Gilbert Murray’s terms, the basic ritual stages of tragedy are agon or contest, sparagmos or tearing apart, then anagnorisis or discovery and epiphany or joyous showing forth of the resurrected protagonist. Darwin’s struggle for existence is clearly Murray’s agon and sparagmos, and his natural selection or survival of the fittest, anagnorisis and epiphany. For the final exultation that the Greeks felt at the affirmation of Reliving Dionysus, Darwin substitutes a quieter tragic satisfaction. He writes:

 

When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.” The Origin concludes: “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life….

 

We realize that this dramatic and tragic vision of life comes from Darwin, rather than from his subject matter, when we see how undramatic most contemporary formulations of natural selection are. A typical one is that of George Gaylord Simpson in The Meaning of Evolution in 1949: “In the modern theory natural selection is differential reproduction, plus the complex interplay in such reproduction of heredity, genetic variation, and all the other factors that affect selection and determine its results.” Darwin was aware of differential reproduction as early as his draft for the Origin in 1844, but always within a larger context of struggle: a fleeter fox would survive better and “rear more young,” but “the less fleet ones would be rigidly destroyed.”

 

The archetypal image of the Origin is the war of nature, an image Darwin at first believed he had borrowed from Alphonse de Candolle. The 1841 outline for the book begins the section on “Natural Selection”: “De Candolle’s war of nature.—seeing contented face of nature,—may be well at first doubted.”

 

These notes are amplified in the 1844 essay into: “De Candolle, in an eloquent passage, has declared that all nature is at war, one organism with another, or with external nature. Seeing the contented face of nature, this may at first be well doubted; but reflection will inevitably prove it is too true.”

When Darwin had to choose a few pages from his manuscript to accompany Wallace’s paper in the historic presentation of the new theory to the Linnean Society in 1858, he began with that passage which he clearly recognized as the heart of his message. By the time the passage appeared in the Origin the next year, Darwin had recognized that De Candolle had no patent on the war of nature, and lumped him in with others. The important thing now was tearing off the pacific mask that life wears, and Darwin writes of the illusion concealing the tragic reality like a Melville narrator:

 

We behold the face of nature bright with gladness, toe often see superabundance of food; we do not see or we forget, that the birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on in-sects or seeds, and are thus constantly destroying life; or we forget how largely these songsters, or their eggs, or their nest-lings, are destroyed by birds and beasts of prey; we do not al-ways been in mind, that, though food may be now super-abundant, it is not so at all seasons of each recurring year.

 

The flatness at the end is almost deliberate; Darwin’s vision is tragic, but it is not hysterical. It never rises in pitch to melodrama, as in the “Nature, red in tooth and claw” of Tennyson’s “In Memoriam,” or the Grand Guignol vision of some of Darwin’s followers. After millions of years of evolution, Romanes writes typically in 1892:

 

We find that more than half of the species which have survived the ceaseless struggle are parasitic in their habits, lower and insentient forms of life feasting on higher and sentient forms; we find teeth and talons whetted for slaughter, hooks and suckers moulded for torment—everywhere a reign of terror, hunger, and sickness, with oozing blood and quivering limb, with gasping breath and eyes of innocence that dimly close in deaths of brutal torture!

 

Darwin is aware of the tragic ambivalence of life and death, that for use thousand years “pigeons have been watched and tended with the utmost care, and loved by many people,” and for just as long have been as considerately raised and tended for the pot. In the Journal of Researches, Darwin was moved to horror and revulsion by the fact that the natives of Tierra del Fuego, in times of hunger, kill and eat the old women of the tribe sooner than their dogs[12], because “Doggies catch otters, old women no.” By the time of the Origin, this is accepted with calm objectivity:

We see the value set on animals even by the barbarians of Tierra del Fuego, by their killing and devouring their old women, in times of dearth, as of less value than their dogs.

