Re: Immanuel Kant and Evolution ("creation or rather development")

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John Wilkins

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Sep 14, 2007, 11:34:19 PM9/14/07
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Wolfgang G. Gasser <z...@z.lol.li> wrote:

> Interesting quote from 'Evolutionary Theory and Kant's Critique' [1]:
>
> "The theory of the descent of the species is fully developed (in the
> Critique of Judgment), even including, as an explanation for the
> current fixity of the species, a theory of the former, now extinct,
> fertility of the productive force, such as Georges Cuvier was to
> advocate subsequently. Nineteenth-century theories of evolution,
> especially Darwin's, added factual details to Kant's theory and
> improved it by removing many objective difficulties, but they changed
> nothing in the basic framework. On the other hand, compared to Kant's
> theory, the theories of the nineteenth century actually represent a
> huge step backward on account of the decline of theoretical culture
> and the consequent naiveté with which relatively insignificant details
> are considered important and lauded as progress in treating the
> question, while the crucial speculative-theoretical basic questions
> are overlooked."

Word salad. Kant had no evolutionary theory, and the idea of
"development" of species was around a fair bit before him.

Kant knew nothing of:

Common descent

Sexual selection

Natural selection

Adaptation by natural selection

Populational variation

and so on.

Kant famously said of the living world that it inevitably seemed to be
driven by final causes and thus there would never be a Newton "who shall
make comprehensible by us the production of a blade of grass according
to natural laws which no design has ordered" (Critique of Judgment, §75)

Darwin destroyed that claim.

He wrote:

In order to see that a thing is only possible as a purpose, that is to
be forced to seek the causality of its origin, not in the mechanism of
nature, but in a cause whose faculty of action is determined through
concepts, it is requisite that its form be not possible according to
mere natural laws... The _contingency_ of its form in all empirical
natural laws in reference to reason affords a ground for regarding its
causality as possible only through reason. [Critique of Judgement in
1790 §64 (second edition in 1793: Kant 1951)]

A very good discussion of whether or not Kant had an evolutionary
theory, and which demolishes that claim, is in

Glass, Bentley, Owsei Temkin, and William L. Straus Jr., eds. 1959.
Forerunners of Darwin, 1745-1859. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.

That said, Kant had a glimmer of the difference in classification by
similarity and classification by genealogy:

In the animal kingdom the natural classification into species and
variety is grounded in the common law of propagation, and the unity of
the species is nothing other than the unity of the generative force,
which holds thoroughly for a certain manifold of animals. Accordingly,
Buffon's rule that animals which produce fertile offspring with one
another, (regardless of the difference in form there may be between
them) belong to one and the same physical species, is actually viewed
merely as the definition of a natural species of animal in general, in
contrast to all scholastic species of animals. The scholastic
classification is made according to classes and orders animals according
to similarities. The natural classification, however, is based on lines
of descent and orders them according to relationships with respect to
generation. The former accomplishes a scholastic system for the memory,
the latter a natural system for the understanding; the former intends
only to bring the creatures under titles, the latter to bring them under
laws. [On the Different Races of Man, 1775]

The term "scholastic species" here means something like "the species of
logical classification".

He wrote, under the influence of Buffon:

For animals whose variety is so great that an equal number of separate
creations would have been necessary for their existence could indeed
belong to a nominal family grouping [Nominalgattung, lit. nominal
species] but never to a real one, other than one as to which at least
the possibility of descent from a single common pair is to be assumed.
... [Otherwise] the singular compatibility of the generative forces of
two species (which, although quite foreign as to origins, yet can be
fruitfully mated with each other) would have to be assumed with no other
explanation than that nature so pleases. If, in order to demonstrate
this latter supposition, one points to animals in which crossing can
happen despite the [supposed] difference of their original stems, he
will in every case reject the hypothesis and, so much the more because
such a fruitful union occurs, infer the unity of the group, as from the
crossing of dogs and foxes, etc. The unfailing inheritance of
peculiarities of both parents is thus the only true and at the same time
adequate touchstone of the unity of the group from which they have
sprung: namely the original seeds [Keime] inherent in this group
developing in a succession of generations without which those hereditary
variations would not have originated and would presumably not
necessarily have become hereditary. [Determination of the concept of
human races" (1785) (trans. in Greene 1959: 233)]

Greene, John C. 1959. The death of Adam: evolution and its impact on
Western thought. Ames: Iowa State University Press.

