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Louis Agassiz
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Transcript

  • 1. Louis Agassiz 1807 - 1873
  • 2. 1906
  • 3. Louis Agassiz Educated in Zürich, Heidelberg and Münich Influence of Cuvier, von Humbolt, & Oken Ph.D. (1829) + M.D. (1830) Fishes of Brazil (1829) Poissons Fossiles (1833 - ’43) Professor of natural history at Lyceum at Neuchâtel
  • 4. “Study on Glaciers” 1840
  • 5. Louis Agassiz 1846 - Lecture series at Lowell Institute “The Plan of Creation as Shown in the Animal Kingdom” 1847 - Professor at Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University 1859 - Museum of Comparative Zoology
  • 6. 1855 Contributions to the Natural History of the United States Greeted with “a stunning silence”
  • 7. Contributions 1) Essay on Classification 2) North American Testudinata 3) Embryology of the Turtle
  • 8. Essay on Classification 1859 Support from Owen and Sedgwick History of systems of classification Accepted Cuverian embranchements Idealistic definitions of biological categories that were useless.
  • 9. On the Essay “The results are so practical that even my students of one years standing with the rules are able to trace for themselves … the natural limits of genera and families and they actually do it better than our old practiced Zoologists. So you see it will tell in the progress of science.” Letter to Spencer F. Baird
  • 10. Darwin on Species “I look at the term species, as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other, and that it does not essentially differ from the term variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, and for mere convenience’ sake.”
  • 11. Agassiz on Species “Polygenism” Species were real, fixed, unchanging entities found as ideas in the mind of God Large numbers of each species were created in their intended habitat after catastrophes The (instantaneous) Ice Age presented a last barrier between the “prophetic” species and modern fauna No genetic connection between fossil and modern species
  • 12. Natural Theology “We recognize intelligence in the construction of a machine because we know that it could not operate in the manner it does were it not the device of an intelligent artisan … The animal kingdom especially has been constructed upon a plan which presupposes the existence of an intelligent being as its Author”
  • 13. Natural Theology Nature shows “not only thought, it shows also premeditation, power, wisdom, greatness, prescience, omniscience, providence. In one word, all these facts in their natural connection proclaim aloud the One God, whom man may know, adore and love; and Natural History must in good time become the analysis of the thoughts of the Creator of the Universe.”
  • 14. Chauncey Wright Origin rendered “Agassiz’s essay on classification a useless and mistaken speculation; creation is a word pretending knowledge and feigning reverence.”
  • 15. Creationist? “I dread quite as much the exaggeration of religious fanaticism, borrowing fragments of science, imperfectly, or not at all, understood, and then making use of them to prescribe to scientific men what they are allowed to see or find in nature” (Letter to Sedgwick, 1845). Nature not Scripture should be taken literally, and interpolations were not to be allowed Lectured on “the absurdity” of Adam & Eve. Genesis recounted the experiences of the White race only and describes localized events.
  • 16. Shared Data –Different Interpretations The “facts upon which Darwin, Wallace, Haeckel and others base their views are in the possession of every well-educated naturalist. It is only a question of interpretation, not of discovery of new and unlooked-for information” (1874)
  • 17. On Origin “Ingenious but fanciful” (Boston Natural History Society, 1860) “species are based upon relations and proportions that exclude … the idea of common descent” (American Journal of Science & Art, 1860) “a scientific mistake, untrue in its facts, unscientific in its method, and mischievous in its tendency” (op cit., 1860)
  • 18. French (1869) Edition of EssayDarwinists put philosophy before facts “Darwinism excludes nearly all the mass of acquired information, for it assimilates and takes exclusively that which could be useful to the Doctrine. It is not the facts that determine for the Darwinists the nature of their generalizations, it is the system that dictates the nature of their reality.”Variation has distinct limitsFossil record does not support Darwinian expectations “I would have been a great fellow for evolution if it had not been for the breaks in the paleontological record”
  • 19. 1874 “The most advanced Darwinians seem reluctant to acknowledge the intervention of an intellectual power in the diversity which obtains in nature, under the plea that such an admission implies distinct creative acts for every species, What of it, if it were true? Have those who object to repeated acts of creation ever considered that no progress can be made in knowledge without repeated acts of thinking? And what are thoughts but specific acts of the mind? Why should it then be unscientific to infer that the facts of nature are the result of a similar process, since there is no evidence for any other cause?”
