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"From the Greeks to Darwin"

Epicurus Edit

p.60 From the Greeks to Darwin by HenryFairfieldOsborn. EPICURUS' (341-270) chief interest in philosophy was to establish the principle of natural versus that of supernatural causation. He originated nothing in Evolution, but gathered from Empedocles and Democritus arguments in support of the principle of natural law. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eduard_Zeller observes as his characteristic that he was totally lacking in the scientific spirit which could qualify him as an investigator. His main animus was to combat the supernatural from every side, yet he was unable to direct his followers to any naturalistic explanation of value, giving them rather free rein in the choice of the most groundless hypotheses. As for the general conception that the purposeful could arise by selection or survival from the unpurposeful, which is credited to Epicureanism by some modern writers, this conception belongs primarily to Aristotle, who, as we have seen, formulated the crude myth of Empedocles into the language of modern science, with the motive of clearly stating a possible explanation of the origin of the purposeful in order to clearly

refute it. Epicurus was influenced by Democritus and his doctrine of Atomism, excluding Teleology at every present point as well as at the beginning of the world, supporting the mechanical conception of Nature, and maintaining that every individual thing is to be explained in a purely mechanical manner. Convinced that only natural causes prevail, Epicurus did not concern himself with inquiries as to their character. He also taught the origin of life by spontaneous generation, that living beings arose directly from the earth, including many marvellous forms, and adopted Empedocles' notion, that only those capable of life and reproduction have been preserved.

Reduce1 Edit

The conception that the purposeful could arise by selection or survival from the unpurposeful belongs primarily to Aristotle, with such conception explaning the origin of the purposeful in order to refute it.

Epicurus was influenced by Democritus and his doctrine of Atomism, everything is to be explained in a mechanical manner, the origin of life was by spontaneous generation(fitness) and adopted Empedocles notion, that only those capable of life and reproduction have been preserved.


Reduce2 Edit

Empedocles->Democritus->Epicurus->Aristotle

The conception that the purposeful arise by selection or survival from the unpurposeful belongs primarily to Aristotle, with such notion explaning the belief in purposefulness(Purpose) in order to refute it. Epicurus was influenced by Democritus and his doctrine of Atomism, the origin of life was by spontaneous generation(fitness) and he adopted Empedocles notion, that only those capable of life and reproduction have been preserved possessing greater 'fitness'. Fitness <==> spontaneous generation.

selection , survival or preservation Edit

The Pragmatics that Osborn and others had with "selection" was survival. Replace the usage of "selection" by modern authors such as Wilkins and Dawkins with "survival" to really get a feel for the banality of their arguments.

p.59 Osborn "....As for the general conception that the purposeful could arise by selection or survival from the unpurposeful, which is credited to Epicureanism by some modern writers, this conception belongs primarily to Aristotle, who, as we have seen, formulated the crude myth of Empedocles into the language of modern science, with the motive of clearly stating a possible explanation of the origin of the purposeful in order to clearly..."

Notes: Survival is an effect not a cause, note how survival was invoked as a cause. At the base we are dealing with a cause-effect inversion. Patterns are confused with designs and principles with a process. Darwin alternated between the terms "principle of natural selection" and "process of natural selection" . I posted about this issue at length in a Google Groups thread between Dr.Howard Hershey and I - Automated Selection

http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/3c6713a1bb23d97e#

Equivocation between randomness and automated selection

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/chance/chance.html "...Sober [1984:99] illustrates the process in this way: imagine a child's toy that has numbers of three different size balls in a container, with two internal layers that have increasingly smaller holes in them. Shaking the toy (a randomising process) increases the likelihood that the smaller balls will pass through the first filter, and that the smallest balls through the second. The smallest balls are, in effect, the most "fit" (or make the best fit) and make it through to the bottom. There has been a selection, or sorting, process which results in the smallest balls making it to the bottom...."

Sober confused http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randomness with automated selection. Lets mix the different size balls in a pot, then we select out the smaller balls by hand, this is a directed, non- random filtering process by a human.

(Aristotelians would write directed while theists directed as per Naming Conventions. Some believe that "novel accidents" are continually taking place in trillions of possible parallel universes including the small balls being selected3 out - it was just a novel accident in parallel universe 154trillion).

In order to automate the process the person designs a toy that will allow specific size balls to pass through the layers and be selected2 out. The toy didn't make2 itself, it was designed with a purpose2 - automating the filtering2 process.

Sober's toy example isn't a randomness or randomizing process but a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Probability_sample - (probability sampling) automated design process.

1863 preservation Edit

In 1863 Darwin wrote that he should have used "natural preservation" instead of selection. Substitute "preservation and survival" when reading an Aristotelian polemic on how monkeys were the ancestors of humans.

