Re: Phil Skell replies to David Campbell

From: Pim van Meurs <>
Date: Wed Sep 21 2005 - 14:14:25 EDT

Since we are quote mining Darwin's notebook we may get a better insight
into the meaning of his notes by trying to understand under what
circumstances these notes were taken. As others have realized before me,
Darwin had to deal with the origin of human species. Such a venture
would certainly raise some metaphysical specters.

My theory would give zest to recent & Fossil Comparative Anatomy, & it
would lead to study of instincts, hereditary & mind hereditary, whole
Darwin, Notebook B, 1837

Quoted in Darwin’s Metaphysics of Mind, Robert J. Richards concludes

In later years, Darwin’s metaphysical assumptions—or at least their
overt expression—faded as critics teased them out and held them up for
inspection (see chapter 7 of this book). But during the formative period
of his theory construction, when the fundamental features of that theory
were established, those assumptions formed the deep grammar of his
conception, controlling what the theory was capable of asserting. Today,
we understand the evolutionary process differently. Darwin’s formulation
of the operations of natural selection is not ours. We are
neo-Darwinians, which, needless to say, Darwin was not.

More on the M Notebook

*Entries from Darwin’s Notebooks - The M Notebook, 1856:*

“Origin of man now proved. — Metaphysics must flourish. — He who
understands baboon would do more toward metaphysics than Locke.”

“Plato says...that our “imaginary ideas” arise from the preexistence of
the soul, are not derivable from experience—read monkeys for preexistence.”

*Bertrand Russell*: "A logical theory may be tested by its capacity for
dealing with puzzles, and it is a wholesome plan, in thinking about
logic, to stock the mind with as many puzzles as possible, since these
serve much the same purpose as is served by experiments in physical

*Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn*: “If only there were evil people somewhere
insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate
them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good
and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing
to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Or the following

Humans are a difficult species. The Darwinian project is committed to
bringing us into the same basic explanatory framework as all other
organisms. In his M notebook on August 16 1838, while he was in full cry
in pursuit of his first formulation of natural selection, Darwin wrote
"Origin of man now proved.--Metaphysics must flourish.-He who understand
baboon would do more toward metaphysics than Locke" (Barrett, 1974:
281). Darwin realized that failing to account for human behavior left a
dangerous gap in his theory through which critics could and did try to
attack his whole theory (Richerson and Boyd, in press). When, in the
/Descent of Man, /Darwin reluctantly undertook to explain our species, a
hostile critic in the /Quarterly Review, /whom Darwin believed to be his
persistent critic St. George Mivart, took advantage of perceived
problems in the human story to attack the whole ediface. He gloated, it
"offers a good opportunity for reviewing his whole position7' (and
rejecting it, Anonymous, 197 1). If the gap between humans and our
animal ancestors is too large, it is difficult to explain how ordinary
evolutionary processes could explain our origins. If one species escapes
the net of evolution by natural selection, the whole of so comprehensive
a theory is brought into question. On the other hand, if there is not
some "great gap" between our ape ancestors and ourselves it is difficult
to account for our runaway success. Our nearest living ancestors are
forest dwelling creatures with modest ranges and abundances. Our more
immediate fossil ancestors began to extend their ranges beyond Africa a
million or so years ago. Even then, the range of /Homo erectus /grade
hominids was not strikingly greater than that of some large carnivores
like lions and pumas. However, by latest Paleolithic times, /Homo
sapiens sapiens, /using toolkits of great sophistication, penetrated to
the furthermost reaches of the Old World. With the waning of the ice at
the end of the Pleistocene we exploded into the New World. In the
Holocene, human societies have become very complex, rivaling in this
regard the eusocial insects.

The same quote is also 'proudly quoted' on

In one of his Notebooks, Charles Darwin wrote"Origin of man now proved.
- Metaphysics must flourish. He who understands baboon would do more
towards metaphysics than Locke." Is there any truth to this claim? What
are the philosophical consequences of evolutionary biology?

This seminar will divide into two parts. In the first part, we'll survey
a number of issues in the philosophy of biology. We'll begin by looking
at the debate between creationism and evolutionism, with an eye toward
understanding what it takes for a claim to be scientific. Next, we'll
survey a number of standard philosophical problems within the philosophy
of biology - the nature of fitness, the units of selection debate (does
natural selection favor traits that are for the good of individuals?
Genes? Groups?), as well as controversies about the power of natural
selection, the nature of species and methodological issues about how
evolutionary biologists make inferences about the past. These topics
raise interesting philosophical questions about the nature of
probability, the role of simplicity in science and the relationship
between theory and evidence.

In the second part of the course, we'll focus on the consequences of
evolutionary biology for more traditional philosophical issues. We'll
spend much of this time examining whether evolutionary psychology has
any interesting consequences for some standard issues in the philosophy
of mind and moral psychology. Texts: Sober, /Philosophy of Biology/;
Sober and Wilson, /Unto Others/; as well as articles by authors such as
Lewontin, Gould, Dawkins, Kitcher, Dennett, Skyrms, and Maynard-Smith,
among others.

janice matchett wrote:

> At 12:20 PM 9/21/2005, Ted Davis wrote:
>> ....Darwin's "theory" is mainly *metaphysically-based* speculation ..."
> ### A statement backed up by "the man", himself, who apparently didn't
> have the guts to publish it publically because these sorts of
> statements are only found in his private notebooks:
> "Origion of man now proved. -- *Metaphysics* must flourish. - He who
> understands baboon would do more toward *Metaphysics* than Locke." ---
> Darwin, *Notebook M*, August 16, 1838
> As proudly quoted in: *Metaphysics and the Origin of Species* by
> Michael T Ghiselin
> <>~
> Janice
Received on Wed Sep 21 14:17:17 2005

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