Register | Sign In

Understanding through Discussion

EvC Forum active members: 51 (9179 total)
3 online now:
Newest Member: Jorge Parker
Post Volume: Total: 918,187 Year: 5,444/9,624 Month: 469/323 Week: 109/204 Day: 9/16 Hour: 3/5

Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
Author Topic:   Germany before, China now; Darwinism on the rampage
Suspended Member (Idle past 5701 days)
Posts: 1914
From: amsterdam
Joined: 05-19-2002

Message 1 of 6 (393959)
04-08-2007 6:33 PM

Just like I said some time ago, more evidence is coming in that China is indeed undergoing an identitycrisis caused by Darwinism right now.
The background of this story is that on the occasion of Origin of Species, both communism and nazism spread to China. Communism got the upper-hand, but social-darwinist ideas still had it's own stronghold in Taiwan. Now in the ideological void left by the crumbling communism, a sciencecraze is developing in which the old social-darwinism is gaining the upper-hand.
Of course, people are people, so all these trends are accompanied with a lot of humanity of the personalities involved, so they don't come in a pure stark form.
In contrast to such softening factors, social-darwinism has it's own self-radicalizing element which is hard to contain. It is that peculiar attitude of scientific certitude which radicalizes people enormously when the certitude is inappropiately applied to moral questions.
The historian I referenced above got it wrong though how Darwinism contributes to such an identitycrisis. So below I'll argue against this historians idea of how Darwinism causes the current racism identity-crisis in China.
I will argue that:
- it is neither Herbert Spencer, Ernst Heackel, Francis Galton or Konrad Lorenz versions of natural selection theory, which have all been mentioned by various historians as changing Darwin's theories to unfortunate ends, but that the problems mainly arises out of Darwin's standard natural selection theory itself
- that these problems inherent to natural selection theory are:
1 making, or tending to make, moral statements about what is good and bad as objective fact
2 manipulating, or otherwise neglecting knowledge about freedom over knowledge about laws of nature
The problem with Dikotter's ideas is that he doesn't have a big enough smoking gun to point to on which to blame the racism identitycrisis. He is nitpicking about groups vs individuals, and Lamarckism vs Darwinism, as if that would make a big difference. I propose in stead to consider indeterminism vs determinism, or freedom vs the laws of nature as the underlying issue. We use knowledge about freedom all the time in our daily lives, that knowledge is completely fundamental. Now if somebody were to undermine that basic knowledge, we could reasonably expect to see the kind of massive identitycrisis that appears to be happening in all countries where Darwinism is introduced, including China.
Contrary to what Dikotter says, both Lamarckism and grouptheory are in their conceptual essence inherent to natural selection theory.
The essence of Lamarckism is that from the "will" of the organism (inheritance through habit), we get the modified descendent. Although Darwinism goes about it in a more roundabout way, natural selection theory is also based on a concept of organisms that "want" to live, and "want" to reproduce, and perhaps even "want" to do these things more then a competing other. So on a fundamental level these theories are conceptually equal; starting from the "will" of the organism we end up with the modified descendant.
Natural selection doesn't happen to an individual, it only occurs to a population, and a population is last I heared a group. So for Dikotter to say that Darwinism emphasizes the individual is false, we can only see individuals in natural selection theory in terms of members of a population. It is impossible for instance to see natural selection occurring on an individual organism. Of course I appreciate the difference Dikotter makes between Spencers groupbased thinking, and Darwin's individual-selection, that Spencers version of evoluton is even more groupbased, but then still Darwin's version of natural selection is also fundamentally groupbased. For natural selection to occur you need at least 2 organisms, which are different. Whatsmore Dikotter is also wrong because Darwin used a groupbased model when he applied natural selection to mankind, as shown by taking some quotes from Darwin.
The formulation of natural selection in Origin of species:
"Can it, then, be thought improbable, seeing that variations useful to man have undoubtedly occurred, that other variations useful in some way to each being in the great and complex battle of life, should sometimes occur in the course of thousands of generations? If such do occur, can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals are born than can possibly survive) that individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection." (C. Darwin, Origin of Species)
The forumulation of natural selection applied to mankind in the opening pages of "Descent of Man":
"The enquirer would next come to the important point, whether man tends to increase at so rapid a rate, as to lead to occasional severe struggles for existence; and consequently to beneficial variations, whether in body or mind, being preserved, and injurious ones eliminated. Do the races or species of men, whichever term may be applied, encroach on and replace one another, so that some finally become extinct? We shall see that all these questions, as indeed is obvious in respect to most of them, must be answered in the affirmative, in the same manner as with the lower animals."(C. Darwin, Descent of Man)
From this formulation of natural selection as a principle of encroachment untill extinction we find later in the book how in the history of mankind natural selection "chiefly" operated:
