Sunday, 21 June 2015

Cuvier's (1829) "living aggregate / agrégat vivant"

Some people think that "lving aggregate" is a phrase coined by Patrick Matthew (1831. On naval Timber and Arboriculture) and that later users must have taken it from him. Here's Fréderic Georges Cuvier in 1829 (Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles..., p. 81):
"Tout corps vivant a une existence bornée, qui commence à sa naissance et finit à sa mort, et dont la durée semble évidemment en rapport avec son organisation. Ce n'est d'abord qu'un germe ou qu'un abrégé de ce corps, qui se développe dans un être semblable à lui, et s'en détache pour avoir une existence individuelle et séparée, ou qui lui reste attaché, comme cela a lieu dans les plantes qui se multiplient par bourgeons et dans beaucoup de zoophytes, pour former un agrégat vivant."
"Every living body has a limited existence that begins at birth and ends at death, and whose duration seems obviously related to its organization. It is first a germ or an abridgment of this body that develops into a being similar to it and detaches to have an individual existenc,e and that remains separate or attached to it as is the case of plants that are propagated by buds and in many zoophytes to form a living aggregate." (my translation)

Friday, 19 June 2015

Lamarckisms in Naval Timber and Arboriculture (Matthew 1831)

Lamarck's theory of species transformation
Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck argued for the transformation of species from two principles. The first was that organisms change their habits in response to environmental changes, the second that these changed habits (use and disuse of organs) not only adapted the individual organism to the new circumstances within its life-time, but that through some physiological processes (fluids subtils) got permanent and heritable.
"Firstly, a number of known facts proves that the continued use of any organ leads to its development, strengthens it and even enlarges it, while permanent disuse of any organ is injurious to its development, causes it to deteriorate and ultimately disappear if the disuse continues for a long period through successive generations. Hence we may infer that when some change in the environment leads to a change of habit in some race of animals, the organs that are less used die away little by little, while those which are more used develop better, and acquire a vigour and size proportional to their use.
Secondly, when reflecting upon the power of the movement of the fluids in the very supple parts which contain them, I soon became convinced that, according as this movement is accelerated, the fluids modify the cellular tissue in which they move, open passages in them, form various canals, and finally create different organs, according to the state of he organisation in which they are placed. 
Arguing from these two principles, I looked upon it as certain that, firstly, the movement of the fluids within animals [...] and, secondly, the influence of the environment, in so far as animals are exposed to it in spreading throughout all habitable places, were the two general causes which have brought the various animals to the state in which we now see them." Lamarck (1809, translated by Elliot 1914, p. 2)
The one question that never occurred to Lamarck was a dichotomous one whether heritable variation was either due to environmental changes or to internal changes. In his theory changes of circumstances induced changes of habits, which induced changes of the constitution (through use and disuse of organs) of individuals in their life-time; and these did over the generations become heritable somehow (through fluids subtils). The following quote shows how he skated very close to the idea of natural selection, but then attributed the transformation to acquired modifications instead:
"Among individuals of the same species, some of which are continually well fed and in an environment [circonstances in original] favourable to their development, while others are in an opposite environment, there arises a difference in the state of the individuals which gradually becomes very remarkable. How many examples I might cite both in animals and plants which bear out the truth of this principle! Now if the environment remains constant, so that the condition of the ill-fed, suffering or sickly individuals becomes permanent, their internal organisation is ultimately modified, and these acquired modifications are preserved by reproduction among the individuals in question, and finally give rise to a race quite distinct from that in which the individuals have been continuously in an environment favourable to their development." (Lamarck 1809[1914], p. 108)
Lamarck never managed to get much of a reputation during his life-time and is remembered, rather, for getting it wrong. Buffon and Cuvier, the most famous biologists of his time, believed in the fixity of species. Consequently, Lamarck's views on species transformation were those of a pariah. His Philosophie Zoologique, for example, was only summarized and then summarily dismissed by Charles Lyell in his Principles of Geology (1830-33, vol. 2), it never got translated entirely until 1914. The translator, Hugh Elliot, narrates a memoir by François Arago of an event that illustrates Lamarck's underdog position within French science (Lamarck 1809[trans. 1914], preface, xxi).
     Napoleon received scientists and both Lamarck and Arago attended. Napoleon spoke to Arago first, but when Lamarck tried to give to Napoleon his newly finished Philosophie Zoologique, Napoleon rudely responded that he only accepts the book because of his earlier good work on natural history meaning systematics and classical morphological research probably of invertebrates:
     "What is this?" asked Napoleon. "Is it your absurd Météorologie with which you are disgracing your old age? Write on natural history, and I will accept your work with pleasure. This volume I only accept out of consideration for your gray hair. Here!" and he handed it to one of his aides. (Elliot 1914, xxi). Lamarck tried to explain that is was a work of natural history, but before he could finish, he burst into tears. In 1829 Lamarck died blind, embittered, and poor and was buried in an unmarked grave in Montparnasse, but a marginal note in the cemeteries register said "to the left of M. Dassas."  By the time of Lamarck's death, his theory of species transformation had been utterly rejected.

