Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 317 pages of information about Darwiniana; Essays and Reviews Pertaining to Darwinism.

“I cannot doubt that the theory of descent with modification embraces all the members of the same class.”  Furthermore, “I believe that all animals have descended from at most only four or five progenitors, and plants from an equal or lesser number.”

Seeing that analogy as strongly suggests a further step in the same direction, while he protests that “analogy may be a deceitful guide,” yet he follows its inexorable leading to the inference that—­

“Probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this ear have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed."[III-4]

In the first extract we have the thin end of the wedge driven a little way; in the last, the wedge driven home.

We have already sketched some of the reasons suggestive of such a theory of derivation of species, reasons which gave it plausibility, and even no small probability, as applied to our actual world and to changes occurring since the latest tertiary period.  We are well pleased at this moment to find that the conclusions we were arriving at in this respect are sustained by the very high authority and impartial judgment of Pictet, the Swiss paleontologist.  In his review of Darwin’s book[III-5] —­ the fairest and most admirable opposing one that has appeared—­he freely accepts that ensemble of natural operations which Darwin impersonates under the now familiar name of Natural Selection, allows that the exposition throughout the first chapters seems “a la fois prudent et fort,” and is disposed to accept the whole argument in its foundations, that is, so far as it relates to what is now going on, or has taken place in the present geological period—­which period he carries back through the diluvial epoch to the borders of the tertiary.[III-6] Pictet accordingly admits that the theory will very well account for the origination by divergence of nearly-related species, whether within the present period or in remoter geological times; a very natural view for him to take, since he appears to have reached and published, several years ago, the pregnant conclusion that there most probably was some material connection between the closely-related species of two successive faunas, and that the numerous close species, whose limits are so difficult to determine, were not all created distinct and independent.  But while thus accepting, or ready to accept, the basis of Darwin’s theory, and all its legitimate direct inferences, he rejects the ultimate conclusions, brings some weighty arguments to bear against them, and is evidently convinced that he can draw a clear line between the sound inferences, which he favors, and the unsound or unwarranted theoretical deductions, which he rejects.  We hope he can.

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