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What if the orbit of Darwinism should be a little too circular? What if species should offer residual phenomena, here and there, not explicable by natural selection? Twenty years hence naturalists may be in a position to say whether this is, or is not, the case; but in either event they will owe the author of "The Origin of Species" an immense debt of gratitude And viewed as a whole, we do not believe that, since the publication of Von Baer's "Researches on Development," thirty years ago, any work has appeared calculated to exert so large an influence, not only on the future of Biology, but in extending the domination of Science over regions of thought into which she has, as yet, hardly penetrated.
More individuals are produced each generation that can survive. Phenotypic variation exists among individuals and the variation is heritable. Those individuals with heritable traits better suited to the environment will survive. When reproductive isolation occurs new species will form.
Another important evolutionary theorist of the same period was the Russian geographer and prominent anarchist Peter Kropotkin who, in his book Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolutionadvocated a conception of Darwinism counter to that of Huxley.
His conception was centred around what he saw as the widespread use of co-operation as a survival mechanism in human societies and animals. He used biological and sociological arguments in an attempt to show that the main factor in facilitating evolution is cooperation between individuals in free-associated societies and groups.
This was in order to counteract the conception of fierce competition as the core of evolution, which provided a rationalization for the dominant political, economic and social theories of the time; and the prevalent interpretations of Darwinism, such as those by Huxley, who is targeted as an opponent by Kropotkin.
Kropotkin's conception of Darwinism could be summed up by the following quote: In the animal world we have seen that the vast majority of species live in societies, and that they find in association the best arms for the struggle for life: The animal species, in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits, and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development, are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress.
The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution.
The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay. One of the more prominent approaches, summed in the phrase " survival of the fittest " by Herbert Spencer, later became emblematic of Darwinism even though Spencer's own understanding of evolution as expressed in was more similar to that of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck than to that of Darwin, and predated the publication of Darwin's theory in What is now called " Social Darwinism " was, in its day, synonymous with "Darwinism"—the application of Darwinian principles of "struggle" to society, usually in support of anti- philanthropic political agenda.
Another interpretation, one notably favoured by Darwin's half-cousin Francis Galtonwas that "Darwinism" implied that because natural selection was apparently no longer working on "civilized" people, it was possible for "inferior" strains of people who would normally be filtered out of the gene pool to overwhelm the "superior" strains, and voluntary corrective measures would be desirable—the foundation of eugenics.
In Darwin's day there was no rigid definition of the term "Darwinism", and it was used by opponents and proponents of Darwin's biological theory alike to mean whatever they wanted it to in a larger context.
The ideas had international influence, and Ernst Haeckel developed what was known as Darwinismus in Germany, although, like Spencer's "evolution", Haeckel's "Darwinism" had only a rough resemblance to the theory of Charles Darwin, and was not centered on natural selection.
The latter was denied by Wallace who was a strict selectionist. Reviewing the film for Scientific AmericanJohn Rennie says "The term is a curious throwback, because in modern biology almost no one relies solely on Darwin's original ideasGoldsmiths, University of London is in South East London.
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