Thursday, September 30, 2010

Some thoughts in regards to our talk earlier...

Charles Darwin’s proposal of natural selection in The Origin of Species has both been scrutinized and embraced by people upon the moment of its introduction to society. The stance one takes, be it scrutiny or embrace, often depends upon from where one is looking. Be it from a religious stand point, a biological stand point or a political philosophical stand point, one can devise many points of contention to as well as much evidence in favour of natural selection.

Our group’s focus is to evaluate and scrutinize some of these particular reactions to the theories introduced in The Origin. In order to recognize whether the points made by our peers from each successive group are valid, we must recognize and compare the differences amongst the 4 groups in relation to external research and literature that spans all different ideological spheres. Ultimately our efforts as “The Reactionaries” will be to decipher whether the differences in stand points affects the quality of the information and if the evidence suggesting the truth in one theory disproves the validity of another. In other words is one stand point more reliable in reviewing the credibility of natural selection? All while comparing their research with other credible sources.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Influence of Culture on Charles Darwin

In order to be able to fully evaluate Darwin’s theory on the origins of species, the influence of culture must first be explored. Darwinism, or Biological Victorianism, was created in England in the 19th century. Charles Darwin was born into the upper-middle class. He lived in a culture which promoted the idea that success can be achieved through determination; a culture which rejected the premise that we are limited by our social hierarchy. Most importantly, he lived in a culture where males flirted or fought for female mates. As a consequence of his cultural influence, he suggests that similar to the majority of all other species, female human beings procreate with the males who are the most fit. However, I propose that Darwin neglected to evaluate cultures which differed from his own in his theoretical research.

The knowledge of Darwin’s social status, culture, and accompanying ideals illuminate the ulterior assumptions regarding human nature in On The Origin of Species. While Darwin boasts that his theory is relevant to humans, he lacks any empirical to support of its applicability. Rather, He claims that male humans will flirt or fight to entice females to procreate with them. This theoretical proposition of survival of the fittest imitates the Victorian manner of relations between mingling singles: women sat passively while men fought or tried to romance them, resulting in the girl selecting the most impressive mate. However, as a consequence of altering dating relations since the 19th century, Darwin’s theory does not encompass modern behaviour. I personally think that there is now equality between males seeking female mates and females seeking male mates. Both preen, strut and speak for attention from the opposite sex. Both equally fight competitors; either physically or emotionally. Furthermore, both sexes attempt to seduce mates through intellect.

Because of Darwin’s neglect to take into account the different dating and mating rituals among the cultures in other societies, his theory does not apply to dating and mating relations that differ from that of the 19th century Victorians. Darwin unconsciously includes a cultural influence in the formation of his theory, accepting his own assumptions as fact.

The Language of Darwin

There are aspects of Darwin's On the Origin of Species that cause much controversy. Darwin did a good job to try to prevent as much controversy as possible by his use of language. He uses language that is non-wavering so that the reader feels like he knows exactly what he's talking about and believes what he is saying. If Darwin were to begin wavering in his reasoning or arguments then the reader might question him. He also repeats himself to reaffirm his message and he uses repetition as a writing tool.

Darwin backs up his works by several other naturalists. He uses some that agree and some that disagree and he attacks the disagreements head on. This gives people reason to agree with Darwin's views because they are presented with arguments and then the arguments are disassembled.

One of the major aspects of Darwin's On the Origin of Species which has been fought for and against is the Struggle for Existence. The Struggle for Existence is a survival of the fittest and only the beneficial mutations will survive. This struggle goes on all the time, everywhere in the world. Species evolve and will continue to evolve for as long as the world exists.

Distinguishing Darwin: how Darwinism is distinct from Calvinist work ethic

It has been argued that the language of Darwin in the origin of species is that of absolutes and is thus by definition, the language of extremism. Moreover it has been argued that this extremist language can at times analogous to that of religious dogmas such as the doctrine of Calvinism, or creationism. It is argued that such a charge would be terrifically ironic for Darwin, for he is attacking these doctrines for the very the same reasons. However, this charge is not a fair representation of Darwinism. Darwin includes in his theory a characterization of life as being a struggle full of suffering, and that life is to benefit from it. It has been argued that this is the same as the beliefs of Calvinism. Calvinism being a sect of Christianity which believes that individuals ought to live a life of hard work, and that salvation is earned through a life of hardship. While it may be that Darwin's characterization of life fits into the Calvinist work ethic, they are fundamentally different. Calvinism is making ethical arguments, of how one ought to live if one wishes to seek the salvation of Jesus Christ. Conversely Darwinism makes no claims of how one ought to live; that life is a struggle, and that this is ultimately to the benefit of life, does not mean that it is an ethical truth, or that it is how it ought to be. Thus, Darwinism and its position on the struggle of life, is fundamentally different from Calvinism, for while they share the position that life is a struggle which results in a benefit, they do so only superficially, for where Darwin is speaking of nature and what is, Calvinists are speaking of divinity and what ought to be, the virtues of a good life. They could not be further from each other.

Language of extremism- the tip of Darwin's sword

Darwin has used the language of extremism thought out his work " on the origin of species". This type of language has served him extremely well in term of promoting his theory of evolution through natural selection to the general public. The nature of extremism leaves no room for ambiguity and doubts. It carries such a punch that enable Darwin to shock him reader with his idea and force them to over throw whatever they used to believe. I personally think he has done a great job on using such language to allow him to obtain popularity among scholars as well as general public. He has certainly achieve his objective which is to be the first one to publish the theory and make it sounds as striking as possible.

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Darwin's mastery of rhetoric

I can absolutely identify with the way in which Darwin used language to frame his argument throughout his book. His use of theatrical, repetitive language to get his point across was necessary in order to sway people quickly. Framing natural selection as the ultimate force in nature which is responsible for the changes and competition within and between species would have been simple to understand for anyone who believed in God as his language evoked the same sense of grand universality that the Bible did. As this argument was geared towards the "everyman", Darwin's writing had to have been easy to understand as well as forceful and thorough in order to also please the academics. His mastery of rhetoric is still impressive today making Origin an exciting and convincing read despite all of its controversy.
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