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CHAT: Survival of the fittest (was: Religion etc.)

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Friday, May 5, 2000, 17:55
bjm10@CORNELL.EDU wrote:

> 3: [...] unable to interbreed" presumes that the organism can > have sex in the first place, therefore, it cannot be a universal principle).
And it too is a dispositional property, as in the question: How many species of (morphologically indistinguishable) fish in Wisconsin? To test all ten thousand lakes would require at least 2 x 10^8 breeding experiments....
> "Survival of the fittest" is a out-dated term that should be relegated to > the same category as "phlogiston" and "aether".
The phrase is about the (local) direction of evolution, not the fact or the mechanism of evolution. Its implication is that organisms evolve toward better engineering design (balancing the constraints of the environment, available energy, etc.). This is pretty impressive, and distinguishes Darwinism proper from various non-D. evolutionary theories, which see natural selection merely as the executioner of the unfit. Not for nothing did the authors of the modern synthesis compare evolution to Shakespeare: it creates exquisitely precise adaptations. (This is not the same as saying that evolution has an overall global direction, which is not the case.) -- Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis um dies! || John Cowan <jcowan@...> Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, || Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau, || Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)