вход по аккаунту


Toward a new philosophy of biology observations of an evolutionist. By Ernst Mayr. Cambridge MA Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 1988. vii + 564 pp. notes references index. $35

код для вставкиСкачать
Darwin CR (1872)The Expression of the Emotions in Man
and Animals. London: Murray.
Macculloch J (1837) Proofs and Illustrations of the Attributes of God, From the Facts and Laws of the Physical
Universe: Being the Foundation of Natural and Revealed Religion. 3 vols., London.
Malthus TR (1826) An Essay on the Principle of Population; or, a View of its Past and Present Effects on
Human Happiness; With an Inquiry Into our Present
Prospects Respecting the Future Removal or Mitigation
of the Evils Which it Occasions, 6th ed., ~ v o ~ sLondon:
OF BIOLOGY, thoughts on these issues and tries to reclaim
Ernst Mayr. Cambridge, M A Belknap
Press of Harvard University Press. 1988.
564 pp., notes, references, index.
$35.00 (cloth).
turf unwillingly surrendered to others. Because of this, some historians of science may
charge Mayr with attempting to rewrite
One theme that prevails throughout the
book, and especially in the later chapters, is
that the “modern synthesis” means different
Toward a New Philosophy of Biology: things to different people. Mayr points out
Observations of an Evolutionist is a collec- that the geneticists involved with the modern
tion of 28 essays by Ernst Mayr. Most of synthesis (i.e., Fisher and Haldane) defined
these are reprinted, lightly edited, or abridged evolution as “genetic change through time,”
versions of papers that Mayr published rela- while the naturalists (i.e., himself, Simpson,
tively recently elsewhere. Only five of the Rensch, and Huxley) saw evolution as “a
essays were written for this volume.
problem of adaptive change and the origin of
Mayr, one of the major architects of the diversity.” According to Mayr, it was the
modern evolutionary synthesis, continues the failure of these opposing groups to bridge
theme he began in his earlier collection of their differences that resulted in the syntheessays, Evolution and the Diversity of Life sis being “incomplete,” rather than unsuc(Mayr, 1976). The essays in Toward a New cessful. Mayr argues that those who lament
Philosophy of Biology are organized around the impending collapse of the “modern synnine motifs that range from philosophy and thesis” base their concerns on the shortcomhistory to macroevolution. They cover topics ings of the narrow Fisher-Haldane reductionthat only loosely relate to the book’s title. As ist view of evolution, which was never widely
is typical for anthologies of essays written at accepted and which Mayr readily admits is
different times and for different purposes, the limiting. Worse still, he alleges that most critpapers do not “hang” together very well. ics of the synthesis “. . . quite conspicuously
Mayr introduces each major section and misrepresent the views of its leading spokesattempts to put the papers in context, but men” (p. 535, my emphasis), ascribing to
the book would have profited from short them a n interpretation of the modern synintroductions to each article that placed each thesis that they themselves argued against.
in its proper historical context and in relation
Mayr notes that after the synthesis emerged
to others in the book.
during the 1940s,evolutionary biologists had
The book offers few surprises for those the fundamental task of converting the
familiar with Mayr’s work. Nevertheless, for coarse-grained theory of evolution into a
physical anthropologists interested in prob- finer, more realistic one. To this end, workers
lems of macroevolution, the evolutionary paid more attention to stochastic processes,
synthesis, and punctuated equilibrium, five began to recognize different modes of speciaof the last six essays justify the book’s tion, and began to understand that the indimodest cost. Two of these papers are original vidual as a whole is the target of natural
for this volume (23,28) and one (26) appeared selection. These discoveries led to revisions in
just before the book itself. These essays the synthesis itself, not to its rejection.
undoubtedly will provoke some lively discusMany readers will be surprised by some of
sion among evolutionists and historians of Mayr’s statements about modifications to the
science, as Mayr uses them to detail his own synthesis that followed after the 1940s.Mayr
rejects claims that the synthesis “hardened”
during the 1950s. He argues that both he and
Simpson discussed mechanisms other than
selection; that Rensch, he, Dobzhansky, and
Simpson all adopted the concept of drift, and
notes that Wright’s own views on drift narrowed considerably. This recognition of evolutionary pluralism is, in his view, ample
evidence that the synthesis didn’t treat selection as the exclusive mechanism responsible
for organismal evolution.
In further considering post-synthesis modifications, Mayr claims t h a t his 1954 theory
of “peripatric speciation” is the central idea
of “punctuated equilibrium” (essays 23, 26,
28), a conclusion with which Eldredge and
Gould would hardly disagree. The reader
may be astounded, however, when Mayr
sets 1954 as the origin for punctuated equilibrium (essay 28), while he uses 1972 (the
date of the original paper in which it is proposed) as its terminal date. Furthermore, he
attributes to Eldredge and Gould nothing
more original t h a n the name “punctuated
equilibrium” (although he does credit them
with giving stasis a more significant role),
while giving himself credit for most of the
important aspects of the theory. Thus Mayr
claims to be the first to recognize t h a t evolution must be approached taxically and,
therefore, hierarchically (essay 23); the first
to recognize that peripatric speciation must
be the dominant way in which a new species
originates (essays 23, 26, 28); the first to
propose that the species is the fundamental
unit of action in macroevolution (essays 23
and 28); and the first to develop a detailed
model connecting speciation, evolutionary
rates, and macroevolution (essay 26).
Given Mayr’s claim on punctuated equilibrium, the reader won’t be surprised to learn
that “. . . almost every careful analysis of
fossil sequences h a s revealed that a multiplication of species does not take place
through gradual splitting of single lineages
into two and their subsequent divergence
but rather through the sudden appearance
of a new species’’ (essay 23, p. 415), or that
“. . .a modest theory of punctuationism is s o
strongly supported by facts . . . that one is
rather surprised at the hostility with which
it was attacked” (essay 26, p. 462). Advocates of punctuated equilibrium will be
pleased to have Ernst Mayr in camp but
may be surprised t h a t he wants to be their
camp director.
I n the end, Mayr minces few words. He
sees himself, quite justifiably, a s a key
player in the development of modern evolutionary theory, and he uses the book to stake
out his claim. I n so doing, Mayr provokes,
challenges, and irritates. Many will disagree with Mayr’s attempts to claim certain
ideas as his own, some will be put off by the
book’s conceit, and surely some will accuse
Mayr of rewriting history. I n the end, historians will have to sort out fact from wishful
I n the meantime, few of the original
developers of the modern synthesis are still
alive. There is a great deal to learn from
those, like Mayr, who still are. Thanks are
due to Harvard University Press for making
Toward a New Philosophy of Biology available at such a reasonable price (and with
such a beautiful dust jacket). At $35 we can
afford to sit back in our easy chairs, a glass
of wine in one hand, a pen with which to
scribble marginal notes in the other, and
enjoy the read. There will be plenty of time
to argue later.
by J.G. Else and P.C. Lee. New York: Cambridge University Press. 1986. x 393 pp.,
figures, tables, index. $19.50 (paper), $59.50
Papers in this volume were presented at the
Tenth Congress of the International Primatological Society. The dominant theme is
ecology: how primates exploit it and how it
affects their social systems (Parts 11-IV) and
Department of Anthropology
Portland State University
Portland, Oregon
Mayr E (1976) Evolution and the Diversity of Life. Cambridge, M A Harvard University Press.
Без категории
Размер файла
195 Кб
note, towards, 564, philosophy, university, belknap, 1988, references, index, mayr, new, evolutionist, cambridge, vii, harvard, observations, biologya, pres, ernst
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа