Vernon L. (Vernon Lyman) Kellogg.

Darwinism to-day; a discussion of present-day scientific criticism of the Darwinian selection theories, together with a brief account of the principal other proposed auxilary and alternative theories of species-forming online

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Online LibraryVernon L. (Vernon Lyman) KelloggDarwinism to-day; a discussion of present-day scientific criticism of the Darwinian selection theories, together with a brief account of the principal other proposed auxilary and alternative theories of species-forming → online text (page 3 of 38)
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Spencer, Weismann, Romanes, Marshall, Cope,* et al.

f What may for the moment detain us, however, is a reference
to the curiously nearly completely subjective character of
the evidence for both the theory of descent and natural
selection. Biology has been until now a science of observa-
tion ; it is beginning to be one of observation plus experiment.
The evidence for its principal theories might be expected to
be thoroughly objective in character ; to be of the nature of
positive, observed, and perhaps experimentally proved, facts.
How is it actually? Speaking by and large we only tell
the general truth when we declare that no indubitable cases,
of species-forming or transforming, that is, of descent, have
been observed ; and that no recognised case of natural selec-
tion really selecting has been observed. I hasten to repeat
the names of the Ancon sheep, the Paraguay cattle, the
Porto Santo rabbit, the Artemias of Schmankewitch, and


the de Vriesian evening primroses to show that I know my
list of classic possible exceptions to this denial of observed
species-forming, and to refer to Weldon's broad-and
narrow-fronted crabs as a case of what may be an observa-
tion of selection at work. But such a list, even if it could
be extended to a score, or to a hundred, of cases, is ludicrous
as objective proof- of that descent and selection, under
whose domination the forming of millions of species is sup-
posed to have occurred. The evidence for descent is of
satisfying but purely logical character ; the descent hypoth-
esis explains completely all the phenomena of homology, of
palaeontological succession, of ontogeny, and of geographi-
cal distribution ; that is, it explains all the observed facts
touching the appearance in time and place on this earth of
organisms and the facts of their likenesses and unlikenesses
to each other, and this no other theory does. The evidence
for the selection theory we shall refer to in detail in the suc-
ceeding chapters, so we may merely recall now that it also
chiefly rests on the logical conclusion that under the
observed fact of over-production, struggle is bound to
occur; that under the observed fact of miscellaneous varia-
tion, those individuals most fortunate in their variations will
win in the struggle; and, finally, that under the observed
fact of heredity, the winners will transmit to their posterity
their advantageous variations, all of which inter-acting facts
and logically derived processes will be repeated over and
over again, with the result of slow but constant modification
of organic types, that is, formation of new species. In the
light of this subjective character of the evidence for descent
and selection, it is with unusual interest that one notes the
swift development of experimental and statistical investiga-
tion in biology. Experiment and statistics are capable of
mathematical treatment ; biology may become an exact
science instead of one solely of observation and induction.
As with the conclusion of this chapter we are practically


(to conclude all reference to the theory of descent, which is
to-day more than ever before an integral and unquestioned

\part of biological science, and to devote most of the rest of
our discussion to the theory of natural selection, which
is to-day being subjected to more searching scientific criticism
than ever before since its proposal by Darwin, it will be well
to distinguish, if we can, in the general influence that post-
Darwinian biology has had on associated sciences and
disciplines, that particular influence which each of these two
great theories has had. So that if our faith in either is to
be shaken we may recognise what effects on our sociologic,
pedagogic, and philosophic beliefs this particular weakening
of the biologic basis may have.

The relation of theology " to biology is concerned almost

wholly with the theory of descent. The slow and gradual

forming of species including the particular one,

Eelationof man, and their genetic relationship, the allying

totSb^d 1 * of man b y blood with the lower animals these
philosophy. are the two biological conceptions (both in-
cluded in the descent theory) which have been
the chief points of attrition in the coming together of
theology and biology. Darwinism specifically as such, that
is, the selection principle, has had some special attention from
theologians because of its substitution of a causo-mechanical
for a teleological explanation of species-forming, and because
it differs in its interpretation of the time necessary for peopling
the globe with a variety of organic forms from the inter-
pretation, or rather explicitly specific statement, of the first
chapter of Genesis. But on the whole the Darwinian selec-
tion theories could be utterly done away with without making
any appreciable change in the existing relation between
theology and biology. Huxley said this to the theologian
Darwinophobes many years ago.

