Advertisement

Vegetable Significance: Evolution by Natural Selection

  • Lucas John Mix
Chapter

Abstract

Charles Darwin set the foundations for a new paradigm of life by stripping evolution of its normative and progressive elements. He reimagined efficient, formal, and final causes in biology, creating a new synthesis similar to Aristotle’s nutritive soul. Natural selection provides a causal nexus that links organization and purpose to a history of interactions between population and environment. This emphasizes vegetable proto-agency in place of animal or rational agency. It makes organization and purpose empirically tractable. Two contemporaries, Alfred Russel Wallace and Herbert Spencer, also defended evolution by natural selection. They stayed closer to medieval concepts of causation, leaving their theories closer to vitalism.

References

  1. Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1st ed. London: John Murray, 1871.Google Scholar
  2. Darwin, Charles. Insectivorous Plants. London: John Murray, 1875.Google Scholar
  3. Darwin, Charles. The Power of Movement in Plants. London: John Murray, 1880.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2nd ed. London: John Murray, 1882a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Darwin, Charles. The Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants. London: John Murray, 1882b.Google Scholar
  6. Darwin, Charles. The Annotated “Origin”: A Facsimile of the First Edition of “On the Origin of Species”. Annotated by James T. Costa. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.Google Scholar
  7. Darwin, Charles. “Letter no. 2814,” Darwin Correspondence Project. Accessed 7 February 2018, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2814.
  8. Huxley, Thomas Henry. “On the Hypothesis that Animals Are Automata, and Its History.” The Fortnightly Review 95(1874): 556–580.Google Scholar
  9. Mix, Lucas J. Life in Space: Astrobiology for Everyone. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Picton, J. Allanson. New Theories and the Old Faith. Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate, 1870.Google Scholar
  11. Ruse, Michael. Monad to Man: The Concept of Progress in Evolutionary Biology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  12. Spencer, Herbert. “Progress: Its Law and Cause.” Westminster Review 67 (Apr 1857): 445–485.Google Scholar
  13. Spencer, Herbert. The Principles of Biology, vol. 1. London: Herbert and Norgate, 1864.Google Scholar
  14. Wallace, Alfred Russel. Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection: A Series of Essays. New York: Macmillan, 1870.Google Scholar
  15. Wallace, Alfred Russel. Darwinism: An Exposition of the Theory of Natural Selection with Some of Its Applications. New York: Macmillan, 1889.Google Scholar
  16. Wallace, Alfred Russel. The World of Life: A Manifestation of Creative Power, Directive Mind and Ultimate Purpose. London: Chapman and Hall, 1910.Google Scholar
  17. Weinstein, David. “Herbert Spencer.” In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2017 ed. Stanford University, 1997–. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2017/entries/spencer/.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucas John Mix
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations