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.

The English mind is prone to positivism and kindred forms of materialistic philosophy, and we must expect the derivative theory to be taken up in that interest.  We have no predilection for that school, but the contrary.  If we had, we might have looked complacently upon a line of criticism which would indirectly, but effectively, play into the hands of positivists and materialistic atheists generally.  The wiser and stronger ground to take is, that the derivative hypothesis leaves the argument for design, and therefore for a designer, as valid as it ever was; that to do any work by an instrument must require, and therefore presuppose, the exertion rather of more than of less power than to do it directly; that whoever would be a consistent theist should believe that Design in the natural world is coextensive with Providence, and hold as firmly to the one as he does to the other, in spite of the wholly similar and apparently insuperable difficulties which the mind encounters whenever it endeavors to develop the idea into a system, either in the material and organic, or in the moral world.  It is enough, in the way of obviating objections, to show that the philosophical difficulties of the one are the same, and only the same, as of the other.  IV

Species as to variation,

GEOGRAPHICAL

Distribution,

AND SUCCESSION

(American Journal of Science and Arts, May, 1863)

Etude sur l’Espece, a l’Occasion d’une Revision de la Famille des Cupuliferes, par M. Alphonse de Candolle.—­ This is the title of a paper by M. Alph.  De Candolle, growing out of his study of the oaks.  It was published in the November number of the Bibliotheque Universelle, and separately issued as a pamphlet.  A less inspiring task could hardly be assigned to a botanist than the systematic elaboration of the genus Quercus and its allies.  The vast materials assembled under De Candolle’s hands, while disheartening for their bulk, offered small hope of novelty.  The subject was both extremely trite and extremely difficult.  Happily it occurred to De Candolle that an interest might be imparted to an onerous undertaking, and a work of necessity be turned to good account for science, by studying the oaks in view of the question of species.  What this term species means, or should mean, in natural history, what the limits of species, inter se or chronologically, or in geographical distribution, their modifications, actual or probable, their origin, and their destiny—­these are questions which surge up from time to time; and now and then in the progress of science they come to assume a new and hopeful interest.  Botany and zoology, geology, and what our author, feeling the want of a new term proposes to name epiontology, [iv-1] all lead up to and converge into this class of questions, while recent theories shape and point the discussion So we look with eager interest to see what light the study of oaks by a very careful experienced and conservative botanist, particularly conversant with the geographical relations of plants may throw upon the subject.

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