It would probably be not too untrue to say that the philosophical framework of neo-Darwinian evolutionary thought, much like Darwin’s own, is still  that of Locke’s epistemology.  Biology still awaits its Wittgensteinian revolution. The fact that the  two primary set texts in the theological course that Darwin followed at Cambridge were Paley’s  Natural Theology and Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding  has had a huge effect on the history of biological science. Together they acted as two immensely formative myths which shaped Darwin’s imagination.  He is frequently taken to be the great overthrower of Paley and his watch.  But in fact he was  steeped in Paley’s thought patterns.  When an undergraduate he had lived in the very rooms in Christ’s first court at Cambridge where Paley himself had lived thirty years before.  Unable to accept Paley’s cheerfully benign cosmic designer, his only recourse was to invent another  malignant one. No Medieval poet celebrating Dame Nature could have committed the pathetic fallacy  – or more accurately, perhaps, the unpathetic fallacy, for in Darwin’s horrified account nature is emotionally quite unconcerned  with the creatures she so brutally exterminates – with more enthusiasm.  Natural Selection is ‘a power incessantly ready for action’  .  ‘Man selects only for his own good; Nature only for the good of the being which she tends’.  ‘It may be said that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good.  ‘Natural selection will modify the structure of the young in relation to the parent, and of the parent in relation to the young. In social animals it will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit of the community…..’ .  ‘Though nature grants vast periods of time for the work of natural selection, she does not grant an indefinite period……if any one species does not become modified and improved in a corresponding degreee with its competitors, it will soon be exterminated’ .  If this is not language describing a cosmic designer it is difficult to know what is. There is, in fact, no meaning to the word select which does not involve the  conscious, intelligent and deliberate choosing of one candidate and the rejection of another,  with the corollary that selection is therefore the one thing nature cannot possibly do. The problem does not seem to have concerned  Darwin, or  many other biologists, since.  


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