  • 20. Legacy Paleo-icthyological studies Taxonomic works Theory of glaciation Use of multiple forms of evidence in classification Classification without reference to process (c.f. modern cladistics)
  • 21. Legacy Institutions like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Popularization of natural history among public Students Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard
  • 22. Alphaeus Hyatt David Starr JordanAlexander Agassiz Joseph LeConte
  • 23. StephenErnst E.O. JayMayr Wilson Gould
  • 24. Charles Hodge “What is Darwinism? It is Atheism. This does not mean, as before said, that Mr. Darwin himself and all who adopt his views are atheists; but it means that his theory is atheistic, that the exclusion of design from nature is, as Dr. Gray says, tantamount to atheism.” (1874)
  • 25. Asa Gray 1810 - 1888
  • 26. Asa Gray Presbyterian. Fisher Professor of Natural History, Harvard University, 1842-1888. Established systematic botany in the US. Founded America’s first major herbarium. Authored a number of popular botanical works. President, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1871. Strong ties (via correspondence) with European botanists & naturalists
  • 27. Hooker Gray
  • 28. Plant Biogeography Backgammon Design TaxonomyHermaphrodites The Abolition of Slavery Beards
  • 29. Darwin to Gray, Sept. 5th 1857
  • 30. Review of Origin “If Darwin even admits—we will not say adopts— the theistic view, he may save himself much needless trouble in the endeavor to account for the absence of every sort of intermediate form.” “Wherefore, so long as gradatory, orderly, and adapted forms in Nature argue design, and at least while the physical cause of variation is utterly unknown and mysterious, we should advise Mr. Darwin to assume, in the philosophy of his hypothesis that variation has been led along certain beneficial lines.” “the accidental element may play its part in Nature without negativing [sic] design in the theists view.” Atlantic Monthly, 1860
  • 31. Design in Nature“We infer design from certain arrangements and results; andwe have no other way of ascertaining it.”“The whole argument in natural theology proceeds upon theground that the inference for a final cause of the structure ofthe hand of the valves in the veins is just as valid now, inindividuals produced through natural generation, as it wouldhave been in the case of the first man, supernaturally created.”“Nature must also have been designed, and clinches ourbelief, from manifold considerations, that all Nature is apreconcerted arrangement, a manifested design.”
  • 32. “Natural Selection Not Inconsistent with Natural Theology” 1861
  • 33. “Natural Selection Not Inconsistent with Natural Theology” Argues that Darwin: 1) Had put forward an eminently scientific theory. 2) Had not written atheistically. 3) Presented no new problems for Christian belief. 4) And proposed an idea which substantially enhanced Natural Theology.
  • 34. Three Theistic Views “The view of its exertion at the beginning of time, endowing matter and created things with forces which do the work and produce the phenomena.” “This same view, with the theory of insolated interpositions, or occasional direct action, engrafted upon it-the view that events and operations in general go on in virtue simply of forces communicated at first, but that now and then, the Deity puts his hand directly to the work.” “The theory of the immediate, orderly, and constant, however infinitely diversified, action of the intelligent efficient Cause.” (i.e. God is immanent in the process)
  • 35. Darwin’s Actions Throughout 1860: Darwin exhibited nothing but praise and thanks in reference to Gray’s essays and Reviews. February 1861: Darwin distributes the first 100 copies of Gray’s pamphlet, believing it will do his theory “right good service.” March - May 1861: Darwin receives many letters and personal testimonies concerning the excellence of Gray’s pamphlet.
  • 36. Darwin’s Doubts“I have been led to think more on thissubject of late, & grieve to say that Icome to differ more from you. It is notthat designed variation makes, as itseems to me, my Deity “NaturalSelection” superfluous; but rather fromstudying lately domestic variations& seeing what an enormous field ofundesigned variability there isready for natural selection toappropriate for any purpose useful toeach creature.”To Gray, June 1861
  • 37. 1868
  • 38. To Darwin “I was put on the defense by your reference to an old hazardous remark of mine. I found your stone-house argument unanswerable in substance (for the notion of design must after all rest mostly on faith, and on accumulation of adaptations, &c): so all I could do was to find a vulnerable spot in the shaping of it, fire my little shot, and run away in the smoke.” 1868
  • 39. 1877“The conception that variationtakes place in definite - or atleast not in indefinite - lines, isan idea which is ... as inferablefrom a good many facts than asany thing to swear by. I think so- yet, I am sure to say, it is nopart of Darwinism, pure &simple.”
  • 40. “Design vs Necessity” “Judging from the past, it is not improbable that variation itself may be hereafter shown to result from physical causes.” “The discovery of the cause of variation would be only a resolution of variation into two factors: one, the immediate secondary cause of the changes, which so far explains them; the other an unresolved or unexplained phenomenon, which will then stand just where the product, variation, stands now, only that it will be one step nearer to the efficient cause.” 1860
  • 41. 1870“There is of course a cause for thevariation.”“Nobody supposes that any thing changeswithout a cause; and there is no reasonfor thinking that proximate causes ofvariation may not come to be known”“Out of this would immediately rise thequestion as to what can be the foundationand beginning of this long and wonderfulchapter of accidents which has producedand maintained, not only for this time butthrough all biological periods, an ever-varying yet well-adapted cosmos.”
  • 42. Darwiniana “Natural selection is not the wind which propels the vessel, but the rudder which, by friction, now on this side and now on that, shapes the course. The rudder acts while the vessel is in motion, effects nothing when it is at rest. Variation answers to the wind ... Its course is controlled by natural selection, the action of which, at any given moment, is seemingly small or insensible; but the ultimate results are great.” 1876
  • 43. Darwiniana “Darwinian evolution (whatever may be said of other kinds) is neither theistical nor nontheistical. Its relations to the question of design belong to the natural theologian, or, in the larger sense, to the philosopher. So long as the world lasts it will probably be open to any one to hold consistently, in the last resort, either of the two hypotheses, that of a divine mind, or that of no divine mind.” 1876
  • 44. Theistic Evolution “It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist.— You are right about [Charles] Kingsley. Asa Gray, the eminent botanist, is another case in point— What my own views may be is a question of no consequence to any one except myself.” - Darwin to John Fordyce, 1879