Matthew's theory of species transformation
Unlike Lamarck, Patrick Matthew (1831) located the origin of variation in sports that occurred spontaneously (as well as in hybridisation). He probably knew from his experience with growing fruit trees. In his view, the environmental factors were not the cause of variation, but the cause for selection among variants. That is, he proposed a new combination of two old ideas, that of natural selection and that of species transformation and, thereby, anticipated the theory of evolution through natural selection. He jeopardized his idea by couching it into Lamarckian terms, without ever citing Lamarck. I highlighted the terms that could have ticked his contemporaries off to dismiss his proposal as a mere warm-up of already refuted Lamarckian ideas in the following quote:
"As the field of existence is limited and pre-occupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better suited to circumstance individuals, who are able to struggle forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which they have superior adaptation and greater power of occupancy than any other kind; the weaker, less circumstance-suited, being prematurely destroyed.
This circumstance-adaptive law, operating upon the slight but continued natural disposition to sport in the progeny (seedling variety), does not preclude the supposed
influence which volition or sensation may have over the configuration of the body. To examine into the disposition to sport in the progeny, even when there is only one parent, as in many vegetables, and to investigate how much variation is modified by the mind or nervous sensation of the parents, or of the living thing itself during its progress to maturity; how far it depends upon external circumstance, and how far on the will, irritability and muscular exertion, is open to examination and experiment. In the first place, we ought to investigate its dependency upon the preceding links of the particular
chain of life, variety being often merely types or approximations of former parentage; thence the variation of the family, as well as of the individual, must be embraced
by our experiments." Matthew (1831, 385f)
It seems likely that, mistaking Matthew's proposal for a mere warm-up of Lamarck's theory, many contemporaries thought it not worthwhile to test it, because they believed Lamarck to be already proven wrong by observations such as spontaneous sports or acquired modifications that were not inherited.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Blyth's anticipation of natural selection (1835)

[For information on further anticipators visit: Natural Selection before Darwin and Wallace.] 

Blyth, Edward (1835) "An Attempt to classify the "Varieties" of Animals, with Observations on the marked Seasonal and other Changes which naturally take place in various British Species, and which do not constitute Varieties." The Magazine of Natural History 8: 40-46.
"It is a general law of nature for all creatures to propagate the like of themselves: and this extends even to the most trivial minutiae, to the slightest individual peculiarities; and thus, among ourselves, we see a family likeness transmitted from generation to generation. When two animals are matched together, each remarkable for a certain given peculiarity, no matter how trivial, there is also a decided tendency in nature for that peculiarity to increase; and if the produce of these animals be set apart, and only those in which the same peculiarity is most apparent, be selected to breed from, the next generation will possess it in a still more remarkable degree; and so on, till at length the variety I designate a breed, is formed, which may be very unlike the original type.
      The examples of this class of varieties must be too obvious to need specification: many of the varieties of cattle, and, in all probability, the greater number of those of domestic pigeons, have been generally brought about in this manner. It is worthy of remark, however, that the original and typical form of an animal is in great measure kept up by the same identical means by which a true breed is produced. The original form of a species is unquestionably better adapted to its natural habits than any modification of that form; and, as the sexual passions excite to rivalry and conflict, and the stronger must always prevail over the weaker, the latter, in a state of nature, is allowed but few opportunities of continuing its race. In a large herd of cattle, the strongest bull drives from him all the younger and weaker individuals of his own sex, and remains sole master of the herd; so that all the young which are produced must have had their origin from one which possessed the maximum of power and physical strength; and which, consequently, in the struggle for existence, was the best able to maintain his ground, and defend himself from every enemy. In like manner, among animals which procure their food by means of their agility, strength, or delicacy of sense, the one best organised must always obtain the greatest quantity; and must, therefore, become physically the strongest, and be thus enabled, by routing its opponents, to transmit its superior qualities to a greater number of offspring. The same law, therefore, which was intended by Providence to keep up the typical qualities of a species, can be easily converted by man into a means of raising different varieties; but it is also clear that, if man did not keep up these breeds by regulating the sexual intercourse, they would all naturally soon revert to the original type. Farther, it is only on this principle that we can satisfactorily account for the degenerating effects said to be produced by the much-censured practice of "breeding in and in." There would almost seem, in some species, to be a tendency, in every separate family, to some particular kind of deviation; which is only counteracted by the various crossings which, in a state of nature, must take place, and by the above-mentioned law, which causes each race to be chiefly propagated by the most typical and perfect individuals." Blyth (1835, 45f)

Friday, 12 June 2015

A.P. De Candolle's anticipation of natural selection (1820)

[For information on further anticipators visit: Natural Selection before Darwin and Wallace.]