"Extinction follows chiefly from the competition of tribe with tribe, and race with race. Various checks are always in action, serving to keep down the numbers of each savage tribe,- such as periodical famines, nomadic habits and the consequent deaths of infants, prolonged suckling, wars, accidents, sickness, licentiousness, the stealing of women, infanticide, and especially lessened fertility. If any one of these checks increases in power, even slightly, the tribe thus affected tends to decrease; and when of two adjoining tribes one becomes less numerous and less powerful than the other, the contest is soon settled by war, slaughter, cannibalism, slavery, and absorption. Even when a weaker tribe is not thus abruptly swept away, if it once begins to decrease, it generally goes on decreasing until it becomes extinct." (C. Darwin, Descent of Man)
That sure seems a lot groupbased to me, altough you can get a lot more nuance in the rest of the book. But like I said, this is much irrellevant in my opinion. The problem here is with knowledge about freedom vs knowledge about the laws of nature. So to say, it is not so much wrong to teach about genetic and/or cultural predetermination of the Han, it is only very wrong if you don't balance out that teaching of predetermination by the laws of nature with copious amounts of knowledge about how people behave freely.
Darwinism problemizes this teaching about freedom no end, because it appropiates the "will" of organisms into it's theory, as if this will is some kind of mechanical law of nature. If Newton would have talked about gravity theory in terms of stones and apples wanting to fall the furthest in the struggle for depth, we would immediately recognize that this was just pseudoscience. But for some reason people don't recognize the struggle for reproductive success as pseudoscientific. When people consequently identify themselves as being part of the natural selection process it becomes; "I want to survive", "I want to reproduce" and I want to do it more then the other. Here science is telling people what they want, leaving little room for themselves, or religion or secular culture to tell them what they really want deepest in their heart.
Actually natural selection theory does not work with organisms that want to survive. For instance if organism A is more fit then organism B, but organism B wants to survive more and struggles harder for it, then thereby it is organism B that wins out, survival of the least fit.
Our common knowledge about freedom is generally of the form of having alternatives, and then a decision is made on them, realizing the one alternative, discarding the other. These alternatives are said to inhabit the future in respect to the moment of decision. So commonly when we say "I want to survive", we mean that we have the alternatives of survival and death in the future, and we decide on survival. But in Darwinism this get's all weird because this will to survive of people is part of some mechanical law of nature which forces us to a result, and does not allow for alternatives to be decided on.
Consider also the following colorful description of natural selection by Darwin:
"And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection." (C. Darwin, Origin of Species)
To translate this morality into the factual language of science would give something like:
"And as natural selection works solely by and for the reproduction of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to change towards contributing to reproduction."
As you can see Darwin posits goodness at the point where he posits the will of the organism to survive and reproduce. That is another thing in our common knowledge about "will". The way in which the one alternative get's to be decided for over the other is essentially spiritual. According to common knowledge what decides between alternatives are things like goodness and badness, love and hate, it is entirely a subjective issue, an issue we can only approach by our own decisionmaking, and not by measuring. So that explains why Darwin posits "the good" there, he unwittingly borrows that principle of "the good" from the common logic of deciding from alternatives, which he derived from the organisms' "will" to survive and reproduce. Thereby Darwin's confusion of the laws of nature with the powers of freedom is completed, and in the context of science, it is the knowledge about freedom that is the loser.
You can't really make a history about the influence of Darwinism on intellectual climate of opinion in China without the context of how this infuence went in other countries. As argued, the common denominator of the influence of Darwinism is the destruction of knowledge about freedom, and consequently the pretense of scientists, and sciencefans alike to have authority to speak about what is good and bad by natural selection theory. Knowledge about any kind of free behaviour is consistently oppressed by Darwinists because freedom requires that spiritual aspect making the decision from the alternatives. Knowledge about the laws of the universe gets awarded a very high level of awareness, while knowledge about freedom get's awarded a very low level of intellectual awareness. Eventhough everybody, Darwinist scientists included, uses the logic of freedom in everyday life.
That influence of Darwinism to destroy knowledge about freedom also of course explains the creationist movement as a reaction to Darwinism, that we creationists want the free act of creation acknowledged, over the laws of nature.
A similar sort of thing is argued in Klaus Fischer's book, Nazi Germany - A new history. In the beginning of that book he implores the reader that we should learn to view the holocaust not just as a product of age-old preceding causes, but also as the product of contingencies, and of course personal decisonmaking. He argues that the predeterminative nature of both nazi and communist ideology is their most lethal aspect.
Mohammad Nur Syamsu

Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by Hyroglyphx, posted 07-08-2007 2:51 PM Syamsu has not replied
 Message 5 by mick, posted 07-08-2007 5:52 PM Syamsu has not replied

Newer Topic | Older Topic
Jump to:

Copyright 2001-2023 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

™ Version 4.2
Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2024