Obituaries “Great as were Dr Mivart’s scientiﬁc attainments and career, we think that he will be remembered – and that for a long time – for his strenuous, pathetic, illogical, yet noble attempt to reconcile the authority of his Church with the conclusions of his scientiﬁc conscience. … There is something tragically memorable in Dr Mivart’s long suppression of his doubts, their ﬁnal outburst, his terrible break with his Church, and his death without atonement, though assuredly not without honor.” The Tablet “His scientiﬁc work, was however, limited by his religious creed. Perhaps had he been less dominated by preconceived ideas he would, with his industry, have achieved something more striking than anything that can be claimed for him.” Athenaeum
Mivart 1827: Born into wealthy evangelical family. Early inﬂuences from father’s circle, e.g. Owen and John Gould 1845: Converted to Catholicism Inﬂuence of Oxford Movement and architecture! 1851: Studied Law at Lincoln’s Inn 1858: Fellow of the Zoological Society 1859: Meets Huxley
Mivart 1862: Fellow, Linnean Society 1862: Lecturer, St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School 1864: Begins anatomical studies of primates 1867: FRS (supported by THH) 1869:Vice-President, Zoological Society 1871: On the Genesis of Species 1873: Man and Apes 1874: Professor, (Catholic) University College / Joins “Metaphysical Club” / Secretary, Linnean Society (to 1880) 1875: Breaks with Darwinian circle
HuxleyEvolution “occupies aposition of complete andirreconcilable antagonismto that vigorous andconsistent enemy of thehighest intellectual, moral,and social life of mankind –the Catholic Church”
Metaphysical Club 1869 - 1880Mivart Dean Stanley of WestminsterThomas Henry Huxley Archbishop ManningJohn Tyndall The Duke of ArgyllAlfred Lord Tennyson John RuskinWilliam Gladstone Henry SidgwickArthur Balfor Lord Arthur Russell
1864 On Huxley’s classiﬁcation ofman with primates, “I was, ofcourse, in complete accord ... asI was in accord with himgenerally, for though I had notaccepted Darwin’s theory of‘natural selection,’ I was neitherits opponent nor convinced itwas untenable.”
Doubts1868: Possible independent originof primate classes1869: “Difﬁculties of the Theory ofNatural Selection” Month1869: Expresses doubts to THH1870: “On the use of the termhomology”1870: CD is visiting Mivart inLondon
1871Critical of ubiquity of Darwiniannatural selection, particularly whenapplied to human mind and altruism.The aim of Genesis was “to showthat the Darwinian theory isuntenable and that naturalselection is not the origin ofspecies. This was and is myconviction purely as a man ofscience, and I maintain it uponscientiﬁc grounds only.” (1874)
Genesis“‘Natural Selection’ acts, and indeed must act, but that still, inorder that we may be able to account for the production ofknown kinds of animals and plants, it is required to besupplemented by the action of some other natural law orlaws as yet undiscovered.”“Afﬁnities of the animal kingdom, or even the Mammalianclass, can never be represented by the symbol of a tree.Rather, I believe, we should conceive the existence of a groveof trees, closely approximated, greatly differing in age andsize, with their branches interlaced in a most complexentanglement.”
GenesisInability of selection to account for the incipient stagesof useful structuresIndependent origin of similar structures,Development of useless organsDarwins downplaying of the importance of saltationismApparent stability of species;Tight integration of the parts of an organism with eachother.
Wallace “The arguments against Natural Selection as the exclusive mode of development are some of them exceedingly strong, and very well put.... Though [Mivart] uses some weak and bad arguments, and underrates the power of Natural Selection, yet I think I agree with his conclusion in the main.”
1871 “I complain of his incessantly speaking as if I trusted exclusively to natural selection … Mivart speaks in many places as if I entirely ignored the direct action of external conditions.” CD to Hooker – Mivart will harm natural selection but not evolution which is “inﬁnitely more important” CD regrets that their views differ so much Mivart notes that CD’s views are leading to religious decay. CD accuses him of allowing religion lead him. Mivart denies. CD apologizes stressing that evolution is more important than natural selection.
1871 February: CD visits Mivart in London April : Mivart holds difference to be one of philosophy, not science May: CD plans cheap edition of Origin to respond
1871 Mivart had “collected all the objections which have ever been advanced by he and others against the theory of natural selection.. .and has illustrated them with admirable art and force” but Darwin still “never before felt so strongly convinced of the general truth of the conclusions” Sixth edition of Origin (1872) added chapter on “Miscellaneous Objections to the Theory of Natural Selection”
Chauncey Wright North American Review Sends to CD in June 1871, CD funds publication in September and sends Mivart a copy.
Mivart reviews Descent“Man is not merely an intellectual animal, but he is also a free moralagent, and, as such … differs from all the rest of the visible universeby a distinction so profound that none of those which separate othervisible beings is comparable with it.”“The assigning of ‘natural selection’ to a subordinate position, isvirtually an abandonment of Darwinian theory; for the one distinctfeature of that theory is the all-sufﬁciency of ‘natural selection.’Quotes Darwin contra DarwinCD accuses Mivart of unfairly quoting him.CD: “Though he means to be honourable, he is so bigoted that hecannot act fairly.”
