3. Descent Of Man Revisited     

 
 
Huxley's Contradiction And Evolution #1 and #2

  

Section 3 .2.1




 
World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon

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 CHAPTERS:
 

 

 
 

 
3. Descent Of Man Revisited 
     3.1 Climbing Mt. Improbable: The Eonic Effect  
        3.1.1 An Evolution Formalism and The Eonic Model 
     3.2 History and Evolution: A Paradox  
        3.2.1 Huxley's Contradiction and Evolution #1 and #2 
        3.2.2 Deconstructing Flat History  
        3.2.3 Conflict Theories: Incredulity Toward 'Infranarratives' 
     3.3 An Unexpected Challenge to Darwinism  
        3.3.1 The Great Explosion   
        3.3.2 Measures of Evidence Density  
        3.3.3 A Photo Finish Test 
     3.4 From Fisher's Lament to Kant's Challenge 
        3.4.1 A Certain Strangeness: Beyond Space and Time? 

NOTES 
     3.5 A New Model of History: Eonic Evolution  
        3.5.1 A Gaian Matrix: Detecting A Global System  
        3.5.2 Stream and Sequence, Transition and Oikoumene
        3.5.3 An (Eonic) Outline of History
        3.5.4 World Line of The Eonic Observer

  

Next: 
 4. Idea For A Universal History

 
  
        

    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

   3.2.1 Huxley's Contradiction and Evolution #1 and #2

 

We have stumbled on the subtle problem with Darwinian thinking, and the possible answer: something is producing large-scale historical change, and this isn’t natural selection. Further, one of the most unfortunate consequences of Darwinism lies in its unwitting generation of Social Darwinism. Often blamed on Spencer, this ideological confusion of Darwin’s theory lies squarely in the theory itself, with its emphasis on natural selection. Here the effects of Darwin’s theory here were ideological, and misleading, if not disastrous. It is not adequate to point out that Darwin was himself at pains to distance himself from the misinterpretation of his own theory, in the confusion with the views of such thinkers as Herbert Spencer who is blamed for everything. Like software with a glitch, the consequences were immediate. Here ‘theory’ confronts its own effect of the theory itself on history, after it enters this history. For the first unconscious suggestion, in this case, is that unlimited social competition in the immediate present will improve genetic structure in the far future, a gross misunderstanding of a theory taken to be true at all times.[i]

Huxley’s Evolution # 2 It is T. H. Huxley  himself who spotted the flaw in the theory of natural selection in his work, Evolution and Ethics, and in the process unwittingly exposed a paradox in the theory he had so long defended. His perception was that there must be something else beside the ‘law of evolution’, survival of the fittest, at work, for man was condemned to oppose its effects in practice, on ethical grounds. Whence, if we accept this dualism, comes this evolution # 2? Here the data of the eonic effect shows us at once two levels of evolutionary action. The eonic effect shows us evolution #2.[ii]

This ‘survival of the fittest’ aspect is, in any case, demonstrably false of man’s social experience, as the mechanism of cultural evolution. Thus extreme competition is met by the response of social law in the evolution of civilization, if not economy. And the place of Adam Smith  here is entirely complex and misleading, this philosopher being a de facto source of a new ethics, even as his work is polarized between an economic and moral dimension. Survival of the fittest business firm is simply another process, as is the tonic of Olympiad sports competition. The issue of evolutionary causality in the study of the evolution of civilization has been so confused by assumptions of material causative motive, as in the imputation of economic determinism, that the real evolution of social cooperation seems to have been forgotten. In general, theories of evolution  must themselves interact with the near future of all free action, in a confusion of external observer, and temporal participant, ‘acting out theory’. Amoebas had never read Darwin , but after the publication of his book cultural evolution underwent clear changes. We see the danger of factoring the fact-value distinction out of the statement of evolutionary ‘laws’. The record of civilization shows something very different and reveals clear evidence of centuries of ‘idle time’, dark Assyrian centuries, between interrupts as the ‘winners’ of social competition gain control.

The rise of technological civilization has created a new confusion, theories applied to human action. But we can see their limitations, especially in the realm of ethics. And none of them explain the emergence of an ethical agent. In the final analysis, theories of evolution must invoke, not this or that principle of ethical behavior, but the full potential of all of them.

 

    Notes

   Web:  chap3_2_1.htm

 

[i] For Social Darwinism, cf. Richard Hofstadter, Social Darwinism in American Thought (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1945), Robert Bannister, Social Darwinism: Science and Myth in Anglo-American Thought (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1979), Edward Caudill, Darwinian Myths: The Legends and Misuses of a Theory (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997), John Greene, Science, Ideology, and World View (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), Richard Lewontin, The Dialectical Biologist (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985).

[ii] T. H. Huxley, Evolution and Ethics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989). 

 

 
 


 

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Last modified: 09/23/2010