Saturday, September 1, 2012

Temporary Linked Index To The Darwin-Eugenics-Haeckel Series

I haven't tested the links yet but intend to

Notice of Intent
A Note about Documentary Evidence and Primary Sources.
A Note About The Word "Darwinism"
How Much Do You Have To Quote Before You're Not "Quote Mining”  With a note about Darwin "quote mining".
Charles Darwin and Eugenics: The Standard of Evidence Required to Make the Case 

What Would It Take for Charles Darwin To Beat the Eugenics Charge
1. Galton  (case closed )
2. Leonard Darwin Schallmeyer with a note about George Darwin (note: This post should be considered an outline due to the lack of Schallmeyer available in English translation. )  Revised on Sept. 2. 2012.
3. How Much Did Darwin Really Believe In Natural Selection:  W. R. Greg, sometimes called the co-inventor of eugenics.  Darwin's anti-Irish bigotry overcomes Natural Selection.
4   Another Note About George Darwins 1870s Eugenics Activity   Francis Darwin calls it "eugenics"
5.  Darwin's Response to Gaskel Was Not a Rejection of Negative Eugenics
6.  Darwin and The Survival of the Fittest  Darwin and Spencer and Wallace
7.  Darwinism Against Economic Democracy: William Cobbett on Malthus

Darwin and Haeckel 1  Darwin endorses Haeckel 
Darwin and Haeckel 2  Darwin Publicly Confirms His Endorsement of Haeckel as Science (will be lengthened)
Darwin and Haeckel 3  Darwin Doesn't Protest Attribution of Monism To Him
Darwin and Haeckel 4  Haeckel and Darwin   Infanticide.
Darwin and Haeckel 5  Could Haeckel's Depravity Have Been Prevented If Darwin Had Objected ? with a long footnote on the future course of Darwinism in Germany and Leonard Darwin as the only one with standing to speak for his father in 1939.

EVOLUTION, evolution Ideology and the Continuation of Life
1.  Part one  The Enormous Scope of Evolution, Its Complexity,  Science has only scratched the surface
2   Interlude Scherzando and Early Selections   Biological Determinism, its Depravity and Hypocrisy
3   The People   Biological Determinism Negates Democracy with a long footnote about the “aid which must be given” paragraph
Dissing an Idol and Feeling Better For It
It's a Dirty Political Brawl Adapt or Die

The Popular Misunderstanding of the Huxley - Wilberforce Debate

A Closing Comment   Darwin Provided Himself Cover, His Position in Science Culture as Opposed to Today's Science

Update:  I rewrote the Leonard Darwin - Schallmeyer - George Darwin post this morning, which was a lot more like an outline when first posted than was useful.   I will probably keep working on these posts which were written very quickly, especially the second of the Darwin and Haeckel posts.   I had intended to write a 2a because there is just so much material showing that Darwin and Haeckel were saying many of the same disturbing things as they were in contact and I will expand that theme in the future.

Since the purpose of these was to show what Charles Darwin could be fairly charged with as he was alive and writing I haven't gone nearly as far into what people who Darwin never heard of said about his inspiration of them.  There is much more that could be said about that.   It is a major intellectual scandal that so many people who present themselves as scholars blatantly lie about this.  I think some of that is clearly ideological,  Darwin is the mascot of scientism,  materialism and atheism.  A lot of it is done in ignorance of the record.  Some of it is done out of cowardice, knowing that writing about Darwin's relationship to eugenics in the English speaking world and Germany will make you a pariah and attract attacks and distortions of what you said.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Closing Comment

There are many other posts that I have started for this series which I may, eventually, complete.  The racism that pervades The Descent of Man and the books Darwin cites as scientifically reliable, one of the most obvious. The opportunistic contradictions Darwin asserted, throughout his comments about "savages" and "civilised men" - read  "dark skinned people" and "white, well off, northern Europeans" if you want to be honest about Darwin's assertions.   And then there is the constant use of  euphemistic words and phrases when what Darwin means is the violent, cruel deaths of poor people before they are old enough to have children.   Darwin is insincere about his meaning just about every time he talks about that.  Then, there is the quality of his work, his sources to produce what he presented as science in the book.

I do, though, have other responsibilities that will prevent me from finishing those for the time being.  I am intending to edit what I've written too quickly and to put it into a more permanent order on a new blog, the name of which will probably change but which will keep the same address.

There is a confession that I have to make,  I've allowed myself to be restrained in what I've said about Charles Darwin, even in these posts.   This morning I did a re-write of the Afterword to yesterday's post to make it a more accurate conclusion drawn from the record of Charles Darwin and what that means for us, today.  It was not to Darwin's benefit, though it retained the possibility of uncertainty where I left it yesterday,  it pointed out what he can be charged with based on his own words and acts to an absolute certainty.

Charles Darwin has a unique position in the culture of science, there is no other scientist whose persona is so identified with a massive field of science well over a century after his death.  There is a real, social and likely professional risk in dissing Darwin.  The prohibition in the purportedly educated world on presenting his extremely malignant legacy,  as it is right there in plain sight,  is a political and not a scientific requirement.   And it is, most of all, a class rule to maintain a reputable standing among those self-considered, educated, modern folks.   If you are critical of Charles Darwin you will be considered an un-educated, science denying, yahoo,  who probably speaks with a Southern accent,  is a racist (irony of ironies), has not been to college and who probably doesn't read, follows NASCAR and, of course, is a Biblical fundamentalist, of course, equating all of those things with utter stupidity and backwardness.   Considering that it's generally the case that anyone who can hold the mythical Darwin of the self-appointed educated class as a reality is someone who has never read his books,  the complete phenomenon of the mythical Darwin is more of a sign of the phoniness of that class as it is today than anything to do with reality.

The greatest irony of all, though, is that modern evolutionary science doesn't depend on Charles Darwin or his conception of natural selection, which was superseded  by newer versions, under the same name,  continually up till today.   Evolution has massive physical confirmation, an enormous physical basis of evidence that would stand even if its most basic theoretical explanation changes, as it has and will with more knowledge.  I think it's probable that the continuing position natural selection holds in science is based more in its political status as a flag to be held up than a theory that has the explanatory power it was asserted to have.  At times, as used, it seems more like a slogan.   As I read more about it from those who assert it, throughout its history, the less distinct it becomes.   I suspect it is more a habit of thought than anything else.   And it is a habit that still has potential to generate newer forms of eugenics, newer guises for racism, bigotry and even sexism.   That is another series of posts that could be done, the sexism in Darwin's book, something which was addressed by his critics within evolutionary science in the early years of Darwinism.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Darwin and Haeckel 5

Darwin and Haeckel 1
Darwin and Haeckel 2 
Darwin and Haeckel 3
Darwin and Haeckel 4

The Eugenics Free, Haeckel Free, Charles Darwin Is a Public Relations Myth

It is quite possible that if Darwin had not written On the Origin of Species or if he had written it in a different way,  Ernst Haeckel might have remained a cranky doctor who had no sympathy with his patients and whose bigotry was sustained by his peculiar interpretation of  German romanticism and Lamarck .   If, when Darwin  read in Generelle Morphologie and Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte that Haeckel was mixing huge doses of political, racial and anti-religious, extra-scientific content with evolutionary science IN THE NAME OF DARWIN,   he had objected at being insanely misrepresented,  perhaps Haeckel would have backed off some of the worst of it.  Or maybe he would have been discredited at the beginning and he would have died in the same obscurity as scores of others prominent at the time have.

But that isn't how the relationship of Darwin and Haeckel went.  Darwin praised those works in the highest terms, not objecting to where Haeckel was taking Darwinism.  Even as Thomas Huxley was appointing Haeckel  the leader of Darwinism in Germany and, perhaps, on the entire continent of Europe.  Darwin fully endorsed Haeckel's books, including those containing  Haeckel's monism, whose "triumph" he attributed to Darwin in those very books that Darwin was reading.   Further political statements about Darwinism in Haeckel's Freie Wissenschaft und Freie Lehre,  claiming that a political interpretation of Darwinism would inevitably lead to aristocracy instead of democracy or socialism, also got Darwin's complete approval.   And it wasn't only Darwin and his closest associate of all,  Huxley - he wrote the glowing introduction to the English version of Freie Wissenschaft und freie Lehre - as well as others in the Darwin circle like Lankester who translated Haeckel,  when he was developing his poisonous concoction of Darwinism, bizarrely off kilter romantic nationalism and his, frankly, deranged  monist philosophy.  Spreading it into the English speaking world.

As I was six years ago, before I started looking into these questions,  I'd have looked for explanations as to how the Darwin I believed was an accurate picture of the man could have overlooked the  obvious degeneracy of Haeckel's books.*    As so many who haven't looked closely at Darwin's record and the record of those close to him, I bought the fictitious Darwin of the BBC and PBS and the Darwin industry.   That Darwin was the creation of a PR machine that, as I've mentioned several times,  got going after the Nazis made the eugenic and Social Darwinist legacy that Darwin left a major liability to the popular acceptance of evolution.  That was an ongoing problem even as science was giving evolution a far stronger base than Darwin had with natural selection**.   In the same period, molecular biology was discovering other ways in which evolutionary change happens other than the most recent version of natural selection.  There were reasons to deemphasize Darwin during the fifties and afterward that were scientific instead of merely an exercise in public relations but that isn't the road that scientists and educators took.  I suspect that was also due to a PR effort that began even as Darwin and his friends were rushing to publish and gain priority for natural selection for him.