 

II

 

When the Origin appeared, it was reviewed in the American Journal of Science and Arts by Asa Gray, perhaps the shrewdest (as Huxley was the most brilliant) of the Darwinians. Gray noted that Darwin’s frankness about objections and unsolved problems gave the book the character of a mythic quest. He writes: “The interest for the general reader heightens as the author advances on his perilous way and grapples manfully with the most formidable difficulties.” In the Origin, Darwin tends to make the imperilled knight not himself but his theory: a difficulty would be “fatal to the whole theory,” an argument is “a fatal objection,” “Such objections as the above would be fatal to my views,” and so on endlessly. But Darwin’s imagery in correspondence makes it clear that the life at stake is Darwin’s own. Sending an advance copy of the book to Hugh Falconer in 1859, he wrote: “Lord, how savage you will be if you read it, and how you will long to crucify me alive!” He wrote to H. G. Bronn in 186o: “The objections and difficulties which may be urged against my view are indeed heavy enough almost to break my back, but it is not yet broken!” When Lyell refused to come out in support of the theory publicly, Darwin wrote to him: “You cut my throat, and your own throat; and I believe will live to be sorry for it.” In later years Darwin’s correspondence is full of “It is clear to me that I ought to be exterminated,” “I know well that I deserve many a good slap on the face,” “If I am wrong, the sooner I am knocked on the head and annihilated so much the better.” He seems to have seen himself as the scapegoat, the sacrificial victim, sometimes the Judaeo-Christian blameless victim without blemish, but sometimes the guilty pagan slayer who must himself be slain. When the theory of evolution first took publishable form, in 1844, Darwin wrote to Hooker “I am almost convinced (quite contrary to the opinion that I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable.”

 

If Darwin’s tragic vision embraced bloodshed and murder, it also embraced beauty and joy. The Origin is as full of the word “beauty” as the Journal of Researches, but now it is a utilitarian beauty. Sometimes it is a “beautiful adaptation” to function, like that of the woodpecker, the mistletoe, or the giraffe; sometimes it has a visual loveliness too, as in “the beautifully plumed seed of the dandelion”; sometimes it is an abstraction, like the power engaged “in slowly and beautifully adapting each form to the most complex relations of   life”; sometimes it is pure exultant generalization, “there is so much beauty throughout nature.” The last sentence of the book, beginning “There is grandeur in this view of life,” concludes “from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” The “wonderful” means, of course, “wonderfully adapted to survive.” In 1863, Darwin wrote to Huxley: “With a book, as with a fine day, one likes it to end with a glorious sunset.”

The Origin, although it resolutely postpones consideration of human origins for a later work, is oddly anthropocentric. One reason is that Darwin constantly humanizes animals in what used to be called the “pathetic fallacy”: male alligators have courtship rites “like Indians in a war dance”; frightened ants “took heart” and a single ant stood “an image of despair over its ravaged home”; in the consolatory statement quoted above, the surviving animals are not only vigorous and healthy, but “happy.” Man is always on Darwin’s mind as he talks of the lower orders. The criteria for an “advance in organization” among the vertebrate are “the degree of intellect and an approach in structure to mats.” When the Origin announces the descent of man, he is not named, simply lumped in: “According to this view it may be inferred that all vertebrate animals with true lungs are descended by ordinary generation from an ancient and unknown prototype, which was furnished with a floating apparatus or swimbladder.” Later in the Origin Darwin concludes in more detail that the higher vertebrates “are the modified descendants of some ancient progenitor, which was furnished in its adult state with branchiae, a swim-bladder, four fin-like limbs, and a long tail, all fitted for an aquatic life.” (More explicitly, Darwin wrote to Lyell in 186o: “Our ancestor was an animal which breathed water, had a swim bladder, a great swimming tail, an imperfect skull, and undoubtedly was an hermaphrodite! Here is a pleasant genealogy for mankind.”).