And practically so with philosophy.' It is the trans-
formation principle, the principle of continuity, of monism


in Nature that Evolution represents, that philosophy is con-
cerned to consider. Not the actual how of the modification
and transformism of animal and plant life.

In pedagogy it is also the theory of descent rather
than the selection theory which has been drawn on for
some rather remarkable developments in child-
Relation of study and instruction. Unfortunately it is ex-

theorj of descent

to pedagogy. actly on that weakest of the three foundation
pillars of descent, namely, the science of em-
bryology with its Miillerian-Haeckelian recapitulation theory
or biogenetic law, that the child-study pedagogues have
builded. The species recapitulates in the ontogeny (develop-
ment) of each of its individuals the course or history of its
phylogeny (descent or evolution). Hence the child corre-
sponds in different periods of its development to the phyletic
stages in the descent of man. As the child is fortunately
well by its fish, dog, and monkey stages before it comes into
the care of the pedagogue, he has to concern himself only
with its safe progress through the various stages of pre-
historic and barbarous man. Detect the precise phyletic
stage, cave-man, stone-age man, hunter and roamer, pastoral
man, agriculturalist, and treat with the little barbarian ac-
cordingly ! What simplicity ! Only one trouble here for
the pedagogue ; the recapitulation theory is mostly wrong ;
and what is right in it is mostly so covered up by the
wrong part, that few biologists longer have any confidence
in discovering the right. What then of our generalising
friends, the pedagogues ?

Finally in sociology, 7 more particularly biological soci-
ology. Here again, to my eyes, much biological sociology
rests on two very insecure bases: (i) a too
Relation of slight acquaintance with biology on the part

theory of descent &/

to sociology. of the biological sociologist, and, (2) an
acceptance of, and confidence in, certain biologi-
cal theories which are certainly unwarranted, and are not


at all shared by the biologists themselves. Biological science
contains much that is proved and certain ; but also much
that is nothing more than working hypothesis, provisional
theory, and anticipatory generalisation. As the proved part
is largely of the nature of facts of observation, isolated and
unrelated, and the unproved part is composed of the large
and sweeping generalisations, the plausible, provisional ex-
planations, such as the various theories of heredity, of the
results of struggle, of the development of mutual aid, etc.,
that is, is exactly the sort of material that the sociologist
needs to weave into his biological foundations for the
sociologic study of man, it is exactly this unproved part of
biology that the searching sociologist carries home with him
from his excursions into the biological field. The recapitula-
tion theory looms up large and familiar in biological soci-
ology ; it is mostly discredited in biology. The inheritance
of acquired characters serves as basis for much sociology;
most biologists believe it impossible. The selection theories
are gospel to some sociologists ; they are the principal moot
points in present-day biology. And so on. Biology is not
yet come to that stage in its development where it can offer
many solidly founded generalisations on which other sciences
can build. The theory of descent is one such safe great
generalisation ; but perhaps Darwinism is not another. At
least many scholars do not believe that it is.


1 For the insects alone entomologists have estimated, on a basis
of the numbers of new species being annually found and described,
and on the basis of the degree to which the entomological explora-
tion of the earth has been carried, that over two million species
must be in present existence.

2 See H. F. Osborn's "From the Greeks to Darwin" (1895) for a
. ., careful history of the unfolding of the descent idea;

scenttheory. * see also Edgar Dacque. "Der Descendenzgedanke und

seine Geschichte." 1903 ; also Carus, J. V., "Geschichte

der Zoologie bis auf J. Miiller und C. Darwin," 1872; also Clodd,


Edw., "Pioneers of Evolution from Thales to Huxley," 1897;
and Quatrefages, A. de, "Les fimules de Darwin," 2 vols., 1894.

"Many of the hermit crabs (Paguridae) which live in the dis-
carded shells of gasteropod molluscs have some species of small
colonial polyp, as Podocoryne, attached to and partly covering the
shell. The polyp colony profits by being carried about and by obtain-
ing bits of food when the crab has succeeded in catching prey and
is tearing it to pieces with his claws, while the crab profits by the
protection afforded it by the stinging threads and nettle cells of
the polyp. Esig saw in the aquaria of the zoological station at
Naples a small octopus which was trying to insert one of its ten-
tacles into a shell to get the crab, quickly driven away by the many
stinging threads with which it was caressed by the polyp colony
seated on the outer surface of the shell. This symbiotic life between
hermit crab and polyp goes so far with some species that the hermit
crabs never rest until they have a polyp colony seated on their shell.