But that's all done now, the real record of Darwin is available, online.   The information tying him to eugenics through Galton and Darwin's sons, particularly Leonard Darwin is known.   That part of the creationist attack on the public perception of science is not baseless, it is an air tight case. It is absolute stupidity for people who are always taking about evidence as if it were their private property to deny the massive evidence that Darwin directly supported the developing eugenics of Galton and Haeckel,   It is massively stupid to deny his support for social Darwinism when he, himself, equated "Natural Selection with Survival of the Fittest" and called Herbert Spencer a "great philosopher".   Anyone who reads The Descent of Man and misses that it is filled with scientific assertions of eugenics and Social Darwinism asserting that "weaker members" of society surviving till their child bearing years will lead to a catastrophe for the human species, is willfully blind.  They will cling to the paragraph and odd phrase in the book that Darwin obviously put there, intending those as plausible deniability when those he didn't want to bother him read the enormous percentage of the book which advocated an unfounded assertion of eugenics.

The reliance on the myth of Charles Darwin is bound to fail.  Most people don't have that much of an emotional attachment to Charles Darwin that they will read him with blinders and deny he said exactly what he said.  Increasingly, as even more of what Darwin was endorsing is easily available in online formats that make reading THE ENTIRE DOCUMENTS easy, they will be able to read what Darwin knew was being said by his supporters and friends and can see whether or not he publicly rejected the attribution to him.  They will be able to read his own endorsements.

As soon as I read The Descent of Man, my great man conception of Charles Darwin began to crack.  As soon as I followed up on the first of his citations, reading Hereditary Genius, that Darwin fell ,  Reading Galton's memoir, in which he published Charles Darwin's unreservedly enthusiastic endorsement of Galton's developing eugenicis, it was buried.  I'd gotten there from Darwin's own extravagant endorsement of  Galton in The Descent of Man.  From there I went on to read what Leonard Darwin had done and said.  With him I began the search for people who knew Darwin who had claimed he was not responsible for eugenics and found only support for the connection among those who knew him.  I, likewise, found no Darwinists who made the case divorcing Charles Darwin from eugenics before the Second World War.   Then I followed up the even more troubling endorsements of Haeckel and found the massive attempt to disassociate Darwin from Haeckel was false, as well.

I think anyone who wasn't looking for every single loophole for Darwin to rescue him from his record would come to the same conclusion if they read that record.  And a few of those loopholes were left by Darwin, even as he made them implausible by the mass of his record.   The mythical Darwin rests on that implausibility.

The mythical Darwin that is the standard received point of view among the self-appointed educated class of the English speaking world was possible to believe in before his real record was widely available.  But the survival of that myth is no longer possible, the environment has changed with that record being there for anyone to read.   That myth is not fit to survive in today's information environment.

* There were also some really foolish sciency  fictitious creations by Haeckel to "fill in" the record, endorsed by no less than Huxley, but that's another post.  Such creations do nothing for the credibility of evolutionary science.

**  Natural selection was an idea that is vague enough to have had different interpretations during Darwin's time.  I'm not convinced that even Darwin and Wallace really meant the same thing when they talked about it.  As I showed in a previous post, Wallace didn't like the term "natural selection".   But a lot of the things that generation of evolutionists left got changed over the years.  Look at how Wallace understood "survival of the fittest".   Darwin made a very good case for evolution in On the Origin of Species and he provided it with what he believed was a solid explanation by interpreting the confirmatory evidence he had available with Malthusian political-economics.  But that interpretation isn't the same thing as evolution.  Evolution does not rest on Darwin, certainly not on the myth and not even on the real one.

This discussion the early decades of Natural Selection in Germany is an illustration of how the idea could mean radically different things at different times, even as the first generation of Darwinists were still living and working.

The superior technical quality of the German biological synthesis of Darwinism with cell biology and embryology should also be taken into account.  From debates over vitalist and mechanist interpretations of evolution, there emerged an organicist consensus by the 1890s.  Darwin's most original contribution to evolutionary theory, that of natural selection, was often lost from sight.  During the 1890s some scientists reformulated natural selection not as competition between organisms but as selection from an immutable germplasm.  Others rejected ideas of redundant liberal individualism.  Darwinism thus meant a general conviction of the truth of evolution, and could include such diverse mechanisms as “Lamarckian” adaptaion and psychic factors such as “will” and learning powers.  German biologists drew on distinctive organicist philosophical and historical concepts in analyzing developmental processes. These biological ideas were distinct from other traditions of racial thought including that of Aryan racial purity.

Health, Race and German Politics between National Unification and Nazism by Paul Weindling Cambridge University Press, 1989

Weindling's book has a lot of excellent material related to the continuing history of Darwinism during this period.  I certainly would not blame Darwin, personally, for much of it, he being long dead and having no knowledge of what people unknown to him would do with the idea.  He was, though, fully aware of what Haeckel was doing while they were in contact and much of what follows grows out of ideas Darwin had already read in Haeckel's work.  Haeckel was certainly responsible for inspiring and encouraging many of Alfred Ploetz's ideas and activities.   And Charles Darwin is certainly responsible for promoting Haeckel, and, in some of those very ideas,  expanding on them in The Descent of Man, giving them the force of his scientific reputation.

Ploetz maintained contact with literary circles containing figures such as the Hauptmanns and Boelsche,  the naturalist, poet and popularizer of Darwinism.  They discussed plans for journals where biology and literature could be combined, as well as technical problems in zoology.  Boelsche required scientific guidance for his monumental work-in-progress Love Life in nature.   The zoologist Pate (a supporter of the liberal freisinnige Volkspartei, a fervent nationalist and anti-semite) formed part of the group.  On 11 May 1901 Ploetz agreed with Gustav Fischer that there should be a monthly journal for racial hygiene.  However, Ploetz was to be disappointed in Fischer,  whom he condemned as “worse than a Jew”.  The plan for a journal re-surfaced on 5 December 1902 when Ploetz was with Stasius. They began to seek sources of support, both financial and academic.

Family finances were crucial to the success of the venture.  As Ploetz had the support of his brother-in-law, Stasius, he would sink some of the Nordenholz's wealth into the scheme.  They each contributed 12,500 marks to the Archive-Gesellschaft.  The zoologist Plate became engaged in April 1902 to Hedwig von Zylinski,  the daughter of a Prussian general,  so that Plate could also contribute financially to the journal.   Ploetz scouted around for additional capital.  Haeckel recommended Friedmann,  a lawyer who had won one of the smaller “Krupp” prizes, as someone who could finance the journal.  On 19 October 1903 Ploetz could announce to Haeckel that the Archiv was founded as a campaigning force on the side of Darwinism and the modern Weltanschaung.  Prospective contributors were approached.  Forel was offered 160 marks pro Bogen.  On 26 January 1904 the first issue of Archiv fur Rassen und Gesellschaftsbiologie appeared.  

In 1904 the journal underwent further changes. In mid-January 1904, Friedman withdrew.  Ploetz was uneasy with the discovery that Freidmann was Jewish.  Ruden appealed for Forel for an additional editor.  He should be young, progressive and have plenty of money.  The anthroplogist,  Richard Thurnwald, was enlisted in December 1904.  Ruden was paid 200 marks to do editorial work and to contribute a position he he held until 22 June 1911  when Ploetz took sole control of the journal.  By April 1905 the journal's future seemed assured, as publication was taken over by the scientifically reputable Teubner Verlag of Leipzig.  This coincided with the founding of the Racial Hygiene Society in Berlin  The Archiv became the organ of the Society.  A recurrent risk in Ploetz's strategy,  that the Archiv should be scientific in orientation,  was that a popular journal would be established by rival racist ideologues.  Ploetz managed to prevent the first attempt when Ulrich Patz (a pharmaceutical manufacturer) and Ruden proposed a popular journal in 1907.


With Ploetz, who Charles Darwin certainly never heard of, the fuller dangers that were contained in ideas Darwin and Haeckel were asserting in the late 1860s through Darwin's death, came to term.   Charles Darwin couldn't have anticipated Ploetz and the future course of German eugenics in detail.  His death prevents that charge being credible.  Which is the most you can say about it.  His son, Leonard Darwin, doesn't come off even that well,  though.  He took over as the head of British eugenics from Galton and had frequent exchanges with some of the most extreme of German eugenicists.   Directly, and indirectly through the American, Charles Davenport, an infamous figure, as well.  As seen in an earlier post, Leonard Darwin was still praising Ploetz's eugenics activity for "changing German thought in the right direction"  as late as April, 1939.    Six years after the Nazi eugenics laws were in effect.  The extent to which his father would agree can't be known.

I don't think Leonard Darwin's incredible point of view at that late date can be reliably said to represent what his father would have thought about events more than a half-century after his death.  The problem is that there was no one alive at that time who would have had a better claim to the right to speak for him.  That fact produces a dilemma for those who would, as well,  propose to speak for a man they never knew,  never mind knew as well as a son would know his father,   No one has that right these many decades after the catastrophe Leonard Darwin seemed to not anticipate even as it was unfolding.  They have no standing as compared to Leonard Darwin's.   But the Charles Darwin of the 1870s to his death in 1882 is far from blameless.

Considering that throughout his second, major book presented as science, Charles Darwin  repeatedly advanced the idea that a violent struggle for existence, including the deaths of many "weaker members" of the human species was necessary to avoid catastrophic dysgenic results, he is responsible for the idea.   Darwin asserted that over and over, with many horrific examples from around the world purporting that mass death and even infanticide were hygenic for the group as a whole.   And that is what he was presenting AS SCIENCE.  Charles Darwin is responsible for those who took that idea from him as fact, including four of his sons.   Charles Darwin is also responsible for providing those who attack evolutionary science with some of their most persuasive material.   They don't have to lie about his record to associate Darwinism with eugenics and the likes of Ernst Haeckel.

The fact is, what Charles Darwin would have thought of events in 1939 cannot be known and, barring a revelation at a Last Judgement, never will be.   But, looking at what he said, the associations he made and what their work he promoted contained, people will come to conclusions as to what he might have said.  It's clear not all of them will come down on one side or the other in that speculation.  Which is a problem for the public promotion of science today.