>
>
> Inspired by Buffon (1707-1788), Kant wrote [2], [3]:
>
> "Perhaps a succession of millions of years or centuries has passed
> before the sphere of the developed nature in which we find ourselves
> grew to the perfection inherent in it [*]. And perhaps an even longer
> period will elapse before nature will take such a wide step into
> chaos: yet the sphere of the developed nature is ceaselessly occupied
> with expanding itself.
>
> Creation is not the work of a moment. After creation made a beginning
> by producing an infinity of substances and materials, it is efficacious
> with constantly increasing degrees of fecundity throughout the total
> succession of eternity."

So he had the idea that things change and take place over time.
Wooptydoo. This is not new, nor is it properly elaborated in Kant to be
a scientific claim.
>
>
> Many years later Kant wrote [4]:
>
> "It is praiseworthy by the aid of comparative anatomy to go through the
> great creation of organised natures, in order to see whether there may
> not be in it something similar to a system and also in accordance with
> the principle of production. [...]
>
> The agreement of so many genera of animals in a certain common schema,
> which appears to be fundamental not only in the structure of their
> bones but also in the disposition of their remaining parts, -˜ so that
> with an admirable simplicity of original outline, a great variety of
> species has been produced by the shortening of one member and the
> lengthening of another, the involution of this part and the evolution
> of that, -˜ allows a ray of hope, however faint, to penetrate into
> our minds, that here something may be accomplished by the aid of the
> principle of the mechanism of nature (without which there can be no
> natural science in general).
>
> This analogy of forms, which with all their differences seem to have
> been produced according to a common original type, strengthens our
> suspicions of an actual relationship between them in their production
> from a common parent, through the gradual approximation of one animal-
> genus to another ˜- from those in which the principle of purposes
> seems to be best authenticated, i.e. from man, down to the polype,
> and again from this down to mosses and lichens, and finally to the
> lowest stage of nature noticeable by us, viz. to crude matter.
>
> And so the whole Technic of nature, which is so incomprehensible to
> us in organised beings that we believe ourselves compelled to think
> a different principle for it, seems to be derived from matter and its
> powers according to mechanical laws (like those by which it works in
> the formation of crystals).
>
> Here it is permissible for the archaeologist of nature to derive from
> the surviving traces of its oldest revolutions [...] that great family
> of creatures [...]. He can suppose the bosom of mother earth, as she
> passed out of her chaotic state (like a great animal), to have given
> birth in the beginning to creatures of less purposive form, that
> these again gave birth to others which formed themselves with greater
> adaptation to their place of birth and their relations to each other;
> [...]
>
> We may call a hypothesis of this kind a daring venture of reason, and
> there may be few even of the most acute naturalists through whose head
> it has not sometimes passed. For it is not absurd, like that generatio
> aequivoca by which is understood the production of an organised being
> through the mechanics of crude unorganised matter.
>
> It would always remain generatio univoca in the most universal sense
> of the word, for it only considers one organic being as derived from
> another organic being, although from one which is specifically
> different; e.g. certain water-animals transform themselves gradually
> into marsh-animals and from these, after some generations, into land-
> animals.
>
> A priori, in the judgement of Reason alone, there is no contradiction
> here. Only experience gives no example of it; according to experience
> all generation that we know is generatio homonyma."

Which is a principle that goes back to the Greeks. That like produces
like. It is the *precondition* for thinking about living things, not the
outcome of an elaborated theory of evolution. This is just bad history -
reading back into "precursors" views that did not become active and
explicit until much later. It is "creeping precursoritis".