1871 - ’72 “[Mivart] shows the greatest scorn and animosity towards me, and with uncommon cleverness says all that is most disagreeable. He makes me the most arrogant, odious beast that ever lived. I cannot understand him; I suppose that accursed religious bigotry is at the root of it. Of course, he is quite at liberty to scorn and hate me, but why take such trouble to express something more than friendship. It has mortiﬁed me a good deal.” (to Hooker, Sept 1871) In Jan 1872, breaks off correspondence with Mivart, accusing him of misrepresenting his ideas.
Man and Apes - 1873 Distinguish between “doctrine of evolution” and “Darwinism” Proposes dual origin of Old and New World Monkeys with convergence due to environment The totality of human nature can only be comprehended with the aid of the philosopher and psychologist Any reaction by the Darwinists is overshadowed by what happens next ...
Quarterly Review ’74 “Mr. George Darwin proposes that divorce should be made consequent on insanity, and coolly remarks that, should the patient recover, he would suffer in no other respect than does anyone that is forced by ill-health to retire from any career he has begin [!]; ‘although, of course, the necessary isolation of the parent from the children would be a peculiarly bitter blow.’ Elsewhere he speaks in an approving strain of the most oppressive laws, and of the encouragement of vice in order to check population. There is no hideous sexual criminality of Pagan days that might not be defended on the principles advocated by the school to which this writer belongs”
Reaction CD reopens a brief correspondence in Dec ’74 CD draws Wallace and Tyndall into the fray. THH rebukes Mivart (and withdraws friendship) Mivart claimed his comments “a sharp criticism of a school of thought not … a reﬂection on personal character.” Mivart had noted the ‘intolerance and narrow-mindedness of some of those who advocate [Darwinism], avowedly or covertly, in the interest of heterodoxy’ (Genesis of Species)
Mivart 1876: Awarded PhD by Pope Pius IX 1882: Death of CD 1883: Galton, Spencer & THH oppose membership of Athenaeum. 1884: Awarded DM by University of Louvain 1885: Reunites with THH 1888: Hooker opposes membership of Athenaeum 1890: Visiting Professor, University of Louvain 1892:Vice-President, Linnean Society 1895: Death of THH
Mivart Lessons from nature (1876) Contemporary evolution (1876) The cat: an introduction to the study of backboned animals, especially mammals. (1881) Nature and thought (1882) On truth (1889) The origin of human reason (1889) Dogs, jackals, wolves and foxes: Monograph of the Canidæ (1890) Types of animal life (1893) Introduction to the elements of science (1894) A monograph of the Lories, or brush-tongued parrots (1896) The groundwork of science: a study of epistemology (1898) The helpful science (1898)
Herbert Spencer George Romanes Psychology Mental Evolution
On Truth 1889 “The origin of the human species must, however, belong to a different category since, as we have seen, in spite of the exceedingly close resemblances of the human frame to the structure of apes, the soul of man possesses powers so utterly distinct in kind from those possessed by any other known existence in the material universe, that it merits to be distinguished by a radically distinct denomination – that of ‘spirit’.”
Catholic Critic “Modern Catholics and scientiﬁc freedom” (1885) “The Catholic Church and biblical criticism” (1887) “Catholicity and Reason” (1887) “Sins of Belief and Disbelief” (1888) “Happiness in Hell” (1892) “The continuity of Catholicism” (1900) “Some recent apologists” (1900)
On the Church “After mature reﬂection and many struggles, I had come to the conclusion that the Roman Catholic Church must tolerate a transforming process of evolution, with respect to many of its dogmas, or sink, by degrees, into an effete and insigniﬁcant body, composed of ignorant persons, a mass of women and children and a number of mentally effeminate men” (1900)
1900“All of us, however submissive toauthority, must in the last resort, restupon the judgment of our individualreason. … It is now evident that a vastand impassible abyss yawns betweenCatholic dogma and science, and noman with ordinary knowledge, canhenceforth join the communion of theRoman Catholic Church if hecorrectly understands what itsprinciples and its teachings really are,unless they are radically changed.”
1900“The various articles and few books Ihave written have always representedmy convictions at the time asaccurately as I could represent them… I have no more leaning to atheismor agnosticism now than I ever had;but the inscrutable, incomprehensibleenergy pervading the universe and(as it seems to me) disclosed byscience, differs profoundly, as I readnature, from the God worshipped byChristians.”
Endgame - 1900 Excommunication by Cardinal Vaughn Dies of diabetes Subsequent burial in unconsecrated ground Re-burial in 1904
Charles Kingsley Acknowledged Mivart’s system as allowing God’s action to be detected.
Mivart, like ... T.H. Huxley, felt that evolution was more saltational than Darwin did. Asa Grey, felt that evolution was directed (perhaps by directed variations?). Many “Darwinists” (including Huxley & Wallace), felt that natural selection could not do all that Darwin claimed it could.