Darwin and The Survival of the Fittest

You would think that this was the easiest one of all to knock down, that "survival of the fittest" was a corruption of the pure vessel of Darwinism as it came from the great man, himself.   However, the assertion that Darwin rejected that definition of natural selection is made in either ignorance or of misrepresentation of what Darwin said on that issue in his most famous book.

In the fifth edition of On the Origin of Species, Darwin said it explicitly,

How will the struggle for existence, briefly discussed in the last chapter, act in regard to variation? Can the principle of selection, which we have seen is so potent in the hands of man, apply in nature? I think we shall see that it can act most effectually. Let the endless number of peculiar variations in our domestic productions, and, in a lesser degree, in those under nature, be borne in mind; as well as the strength of the hereditary tendency. Under domestication, it may be truly said that the whole organisation becomes in some degree plastic. But the variability, which we almost universally meet with in our domestic productions, is not directly produced, as Hooker and Asa Gray have well remarked, by man; he can neither originate varieties, nor prevent their occurrence; he can only preserve and accumulate such as do occur; unintentionally he exposes organic beings to new and changing conditions of life, and variability ensues; but similar changes of conditions might and do occur under nature. Let it also be borne in mind how infinitely complex and close-fitting are the mutual relations of all organic beings to each other and to their physical conditions of life; and consequently what infinitely varied diversities of structure may be of use to each being under changing conditions of life. 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 destruction of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest. Variations neither useful nor injurious would not be affected by natural selection, and would be left either a fluctuating element, as perhaps we see in certain polymorphic species, or would ultimately become fixed, owing to the nature of the organism and the nature of the conditions.

Several writers have misapprehended or objected to the term Natural Selection. Some have even imagined that natural selection induces variability, whereas it implies only the preservation of such variations as occur...

"This preservation of favourable variations, and the destruction of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest."

It's interesting to note that Darwin felt that it was the term Natural Selection that was objectionable whereas the phrase Survival of the Fittest - which Darwin capitalized as well as Natural Selection - passed by without note.  That is probably because it was not anywhere near as controversial as it became when survival of the fittest was given a political and legal reality in human life that natural selection in its more benign definitions wouldn't.

Alfred Russell Wallace, the "co-discoverer" of natural selection was concerned enough with how the concept was developing with use that he sent his co-discoverer a letter about it.  I will give it in full because Wallace's views, ultimately diverged from the mainstream of Darwinism in some important ways but I believe he was the one who got him to adopt "Survival of the Fittest" as Darwin used it in this edition.   It has to be wondered what would happen if Wallace had achieved priority for the idea instead of Darwin.  Note how Wallace puts a quite different interpretation to Spencer than he was generally believed to intend, quite different from how other readers took him.

Hurstpierpoint, Sussex
July 2nd. 1866.

My dear Darwin

I have been so repeatedly struck by the utter inability of numbers of intelligent persons to see clearly or at all, the self acting & necessary effects of Nat Selection, that I am led to conclude that the term itself & your mode of illustrating it, however clear & beautiful to many of us are yet not the best adapted to impress it on the general naturalist public. The two last cases of this misunderstanding are, 1st. The article on “Darwin & his teachings” in the last “Quarterly Journal of Science”, which, though very well written & on the whole appreciative, yet concludes with a charge of something like blindness, in your not seeing that “Natural Selection” requires the constant watching of an intelligent “chooser” like man’s selection to which you so often compare it;—and 2nd., in Janet’s recent work on the “Materialism of the present day”, reviewed in last Saturday’s “Reader”, by an extract from which I see that he considers your weak point to be, that you do not see that “thought & direction are essential to the action of `Nat. Selection’.” The same objection has been made a score of times by your chief opponents, & I have heard it as often stated myself in conversation.

Now I think this arises almost entirely from your choice of the term “Nat. Selection” & so constantly comparing it in its effects, to Man’s selection, and also to your so frequently personifying Nature as “selecting” as “preferring” as “seeking only the good of the species” &c. &c. To the few, this is as clear as daylight, & beautifully suggestive, but to many it is evidently a stumbling block. I wish therefore to suggest to you the possibility of entirely avoiding this source of misconception in your great work, (if not now too late) & also in any future editions of the “Origin”, and I think it may be done without difficulty & very effectually by adopting Spencer’s term (which he generally uses in preference to Nat. Selection) viz. “Survival of the fittest.”

This term is the plain expression of the facts,—Nat. selection is a metaphorical expression of it—and to a certain degree indirect & incorrect, since, even personifying Nature, she does not so much select special variations, as exterminate the most unfavourable ones.

Combined with the enormous multiplying powers of all organisms, & the “struggle for existence” leading to the constant destruction of by far the largest proportion,—facts which no one of your opponents, as far as I am aware, has denied or misunderstood,—“the survival of the fittest” rather than of those who were less fit, could not possibly be denied or misunderstood. Neither would it be possible to say, that to ensure the “survival of the fittest” any intelligent chooser was necessary,—whereas when you say natural selection acts so as to choose those that are fittest it is misunderstood & apparently always will be. Referring to your book I find such expressions as “Man selects only for his own good; Nature only for that of the being which she tends”. This it seems will always be misunderstood; but if you had said “Man selects only for his own good; Nature, by the inevitable “survival of the fittest”, only for that of the being she tends”,—it would have been less liable to be so.

I find you use the term “Natural Selection” in two senses, 1st for the simple preservation of favourable & rejection of unfavourable variations, in which case it is equivalent to “survival of the fittest”,—or 2nd. for the effect or change, produced by this preservation, as when you say, “To sum up the circumstances favourable or unfavourable to natural selection”, and again “Isolation, also, is an important element in the process of natural selection”, —here it is not merely “survival of the fittest” but, change produced by survival of the fittest, that is meant— On looking over your fourth Chap. I find that these alterations of terms can be in most cases easily made, while in some cases the addition of “or survival of the fittest”, after “natural selection” would be best; and in others, less likely to be misunderstood, the original term may stand alone.

I could not venture to propose to any other person so great an alteration of terms, but you I am sure will give it an impartial consideration, and if you really think the change will produce a better understanding of your work, will not hesitate to adopt it.

It is evidently also necessary not to personify “nature” too much,—though I am very apt to do it myself,—since people will not understand that all such phrases are metaphors.

Natural selection, is, when understood, so necessary & self evident a principle, that it is a pity it should be in any way obscured; & it therefore occurs to me, that the free use of “survival of the fittest”,—which is a compact & accurate definition of it,—would tend much to its being more widely accepted and prevent its being so much misrepresented & misunderstood.

There is another objection made by Janet which is also a very common one. It is that the chances are almost infinite again the particular kind of variation required being coincident with each change of external conditions, to enable an animal to become modified by Nat. Selection in harmony with such changed conditions; especially when we consider, that, to have produced the almost infinite modifications of organic beings this coincidence must have taken place an almost infinite number of times.

Now it seems to me that you have yourself led to this objection being made, by so often stating the case too strongly against yourself. For Example, at the Commencement of Chap. IV. you ask, if it is “improbable that useful variations should sometimes occur in the course of thousands of generations”; —and a little further on you say, “unless profitable variati do occur natural selection can do nothing.”  Now such expressions h given your opponents the advantage of assuming that favourable variations are rare accidents, or may even for long periods never occur at all, & thus Janet’s argument would appear to many to have great force. I think it would be better to do away with all such qualifying expressions, and constantly maintain (what I certainly believe to be the fact) that variations of every kind are always occurring in every part of every species,—& therefore that favourable variations are always ready when wanted. You have I am sure abundant materials to prove this, and it is, I believe, the grand fact that renders modification & adaptation to conditions almost always possible. I would put the burthen of proof on my opponents, to show, that any one organ structure or faculty does not vary, even during one generation among all the individuals of a species,—and also to show any mode or way in which any such organ &c. does not vary. I would ask them to give any reason for supposing that any organ &c. is ever absolutely identical at any one time in all the individuals of a species,—& if not then it is always varying, and there are always materials which, from the simple fact, that “the fittest survive”, will tend to the modification of the race into harmony with changed conditions.

I hope these remarks may be intelligible to you, & that you will be as kind as to let me know what you think of them.

I have not heard for some time how you are getting on.

I hope you are still improving in health, & that you will be able now to get on with your great work for which so many thousands are looking with interest.

With best wishes | Believe me My dear Darwin | Yours very faithfully | Alfred R. Wallace— 

I would guess that Darwin was having a lot of trouble articulating just what natural selection meant. Which isn't surprising as the idea, as Wallace points out, is so liable to interpretation.  The idea in its history has undergone fundamental change in "the synthesis" when Fisher and others firmly glued it to genetics and on till today when you can find quite divergent views of just what "natural selection" is.  One working marine biologist I asked to define it  included genetic drift within his definition, which leads me to believe the idea is, indeed, a metaphor instead of a theory and it is dissolving or, maybe more appropriately, drifting into a quite different form from one Darwin would have recognized.

In regard to this series showing Darwin's intimate connection with eugenics and Ernst Haeckel,  this passage in Wallace's letter jumps out:

This term is the plain expression of the facts,—Nat. selection is a metaphorical expression of it—and to a certain degree indirect & incorrect, since, even personifying Nature, she does not so much select special variations, as exterminate the most unfavourable ones.

Darwin constantly presented the survivors of natural selection as being more vigorous and healthy than those who die.   He said so all through The Descent of Man.  If he had seen natural selection in the way Wallace presents it in this passage, he couldn't have articulated the basic premise of eugenics all through the book.   All Wallace saw in natural selection was that organisms that couldn't live, died and that those that could lived and reproduced, carrying what helped them survive into another generation.  It was more fit to the specifics of the conditions that organism faced but it wasn't qualitatively better.

Darwin's presentation lent itself to a political interpretation almost immediately, due to that difference.  It was grasped onto by those who wanted to establish a human hierarchy based on some notion of human s having value tied to their utility.  Their preference was to see those who were wealthy as better, crowned as superior by nature, and that that was a scientific fact.  And that, along with those who found in Darwinism a weapon to attack religion, did begin almost as soon as people began reading the book. But that's for further posts that I haven't begun to write.

