In article <3643 at news.duke.edu> una at grumpy.phy.duke.edu (Una Smith) writes:
>> [ Good point about Darwin not equating evolution and
> and progress. ]
>>but didn't find a suitable alternative), many readers
>ignored or did not understand his point, and the trend
>continues among many (mostly non-biologists) even today.
I think you would be surprised by this last point. A
surprisingly large number of biologists who I have talked
to still equate evolution with progress (or that ever
common variation, "mostly progress.") You can get a
B.S. in bio (and for all I know a PhD) without ever having
taken a class on evolution, the obligatory three week
section on evolution in a general bio class is more
likely to waste its time distinguishing between
Lamarkianism and Darwinism than to make this point.
>Having said that, I'd like to shoot myself in the foot
>and give an example of what I, as someone who works on
>evolutionary theory, think constitutes evolutionary
>progress: the evolution of new levels of organization.
>By "new levels of organization", I mean
>> 1. Life
> 2. Cells
> 3. Multi-vessicle cells
> 4. Multi-cellular organisms
> 5. The brain
> 6. The mind (distinct from the brain)
> 7. Culture (in the sense of human culture)
>>All other instances of evolution as so-called progress
>depend on special pleadings for "improvement" in some
>aspect of the quality or quantity of a type of organism.
The last three "levels of organization" listed here
are such recent adaptions (and questionable ones at
that), so clearly nondistinct, and so obviously
species-centric as to render the whole list suspect.
>>Una Smith una at phy.duke.edu School of the Environment
> Duke University
> Durham, NC 27706
[Disclaimer: I'm not a biologist, but I play one on USENET.]