Wednesday, November 09, 2005

From an eagle's egg, an eagle?

German cytologist August Weismann proposed that egg derives from egg via the germ line, specialized cells that remain separate from the other cells of the developing organism. The organism is a sort of lateral expansion that in no way shares in the uncontaminated germ line joining egg to egg (or, in the male, egg to sperm). The germ line establishes a moat, a barrier that shields genes destined for the next generation from experiencing the world, Weismann was criticized for having segregated heredity away from life, and for having dissociated it from morphogenesis. In my view, beyond that same barrier even the morphogenetic field of the egg is shielded from the ups and downs of life’s relationships. It holds itself static, totipotent, virginal, allowing itself to be caught up in the tempests of becoming, but all the time keeping a portion of its undiminished essence within the walls of a secluded garden.

According to a theory of Darwins that is little known today but was dear to his heartthe theory of pangenesisan egg is made from fea tures of the parent organism that transmit their earthly past through the seminal fluid in the form of little particles. According to pangen esis, the entire organism generates the offspring. Only in this way could Darwin explain the evolution of the speciesi.e., as a decanting of the vicissitudes of the parents lives into the offspring. For Darwin, evolution was the cumulative experience of the worlds organisms over time. He got this idea from his illustrious, unappreciated French precursor, the Chevalier de Lamarck. Before Darwin came along, Lamarck proposed the theory of the transmission of acquired characteristics. The trans fer of worldly acquisitions from the environment to offspring was a sort of spontaneous generation of life from non-life, and this was evolution. Darwin never thought that evolution was anything else, and he would have disavowed the Theory of Evolution propounded in his name in the twentieth century.

Once the effect of the environment is excluded, whence, one may ask, come the differences between living beings Weismann suggested that the differences must have been present in the first beings to populate the earth. Species differentiate among themselves because of something received from distant ages, remaining intact for millions of years, unreachable by influences of the body and apart from transactions with the environment. To Darwin’s pangenes, coming from all parts of the organism to form the germ of each generation, Weismann opposed his biophores, present from the beginning of life and preceding all organic forms, including eggs. He maintained that these determinants, as in corruptible as ideas, were transmitted via immortal germ lines to produce bodies, again and again, as glorious and mortal by-products.
Life thus returns to its origins or, rather, holds on to its origins by clinging to the handrail of the germ line.

Samuel Butler expressed Weismann’s theory in the following terms:
”The hen is the means whereby an egg constructs another egg.” This evokes a barnyard scene where the hen is a gossipy creature, incapable of flight and good only for laying eggs. The hen well expresses the useless ness of the organism, apart from her function as a bearer of eggs. But Weismann also said: From the eagle’s egg, the eagle.

The shells of an eagle’s egg and a hen egg are barely distinguishable. Their egg cells, nuclei and DNA look almost identical. And yet from the hens egg there hatches the chicken, and from the eagle’s egg the king of birds: Powerful and immense, with hooked claws, imperial head and great square tail, it soars aloft, its outstretched wings at times motionless, at times stirring in solemn strokes, the feathers at its wing tips separated and curving upwards.

From an eagles egg, an eagle.

(Why is a Fly not a Horse?
By Giuseppe Sermonti :33-35)

Given the punctuated nature of the fossil record and the broad pattern of empirical evidence favorable to typology there has been some pressure to come up with more punctuated hypothetical narratives to comport with the evidence. One form of more punctuated mythological narratives of Naturalism use the notion of a Hopeful Monster. Yet if there is no fellow monsterous mutant to do a little mating with, it matters little how hopeful the Hopeful Monster is.

So too bad for Mothra, who ravishes the universe for looove!

Also, if species and genera really were as mutable as Darwinists and others who write naturalistic narratives try to make them, then why does the evidence show that they so often go extinct rather than "adapting"? It seems to me that the pattern of extinction is evidence of adaptive limits, which also comports with all the empirical evidence for typology.

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