In 1820 Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle (1778–1841) published his Essai élémentaire de Géographie Botanique. (Extrait du 18.e volume du Dictionnaire des sciences naturelles.) In it he wrote (p. 26):
"Toutes les plantes d'un pays, toutes celles d'un lieu donné, sont dans un état de guerre les unes relativement aux autres. Toutes sont douées de moyens de réproduction et de nutrition plus ou moins efficaces. Les premières qui s'établissent par hasard dans une localité donnée, tendent, par cela même qu'elles occupent l'espace, à en exclure les autres espèces: les plus grandes étouffent les plus petites; les plus vivaces remplacent celles dont la durée est plus courte; les plus fécondes s'emparent graduellement de l'espace que pourraient occuper celles qui se multiplient plus difficilement."

My translation:
"All the plants of a country, all those of a given location, are in a state of war with each other. All are equipped with means of reproduction and more or less effective nutrition. The first that establish themselves by chance in a given location, tend, by the mere fact that they occupy the ground, to exclude other species: the biggest stifle the smaller; the more perennial replace those with a shorter duration; the most fertile gradually seize the space that could otherwise be filled by slower multiplying ones."

By the way, Lyell also gave a translation in his Principles of Geology, Vol. 2, first published in 1832. As the first edition has not yet been digitized by any body, I'll give the passage from the second edition (p. 136f therein):
"Equilibrium in the number of species, how preserved.—'All the plants of a given country,' says De Gandolle, in his usual spirited style, 'are at war one with another. The first which establish themselves by chance in a particular spot, tend, by the mere occupancy of space, to exclude other species—the greater choke the smaller, the longest livers replace the replace those which last for a shorter period, the more prolific gradually make themselves masters of the ground, which species multiplying more slowly would otherwise fill.'"

By yet another way, Frank N. Egerton (2010. History of Ecological Sciences, Part 34: A Changing Economy of Nature. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 91:21–41. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/0012-9623-91.1.21) also quoted Lyell's translation.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Erasmus Darwin (1818) on selection (sexual and natural)

[For information on further anticipators visit: Natural Selection before Darwin and Wallace.] 

Erasmus Darwin (1818. Zoonomia, vol. I, p. 396):

"The birds, which do not carry food to their young, and do not
therefore marry, are armed with spurs for the purpose of fighting
for the exclusive possession of the females, as cocks and quails.
It is certain that these weapons are not provided for their defence
against other adversaries, because the females of these species arc
without this armour. The final cause of this contest amongst the
males seems to be, that the strongest and most active animal should
propagate the species, which should thence become improved
.
       Another, great want consists in the means of procuring food,
which has diversified the forms of all species of animals. Thus
the nose of the swine has become hard for the purpose of turning
up the soil in search of insects and of roots. The trunk of the
elephant is an elongation of the nose for the purpose of pulling
down the branches of trees for his food, and for taking up water
without bending his knees. Beasts of prey have acquired strong
jaws or talons. Cattle have acquired a rough tongue and a
rough palate to pull off the blades of grass, as cows and sheep.
Some birds have acquired harder beaks to crack nuts, as the par-
rot. Others have acquired beaks adapted to break the harder
seeds, as sparrows. Others for the softer seeds of flowers, or the
buds of trees, as the finches. Other birds have acquired long
beaks to penetrate the moister soils in search of insects or roots,
as woodcocks; and others broad ones to filtrate the water of lakes,
and to retain aquatic insects, as ducks. All which seem to have
been gradually produced during many generations by the perpetual
endeavour of the creatures to supply the want of food, and to have
been delivered to their posterity with constant improvement of
them for the purposes required."

Thursday, 21 May 2015

...such collateral matter as...the question regarding species... (Matthew 1831)

Some plagiarism theorists try to argue that natural selection was the central theme of the book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture by Patrick Matthew (1831) and that the idea that it was a side issue that could easily be overlooked was a myth created by Charles Darwin, because he had plagiarised Matthew. Any scrap mentioning that the book contains ideas on species and varieties is taken as evidence that natural selection was central to On Naval Timber and could not be overlooked including what Matthew, speaking of himself in the third person, said in his preface: "The very great interest of the question regarding species, variety, habit, has perhaps led him a little too wide."
     However, in the very sentence preceding the one thus quoted, Matthew admits that it's a collateral issue put in only to spice up an otherwise insipid book on planting and timber. Here's the full passage (Matthew 1831, v-vi):
"It may be thought presumptuous in a person who has never had the curiosity to peruse the British classic authors on planting and timber—Evelyn, Hanbury, Marshall, Miller, Pontey—to make experiment of the public sufferance. The author does not, however, think any apology necessary; as, if the public lose time unprofitably over his pages, he considers the blame attachable to them, not to him. A writer does not obtrude as a speaker does, but merely places his thoughts within reach.
       As the subject [planting and timber], notwithstanding its great importance, might, per se, be felt dry and insipid by the general reader, accustomed to the luxuries of modern literature, the author has not scrupled to mix with it such collateral matter as he thought might serve to correct the aridity. The very great interest of the question regarding species, variety, habit, has perhaps led him a little too wide."