That difference between Darwin and Wallace is both a revelation of where the malignant legacy Darwin left starts, in the assumption that survivors were, somehow, made better by the mere fact of survival.   Darwin, a rich man, the son of a prosperous family was a benficiary of the horrible British class system, the laws that just about insured a large impoverished class dependent on the wealthy and created a class of the destitute who were, effectively, outlaws.  It's not a surprise that he would see things in those terms.  I suspect that when Wallace said,  "Nature, she does not so much select special variations, as exterminate the most unfavourable ones." he was talking about a far narrower range of truly problematic "variations" than Darwin would have.  Which is apparent when Darwin, at some times talks about "savages" having more vigor due to the deaths of the "weaker members" of their societies than happens among the "civilised" but, when it suits him, he anticipates the extinction of these same people, despite their enhanced "vigor".   And I think in that we can see Darwin mixing his own upper class and English habits of thought into science, where those, of course, don't belong.

Natural selection, the insertion of Malthus into evolutionary biology, is inescapably political and economic.  That insertion was intentional and it was admitted at the start.   It was almost impossible to keep evolutionary science from being cast politically and as an affirmation of the worst of economic class division once that introduction was made.  Darwin might have been looking for an explaination of the origin of species but he also gave class ranking an allegedly scientific validation.   Metaphors presented as science will, eventually, take on the authority science is given from habit.

I am not trying to raise up A. R. Wallace as a rival to the mythical Darwin,  Wallace had his own baggage to deal with.  The Great Man of Science means of promoting science is stupid and insulting.  Science should be strongly enough founded in evidence that it doesn't need hagiographic mythology about the likes of Charles Darwin.  It is condescending to try to sell science with historical fiction.  Heroic fiction teaches us nothing about reality, it is public relations and public relations is generally based on deception.  Science presents itself as an enhanced view of reality, its representatives should act as if they believe that.  Even when it's hard, giving people accurate information about science, the promotion of science should rest on that.   The effort to promote the public understanding of science should inform us of something real instead of something refuted by the evidence.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Darwin and Haeckel 4

Darwin and Haeckel 1
Darwin and Haeckel 2 
Darwin and Haeckel 3


Some of the most jarring parts of The Descent of Man are those where Darwin goes just to the edge of openly advocating the deaths of children. More than that, he repeatedly steps on that line in the book.  Darwin never crosses it to directly and openly advocate infanticide but he knew by that time that his foremost representative in Germany did cross it.   Since Darwin gave his highest praise to Ernst Haeckel and, especially,   The History of Creation  in his citations,  he would be aware of what Haeckel had said in the book.  Here is part of it:

It appears of interest here to remark that not only natural selection, but also artificial selection exercises its influence in many ways in universal history. A remarkable instance of artificial selection in man, on a great scale, is furnished by the ancient Spartans, among whom, in obedience to a special law, all newly-born children were subject to a careful examination and selection. All those that were weak, sickly, or affected with any bodily infirmity, were killed. Only the perfectly healthy and strong children were allowed to live, and they alone afterwards propagated the race. By this means, the Spartan race was not only continually preserved in excellent strength and vigour, but the perfection of their bodies increased with every generation. No doubt the Spartans owed their rare degree of masculine strength and rough heroic valour (for which they are eminent in ancient history) in a great measure to this artificial selection.

I'll begin by pointing out that there is no scientific evidence presented to support the idea that the Spartan aristocracy were physically superior to those who don't kill children deemed to be "weakly, sickly,...."  That would be because there was no scientific evidence that was true.  The Spartans were long dead and everything Haeckel knew about them was from classical literature which, even in the best of their historical writing, is more like gossip than science.   And even that shows that the Spartans were not an invincible superior race of men but a brutal military dictatorship that were dedicated to war and slavery.  A far more obvious reason for their position in classical lore than their belief in the beneficial effects of infanticide.  I'd like to go on about a conclusion that he could have made about infanticide and brutal dictatorships but that's for another post.  For now, Haeckel wanting to claim Spartan infanticide as evidence to validate natural selection was based on anything but science.

Haeckel goes on attributing a similar position to the "Redskins" even of 1860s when he was writing it:

Many tribes also among the Red Indians of North America (who at present are succumbing in the struggle for life to the superior numbers of the white intruders, in spite of a most heroic and courageous resistance) owe their rare degree of bodily strength and warlike bravery to a similar careful selection of the newly-born children. Among them, also, all children that are weak or affected with any infirmity are immediately killed, and only the perfectly strong individuals remain in life, and propagate the race. That the race becomes greatly strengthened, in the course of very many generations, by this artificial selection cannot in itself be doubted, and is sufficiently proved by many well known facts.

Haeckel isn't as careful to give citations as Darwin was in The Descent of Man so I don't know what he based this on. I would be interested to know how he came by his "many well known facts" and what they are.  I have a suspicion that some of  those "facts" are, as Darwin's assertions about the dysgenic effect of mass vaccination against small pox, invented out of nothing but a desire to support the Darwinian conception of natural selection.  My guess would be that they are more based in sensational and racist lore than in fact.  I would wonder what  historians specializing in those groups today would say about it.

Having established an artificial substitute for scientific data to support his contention Haeckel goes on for quite a while in this vein until he arrives at this:

If any one were to venture the proposal, after the examples of the Spartans and Redskins, to kill, immediately upon their birth, all miserable, crippled children to whom with certainty a sickly life could be prophesied, instead of keeping them in life injurious to them and to the race, our so-called “humane civilization” would utter a cry of indignation. But the same “humane civilization” thinks it quite as it should be, and accepts without a murmur, that at the outbreak of every war (and in the present state of civilized life, and in the continual development of standing armies, wars must naturally become more frequent) hundreds and thousands of the finest men, full of youthful vigour, are sacrificed in the hazardous game of battles. The same “humane civilization” at present praises the abolition of capital punishment as a “liberal measure!” And yet capital punishment for incorrigible and degraded criminals is not only just, but also a benefit to the better portion of mankind; the same benefit is done by destroying luxuriant weeds, for the prosperity of a well cultivated garden. As by a careful rooting out of weeds, light, air, and ground is gained for good and useful plants, in like manner, by the indiscriminate destruction of all incorrigible criminals, not only would the struggle for life among the better portion of mankind be made easier, but also an advantageous artificial process of selection would be set in practice, since the possibility of transmitting their injurious qualities by inheritance would be taken from those degenerate outcasts.

Just in case anyone wonders how Haeckel came to his infamous reputation in German History, this is a good beginning.   And, of course, there is no data to support his contention that all of these ills are the product of biological inheritance, other than a few of the disabilities that are, in fact, inherited.  How much of the scientific support of natural selection at the time was based on actual science and how much of it was based on lore treated with hunches might give some insight into the contemporary, informed skepticism of it that Darwin and Haeckel faced.

As presented by the post-war Darwin PR, the early opposition to Darwinism was entirely based in peoples' queasiness about being related to apes.  But it is forgotten that much of early advocacy of infanticide, capital punishment and similar developments in the name of Darwinism, founded on the concept of natural selection, were responsible for much of the opposition to evolution.  Scientists advocating murder is far from a mere side issue.  Haeckel whined about anticipated objection to his call for murdering children in the first sentence of that last paragraph.

You're left to wonder how the Darwin commonly presented to us as a great humanitarian, would react to his "chorus leader" in Germany openly advocating infanticide.  What he said in the Descent of Man - a book he said he wouldn't have written if it hadn't been well underway by the time The History of Creation had been published -  hardly called Haeckel's advocacy of infanticide into question.  In fact, he echoed it right up to the point of endorsing it,  even, oddly, placing that into a discussion of sexual selection:

No race or body of men has been so completely subjugated by other men, as that certain individuals should be preserved, and thus unconsciously selected, from somehow excelling in utility to their masters. Nor have certain male and female individuals been intentionally picked out and matched, except in the well-known case of the Prussian grenadiers; and in this case man obeyed, as might have been expected, the law of methodical selection; for it is asserted that many tall men were reared in the villages inhabited by the grenadiers and their tall wives. In Sparta, also, a form of selection was followed, for it was enacted that all children should be examined shortly after birth; the well-formed and vigorous being preserved, the others left to perish. (13. Mitford's 'History of Greece,' vol. i. p. 282. It appears also from a passage in Xenophon's 'Memorabilia,' B. ii. 4 (to which my attention has been called by the Rev. J.N. Hoare), that it was a well recognised principle with the Greeks, that men ought to select their wives with a view to the health and vigour of their children. The Grecian poet, Theognis, who lived 550 B.C., clearly saw how important selection, if carefully applied, would be for the improvement of mankind. He saw, likewise, that wealth often checks the proper action of sexual selection. 