4 Among more recent books stating the essential points in this
evidence may be mentioned Conn's "Evolution of To-day," 1889;

Books giving Wallace's "Darwinism," 1891 ; A. M. Marshall's
the evidences for "Lectures on the Darwinian Theory," 1894; Ro-
descent. manes's "Darwin and After Darwin," Vol. I, 1896;

Klaatsch's "Grundzuge der Lehre Darwins," 1900; Metcalf's "Out-
line of the Theory of Organic Evolution," 1904; Weismann's
"Vortrage iiber Descendenztheorie," 2 vols., 1902 ; Eng. trans. 2
vols., 1904; Lotsy, J. P., "Vorlesungen iiber Descendenztheorien,
mit besonderer Beriicksichtigung der botanischen Seite der Frage,"
2 vols., Vol. I, 1906; Jordan and Kellogg, "Evolution and Animal
Life." 1907.

5 For an interesting discussion from the modern point of view of
the relation between Darwinian biology and theology see Haeckel,

Discussions of Ernst, "Der Monismus als Band zwischen Religion
relation of de- und Wissenschaft," 1893; also Vetter, Benjamin,
acentandthe- "Die moderne Weltanschauung und der Mensch,"
Sy- 1903 ; also Wasmann, Erich, "Die moderne Biologic

und die Entwicklungstheorie," 1904. (Author is a Jesuit priest whose
remarkable studies on ants and their messmates have made him well
known to biologists. He accepts the theory of descent, with the ex-
clusion of man from the evolution series.) See also Hutton, F. W.,
"The Lesson of Evolution," 1902. In this book the author takes a
strong stand for dualism, making the point that the theory of evo-
lution has rescued philosophy from a rigidly monistic materialistic
basis (a mind-in-all-matter theory), and has made necessary a dual-
istic theory (mind-and-matter theory) because of the necessity of
postulating the beginning of life and a beginning of mind. The


theory of evolution rescues religion from Pantheism, and puts it on a
Theistic basis. "It is true, as Pantheists urge, that their only experi-
ence of mind is in connection with matter, but so far as we know
mind is connected only with one kind of matter called protoplasm,
which cannot possibly exist throughout the universe. Consequently
mind must either be absent in large portions of matter or it must
be associated with that matter in some way which quite transcends
their experience. So that we have no more experience of mind
universally distributed through matter than we have of mind dis-
tinct from matter. And the argument for Pantheism breaks down."
See also Le Conte, Jos., "Evolution, its Nature, its Evidences and
its Relation to Religious Thought," 1891.

* Of course many books and papers concerning the relation of
biology to philosophy have been written. A good introduction to

Discussions of *^ e su bject is Eugen Dreher's "Der Darwinismus und
relation of biol- seine Stellung in der Philosophic," 1877 ; see also Ver-
ogy and philoso- worn, Max, "Naturwissenschaft und Weltanschauung,"
P y* 1904; also Adickes, Erich, "Kant contra Haeckel,"

1901 ; also Emil du Bois-Reymond's "Uber die Grenzen des Naturer-
ken.nens," and "Die Sieben Weltrathsel" ; also Haeckel's "Die Welt-
rathsel" (trans, in English as "The Riddle of the Universe") ; see
also Schurman, J. G., "The Ethical Import of Darwinism," 1888;
also Huxley, "Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays," 1894; see
also Reinke, J., "Einleitung in die Theoretische Biologic," 1901.
The author sets out in this book the philosophic notions of Hart-
mann, Lotze, Wundt, Muller and others concerning the principles
and laws of biology, and does this definitely enough to make his
book a pretty good compend of philosophico-biology.

7 See* Herbert Spencer's "Principles of Sociology" ; also Lester
Ward's "Biological Sociology"; also Benjamin Kidd's "Social Evo-

,,. lution"; also Curt Michaelis, "Prinzipien der natur-

sociology, lichen und sozialen Entwicklungsgeschichte des Men-

schen," 1904; also "Darwinismus und Sozialwissen-

schaft," 1903; see also Schallmeyer, W., "Vererbung und Auslese

in Lebenslauf der Volker," 1903.

