RE: [OPE] Science and scientology

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Mon Jun 08 2009 - 11:29:40 EDT

You are quite right the modern biologists will not take Darwins account as valid unless backed by modern underrstanding. But it is impressive none-theless to see how much he did understand, and how observant he was. With a historical thinker of some stature, even when they are wrong, they are intelligently wrong and plausibly wrong given the then understanding. I noticed the same thing with Ptolemy, that he had a mix of what still seems plausible with things that are now quite implausible.

From: [] On Behalf Of GERALD LEVY []
Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 12:51 PM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: RE: [OPE] Science and scientology

>> You are right. But what Darwin thought is no longer crucial for the
>> progress of the Darwinian research program. A new researcher can enter
>> and contribute to it without ever having read Darwin or Huxley in the
>> original.
> I have just been reading Darwin's 'The expression of the emotions' and
> I am amazed at how 'Lamarkian' it is.
> It has quite a sophisticated theory of reflexes and of what we would now
> call conditioned reflexes ( he calls them habitual reflexes). But what
> is striking is that he asserts that reflex actions were all originally
> voluntary, then became habitual and as such were then fixed by
> inheritance. Looks very like the inheritance of acquired characteristics
> which standard presentations of Darwin having him rejecting.

Hu Paul C:

OK, but evolutionary biologists wouldn't accept the idea that what
Darwin's perspective was on this question could be taken as evidence
either for or against a particular perspective on reflexes. It's a
history of thought question which, by itself, doesn't shed any light
on the actual scientific subject. At most, it can shed light only on
what Darwin's perspective was or wasn't - a hermeneutic and
secondary question.

A danger of over-reliance on the perspectives of an founding authority
figure is the possibility of a cult emerging. since there have been
many Marxist cults in the past, this is a danger that Marxists - and
socialists who don't like to be called Marxists - should be aware of
and take active steps to avoid.

In solidarity, Jerry_______________________________________________
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Received on Mon Jun 8 11:34:41 2009

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