[Marxism] Anthro 101 and Apes and Monkeys

David McDonald dbmcdonald at comcast.net
Wed Dec 29 15:06:57 MST 2004

>Er....No. That's what's called "gradualism," but there's another school
of thought (championed by Gould) called "punctuated equilibrium," which
posits that evolutionary change occurs in short, rapid hops amidst
longer periods of stagnation. (Frequently--and incorrectly--these ideas
are postulated against each other.)

But I believe they are postulated against each other, or at least are
counterposed. Gradually is pretty much the way Darwin suggested natural
selection works, and the quotes are both accurate and in context. Dawkins
argument is precisely that Darwin is a gradualist, take it or leave it. The
first several hundred pages of The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, which I
have read, is Gould's extended attempt to argue that there is a CORE of
Darwinism, which he re-defines, that has room for punctuated equilibrium,
selection at a grater-than-organismic level, etc. This amounts to granting
to Dawkins the accuracy of Dawkin's reading of Origin of Species that
natural selection works ONLY on individual organisms, and then trying to fit
his (Gould's) take on evolution into his newly defined Darwinian essence.

Gradualism requires no further elaboration. Since it unfolds at a constant
pace no further mechanisms or explanations are required. Punctuated
equilibrium, to be correct, requires something beyond the gradual
accumulation of differences leading to descent with modification. Why are
10% of all existing species of plants orchids, e.g? Why does speciation
happen rapidly after new phyla arise, then slow down?

BTW, my understanding of the genius of Mayr is that he brought dialectics
into evolution by the elaboration of the concept of population genetics, as
against the Aristotelian A = A or normative approach.


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