 

III

 

The chief thematic metaphor in The Origin of Species, constituting the book’s principal imaginative design, is a visual figure that develops in richness and complexity as it goes through a series of metamorphoses. It begins as the ladderlike polity of life, a form of the medieval Great Chain of Being (so exhaustively studied by A. 0. Lovejoy in his book of that title). Early in the book, Darwin writes of “places in the polity” of nature, “places which are either unoccupied or not perfectly occupied by other beings,” “a place in the natural polity of the country,” “new places in the polity of nature.” Eventually this progresses from simple to complex, and becomes a vision of “one long and branching chain of life,” of which we know from the past only a few links (the nonsense of the “Missing Link” apeman seems to be based on this passage). As the book goes on, the figure modifies from the chain, either simple or complex, to that of a living tree, in a remarkable extended metaphor (earlier used in a letter to Gray that was one of the documents presented to the Linnean Society):

 

The affinities of all the beings of the some class have some-times been represented by a great tree. I believe this simile largely speaks the truth. The green and budding twigs may represent existing species; and those produced during former years may represent the long succession of extinct species. At each period of growth all the growing twigs have tried to branch out on all sides, and to overtop and kill the surrounding twigs and branch., in the some manner as species and groups of species have at all times overmastered other species in the great battle for life. The limbs divided into great branch, and these into lesser and lesser branches, were themselves once, when the tree was young, budding twigs, and this connection of the former and present buds by ramifying branches may well represent the classification of all extinct and living species in groups subordinate to groups. Of the many twigs which flourished when the tree was a mere bush, only two or three, now grown into great branches, yet survive and bear the other branches; so with the species which lived during long-past geological periods, very few have left living and modified descendants. From the first growth of the tree, many a limb and branch has decayed and dropped off; and these fallen branches of various sizes may represent those whole orders, families, and genera which have now no living representatives, and which are known to as only in a fossil state. As we here and there see a thin straggling branch springing from a fork low down in a tree, and which by some chance has been favoured and is still alive on its summit, so we occasionally see an animal like the Ornithorhynchus or Lepidosiren, which in some small degree connects by its affinities two large branches of life, and which has apparently been saved from fatal competition by having inhabited a protected station. As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken brandies the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.

 

Darwin continues to use the tree figure, later referring to the variety of species as “like the branching of a great tree from a single stem.” Even this image, however, ultimately will not contain the infinite richness of ecological relationships in nature, which he describes as progressing “onwards in ever-increasing circles of complexity.” The book’s final paragraph achieves the ultimate transformation. It begins:

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.

 

With the image of the tangled bank, so reminiscent of Shakespearean lyric, Darwin embraces all the rich complexity of life. The image of the great Chain of Life is ordered, hierarchic, and static, essentially medieval; the great Tree of Life is ordered, hierarchic, but dynamic and competitive, a Renaissance vision; but the great Tangled Bank of Life is disordered, democratic, and subtly interdependent as well as competitive, essentially a modern vision.

 

The minor metaphors in the work fall into place within this great organizing metaphor. “Struggle for existence” and “survival of the fittest,” noted above, are other ways of looking at the tangled bank. The metaphors are epiphanies or showings forth; for the most part they image process in dramatic action, provide scenes “in an ever slowly changing drama”: “as with mariners shipwrecked near a coast”; “to feel no surprise at sickness, but, when the sick man dies, to wonder and to suspect that he died by some deed of violence”; “when we no longer look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship.” A constant metaphor is language itself: “a breed, like a dialect of a language”; “It may be worthwhile to illustrate this view of classification, by taking the case of languages”; “Rudimentary organs may be compared with the letters in a word”; and so on. J. Arthur Thomson, in Dar-win and Modern Science, praises Darwin’s “clear visions” and they are all metaphors: “visions of the web of life, of the fountain of change within the organism, of the struggle for existence and of its winnowing, and of the spreading genealogical tree.” Darwin says of morphology, defined in the Origin’s Glossary as “The law of form or structure independent of function”: “This is one of the most interesting departments of natural history, and may almost be said to be its very soul.” Similarly, Aristotle says in the Poetics (in By-water’s translation): “But the greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.” By this criterion Darwin displayed genius as morphologist and metaphorist alike.

