[OPE-L:2530] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The employment contract

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Thu Mar 16 2000 - 13:49:49 EST

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Darwin's reference to Malthus is in the former's autobiography, I think
Darwin's theory does not depend on immediate struggle on the basis of a
principle of competitive exclusion over a limited food supply: the
Malthusian population scenario. Darwin himself gave the example of how two
plants at the edge of a desert may do unequally well in the struggle for
existence in the broad sense of differential reproduction. Two leading
historians of Darwin's thought have interpreted the Malthus-Darwin
relationship in opposite ways. Michael Ruse argues that Darwin turned
Malthus on his head: Whereas Darwin saw struggle as leading leading to
change, Malthus essentially saw struggle as ruling out change--demographic
equilibrium as Duncan nicely put it.

However in the early stages of the formation of his theory, Darwin seems to
have pictured natural selection as operating precisely in the same *natural
theological* context which Malthus had set his principle of population--the
context of a system of beneficient laws designed to produce certain
preordained ends (see Dov Ospovat). That is, just as Malthus argued that
the potential increae of poulation beyond the means of subsistence produced
that human activity which is rquired to accomplish the creator's aims,
Darwin understood the force of population as producing constant adaptations
of organisms to conditions that were characteristic of a perfect world.
Ospovat then goes on to document Darwin's painful and protracted break from
natural theology.
Yours, Rakesh

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