And that's hardly the only mention of allegedly hygenic infanticide in the book.  Just casually, I counted  about ten other assertions of the idea from numerous, named ethnic groups around the world, and probably missed more in the book.   As so often with Darwin, there is massive and leading advocacy for an idea countered with a brief assertion of the ideas wickedness.  And he does in a word or phrase in a handful of them.   Here, though, is how he deals with the opposition that this kind of advocacy provoked:

 It may be well first to premise that I do not wish to maintain that any strictly social animal, if its intellectual faculties were to become as active and as highly developed as in man, would acquire exactly the same moral sense as ours. In the same manner as various animals have some sense of beauty, though they admire widely-different objects, so they might have a sense of right and wrong, though led by it to follow widely different lines of conduct. If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering. (6. Mr. H. Sidgwick remarks, in an able discussion on this subject (the 'Academy,' June 15, 1872, p. 231), "a superior bee, we may feel sure, would aspire to a milder solution of the population question." Judging, however, from the habits of many or most savages, man solves the problem by female infanticide, polyandry and promiscuous intercourse; therefore it may well be doubted whether it would be by a milder method. Miss Cobbe, in commenting ('Darwinism in Morals,' 'Theological Review,' April 1872, pp. 188-191) on the same illustration, says, the PRINCIPLES of social duty would be thus reversed; and by this, I presume, she means that the fulfilment of a social duty would tend to the injury of individuals; but she overlooks the fact, which she would doubtless admit, that the instincts of the bee have been acquired for the good of the community. She goes so far as to say that if the theory of ethics advocated in this chapter were ever generally accepted, "I cannot but believe that in the hour of their triumph would be sounded the knell of the virtue of mankind!" It is to be hoped that the belief in the permanence of virtue on this earth is not held by many persons on so weak a tenure.) Nevertheless, the bee, or any other social animal, would gain in our supposed case, as it appears to me, some feeling of right or wrong, or a conscience. For each individual would have an inward sense of possessing certain stronger or more enduring instincts, and others less strong or enduring; so that there would often be a struggle as to which impulse should be followed; and satisfaction, dissatisfaction, or even misery would be felt, as past impressions were compared during their incessant passage through the mind. In this case an inward monitor would tell the animal that it would have been better to have followed the one impulse rather than the other. The one course ought to have been followed, and the other ought not; the one would have been right and the other wrong; but to these terms I shall recur. 

It is amazing how after reading Haeckel's advocacy of infanticide in History of Creation and in a book where Darwin goes on and on about the hygenic virtues of infanticide, his answer to "Miss Cobbe" is:

It is to be hoped that the belief in the permanence of virtue on this earth is not held by many persons on so weak a tenure.

Darwin is seldom accused of cynicism but if that isn't a cynical, condescending answer to Miss Cobbe's calling depravity depraved,  then it is a word that has lost its meaning.   In the same paragraph, and in a book in which he, over and over again, presents things such as infanticide as racial hygiene and things like vaccination and aid to the poor and the disabled as catastrophically dysgenic,that sentence is placed there for cover should anyone so presumptuous as "Miss Cobbe" point out what effect the book, if taken seriously, AS SCIENCE, would have.    Of course, history proved that Miss Cobbe's prediction was a bit more accurate than would justify Darwin's condescension.

I could point out many other problems with Darwin in that paragraph, especially Darwin's clear intention of trying to make moral objections to what he said seem ridiculous by mixing them up with absurd fantasies about bees, but I will go on to look at this idea as Haeckel went with it.

So, in the Descent of Man, Darwin's answer to Haeckel's The History of Creation, there was confirmation of his contentions about infanticide's beneficial effects, with many more examples asserted,  And there are a few easily dismissed mentions that it was a wicked thing, for the Miss Cobbes of the world.  What was Haeckel to think but that Darwin had validated his idea by his nonexistent scientific opposition to it*?   Here is a later assertion of infanticide, extended by Haeckel.   If the passage seems to be an extremely disturbing premonition of events in the next forty years of German history to you,  it should.

In our day the number of lunatics in civilized countries is, on the average, five-sixths per thousand. If the total population of Europe is put at three hundred and ninety to four hundred millions, we have at least two million lunatics among them, and of these more than two hundred thousand are incurable. What an enormous mass of suffering these figures indicate for the invalids themselves, and what a vast amount of trouble and sorrow for their families, what a huge private and public expenditure! How much of this pain and expense could be spared if people could make up their minds to free the incurable from their indescribable torments by a dose of morphia! 

Naturally this act of kindness should not be left to the discretion of an individual physician, but be determined by a commission of competent and conscientious medical men. So, in the case of other incurables and great sufferers (from cancer, for instance), the "redemption from evil” should only be accomplished by a dose of some painless and rapid poison when they have expressed a deliberate wish (to be afterward juridically proved) for this, and under the control of an authoritative commission. 

The ancient Spartans owed a good deal of their famous bravery, their bodily strength and beauty, as well their mental energy and capacity, to the old custom of doing away with new-born children who were born weakly or crippled. We find the same custom today among many savage races. When I pointed out the advantages of this Spartan selection for the improvement of the race in 1868 (chapter vii. of the History of Creation) there was a storm of pious indignation in the religious journals, as always happens when pure reason ventures to oppose the current prejudices and traditional beliefs. But I ask: What good does, it do to humanity to maintain artificially and rear the thousands cripples, deaf-mutes, idiots, etc., who are born every year with an hereditary burden of incurable disease  Is it not better and more rational to cut off from first this unavoidable misery which their poor lives bring to themselves and their families?
Ernst Haeckel: "Wonders of Life" 1904 Trans. Joseph McCabe

Notice how Haeckel mixes an act of self determination, suicide in the face of the greatest and most hopeless of suffering, into advocacy for the murder of "cripples, deaf-mutes, idiots, etc."   That is an obvious attempt to palliate that he is promoting mass murder for the purpose of racial hygiene, as it would have been called in Germany even then.

You have to wonder if Darwin had severely and publicly criticized Haeckel's completely non-science based advocacy of infanticide in The History of Creation instead of giving the book his unreserved praise and advocacy if Haeckel might have been somewhat discouraged from perusing that kind of "public understanding of science" instead of extending the list of those to be killed.   Instead, he poked at Miss Cobbe's fear that someone might take his "science" seriously, applying it in real life.  And history shows that Miss Cobbe was right.

*  Darwin would also have been informed of Haeckel's intention to overturn conventional morality through  reading The History of Creation by the time he wrote The Descent of Man.  Haeckel was already scornful of present morality in such matters in that book.  There is no reason that Darwin could have expected his mild as milk assertions of morality would have deterred Haeckel - you can read how Darwin characterized his writing in earlier sections of this series.  Darwin could not have been unaware of how Haeckel and other early Darwinists in Germany were drawing such conclusions from The Origin of Species, where Darwin, himself, had gone no where near as far as he did in Descent of Man.

Note:  I am aware of who Joseph McCabe was and will probably write a post about his advocacy of Haeckel's late works.  But that isn't the topic of this series.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Note about Documentary Evidence and Primary Sources

Having written several posts on Darwin's place in the history of eugenics, Social Darwinism and related matters during the past six years, one of the most common dodges his champions will make is that you've provided "no evidence".  That, even as entire paragraphs and sections of books, citations and links to books and letters BY CHARLES DARWIN, the same from Galton, Haeckel, Leonard Darwin, Francis Darwin, and others are right there on the post attached to where the automatic dodge of "no evidence" is made.  That, along with the recently invented phrase "quote mining" are the first line of defense of the Darwin myth among those who can't argue his record*.

As I mention in my response to that charge in the comments this morning,  documentary evidence is not the same as the physical evidence that science is based on.  That difference isn't because the evidence of science is superior, in some ways documentary evidence could be considered better.  One of the most important of those ways is that documentary evidence of the kind I'm using has little of the ambiguity of physical evidence.   A written document is made to transmit information, it is made intentionally to inform the reader of what the writer intended to say.  That is not something that can be said about physical evidence which must be interpreted to achieve even part of that level of meaning.

That Charles Darwin said something in a book or letter can be known to within the range of absolute certainty.  That he said it more than once can be as well and that magnifies the level of certainty that what was said was what he meant.  And there is a very good reason to go farther than that.   That he said so in scientific citations in a book he intended to be taken as having the reliability of science is about as strong a proof as possible that he agrees with what is said, especially when he cited it with gushing enthusiasm, as he did with both Galton and Haeckel.  A scientist, speaking as a scientist,  must be accountable for an even greater level of certainty.  That must be held as the price for the, at times inflated, reputation science  and scientists enjoy**.   That Charles Darwin said those things and that his approval is approval, is known to within a much narrower range of possible error than almost anything that he ever used to support natural selection.

What Darwin said constitutes the primary record about his career and his thinking.  What Galton said, what Schallmeyer and Haeckel said about their work is the primary source information relevant to knowing what they said, what they wrote and what they thought and, most importantly, advocated through those texts.  Anything honest said about that will have to be based, at the first instance, on their own words.  Secondary material doesn't carry the same evidentiary power as the primary material and, in this matter, it is frequently polluted with ideological and professional twisting and, I strongly suspect, the knowledge that whenever Charles Darwin's eugenics, racism, class consciousness, sexism etc. are mentioned the Darwin Industry machine will attack.

That said, I don't think historians are nearly assertive enough in supporting the validity of their best work, the work in which they report with as little bias as possible, what the documentary record shows.   I think the best of history has to stand as at least as good as the best of science in the representation of reality.  That history deals with an entirely more complicated range of  life and phenomena than science makes it extremely important, especially in regard to human conduct, individually and collectively.  That makes history extremely important.  Something I think historians should remember in their relationship with science, which is not able to address the same range of things.  Especially with arrogant scientists.  I don't think historians need to be cowed by the prestige of science.  The entirely reputation of science is based in its ability to, sometimes, give us information of great reliability about the physical universe.   But history can produce at least the same level of reliability.   There are things in the historical record that can be settled to a certainty rare in science.  If historians are met with scientific arrogance, that should be their answer.

It is absolutely certain that Darwin said what he said in The Descent of Man, taking account changing material in different editions.  He is responsible for the editions of his work that were made under his care, he said what he said in them, he said what he said in letters that exist in his hand.  When he says something more than once, the primary record confirms itself.  When Darwin said something and he didn't retract it, it stays said for as long as anyone can read what he said.

* The traditional practice of objecting to dishonest and incomplete quotation used to be fought by presenting fuller quotes or a large context.  That, though, requires familiarity with the subject matter being disputed.  Habitually reciting the term "quote mining" as is done on so many science blogs, should be seen for what it is, a lazy, ill informed shortcut that as easily distorts the  actual record as it does even identifying an actual act of dishonest quotation.   After having seen how it is used I never see or hear it without suspecting the person saying it is too ignorant to be discussing the topic.  As I noted in my post linked to at the beginning of this piece, it is something that Darwin seems to have done, himself and that the Wikipedia article on "quote mining", itself, contains a major instance of it.

