Saturday, November 28, 2009
On Orthodoxy In Science
The ranks of the Darwinians, it should be noted, underwent a series of changes during the 1860s as 'Darwinism' had to be redefined and purged of any unwanted metaphysical baggage, such as Haeckel's materialistic monism. Individuals who had originally been a part of the Darwinian crew were dropped in the late 1860s for their sins—Alfred Russel Wallace for his spiritualism, and Asa Gray for his attempt to preserve a concept of design in evolution. Later, in the late 1870s, Samuel Butler's critique of natural selection led to his banishment. Wallace, Gray and Butler all were, or became, involved in popularizing evolution, and their works swelled the ranks of the non-Darwinian popularizers. But even among those who remained Darwinians there could be disagreement on aspects of evolutionary theory. Huxley, for example, was never enthusiastic about Darwin's theory of natural selection. He preferred to think of saltations, or mutational jumps, as the main evolutionary mechanism. Huxley's uncertainty about natural selection affected how he popularized evolution. In The crayfish: an introduction to the study of biology (1880), Huxley's contribution to the International Scientific Series, he pushed his readers to accept evolution but never discussed the role of natural selection. Huxley's attraction to Darwin's theory of evolution may have had more to do with his crusade to instil the principles of naturalism into British science. However, Huxley's attitude towards natural selection did not prevent him from accepting Darwin's conception of evolution as non-progressive. He believed that degeneration was part of the evolutionary process.
-Bernard Lightman, "Darwin and the popularization of evolution," Notes & Records of the Royal Society
Via Michael Barton at The Dispersal of Darwin