Kant was not a forerunner of evolution. If anything, he was playing,
rather incompletely, with ideas that preceded him by many years.
>
>
> Cheers, Wolfgang
>
>
> Pandualist evolution (in the tradition of Cusa, Kepler, Spinoza & Kant):
> http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/psychon.html
>
>
> [*] "Perhaps a succession of millions of years and centuries is to flow
> by before the sphere of developed nature in which we find ourselves
> grows to the perfection inherent in it" [2] is in my opionion not a
> clear enough translation of the German "Es ist vielleicht eine Reihe
> von Millionen Jahren und Jahrhunderten verflossen, ehe die Sphäre
> der gebildeten Natur, darin wir uns befinden, zu der Vollkommenheit
> gediehen ist, die ihr jetzt beiwohnt."
> [1] http://www.fritzwagner.com/ev/evolution_and_kant.html
> [2] 1755, Universal Natural History and Theory of Heaven, Part Two,
> Section Seven, Concerning Creation in the Total Extent of its
> Infinity Both in Space and Time
> [3] http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/kant/kant2e.htm
> [4] 1790, The Critique of Judgement, § 80, Of the necessary
> subordination of the mechanical to the teleological principle
> in the explanation of a thing as a natural purpose.
> http://oll.libertyfund.org/title/1217/97628


--
John S. Wilkins, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Philosophy
University of Queensland - Blog: scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts
"He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor,
bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious."

r norman

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Sep 15, 2007, 7:38:30 AM9/15/07
to

Many thanks for this important review in the history of ideas. To
tell the truth, I was waiting for a response from you so that I would
spare my poor overworked daughter the task of having to respond. Since
you have so much idle time on your hands, I knew I could rely on you
to do it instead.

Seriously, I really do appreciate the information.

Incidentally, the motivation behind the original seems not to present
Kant's ideas on evolution but rather to introduce the "Psychon
Theory", described in the site mentioned as a "panpsychist evolution
theory based on a continuity from elementary particles to human
souls".


John Wilkins

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Sep 15, 2007, 8:08:00 AM9/15/07
to
r norman <r_s_norman@_comcast.net> wrote:
...

> Many thanks for this important review in the history of ideas. To
> tell the truth, I was waiting for a response from you so that I would
> spare my poor overworked daughter the task of having to respond. Since
> you have so much idle time on your hands, I knew I could rely on you
> to do it instead.
>
> Seriously, I really do appreciate the information.
>
> Incidentally, the motivation behind the original seems not to present
> Kant's ideas on evolution but rather to introduce the "Psychon
> Theory", described in the site mentioned as a "panpsychist evolution
> theory based on a continuity from elementary particles to human
> souls".

Well, as it happens I had this material available from my book.

TomS

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Sep 15, 2007, 9:12:34 AM9/15/07
to
"On Sat, 15 Sep 2007 13:34:19 +1000, in article
<1i4hgvj.1mm8kxp1rm5f9wN%j.wil...@uq.edu.au>, John Wilkins stated..."

>
>Wolfgang G. Gasser <z...@z.lol.li> wrote:
>
>> Interesting quote from 'Evolutionary Theory and Kant's Critique' [1]:
>>=20

>> "The theory of the descent of the species is fully developed (in the
>> Critique of Judgment), even including, as an explanation for the
>> current fixity of the species, a theory of the former, now extinct,
>> fertility of the productive force, such as Georges Cuvier was to
>> advocate subsequently. Nineteenth-century theories of evolution,
>> especially Darwin's, added factual details to Kant's theory and
>> improved it by removing many objective difficulties, but they changed
>> nothing in the basic framework. On the other hand, compared to Kant's
>> theory, the theories of the nineteenth century actually represent a
>> huge step backward on account of the decline of theoretical culture
>> and the consequent naivet=C3=A9 with which relatively insignificant d=

>etails
>> are considered important and lauded as progress in treating the
>> question, while the crucial speculative-theoretical basic questions
>> are overlooked."
>
>Word salad. Kant had no evolutionary theory, and the idea of
>"development" of species was around a fair bit before him.
>
>Kant knew nothing of:
>
>Common descent
>
>Sexual selection
>
>Natural selection
>
>Adaptation by natural selection
>
>Populational variation
>
>and so on.
>
>Kant famously said of the living world that it inevitably seemed to be
>driven by final causes and thus there would never be a Newton "who shall
>make comprehensible by us the production of a blade of grass according
>to natural laws which no design has ordered" (Critique of Judgment, =C2=A7=
>75)
[...snip...]