** Anyone who is held to be a representative of the truth, anyone who takes that on as a profession, must be held to that level of honesty and sincerity.  Judges, prosecutors, clergy.... all of them should be held to that standard of honesty because they present their positions as being that honest.

Got Meetings Today

It's the beginning of the school year here, I've got  obligations that will prevent me from completing any of the posts I have in process today.  I will try to post either tonight or tomorrow.

Looking over what I've written the past two weeks, I've got to repeat one of the first things I learned when I took up online writing, 

a man who acts as his own editor has a blogger for a client.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Darwin and Haeckel 3

Haeckel and Darwin

Darwin and Haeckel 1
Darwin and Haeckel 2

If Charles Darwin had never heard of Ernst Haeckel or written to him or confirmed his understanding of natural selection, or encouraged him, endorsed his books, cited him positively in his scientific writing, or hosted him at Down,  he could still be responsible for inspiring Haeckel's version of evolution, his scientific racism, his eugenics and other things up till the end of Haeckel's life.   All that would take to prove that Darwin had inspired Haeckel is for Haeckel to say he had.   And he did from his early writings, lectures ....  right up to the end.   And Darwin did do all of those things.  Darwin knew that Haeckel was his foremost proponent in Germany, perhaps on the European continent.  He knew and said that Haeckel's promotion of Darwinism was important for its spread.  He knew what Haeckel was saying about him and  he knew that Haeckel's work was being read.  No conditional "what if" is relevant because Darwin, himself, left the record that ties him directly and intentionally to Ernst Haeckel.   The only way to deny that is to lie about it.

In an earlier post I gave an extremely startling passage from Haeckel's "The History of Creation  (Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte)":

This final triumph of the monistic conception of nature constitutes the highest and most general merit of the Theory of Descent, as reformed by Darwin.

As Darwin proved in his citation of the book, already noted here, he had read "The History of Creation" and gave it his enthusiastic endorsement.   He would have had to have read that sentence,  a sentence that contained his name and gave Darwin a superlative endorsement,  attributing the "final triumph of the monistic conception of nature" to him.    As I noted,  E. Ray Lankester, whose translation I took that passage from, a translation made during Darwin's lifetime,  was a longtime correspondent and colleague of Charles Darwin.  I cannot imagine that  if he suspected that passage could have been inaccurate, he wouldn't  have checked with Darwin - who was at the height of his fame and who was jealous for his reputation -  and corrected it accordingly.

If Darwin misunderstood what Haeckel meant by "monistic" he could not have remained in confusion as Haeckel talks about it quite a bit in the next chapters of "The History of Creation".

I have looked at many of Haeckel's books, some in German, some in English as well and find similar citations of Darwin all through his books, including one of his most infamous books,  "Monism as Connecting  Religion and Science".   In 1892, ten years after Darwin's death,  Haeckel showed just how much of his thought he attributed to Darwin's influence. It is incendiary and I know it will be controversial to cite it, but the record is there to be read by anyone.  The record being there is all the justification anyone needs to cite it.

And  I will point out that Darwin is the one who told Haeckel that "I am delighted that so distinguished a Naturalist should confirm & expound my views, and I can clearly see that you are one of the few who clearly understand Natural Selection"  in 1865,  less than thirty years before he presented the book as a lecture.  And that through the rest of Darwin's life,  he poured praise on Haeckel and what he was writing.  Darwin had not retracted his earliest endorsement of Haeckel but repeated it in private, by letter, and in the form of SCIENTIFIC CITATIONS up till the end of his life.

Here is the passage:

These considerations gain in force when we advance to the deeper knowledge of nature acquired by modern biology; here it was Darwin, especially, who thirty-three years ago opened our eyes by his doctrine of the struggle for existence, and his theory of selection founded upon it. We now know that the whole of organic nature on our planet exists only by a relentless war of all against all. Thousands of animals and plants must daily perish in every part of the earth, in order that a few chosen individuals may continue to subsist and to enjoy life. But even the existence of these favoured few is a continual conflict with threatening dangers of every kind. Thousands of hopeful germs perish uselessly every minute. The raging war of interests in human society is only a feeble picture of the unceasing and terrible war of existence which reigns throughout the whole of the living world. The beautiful dream of God's goodness and wisdom in nature, to which as children we listened so devoutly fifty years ago, no longer finds credit now—at least among educated people who think. It has disappeared before our deeper acquaintance with the mutual relations of organisms, the advancement of oecology and sociology, and our knowledge of parasite life and pathology.

All these sad but insuperable facts—truly the dark side of nature—are made intelligible to religious faith by amphitheism; they are the "works of the devil," who opposes and disturbs the perfect moral order in the world of the "good God." For pure monotheism which knows only one God, one perfect highest being, they remain unintelligible. If, with a monotheistic creed, any one still continues to talk of the moral order of the world, he in so doing shuts his eyes to the undeniable facts of history, both natural and civil.
Lecture given October 9, 1892, at Altenburg

As in the case of Darwin's enthusiastic endorsements of Galton's early eugenics, it will take the discovery of a complete repudiation of Haeckel's monism, his racism, his eugenics, his depravity, to get Darwin off of the Haeckel hook. Haeckel's word is all that is needed to identify Darwin as his inspiration, but, again as with Galton, Darwin, himself, provided the confirmation that Haeckel was not misrepresenting Darwin.  Darwin encouraged Haeckel's boldness in expressing his views.  As he gave Haeckel the highest praise in scientific citations, presenting what Haeckel wrote as extremely reliable information,  I don't think anything short of as public and grave a repudiation would get Darwin off.  Nor should he get off without it.  And if such a repudiation existed, it would be trumpeted non-stop by those who want to distance Darwin from Haeckel.

There is no reason a mere ten years after Darwin's death that Haeckel shouldn't have still believed he still stood as one of the "few who clearly understand Natural Selection" and that he would no longer have had Darwin's delight in confirming and expounding his views boldly.  Considering what he said in General Morphology, History of Creation and other books and articles which Darwin had praised and not criticized, there is no reason for Haeckel to believe what he said in that lecture would not have also met with Darwin's approval.   If someone else had asserted that it would have been disapproved by Darwin,  Haeckel had letters and endorsements enough to have asserted his superior credibility to all, except, perhaps, Thomas Huxley.  And Thomas Huxley was also praising Haeckel, not damning him.

If Darwin was nervous about or had rejected what was being derived from his ideas during his lifetime, in books and articles we know him to have read,  it was up to him to say so.   With his death, that record of statements or of unretracted endorsements has to stand as his final word on the matter.   No one can do that for Darwin posthumously.  I'm unaware of anyone who knew him who did.  And they would have had to present the same record to credibly do so.

Update:  In one of my old notebooks I came across a reference to this passage from Haeckel's 1899 lecture,  "The Last Link: Our Present Knowledge of the Descent of Man."

The immense significance of this positive knowledge of the origin of man from some Primate does not require to be enforced. Its bearing upon the highest questions of philosophy cannot be exaggerated. Among modern philosophers no one has perceived this more deeply than Herbert Spencer.* He is one of those older thinkers who before Darwin were convinced that the theory of development is the only way to solve the   enigma of the world. Spencer is also the champion of those evolutionists who lay the greatest weight upon progressive heredity, or the much combated heredity of acquired characters. From the first he has severely attacked and criticised the theories of Weismann, who denies this most important factor of phylogeny, and would explain the whole of transformism by the c all-sufficiency of selection.  In England the theories of Weismann were received with enthusiastic acclamation, much more so than on the Continent, and they were called  “Neo-Darwinism” in opposition to the older conception of Evolution, or “Neo-Lamarckism.” 

Neither of those expressions is correct. Darwin himself was convinced of the fundamental importance of progressive heredity quite as much as his great predecessor Lamarck; as were also Huxley and Spencer. 

Three times I had the good fortune to visit Darwin at Down, and on each occasion we discussed this fundamental question in complete harmony. I agree with Spencer in the conviction that progressive heredity is an indispensable factor in every true monistic theory of Evolution, and that it is one of its most important elements. If one denies with Weismann the heredity of acquired characters, then it becomes necessary to have recourse to purely mystical qualities of germ-plasm. I am of the opinion of Spencer, that in that case it would be better to accept a mysterious creation of all the various species as described in the Mosaic account.

If you want to deny that's what Darwin agreed to in his private conversations with Haeckel, you've got the considerable problem of not having been there. No rational person would consider, given the evidence from first hand observation, that Darwin was unaware of Haeckel's monism, as he was still articulating it in 1899.  Though, in the context of my notes, I think it was Spencer I was looking into when it was taken down.

The Popular Misunderstanding of the Huxley - Wilberforce Debate

Evolution is a retrospective science,  looking for information about things that happened in the past over a period of billions of years.   In the generalizations made from those, it can be lost that evolution was made of actual organisms and their lives that actually happened and left a lasting result in the entire history of life up to now.   That real past can't be known from making up scenarios out of theories, whatever can be known with any reliability about that real past is in the real, physical evidence that is left of it.  Fossils, of course, structural comparisons based on those in consultation with observations of living organisms, survivals of sequences in organic molecules, shared within living organisms and what can be recovered from those already long dead.

In concentrating on aspects of the enormous number of details of this most complex and gigantic of scientific studies, in which the subtlest of details can be of crucial importance, the simple fact that you're talking about plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc. which really lived, survived, left descendants etc. all in environments and habitats and in interaction with other living beings is often forgotten.  Evolution is made of events as every day and actual as our immediate lives and the lives we read about in the newspaper.