Darwin on natural selection acts Edit

See Naming Conventions for subscript usage. This paragraph by Darwin is yet another reformulation of Epicurus, who in turn got it from Aristotle, Empedocles etc... till we finally have the original author Gandalf the tribal wizard telling the peasants about the battle between the "preserved" God who was "selected" and the dead Seemonster who wasn't preserved. Had Darwin known about genes he would have adapted the tail to be the battle between the alleles.

Darwin:"....In order to make it clear how, as I believe,*natural selection acts1*, I must beg permission to give one or two imaginary illustrations. Let us take the case of a wolf, which preys on various animals, securing some by craft, some by strength, and some by fleetness; and let us suppose that the fleetest prey, a deer for instance, had from any change in the country increased in numbers, or that other prey had decreased in numbers, during that season of the year when the wolf was hardest pressed for food. Under such circumstances the swiftest and slimmest wolves have the best chance of surviving, and so be preserved or selected, provided always that they retained strength to master their prey at this or some other period of the year, when they were compelled to prey on other animals....."

".....best chance of surviving, and so be preserved or selected....."

surviving and preserved says the same thing twice. Lets rephrase a bit:

rephrase:"....In order to make it clear how, as I believe,*natural selection acts1*, I an illustration. Let us take the case of a wolf, securing by fleetness prey; and let us suppose that the fleetest prey, a deer for instance, had increased in numbers, during that season of the year when the wolf was hardest pressed for food. Under such circumstances the swiftest wolves have the best chance of surviving, and so be preserved1 or selected1..."

rephrase:"...*natural selection acts1* as in the case of a wolf, securing by fleetness prey; and let us suppose that the fleetest prey, a deer for instance, had increased in numbers, during that season of the year when the wolf was hardest pressed for food. Under such circumstances the swiftest wolves have the best chance of surviving, and so be preserved or selected..."

rephrase:"...*natural selection acts1* as in the case of a wolf, securing by fleetness ,prey. The swiftest wolves have the best chance of surviving, and so be preserved or selected..."

rephrase:"...*natural selection acts1* by enabling the swiftest wolves to be preserved or selected..."

rephrase:"...*natural selection acts1* is the process that preserves the swiftest.

rephrase:"...natural selection is the process that preserves the swiftest.

rephrase, strip out NS red herring:"...The swiftest are preserved...and therefore we are result of accident1."

preserved and swiftest says the same thing twice , it is a rhetorical tautology because the two words allude to the same fact in the context used. Today the same tautology is used by a different conclusion: "...The swiftest are preserved...and therefore we are result of divine intervention..." . Any conclusion from the tautology is a non-sequitur.

The "swiftest are preserved" is a double tautology, it can be used in the pattern or design sense depending on the user.

Blyth took the Epicurus tautology and tried to rationalize the logical fallacy by saying (paraphrasing and using a bit of artistic license:) "...The swiftest are preserved, and those not swift are eliminated , therefore God exists...." or something to that effect. He was convinced of his world view that God exists but struggled to fit it into the seemingly all explanatory schema of Aristotle.

Professor Janet on Epicurus Edit

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19192/19192-h/19192-h.htm#FNanchor_14_14 p.107 Towards the end of his volume he says: "We shall conclude by a general observation. Notwithstanding the numerous objections we have raised against Mr. Darwin's theory, we do not declare ourselves hostile to a system of which zoölogists are the only competent judges. We are neither for nor against the transmu[Pg 107]tation of species, neither for nor against the principle of natural selection. The only positive conclusion of our debate is this: no principle hitherto known, neither the action of media, nor habit, nor natural selection, can account for organic adaptations without the intervention of the principle of finality.

Natural selection, unguided, submitted to the laws of a pure mechanism, and exclusively determined by accidents, seems to me, under another name, the chance proclaimed by Epicurus, equally barren, equally incomprehensible; on the other hand, natural selection guided beforehand by a provident will, directed towards a precise end by intentional laws, might be the means which nature has selected to pass from one stage of being to another, from one form to another, to bring to perfection life throughout the universe, and to rise by a continuous process from the monad to man.

Now, I ask Mr. Darwin himself, what interest has he in maintaining that natural selection is not guided—not directed? What interest has he in substituting accidental causes for every final cause? I cannot see. Let him admit that in natural, as well as in artificial selection, there may be a choice and direction; his principle immediately becomes[Pg 108] much more fruitful than it was before. His hypothesis, then, whilst having the advantage of exempting science from the necessity of introducing the personal and miraculous intervention of God in the creation of each species, yet would be free from the banishing out of the universe an all-provident thought, and of submitting everything to blind and brute chance." (pp. 198, 199) Professor Janet asks far too much of Mr. Darwin. To ask him to give up his denial of final causes is like asking the Romanists to give up the Pope. That principle is the life and soul of his system.

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