I am not sure that Kant, or many other people of the 18th century, had a
clear grasp of the distinction between the evolution of a species and the
development of an individual. I would be very careful of not reading into
anyone of that era a notion of evolution without evidence that they had
that distinction in mind.

I do know that in the 18th century there was a real controversy over
*development*. Some of the savants did not believe that development
of the embryo from a relatively unformed state was impossible. This
notion is so unfamiliar to us, while evolution is so familiar, that I suspect
that it is far too easy to mistakenly ascribe a notion of evolution where
the author may have been talking about something more like development.

In that famous quotation of Kant, it seems to me that the "plain sense" of
it is closer to something about "production of a blade of grass" than it is
to "divergence of the clade of grasses from the other monocots".


--
---Tom S.
"As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand."
attributed to Josh Billings

John Wilkins

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Sep 15, 2007, 11:16:52 AM9/15/07
to
TomS <TomS_...@newsguy.com> wrote:

There was little in the way of discussion about the divergence of
species, although Maupertuis had put forward an evolutionary account in
Venus Physique in 1743. Kant talked about "genealogical classification"
but he plainly meant that we classify species in virtue of their being
descended from the same parental stock. I fully agree with your reading
of the blade of grass passage - that's why I included it. The believed
that the Keime are teleologically programmed, to use a modern term, and
that this was not reducible to mechanical causal accounts. Darwin's
post-hoc account of teleology put paid to that in one way, but Kant was
describing the laws of individual growth and reproduction.

Had he thought of, or been advised of, feedback cycles (which of course
developed out of Darwinian thinking much later), Kant may very well have
worked out something like adaptive evolution. The Critique is maddening
in that regard - you want to shout at him for not getting it.

Wolfgang G. Gasser

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Sep 15, 2007, 4:07:03 PM9/15/07
to
John Wilkins in news:1i4hgvj.1mm8kxp1rm5f9wN%j.wil...@uq.edu.au :

> Kant knew nothing of:
>
> Common descent
> Sexual selection
> Natural selection
> Adaptation by natural selection

Extracts from the Kant quotes of 1790 of my previous posting [1]:

"so that with an admirable simplicity of original outline, a great
variety of species has been produced by the shortening of one member
and the lengthening of another, the involution of this part and the
evolution of that"

"This analogy of forms, which with all their differences seem to have
been produced according to a COMMON ORIGINAL TYPE, strengthens our


suspicions of an actual relationship between them in their production

from a COMMON PARENT (Urmtter), through the GRADUAL APPROXIMATION of
one animal-genus to another —- from those in which the principle of
purposes seems to be best authenticated, i.e. FROM MAN, down to the


polype, and again from this down to mosses and lichens, and finally

TO THE LOWEST STAGE OF NATURE noticeable by us, to crude matter."

"[The archaeologist of nature] can suppose the bosom of mother earth
[...] to have given birth in the beginning to creatures of less


purposive form, that these again gave birth to others which formed

themselves with GREATER ADAPTATION (angemessener) TO their PLACE OF
BIRTH and their RELATIONS TO EACH OTHER"

"We may call a hypothesis of this kind a daring venture of reason"

"[Such a hypothesis] only considers one organic being as derived from


another organic being, although from one which is specifically

different; e.g. certain WATER-ANIMALS transform themselves GRADUALLY
into MARSH-ANIMALS and from these, after some generations, into LAND-
ANIMALS."

> Populational variation
> and so on.

