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History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Huxley and evolution #2

January 25th, 2009 · No Comments

Here’s a selection from World History And The Eonic Effect that I didn’t put online: on Huxley’s belated realization that something was wrong with Darwin’s theory.
He stumbled on the basic gap in Darwinism: it doesn’t really answer the question as to how many evolved. We can see that something else is required to explain the man that we see, the photo finish argument that arises to cast doubt on Darwinian claims about the descent of man.

Huxley and Social Darwinism

It wasT. H. Huxley himself who spotted the flaw in the theory of natural selection in his work, Evolution and Ethics, and in the process unwittingly exposed a paradox in the theory he had so long defended. His perception was that there must be something else beside the ‘law of evolution’, survival of the fittest, at work, for man was condemned to oppose its effects in practice, on ethical grounds. Whence, if we accept this dualism, comes this evolution # 2? Here the data of the eonic effect shows us at once two levels of evolutionary action.
Here the effects of Darwin’s theory here were ideological, and misleading, if not disastrous. It is not adequate to point out that Darwin was himself at pains to distance himself from the misinterpretation of his own theory, in the confusion with the views of such thinkers as Herbert Spencer who is blamed for everything. Like software with a glitch, the consequences were immediate. This refers to the controversies of so-called Social Darwinism in this ambiguity of ‘evolutions’. Here ‘theory’ confronts its own effect of the theory itself on history, after it enters this history. For the first unconscious suggestion, in this case, is that unlimited social competition in the immediate present will improve genetic structure in the far future, a gross misunderstanding of a theory taken to be true at all times.
This ‘survival of the fittest’ aspect is, in any case, demonstrably false of man’s social experience, as the mechanism of cultural evolution. Thus extreme competition is met by the response of social law in the evolution of civilization, if not economy. And the place of Adam Smith here is entirely complex and misleading, this philosopher being a de facto source of a new ethics, even as his work is polarized between an economic and moral dimension. Survival of the fittest business firm is simply another process, as is the tonic of Olympiad sports competition. The issue of evolutionary causality in the study of the evolution of civilization has been so confused by assumptions of material causative motive, as in the imputation of economic determinism, that the real evolution of social cooperation seems to have been forgotten. In general, theories of evolution must themselves interact with the near future of all free action, in a confusion of external observer, and temporal participant, ‘acting out theory’. Amoebas had never read Darwin, but after the publication of his book cultural evolution underwent clear changes. We see the danger of factoring the fact-value distinction out of the statement of evolutionary ‘laws’. The record of civilization shows something very different and reveals clear evidence of centuries of ‘idle time’, dark Assyrian centuries, between interrupts as the ‘winners’ of social competition gain control.
These issues invoke the field of original meanings of the term ‘evolutionism’ as they were born from ideas of progress and passed into the radicalism of the period of revolutionary modernism and thence into the conservatizing theme of social competition, and survival of the fittest, in the rise of a new form of economy. We are left suspicious the radical ‘shoulds’ of social justice passed into the ‘musts’ of ‘scientific’ counsel as determinism in a reversed conservative vein, although the later socialists of the nineteenth century, by and large, were adherents to the Darwinian theory. Darwin’s theory was hopelessly compromised by ideology and economic thinking. It is the issue of the inability of Darwin’s theory to set the boundary between history and evolution.
The rise of technological civilization has created a new confusion, theories applied to self-realization. But we can see their limitations, especially in the realm of ethics. And none of them explain the emergence of an ethical agent. In the final analysis, theories of evolution must invoke, not this or that principle of ethical behavior, but the full potential of all of them.

Tags: selections · World History and The Eonic Effect

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