You'd think that, of all scientists, evolutionary biologists would be the most appreciative of the fact that historical accuracy is crucial to knowing the truth.   But the opposite is the case, especially these days.  Historical fiction is wildly inserted into biology and from there to other sciences, real and so-called, and it's considered to be just as good as the truth because, you see, it's solidly based in natural selection.  This assumption that you can make up anything in the absence of evidence and make it true by coming up with some assertion of natural selection is the original sin of Darwinism, something that began almost immediately, as the historical and "scientific" record proves.  Darwin engaged in it, himself, and promoted it.  Darwin used generalized narratives when he didn't have evidence.   That is also clear from reading  The Descent of Man.

Evolution consists of a continual stream of events in the lives of organisms.  Those events and organisms were as real, the events as actual and specific as anything in your daily experience.  As real as reality.  More real than fiction, which has no real part in evolution.  Not as science, in any case.

Today one is supposed to look at the earliest opponents of Darwinism and see them as ignorant, religious, yahoos.  That some of them were among the most accomplished scientists of their day, whose work is still used, such as Rudolph Virchow, is seldom presented.   In the cases I've looked at, much of the scientific opposition to Darwinism was based in its lack of a mechanism of inheritance and the propensity of  people like Haeckel, those who presented Darwinism "boldly", as Darwin put it, to make stuff up when there was no evidence.  Considering how soon the Darwinists were using Darwinism ideologically and even politically, to assert some truly horrible things, the citation of its deficiencies was anything but unenlightened.  It does the truth a disservice to lie about the legitimate concerns of those who expressed opposition to Darwinism within science.  Considering what the Darwinists, themselves were saying about the political, social and ideological revolution that Darwinism incited and the subsequent political use of it, those citing the deficiencies in Darwinism in the early decades can seem prophetic, even if they were also wrong about some aspects of evolution.  Every single person writing on the topic in the 19th century seems to have gotten something wrong about it.

That lack of evidence in the 1860s plays an important part in one of the mainstays of the Darwin mythology, the smack down of Bishop Wilberforce by Darwin's bull dog, Thomas Huxley.

Just as most people seem to know what they think they know about the Scopes trial from watching Inherit the Wind,  many people think they know the story of how Thomas Huxley struck the decisive blow for Darwinism when he put the uppity, arrogant Bishop Wilberforce in his place.   Exactly how he did that might get lost in the BBC costume* drama that likely constitutes their entire knowledge of the events and issues but they'll know how they're supposed to feel about it.   I figured that account was how it happened until I read J. R. Lucas's article looking at the historical pedigree of the tale as it comes down to us and as the British educated class loves to repeat in a growing number of TV shows and movies about Darwin as a mascot of atheism.   I will just leave it at recommending that if you think you know all about it, you'll find out you don't from reading Lucas.

Do read Lucas, and don't miss the other things he wrote  that are relevant to his article.   His proof that, despite what they seem to want everyone to believe, mathematical logicians don't get to have free will while depriving everyone else of it, makes me smile.

* "The Voyage of Charles Darwin," from the late 1970s comes to mind with the death of Neil Armstrong, who introduced it on TV  in the United States.   The  Wilberforce episode was handled very shortly and entirely according to the myth, leaving out,  that Wilberforce was not an ignorant cleric but someone who Darwin said had found all of the weak points in the first edition of On the Origin of Species, in  the Bishop's review of it.   Wilberforce was a fellow of the Royal Society, after all.   Darwin took Wilberforce seriously enough that he addressed some of his points in future editions,  as I said elsewhere,  Haeckel seems to have chided Darwin for doing so, believing he made his case weaker.

I should add, I've seen photos from the period.  Darwin and Huxley did not look like Malcolm Stoddard and Joseph Blatchley did in the late 70s.  They were, seriously, trolls.  Wilberforce was too, just to be fair.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Darwin's Response to Gaskell Was Not a Rejection of Negative Eugenics

Aside from the "aid we feel impelled to give" paragraph from The Descent of Man which I discussed at the end of  my post "The People,"  one of the more common life preservers thrown to the eugenics-free Darwin is his answer to G. A. Gaskell's  eugenic proposal, sent to Darwin in a long letter.   Most often I've seen a short section of Darwin's letter, closely clipped,  with a claim that this proves he rejected eugenics.  I don't think I've ever seen any of G. A. Gaskell's letter or Darwin's entire response used in his defense.

However, if the entire correspondence is read, it becomes clear that Gaskell's proposal that people held to be unfit  be taught and required to use birth control, was what Darwin was objecting to.  And it's not because he thinks preventing them from procreating is a terrible violation of their rights.  That's quite clear in his letter, especially as, other than that, he encourages Gaskell.

I am glad that you intend to continue your investigations, and I hope ultimately may publish on the subject.

But when it comes to birth control (the subject heading in the book change to "Artificial Birth Control" on the page that Gaskel responds to Darwin) here's what Darwin said:

If it were universally known that the birth of children could be prevented, and this was not thought immoral by married persons, would there not be great danger of extreme profligacy amongst unmarried women, and might we not become like to "arreois" societies in the Pacific?

It's clear that Darwin was scandalized by birth control.  In his official biography of Francis Galton,  Karl Pearson confirms that interpretation.

"Darwin strongly supported Galton's opinion" [against birth control] "Life Letters and Labours of Francis Galton", volume 2,  p.111]

Darwin does say that he is skeptical that the time is ripe for Galton's proposals for marriage restriction.  What the difference between Galtons and George Darwin's proposals he had supported five years earlier, isn't specified in anything I've yet found.

Other than that, Darwin's letter, read in light of his belief that "civilised men" are bound to dominate the earth upon the extinction of the "savages", as he explicitly states in The Descent of Man, tis fully on display.

Suppose that such checks had been in action during the last two or three centuries, or even for a shorter time in Britain, what a difference it would have made in the world, when we consider America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa ! No words can exaggerate the importance, in my opinion, of our colonization for the future history of the world.

Notice the phrase "such checks".   In the context of the correspondence, that can only mean that the unfit had been kept from having children for the "last two or three centuries or even a shorter time in Britain".   Short of outright extermination, some kind of eugenics program or infanticide (which I will write on) must have been what Darwin had in mind.   And notice that he believes that the "future history of the world" would  rest on "our colonization", meaning the Brits.

In Gaskell's first letter, he notes that his proposal, negative eugenics though it would be, is considerably less violent than the struggle for existence that is the alternative contemplated by Darwin and his followers:

In conclusion, I submit, the birth of the fittest offers a much milder solution of the population difficulty, than the survival of the fittest and the destruction of the weak.

Note that Darwin seems to make reference to his "aid" paragraph in Descent of Man, here:

I just alluded to it in my remarks to the effect (as far as I remember) that the evils which would follow by checking benevolence and sympathy in not fostering the weak and diseased would be greater than by allowing them to survive and then to procreate.

As I pointed out before, Darwin undercut the case for not checking benevolence three or four times as he made a show of asserting it.  Only to continue to undercut it in page after page of that long book after he made that gesture.  Clearly Gaskell didn't find that sufficiently reassuring, as no rational person who believed Darwin would.

While it's clear that Darwin wants to blow off Gaskell, clearly not wanting to deal with birth control,  Gaskell is entirely justified in pointing out that Darwin, himself, has stated that the alternative is "survival of the fittest and the destruction of the weak".   Eugenicist that he is, you've got to grant that Gaskell said it, outright.   And it's clear that Darwin found it easier to contemplate a violent and desperate struggle in which the "weak" would be destroyed than that single women might enjoy having sex without fear of pregnancy.  I suppose I should pretend I'm surprised that he isn't so worried about the virtue of single men, but I won't.

Here is the entire correspondence as published in:

Scientific Meliorism and the Evolution of Happiness by Jane Hume Clapperton 
Appendix to Chapter XVIII,  p337

I AM enabled to place before my readers the following interesting correspondence.

November 13th 1878.

Charles Darwin, Esq.,

You have so often invited correspondence on the subjects treated of in your most valuable books, that I trust you will pardon this liberty I, a perfect stranger to you, venture to take, of offering for your consideration some thoughts mainly originated by your writings.

For many years I have been accustomed to think sadly of the present condition and probable future of the human race. The works of Malthus and J. S. Mill, your own works, and some others, have so clearly pointed out the evils under which man strives, and how slow and cruel in their action are various forces that tend to better his condition, that it is with a great feeling of relief I have quite recently been brought to believe that there are forces at work of which I had previously little conception, which will in a comparatively short time, and in a wholly admirable manner, bring about that state of things which is so earnestly to be desired.

You say (in " The Descent of Man "), " It is impossible not to regret bitterly, but whether wisely is another question, the rate at which man tends to increase ; " and further, that man " has no right to expect an immunity from the evils consequent on the struggle for existence." In regard to this last, with all respect, I am glad to be able to say, I, in great part, differ from you. I think, from the advance of civilization, which is so much a conquest over nature, and the growth of altruism, we have reason to hope for this immunity ; and as I now think we can have it without any deterioration of race and decline of virtue, I am free to think it wise to
regret the continuance of the pressure of population on comfort and subsistence.

It is my duty to be concise in what I have to say, in order to take up as little of your time as possible, in case my ideas should be worthless ; but I hope in the very short statement of the main results at which I have arrived, I shall still be able to make myself understood.

I believe I can point out, as now in action, two important laws of Race, to add to the one already so fully displayed by yourself. They are both naturally destructive of the action of the first law which is Natural Selection ; and the last, which is now in the first stages of evolution, annuls as it grows the action of the two
preceding ones.

They each have existence for the same reason, viz. that they tend to greater adaptability of race with conditions, or greater strength against the forces which environ. I summarize these laws as follows : —

The three great laws of Race Preservation in their natural order of sequence in evolution are —

First, the Organological Law — Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest

Second, the Sociological Law — Sympathetic Selection, or Indiscriminate Survival

Third, the Moral Law — Social Selection, or the Birth of the Fittest.

These three laws arise naturally and gradually out of the conditions which precede each.