* The books and papers referred to in notes 5, 6, and 7 are simply
certain ones that have particularly interested the author. The lists
of references make not the slightest pretence to guide the general
reader interested in these special subjects.


ATTACKS on Darwinism have been made, of course, ever
since there was any Darwinism to attack. In those first days
(and months and years) after the "Origin of
Species" was published there were the liveliest
of times for Darwin and his supporters; or
rather chiefly for the supporters. Darwin wisely kept
aloof from the debates. But for the first band of followers
with the indefatigable, the brilliant, and wholly competent
Huxley at its head, there was no lack of opportunities for
jousting. The issue was never doubtful ; Huxley and his
informed and equipped scientific companions against the
scientifically ignorant, angry, incautious, and dogmatic
Bishop Wilberforces had unfair odds. The victory came
swiftly and brilliantly to the Darwinians. At this time there
was little distinction made between Darwinism and Evolu-
tion. It was really a battle by the theologians against the
theory of descent. And the theory of descent was, and is,

Since those warring days of the '6o's the theory of
descent has been assailed no more, that is in any important
or even interesting way. And the true Darwin-
Persistent sci- j sm t h e se iection doctrine, has also been sub-

entific criticism

of Darwinism, ject to no conspicuous and popularly recognised
attack. The educated public accepted the re-
sults of the first battle as final, and it quietly began to
rearrange its thought and to some degree its actual ways



of living in accordance with these newly discovered condi-
tions of life. Nevertheless there has been from the day
of the close of the great first battle to the present moment a
.steady and cumulating stream of scientific criticism ' of the
Darwinian selection theories. In the last few years, it has,
as already mentioned in the preface and introductory chapter
of this book, reached such proportions, such strength and
extent, as to begin to make itself apparent outside of strictly
biological and naturo-philosophical circles. Such older
biologists and natural philosophers as von Baer, von Kolli-
ker, Virchow, Nageli, Wigand, and Hartmann, and such
others writing in the nineties and in the present century as
von Sachs, Eimer, Delage, Haacke, Kassowitz, Cope,
Haberlandt, Henslow, Goette, Wolff, Driesch, Packard,
Morgan, Jaeckel, Steinmann, Korschinsky, and de Vries,
are examples which show the distinctly ponderable char-
acter of the anti-Darwinian ranks. Perhaps these names
mean little to the general reader ; let me translate them into
the professors of zoology, of botany, of palaeontology, and
of pathology, in the universities of Berlin, Paris, Vienna,
Strassburg, Tubingen, Amsterdam, Columbia University,
etc. Now without knowing the man personally, or even
through his particular work, the general reader can safely
attribute to men of such position a certain amount of
scientific training, of proved capacity, and of special ac-
quaintanceship with the subject of their discussion. One
does not come to be a professor of biology in Berlin or
Paris or Columbia solely by caprice of ministers of educa-
tion or boards of trustees ; one has proved one's competency
for the place. To working biologists the names I have
given, of course, only a selection, and one particularly made
to show variety of interest (botany, zoology, palaeontology,
pathology) mean even more than the positions. They are
mostly associated with recognised scientific attainment and
general intellectual capacity.


Among the critics of the selection theories we must note

two groups, differing in the character of their criticism

Two groups of more m degree than in kind, perhaps, but still

scientific at- importantly differing. One group denies in

toto any effectiveness or capacity for species-
forming on the part of natural selection, while the other
group, a larger one, sees in natural selection an effective
factor in directing or controlling the general course of
descent, holding it to adaptive lines, but denies it outright
any such Allmacht of species control as the more eager
selectionists, the so-called neo-Darwinians or Weismann-
ians, credit it with. This larger group of critics sees in
natural selection an evolutionary factor capable of initiating
nothing, dependent wholly for any effectiveness on some
primary factor or factors controlling the origin and direc-
tion of variation, but wholly capable of extinguishing all
una'dapted, unfit lines of development, and, in this way, of
exercising decisive final control over the general course of
descent, i. e., organic evolution. Another classification of
critics may be made on the basis of pure destructiveness on
the one hand as opposed to destructiveness combined with
constructiveness on the other. That is, some critics of selec-
tion, as Wolff, Pfeffer, Driesch, et al., are content with doing
their best to reveal the incapacity of Darwinism; others,
on the contrary, come with certain more or less well-outlined
.substitutionary theories in their hands. Eimer with his
theory of orthogenesis, and Korschinsky and de Vries with
their theory of mutations, are examples of the latter class.
The general impression left on one after a considerable
course of anti-Darwinian reading ranging all the way from