Already Maupertuis (1698-1759) had "consider[ed] animals in terms of
variable populations, in opposition to the natural history tradition
that emphasized description of individual specimens." [2]

> Kant famously said of the living world that it inevitably seemed to
> be driven by final causes and thus there would never be a Newton "who
> shall make comprehensible by us the production of a blade of grass
> according to natural laws which no design has ordered" (Critique of
> Judgment, §75)
>
> Darwin destroyed that claim.

There are lots of intelligent and serious persons who deny that Darwin
found the explanation of the mystery of life. However, who denies
that the motions of a planetary system can be explained (and easily
computer-simulated) by mutual attraction and momentum conservation?

Kant actually understood why Newton's laws do work, and thus he also
knew the limitations of such laws.

Mechanistic laws essentially can be reduced to attractive and repulsive
forces under the validity of conservation laws. In this way explanations
can obviously be found for e.g. temperature and Brownian motion, but the
case of living systems is fundamentally different. See for instance:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB6G9GD2KFk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8NHcQesYl8

Such an extremely complex and purposeful behaviour is a prerequisite
for the existence of a simple "blade of grass" [3].

> Kant was not a forerunner of evolution. If anything, he was playing,
> rather incompletely, with ideas that preceded him by many years.

There was a continuous evolution of 'evolution', and Kant, as a rather
consistent advocate of the old principle 'natura non facit saltus',
was part of this development, in the same way as Maupertuis, Buffon,
Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck and many others.

Cheers, Wolfgang

________________________________________________________________________

The German originals of the above quotes from Kant [4]:

"wo bewundrungswürdige Einfalt des Grundrisses durch Verkürzung einer
und Verlängerung anderer, durch Einwickelung dieser und Auswickelung
jener Teile eine so große Mannigfaltigkeit von Spezies hat
hervorbringen können"

"Diese Analogie der Formen, sofern sie bei aller Verschiedenheit einem
gemeinschaftlichen Urbilde gemäß erzeugt zu sein scheinen, verstärkt
die Vermutung einer wirklichen Verwandtschaft derselben in der
Erzeugung von einer gemeinschaftlichen Urmutter, durch die
stufenartige Annäherung einer Tiergattung zur andern, von derjenigen
an, in welcher das Prinzip der Zwecke am meisten bewährt zu sein
scheint, nämlich dem Menschen, bis zum Polyp, von diesem sogar bis
zu Moosen und Flechten, und endlich zu der niedrigsten uns merklichen
Stufe der Natur, zur rohen Materie"

"[Der Archäologe der Natur] kann den Mutterschoß der Erde [...]
anfänglich Geschöpfe von minder-zweckmäßiger Form, diese wiederum
andere, welche angemessener ihrem Zeugungsplatze und ihrem
Verhältnisse untereinander sich ausbildeten, gebären lassen;"

"Eine Hypothese von solcher Art kann man ein gewagtes Abenteuer der
Vernunft nennen;"

"Sie wäre immer noch generatio univoca in der allgemeinsten Bedeutung
des Worts, sofern nur etwas Organisches aus einem andern Organischen,
obzwar unter dieser Art Wesen spezifisch von ihm unterschiedenen,
erzeugt würde; z. B. wenn gewisse Wassertiere sich nach und nach zu
Sumpftieren, und aus diesen, nach einigen Zeugungen, zu Landtieren
ausbildeten."

________________________________________________________________________

[1] See: http://groups.google.li/group/alt.atheism/msg/0f56e4af99831f42
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Louis_Maupertuis
[3] "In a system explainable by causality the further development
depends only on present states and effects. Neither the past,
provided that no causal effects reach to the present, nor the
future affect the system. ... If the development of a system does
not depend solely on present states and effects, but the present
behaviour of the system can only be understood by relating it to a
higher order, it is an example of final laws of nature. The higher
order can be a (non-causal) relation of the system to the (own)
past, it can appear in the system in the future or in a higher
system in the present or future."
http://members.lol.li/twostone/E/psychon.html#a04
[4] Immanuel Kant; Kritik der Urteilskraft; Anhang: Methodenlehre der
teleologischen Urteilskraft; § 80, Von der notwendigen Unterordnung
des Prinzips des Mechanismus unter dem teleologischen in Erklärung
eines Dinges als Naturzwecks;
http://www.thorsten-reinicke.de/kant/kuk/kukp801.htm


