Literary figure Samuel Butler, it turns out, coined the term “Neo-Darwinism” in 1880
|August 27, 2014||Posted by News under Culture, Darwinism, Intelligent Design, News|
Further to “FYI: Who invented the term neo-Darwinism?, a new wrinkle has developed: It turns out it was a literary figure, Samuel Butler (1835–1902), back in 1880, well before Romanes. (He has probably been overlooked in discussions that rely on the scientific literature as such.)
Advising us of this, Jonathan Wells writes to say,
Actually, the term “neo-Darwinism” predates even Romanes:
”Neo-Darwinism” has had many meanings. The term was first used by Samuel Butler in 1880 to distinguish Charles Darwin’s theory from that of his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin. Butler used “Darwinism” to refer approvingly to Erasmus’s theory that new variations arise “due to the wants and endeavours of the living forms in which they appear,” while Butler used “Neo-Darwinism”to refer disparagingly to Charles’s ascription of new variations “to chance, or, in other words, to unknown causes” [415,416]. In 1895, Georges Romanes used “Neo-Darwinian” to describe the view (which he attributed to August Weismann and Alfred Russel Wallace) that “natural selection is the only possible cause of adaptive modification;” Romanes used “Neo-Lamarckian” to describe the view (which he attributed mainly to Americans) that “much greater importance ought to be assigned to the inherited effects of use and disuse than was assigned to these agencies by Darwin. According to Romanes, Charles Darwin’s view (which he called “Darwinism”) stood “between these two extremes” .
415. Darwin C (1859) On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. John Murray (London) p 131.
416. Butler S (1880) Unconscious Memory. David Bogue (London) ch 13.
417. Romanes GJ (1895) Darwin, and After Darwin. Longmans, Green (London) v 2 pp 12-13.
See also: Membrane Patterns Carry Ontogenetic Information That Is Specified Independently of DNA
Note: Butler, son of a clergyman, had definite views about a lot of things, including Darwinism:
When Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) came into his hands soon after his arrival in New Zealand, it took him by storm; he became “one of Mr. Darwin’s many enthusiastic admirers,” and a year or two later he told a friend that he had renounced Christianity altogether. Yet, as it proved, Christianity had by no means finished with him. For the next 25 years it was upon religion and evolution that Butler’s attention was mainly fixed. At first he welcomed Darwinism because it enabled him to do without God (or rather, without his father’s God). Later, having found a God of his own, he rejected Darwinism itself because it left God out. Thus, he antagonized both the church and the orthodox Darwinians and spent his life as a lonely outsider, or as Butler called himself after the biblical outcast, “an Ishmael.” (Britannica)
Darwin had not really explained evolution at all, Butler reasoned, because he had not accounted for the variations on which natural selection worked. Where Darwin saw only chance, Butler saw the effort on the part of creatures to respond to felt needs. He conceived creatures as acquiring necessary habits (and organs to perform them) and transmitting these to their offspring as unconscious memories. He thus restored teleology to a world from which purpose had been excluded by Darwin, but instead of attributing the purpose to God he placed it within the creatures themselves as the life force. (Britannica)
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