the extreme attitude and the violence of Den-
attaciTand weak- ner t, Fleischmann, Wolff, and Coe, to the
ness in substitn- tempered and reserved criticism of Delage and

de Vries, is that there is a very real and effective
amount of destructive criticism for Darwinians to meet ; and


at the same time a curious paucity of satisfactory or at alt
convincing substitutionary theory offered by the anti-
Darwinians to replace that which they are attempting to
dethrone. The situation illustrates admirably the varying
worth of a few facts. A few stubborn facts of the wrong
complexion are fatal things for a theory ; they are immensely
effective offensive weapons. But these same few facts make
a pitiable showing when they are called on to support a
theory of their own. It was exactly the greatest part of
Darwin's greatness, it seems to me, that he launched his
theory only after making the most remarkable collection of
facts yet gathered together in biological science by any one
man. Testing his theory by applying to it successively
fact after fact, group after group and category after category
of facts, he convinced himself of the theory's consonance
with all this vast array of observed biological actuality.
Compare the grounding of any of the now offered replacing
theories with the preparation and founding of Darwinism.
In 1864 von Kolliker, 2 a great biologist, convinced of the
incapacity of natural selection to do the work assigned it by
its founders and friends, suggested a theory of the origin of
species by considerable leaps ; in 1899, Korschinsky/ on the
basis of some few personal observations and the compiling
of some others, definitely formulated a theory of species-
forming by sudden considerable variations, namely, muta-
tions ; in 1901 and 1903 appeared the two volumes of de
Vries's "Die Mutationstheorie," in which are revealed the
results of long years of careful personal observation, in
truly Darwinian manner, directed toward the testing and
better grounding of this mutationstheorie of species-origin.
The results are: out of many plant species studied, a few
show at certain times in the course of numerous generations
a behaviour in accordance with the demands of a theory
of species-forming by sudden definitive modification; that
is, species-forming by mutations. The mutations-theory


thus launched is offered as a substitute for the natural
selection theory obviously weakening under the fire of
modern scientific criticism. But however effective de
Vries's facts are in proving the possibility of the occurrence
of other variations than those fortuitous ones occurring in
continuous series from mean to opposite extremes which Dar-
win recognised as the basis of species-forming, and however
effective they are "in proving the actual production of three
or six or ten species by mutation, and however effective in
both these capacities they are as weapons of attack on the
dominance of the Darwinian theory of species-making,
how really inadequate are they to serve as the basis of a
great all-answering theory explaining, in a causo-mechanical
way, the facts of descent, or even the primary facts of gen-
eral species-forming. And yet the first American book*
(from the pen of one of America's foremost biologists) to
discuss the modern phase of unrest and dissatisfaction in
evolutionary matters, practically accepts the mutations-
theory as a substitute for the selection theory of species-
forming. It cannot be, it seems to me, that Professor
Morgan is so satisfied with the mutations-theory, that he
clutches it up, hardly definitely formed and cooled, from the
de Vriesian moulds, but that he is, like many another present-
day biologist, so profoundly dissatisfied with the natural
selection theory. For my part it seems better to go back
to the old and safe Ignoramus ' standpoint.

But I have been led to anticipate my conclusions ; let us
make another beginning with the real undertaking of this
chapter and get to the actual specifications of "Darwinism
Attacked." We shall concentrate the attacks and attackers in
this and the two following chapters ; then include in the suc-
ceeding two the defence and the defenders, and in the next
four chapters the various supporting and substitutionary
theories offered by the friends and foes of Darwinism.
Finally, in the last chapter we shall set out what we can


discover, in the haze of the smoke of battle, of the actual
present state of the besieged and besiegers.

Distinctly the most comprehensive, the fairest-minded
review of gegen-und-fiir Darwinismus in recent literature is

Online LibraryVernon L. (Vernon Lyman) KelloggDarwinism to-day; a discussion of present-day scientific criticism of the Darwinian selection theories, together with a brief account of the principal other proposed auxilary and alternative theories of species-forming → online text (page 3 of 38)