Kermit

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Sep 15, 2007, 9:27:09 PM9/15/07
to
On Sep 15, 1:07 pm, "Wolfgang G. Gasser" <z...@z.lol.li> wrote:
> John Wilkins innews:1i4hgvj.1mm8kxp1rm5f9wN%j.wil...@uq.edu.au:

>
> > Kant knew nothing of:
>
> > Common descent
> > Sexual selection
> > Natural selection
> > Adaptation by natural selection
>
> Extracts from the Kant quotes of 1790 of my previous posting [1]:
>
> "so that with an admirable simplicity of original outline, a great
> variety of species has been produced by the shortening of one member
> and the lengthening of another, the involution of this part and the
> evolution of that"
>
> "This analogy of forms, which with all their differences seem to have
> been produced according to a COMMON ORIGINAL TYPE, strengthens our
> suspicions of an actual relationship between them in their production
> from a COMMON PARENT (Urmtter), through the GRADUAL APPROXIMATION of
> one animal-genus to another -- from those in which the principle of

But nobody who is informed and honest denies that he explained the
diversity of life.

> However, who denies
> that the motions of a planetary system can be explained (and easily
> computer-simulated) by mutual attraction and momentum conservation?
>
> Kant actually understood why Newton's laws do work, and thus he also
> knew the limitations of such laws.

Limitations? Laws describe a particular kind of behavior of the
universe, in limited ways, so simple that they can usually be
expressed in mathematical formulas. Do you expect them to dance jigs
also? Of course they're limited; pretty much everything is. Most
people only use that word when the limitation is unexpected or
disappointing in some way.

>
> Mechanistic laws essentially can be reduced to attractive and repulsive
> forces under the validity of conservation laws. In this way explanations
> can obviously be found for e.g. temperature and Brownian motion, but the
> case of living systems is fundamentally different. See for instance:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB6G9GD2KFkhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8NHcQesYl8

Living things do not confound, break, or ignore temperature, Brownian
motion, or any of the expected behaviors of physics and chemistry.

>
> Such an extremely complex and purposeful behaviour is a prerequisite
> for the existence of a simple "blade of grass" [3].

What behavior? Darwin started the science which explains the existence
of grass, given the common ancestor.

>
> > Kant was not a forerunner of evolution. If anything, he was playing,
> > rather incompletely, with ideas that preceded him by many years.
>
> There was a continuous evolution of 'evolution', and Kant, as a rather
> consistent advocate of the old principle 'natura non facit saltus',
> was part of this development, in the same way as Maupertuis, Buffon,
> Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck and many others.

Darwin had predecessors, of course; all thinkers do. But he, Wallace,
and Mendel nonetheless established the modern science of evolutionary
biology. None of us have done everything fresh, from nothing. Who has
suggested otherwise?

>
> Cheers, Wolfgang
>
<snip>

Kermit


John Wilkins

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Sep 15, 2007, 10:28:32 PM9/15/07
to
Wolfgang G. Gasser <z...@z.lol.li> wrote:

> John Wilkins in news:1i4hgvj.1mm8kxp1rm5f9wN%j.wil...@uq.edu.au :
>
> > Kant knew nothing of:
> >
> > Common descent
> > Sexual selection
> > Natural selection
> > Adaptation by natural selection
>
> Extracts from the Kant quotes of 1790 of my previous posting [1]:
>
> "so that with an admirable simplicity of original outline, a great
> variety of species has been produced by the shortening of one member
> and the lengthening of another, the involution of this part and the
> evolution of that"
>
> "This analogy of forms, which with all their differences seem to have
> been produced according to a COMMON ORIGINAL TYPE, strengthens our
> suspicions of an actual relationship between them in their production
> from a COMMON PARENT (Urmtter), through the GRADUAL APPROXIMATION of
> one animal-genus to another ˜- from those in which the principle of
> purposes seems to be best authenticated, i.e. FROM MAN, down to the
> polype, and again from this down to mosses and lichens, and finally
> TO THE LOWEST STAGE OF NATURE noticeable by us, to crude matter."

