[Marxism] human origins

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Thu Aug 11 09:56:24 MDT 2005



Charles Brown wrote:
> 
> Paul Gallagher
> 
> I think this is something of a non-problem. People frequently bring
> up this point, but there's a good deal of evidence that speciation
> and the acquisition of distinct characteristics, at least in animals,
> are usually coincidental.
> 
> ^^^
> CB: Seems to me the basic idea of punctuated equilibrium contradicts this
> generalization. Or "punctuated equilibrium" is essentially the opposite
> generalization.
> 
> During the "equilibria", isn't what is being said  that there are changes,
> i.e. new characteristics arise, but these characteristics do not amount to
> speciating changes ? 

Obviously Paul knows a lot more about this than I do, and what follows
is tentative pending (I hope) more from Paul.

New characteristics arise, and disappear, and arise, and meander along,
but make no real difference. My right thumb is fatter, the nail
squatter, than my left thumb. It's genetic but it is entirely irrelevant
to anything -- unless perhaps there was also a (quia imposible est)
growth  in hands species wide, and bowling became, for cultural or other
reasons, an essential prerequisite to reproduction -- in which case the
trait would disappear, unless some capitalist thought there might be a
profit in producing bowling balls with a larger thumb hole. Nor are
those changes in any way _necessarily_ related to darwinian fitness. See
the section in _Structure of Evolutionary Theory_ entitled "Galton's
Polyhedron" for general principles involved here.

It's essential to understand that most changes are either destructive or
have no importance at all, and the few that are useful (except in the
case of the isolation of a population which leads to speciation) tend to
be swamped in the general gene-pool of the species and have no
particular effect.

Carrol




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