The first is the Physical Law, which governs all organisms in which no form of sympathy is yet developed ; it tends to greater strength in the unit or more adaptability of the individual to its conditions.

The second is the Psychological Law, which necessarily arises with the growth of sympathy, and is the natural opponent of the first, which it gradually supersedes. It tends to greater strength and adaptability in the aggregate, but to less strength and health in the unit.

The third is the Judicial Law, evolved as a rule of conscience for well-being. It gradually annuls the preceding laws while combining their beneficial results, on the basis of tending to greater strength and health, both in the aggregate and in the unit. It is the final outcome of Human Evolution in the order of forces governing race propagation. It is necessarily evolved in the mind by the interaction of reason and sympathy, and its development proceeds on the fact of artificial birth-control, unopposed to the force of sexual passion which otherwise would, with the weaker individuals, most certainly be too powerful to permit its action.

Of the first of these laws I need say nothing, except that I have been so bold as to name it " Organological."

Of the second I may say, I have formulated it from a consideration of much in your writings, especially of chapters iii., iv., and v., in the " Descent of Man," of portions in the writings of Mr. Herbert Spencer, Mr. A. R. Wallace, Mr. F. Gallon, Mr. W. R. Greg, and others. Natural Selection was evidently defeated, and yet species continued to flourish ; so it seemed evident to me that a new law had been evolved, and this I set myself to discover. The word sympathy I have used in a wide sense, and as the quality meant has, as you point out, been most probably developed through natural selection, it exists in varying degrees of strength.

Of the reality of the third law there will be most dispute. That its evolution is proceeding, I cannot myself see reason to doubt; and that it is destined to act a most beneficent part in the future of mankind, I firmly believe.

As instance of its solution I may mention the growing opinion that it is wrong for consumptive people and persons inclined to insanity and epilepsy to marry ; the opinion, becoming more and more prevalent, that it is wrong to have more children than can be brought up well ; the opinion that celibacy is an evil, and that
asceticism is absurd ; that the sexual passion is at the spring of much that is noble in life, and is nothing to be ashamed of, but requires only to be regulated ; the inference that in no case is it wrong to apply knowledge to guard against natural evils, so long as no injury devolves on others by so doing ; the conclusion that
procreation is perhaps of all social actions the most important, and ought therefore to be most seriously regarded, and effected only under moral conditions ; the opinion that tendency to vice is hereditary, and that it would be best for society if confirmed criminals were "put compendiously under water." And finally I may
refer to the present painful conflict betweeh reason and sympathy relative to the preservation of the weak and incompetent while they propagate their stock to the injury of posterity.

I think the extending force of the practice of the arts preventive of conception is in proportion to the capability in these arts of increasing adaptation to conditions within and without the human organism.

If it is a fact that they do increase this adaptability, it appears to me certain that their practice will increase to the extent of society.

The prejudice against them founds itself on the belief that they are in themselves immoral, or of immoral tendency, because social instinct is against them. But social instinct has, as you justly point out, been developed in favour of the general good of the species; it follows, then, that if the general good conflicts eventually with an instinct, instinct will in time have to adjust itself to the new conditions.

A physiological fact having relation to man and society is one among other factors in the determination of morals. The concealment cannot be defended ; and if the knowledge of it is of use, it is hopeless to expect any attempt at concealment to be effectual.

If it be true that these arts do not increase adaptability to conditions, I see not how their manifest spread can be accounted for.

I think their action is rapidly becoming a sociological fact of the gravest importance, which cannot be left out of consideration in any speculation on social tendencies. I need but refer to France and its extraordinary statistics of births in relation to marriages.

I gather that you fear mach reduced social pressure would result in indolence. I submit that indolence is more a physical weakness than an acquired habit, and cannot, I think, be increased under ** Birth of the Fittest" To those who love children will be left the task of bringing them up. This love is hereditary, and will increase
by survival, and become a presiding force. It may not be Utopian to expect that some day a medical certificate may be required to define the rectitude of adding a new member to society. The weak in body or mind may be cared for and protected so long as they conform to the social mandate not to continue their race. They may, to use Professor Mantegazza's* words, "love, but must not have offspring."

In conclusion, I submit, the birth of the fittest offers a much milder solution of the population difficulty, than the survival of the fittest and the destruction of the weak.

I feel I take a liberty in speaking of any subject about which you must know so much more than I do. If I have been so fortunate as to make a true generalization, you will see it as such without many words from me.

My present intention is to further develop these ideas as long as I think them true.

I am, sir, with much esteem.

Yours truly,

G. A. Gaskell.

Down, Beckenham, Kent,

November 15th, 1878.
Dear Sir,

Your letter seems to me very interesting and clearly expressed and I hope that you are in the right

Your second law appears to be largely acted on in all civilized countries, and I just alluded to it in my remarks to the effect (as far as I remember) that the evils which would follow by checking benevolence and sympathy in not fostering the weak and diseased would be greater than by allowing them to survive and then to procreate.

With respect to your third law, I do not know whether you have read an article (I forget when published) by F. Galton, in which he proposes certificates of health, etc., for marriage, and that the best should be matched.

I have lately been led to reflect a little (for now that I am growing old, my work has become merely special) on the artificial checks to increase, and I cannot but doubt greatly, whether such would be advantageous to the world at large at present, however it may be in the distant future.

Suppose that such checks had been in action during the last two or three centuries, or even for a shorter time in Britain, what a difference it would have made in the world, when we consider America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa ! No words can exaggerate the importance, in my opinion, of our colonization for the future history of the world.

If it were universally known that the birth of children could be prevented, and this was not thought immoral by married persons, would there not be great danger of extreme profligacy amongst unmarried women, and might we not become like to "arreois" societies in the Pacific?

In the course of a century, France will tell us the result in many ways. We can already see that the French nation does not spread or increase much.

I am glad that you intend to continue your investigations, and I hope ultimately may publish on the subject.

I beg leave to remain, dear Sir,

Yours faithfully,

Ch. Darwin.

P.S. — This note is badly expressed and written, but I have not time or strength to re-write it

November 20rh, 1878.
Dear Sir,

I beg to thank you for your most courteous and encouraging letter. I shall devote particular attention to the points you raise, which are most important, though extremely difficult to deal with.

The very strength of the popular fear lest these new checks should lead to immorality, gives me some confidence that the human mind, so long trained in favour of that which tends to social order, will be able to withstand the greater license of new conditions without relapse.

Social change being evolutional is gradual ; such disorder as may be prompted must therefore arise in detail, while social order obtains in the mass ; disorder is disorganization, destruction of itself. I cannot conceive of the present order not being able to withstand the small corroding tendencies of disorder met in detail
surely it will outlive them.

The " arreois " societies are societies for death, not life ; they are social suicides. The libertine and selfish natures, in furthering their own ends, will, I trust, further their own destruction, and so be eliminated from society, while order survives.

If I could conceive disorder to arise at one time from numerous centres, and grow in corrosive power until the combination of order should be destroyed by it, then would I fear the extinction of the human race ; but disorder is of fitful growth and crumbles as it grows.

Without, I hope, overlooking the importance of colonization, there is much, I think, in what Mr. W. R. Greg says in his essay on " The Obligations of the Soil."

Colonization if slower would have one advantage — that it would be less painful. There is something about colonization at present, which reminds me of a panic in an assembly, where the people get jammed in the doorway. Subsistence is so difficult, that is, food is so dear, that emigrants may often view the fertile land they cannot
cultivate for want of capital, or a year's provisions, and so be forced to turn away and starve. High pressure sometimes defeats its own ends.

There is certainly one great danger in lessened fertility of some races, viz. that the pressure of other races upon them might extinguish them. The lessened fertility commences in the races which are stronger socially ; I trust they will endure. The nations guided by reason, could not long submit to having their standard of com-
fort lowered or their means lessened by the influx of an inferior race. I trust little to legislation, but its most useful action may some day be to preserve a civilized nation against the social encroachments of an uncivilized.

It was only that I could not find that what I call the law of sympathetic selection was formulated, that I ventured to draw attention to it. It is, as you point out, alluded to in your writings, and I am glad of the confirmation you give me.

The sympathetic are protective of their kind : the unsocial are left less protected. The law which might be called the survival of the sympathetic (the fittest socially) is a law oi protection and survival, conducing to the compactness of the social organism, and therefore to existence. Natural selection is a law of destruction
and survival.

I am hopeful that dispassionate study may help us to the resolution of several important questions. What I submit to you, I submit with much diffidence. I beg you will not let any feeling of courtesy lead you to reply to this letter ; I should be sorry to seem to give you this trouble, and much regret the state of your health.

I beg to remain, dear Sir, Yours truly,

G. A. Gaskell.

Charles Darwin, Esq.

*  Paolo Mantegazza, another eugenicist and correspondent of Darwin who attributed his eugenics to him.

Note:  Many of those who currently have a mythical conception of Charles Darwin as some kind of freethinking radical, oppressed by Victorian society and the church (the guy's buried in Westminster Cathedral) might want to read how he failed to come to the aid of Charles Bradlaugh when he and Annie Besant were arrested and prosecuted for publishing a pamphlet advocating birth control.   Darwin claimed ill health but it's pretty clear he wanted nothing to do with something considered as icky as birth control.  In a letter answering Bradlaugh's plea for help Darwin said he'd have to testify for the prosecution:

"I have not seen the book in question but for notices in the newspaper. I suppose that it refers to means to prevent conception. If so I should be forced to express in court a very decided opinion in opposition to you & Mrs. Besant…I believe that any such practices would in time lead to unsournd women & would destroy chastity, on which the family bond depends; & the weakening of this bond would be the greatest of all possible evils to mankind." [To Charles Bradlaugh, 6 June 1877, Darwin manuscript collection, #202, partly printed in Charles Bradlaugh: a record of his life and work, by Hypatia B. Bradlaugh, 2nd ed. 2 vols. London, 1894.

Bradlaugh was the most famous English atheist of his time.