Yes, yes. Kant held to a great chain of being view, like so many others
did. Also, note that this doesn't imply common ancestry of species,
merely of forms. Goethe took this further and held that forms had
Urforms, but neither he nor Kant took this to be a temporal process,
just a formal one. This is a question of classification or platonism.


>
> "[The archaeologist of nature] can suppose the bosom of mother earth
> [...] to have given birth in the beginning to creatures of less
> purposive form, that these again gave birth to others which formed
> themselves with GREATER ADAPTATION (angemessener) TO their PLACE OF
> BIRTH and their RELATIONS TO EACH OTHER"
>
> "We may call a hypothesis of this kind a daring venture of reason"

And yes he gave no mechanism or account by which such adaptations occur
other than "purposive form", which merely restates the problem. This is
not a scientific account at all. And teleology was always a show stopper
in explanation in biology before Darwin.


>
> "[Such a hypothesis] only considers one organic being as derived from
> another organic being, although from one which is specifically
> different; e.g. certain WATER-ANIMALS transform themselves GRADUALLY
> into MARSH-ANIMALS and from these, after some generations, into LAND-
> ANIMALS."

Yes, a view that went back to the Greeks. Again, it's not necessarily
evolution so much as a kind of limited transmutation, like Buffon held,
within limits.


>
> > Populational variation
> > and so on.
>
> Already Maupertuis (1698-1759) had "consider[ed] animals in terms of
> variable populations, in opposition to the natural history tradition
> that emphasized description of individual specimens." [2]

And because Voltaire and Diderot mocked him mercilessly, Maupertuis'
speculations were not taken seriously. Nor were de Maillet's
speculations. As I said (and I cited Maupertuis explicitly), there were
transformational ideas around - it was becoming increasingly proposed in
the 18th century (and the reason? because Linnaeus had made popular
Ray's idea that species were fixed, beginning in 1735).


>
> > Kant famously said of the living world that it inevitably seemed to
> > be driven by final causes and thus there would never be a Newton "who
> > shall make comprehensible by us the production of a blade of grass
> > according to natural laws which no design has ordered" (Critique of
> > Judgment, §75)
> >
> > Darwin destroyed that claim.
>
> There are lots of intelligent and serious persons who deny that Darwin
> found the explanation of the mystery of life. However, who denies
> that the motions of a planetary system can be explained (and easily
> computer-simulated) by mutual attraction and momentum conservation?
>
> Kant actually understood why Newton's laws do work, and thus he also
> knew the limitations of such laws.

Complete non-sequitur. Darwin made it in actual fact, possible to give a
non-teleological account of adaptation. Kant simply did not understand
this mode of explanation.

r norman

unread,
Sep 16, 2007, 4:20:49 PM9/16/07
to

Here is another opinion from a philosopher of my acquaintance who
specializes in continental philosophy, especially 19th century German,
and is also rather acquainted with biology:

"It is certainly true that there were a lot of evolutionary theories
before Darwin, but most of them were speculative and none of them
(except Spencer) proposed natural selection as a mechanism. Kant
certainly played with some of these ideas, but this does not really
make him a visionary. Teleology is certainly very central to his
notion of biology. "

"There are a lot of loose ideas out there about being a "precursor" to
some important scientific theory. I mean, Democrates proposed a
theory of the atom several millennia ago, but he did not base his
ideas on anything like scientific methods of evidence gathering. He
had no conception of a modern notion of the atom. Does this make him
a visionary? or just lucky? I think it is more like the latter. "


Wolfgang G. Gasser

unread,
Sep 17, 2007, 9:33:02 PM9/17/07
to
>> = Wolfgang G. Gasser in news:fche27$o9r$1...@atlas.ip-plus.net
> = John Wilkins in news:1i4j8vd.7e25c0z2yzzlN%j.wil...@uq.edu.au

> Kant held to a great chain of being view, like so many others did.
> Also, note that this doesn't imply common ancestry of species,
> merely of forms.