 

Perhaps the most surprising thing in The Origin of Species, to those who think of Darwin as the type of the prosaic scientist, is that it repeatedly calls not for an act of understanding but for an act of the imagination. Darwin writes: “It is good thus to try in imagination,” “How strange are these facts!” “no one with the most vivid imagination would ever have thought,” “no one can have marvelled more than I have done,” “the fact is a marvelous one,” “But these cases are so wonderful,” “Glancing et instincts, marvellous as some are,” “We see the full meaning of the wonderful fact,” and so on. The call is not only for imagination, marvel, wonder, but for the sort of immersion in nature that led Emerson to say “Books are for the scholars’s idle hours.” Darwin writes:

It is hardly possible for me to recall to the reader who is not a practical geologist, the facts leading the mind to comprehend the lapse of time…. Not that it suffices to study the Principles of Geology, or to read special treatises by different observers on separate formations, and to mark how each author at-tempts to give an inadequate idea of the duration of each formation, or even of each stratum. We can best gain some idea of past time by knowing the agencies at work, and learning how deeply the surface of the land has been denuded, and how much sediment has been deposited…. Therefore a man should examine for himself the great piles of superimposed strata, and watch the rivulets bringing down mud, and the waves wearing away the sea-cliffs, in order to comprehend something about the duration of past time, the monuments of which we see all around us. It is good to wander along the coast, when formed of moderately hard rocks, and mark the process of degradation.

 

Perhaps not to far as it might seem from Proust’s comparable venture in comprehending the duration of past time.



[1] The article entitled Darwin the dramatist, was written by Stanley Edgar Hyman and published in The Centennial Review of Arts & Science in 1959. The annotations contain my commentaries to it. Information about the author is taken from Wikipedia (Newspeak dictionary).

[2] Stanley Edgar Hyman (1919–1970) was a literary critic who wrote primarily about critical methods: the distinct strategies critics use in approaching literary texts.  He was influential for the development of literary theory in the 1940s and 1950s. Equally skeptical of every major critical methodology of his time, he worked out an early instance of a critical theory, exploring ways that critics can be foiled by their own methods. “Each critic,” Hyman wrote in The Armed Vision, “tends to have a master metaphor or series of metaphors in terms of which he sees the critical function. This metaphor then shapes, informs, and sometimes limits his work.” Hyman saw it as his own critical task to point out these overriding themes by which, tacitly, other critics organized their work and their thinking.

Hyman was born in Brooklyn, New York and graduated from Syracuse University in 1940. He was a staff writer for The New Yorker for much of his life, and although he did not possess a graduate degree, taught at Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont. From 1961 to 1965, Hyman was the literary critic of The New Leader.

[3] A rather curious sentence: most of the thinking world was convinced of the evolution of species. It shows:  1) how little evidence is required to convince so many people, 2) How scarcely thinking is the thinking world. Perhaps the non-thinking world may be clever.

[4] Confusion between scientific argument and rhetorical organization. These are here shown as equivalent, but indeed these are quite different things. OSMNS is very weak in the first, but strong in the second.

[5] Please see footnote number 11.

[6] In a strict sense there is not a scientific theory that may be attributed to Darwin.

[7] Establish an idea? Is this a scientific objective?

[8] What are those Darwin’s processes?

[9] Is it possible to confuse processes with hypotheses?

[10] First, Darwin confused selection with breeding (a methonimy). To escape this mistake he uses the expression natural selection (an oxymoron). To escape this he defines it as survival of the fittest (pleonasm). Then he starts constructing several prosopopeyas, attributing actions to these constructions. The rhetorical analysis of chapter IV of OSMNS shows an accumulation of mistakes. Tautology is only a small part of it. Please see the book Está usted de broma Mr Darin? La retórica en el corazón del darwinismo for an explanation (English version in progress).

[11] He may have had the help of others, such as for example Thomas Henry Huxley. Adrian Desmond, the biographer of both, Darwin and Huxley, points to a paragraph in OSMNS as being a product of Huxley. There are very probably some more paragraphs in OSMNS due to Huxley.

[12] This has been repeated in many instances but never confirmed by any anthropology study or even the simplest evidence.

 

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