Monthly Archives: June 2009

Franz Heikertinger’s rejection of natural selection

Franz Heikertinger (7.VI.1876 Wien – 24.X.1953), an Austrian entomologist. A corresponding member of many scientific societies, secretary of the Zoological and botanical society Wien and the chairman of the Department of Entomology  (Sektion für Entomologie), editor of the “Koleopterologische Rundschau”. His extensive work regarding systematics and mimicry are listed on more than eight  pages (1). Franz Heikertinger strongly rejected “natural selection” as the explanation of the evolution of mimicry. His discussions with “selectionists” can be found in many journals that are available on-line nowadays (2).

It is almost impossible to summarize Heikertinger’s work about mimicry in such a limited place. Yet I will try to outline his main ideas regarding the non-effectiveness of mimicry.

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John Davison’s Evolutionary Manifesto

Professor John A. Davison (1928-2012), American biologist. His “Evolutionary manifesto: A new hypothesis for organic change” (2000) is one of the most inspiring works concerning evolution. The treatise is dedicated to the memory of six great scientists: William Bateson, Leo S. Berg, Robert Broom, Richard B. Goldschmidt, Pierre Grassé and Otto Schindewolf. Professor Davison continues in the tradition founded by these great scholars. He not only sumarizes their main evolutionary ideas that oppose (neo)darwinism, but proposes his own evolutionary mechanism: semi-meiotic hypothesis. Far from being able to reproduce all arguments and details of his work I recommend everyone study it for themselves. His work is available on his blog (1), on his old home page at University Vermont (2) as well as on Uncommon descent (3).

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Richard Goldschmidt and the Controversial Chapter of Darwinism.

Richard Goldschmidt  (1878 Germany – 1958 USA) , geneticist, professor at the University of Munich and later  University of California, Berkeley. Member of  the National Academy of Science and in 1953 Elected President of the Ninth International Congress of Genetics. “Brilliant but unorthodox geneticist” according to Richard Milner (1990) (1).

 In Goldschmidt’s view the gradual accumulation of small mutations  was sufficient for microevolution, but insufficient for macroevolution.  For speciation (macroevolution), a different mechanism is required. In The Material Basis of Evolution (1940), Goldschmidt proposed systemic mutation – “a change of intrachromosomal pattern” – and developmental macromutations, popularly known as the “Hopeful Monster” hypothesis.
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Ludwig von Bertalanffy and ‘the Tibetan prayer mills of selectionism’.

Karl Ludwig von Bertalanffy (19.IX.1901 Austria – 12.VI.1972 USA) was a theoretical biologist and the father of General System Theory (1). He played an important role in the intellectual history of the twentieth century (2). He was the member of Deutsche Akademie für Naturforscher Leopoldina (Halle), the New York Academy of Sciences, he held positions at the University of Vienna (1934-48), the University of Ottawa (1950-54), the Mount Sinai Hospital (Los Angeles) (1955-58), the University of Alberta (1961-68), State University of New York (SUNY) (1969-72) (3). According to (2) “Ludwig von Bertalanffy is mainly remembered as the originator of the open systems theory in biology, an organismic theory which rejected both the mechanistic and the vitalistic explanations of life processes .”

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Friedrich Nietzsche’s Anti-Darwin

Friedrich Nietzsche (15.X 1844 – 25 VIII. 1900), German philosopher. Nietzsche wrote in “Twilight of the Idols” (1888) about darwinism:

Anti-Darwin. — As for the famous “struggle for existence,” so far it seems to me to be asserted rather than proved. It occurs, but as an exception; the total appearance of life is not the extremity, not starvation, but rather riches, profusion, even absurd squandering —
and where there is struggle, it is a struggle for power. One should not mistake Malthus for nature. Assuming, however, that there is such a struggle for existence — and, indeed, it occurs — its result is unfortunately the opposite of what Darwin’s school desires, and of what one might perhaps desire with them — namely, in favor of the strong, the privileged, the fortunate exceptions.
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Marxistic critique of Darwinism.

At the first glance it may seem (and it was often presented this way in Marxist textbooks) that both naturalistic systems live in compliance. However, if we get deeper into the works of Marxists we find out an interesting fact – the priniciples of dialectical materialism are often inconsistent with the essential elements of Darwinian and later neo-Darwinian teaching.

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