Kant's hypothesis implies:

- a gradual development of the world over millions or hundreds of
millions of years
- a continuity from man, down to crude matter
- an actual (not only a formal) relationship between the species
- a common parent (primordial mother, "Urmutter") all species derive
from through gradual change
- the gradual change results from always better adaptation of living
beings to their habitat and to their relations to each other
- e.g. certain water-animals transform themselves gradually into marsh-
animals and from these, after some generations, into land-animals

So I think it is quite evident that Kant took this to be "a temporal
process" and not "just a formal one" as you assume.

It is true that Kant formulated this transformation-of-all-species-
from-a-common-ancestor hypothesis in a rather hypothetical way and did


not claim to believe himself in it. He wrote:

"A priori, in the judgement of Reason alone, there is no contradiction
here. Only experience gives no example of it; according to experience
all generation that we know is generatio homonyma."

My interpretation is that this was an attempt to provoke opposition
in his readers (i.e. he wanted to stimulate their critical thinking),
because the contradiction between the "Urmutter" hypothesis and
experience is only apparent (if we assume as Kant a development of
millions of years).

> And yes he gave no mechanism or account by which such adaptations
> occur other than "purposive form", which merely restates the problem.

Darwin explained "such adaptations" by calling the whole process
'natural selection'. Whereas Kant had started with the teleological
concept 'adaptation' (Angemessenheit, adequacy, aptness, suitability),
Darwin derived this concept from differential MORTALITY (due to
different degrees of adaptation).

Because 'mortality' in the same way as 'decay' is a concept considered
to be free of any form of teleology, Darwin (superficially) succeeded
in resolving the problem of (evolution of) life without resorting
to teleology. However, insofar as 'adaptation' is explained by
'differential mortality', life is essentially explained by death!

The real problems of life, Kant had dealt with, i.e. ontogenesis and
reproduction, are completely ignored by Darwin. Reproduction, defined
by the result of a very similar copy, is per se a teleological
respectively finalistic concept.

To sum up, instead of marveling at the fact that organisms reproduce,
as Kant did, Darwin took reproduction for granted and explained
evolution by 'differential mortality'.

In 1999 I had a very interesting discussion on similar problems:
http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/msg/796102a7062eef18
http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/msg/31c4a517a5dd36a9
http://groups.google.com/group/sci.skeptic/msg/5648fc6472c14af8
http://groups.google.com/group/sci.skeptic/msg/4c0d104808b60b35


> = Kermit in news:1189906029.6...@57g2000hsv.googlegroups.com

> Living things do not confound, break, or ignore temperature, Brownian
> motion, or any of the expected behaviors of physics and chemistry.

If we observe under a microscope a bacterium-sized particle which does
not obey the laws of Brownian motion, we conclude that it is living.
In a similar way as bacteria can move to where they expect to find
nourishment, cell organelles are able to move to where they are needed.
It is generally accepted that such mouvements do not conform to
Brownian motion.

But do proteins and other (smaller) organic molecules conform to Browian
motion? And if organic molecules did conform to Brownian motion, could
a living cell actually survive?

According to panpsychism, purposeful behaviour of a whole results from
purposeful behaviour of its parts. Darwinism (insofar as it is based
on reductionist materialism) however claims that purposeless movements
of the parts (organic molecules) can lead to purposive behaviour of
the whole.

>> Such an extremely complex and purposeful behaviour is a prerequisite

>> for the existence of a simple "blade of grass".
>
> What behavior?

Watch this wonderful visualisation: http://tinyurl.com/qjjrx

Cheers,
Wolfgang


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