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Lamarck's analogy/homology of nature with culture (1809)

[For information on further anticipators visit: Natural Selection before Darwin and Wallace.] 


Types of comparison
Biologists distinguish analogous traits from homologous traits. Analogous traits are similar, because of convergent adaptation towards similar environmental conditions. An analysis of the fine structures of these traits, however, will show differences proving that they have been derived from different ancestral traits. The similarity is only superficial. The eyes of vertebrates and octopuses often serve as an example of analogous traits. Although they look extremely similar, superficially, analysing the fine structure reveals, for example, that the innervation of the retina is inverse in vertebrates, but not in octopuses.  
      Homologous traits can look similar or different, depending on the similarity or difference in environmental conditions to which they have been adapted. An analysis of their fine structure, however, will show identities proving that they have been derived from the same ancestral trait. The standard example for homologous traits are the limbs of vertebrates. Although they can look as different (divergent) as the wings of bats and birds or the legs of horses and humans, the fine structure (of bones, tendons, muscles) reveals that they have been derived from the same ancestral limb.
     With this distinction, we can categorise comparisons as follows. If a comparison highlights differences in effects but does not compare the underlying causes, it will be a superficial contrast. If it highlights similarities in effects but does not compare the underlying causes, it will be a superficial analogy. If it highlights similarities in effects but also shows that these are due to the different underlying causes, it will be a deep analogy. Finally, if effects are similar or divergent, but the underlying causal machineries are identical, it will be a homology.

Categories of comparisons

superficial analogy deep analogy superficial
contrast
homology

effects

similar


similar


different

similar
or divergent

causes

--

different


--


identic
"--" means that the causal relations are not being compared.

Lamarck's homology
As shown in the previous post, Charles Naudin proposed that natural and artificial selection were not only superficially similar (analogous) in their effects, but also that this similarity was due to homologous causes. Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin had not yet published and Matthew (1831. On Naval Timber and Arboriculture) had proposed a difference and conflict in the effects of of natural and artificial selection and did not explicitly compare the causal machineries of both processes (see taxonomy of comparisons below). Matthew's proposal was either a superficial contrast or an implied homology with divergent effects. That is, even as a homology, it was different from Naudin's homology of causes with similar effects. Therefore, Matthew (1831) is an unlikely source of inspiration for Naudin's proposal. But Lamarck (1809. Philosophie Zoologique) explicitly proposed a similarity of the effects of nature and culture due to homologous causes.

Ironically, the first English translation of Lamarck's Zoological Philosophy that is digitised and available online (via Archive.org, but not via books.google) is that of Hugh Elliot from 1914. Therefore, books.google will generally fail to identify Lamarck as a possible source of inspiration for English literature. 

For simplicity (and sparing the reader the pleasure of my translations from French into English), I will quote from the translation of Elliot. As Lamarck did not publish later editions of his Philosopie Zoologique that could have differed from his first, taking Elliot's translation is just as well as translating from the French would have been. 

The homology between nature and culture is at page 109 of Elliot's translation. The passage begins with a Buffonism:     
"Those who have observed much and studied large collections, have acquired the conviction that according as changes occur in environment, situation, climate, food, habits of life, etc., corresponding changes in the animals likewise occur in size shape, proportions of the parts, colour, consistency, swiftness and skill.
What nature does in the course of long periods we do every day when we suddenly change the environment in which some species of living plant is situated."
The original passage is at page 225-26 of Lamarck (1809, vol. 1):
"Ceux qui ont beaucoup observé, et qui ont consulté les grandes collections, ont pu se convaincre qu'à mesure que les circonstances d'habitation, d'exposition, de climat, de nourriture, d'habitude de vivre, etc., viennent à changer; les caractères de taille, de forme, de proportion entre les parties, de couleur, de consistance, d'agilité et d'industrie pour les animaux, changent proportionnellement.
Ce que la nature fait avec beaucoup de temps, nous le faisons tous les jours, en changeant nous-mêmes subitement, par rapport à un végétal vivant, les circonstances dans lesquelles lui et tous les individus de son espèce se rencontroient."

Conclusion
In contrast to later comparisons of natural with artificial selection, Lamarck had use-inheritance in place of selection. Charles Naudin merely recombined the strong homology claim already present in French science with the also already present idea of selection (see previous post).

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Naudin's analogy/homology of natural and artificial selection (1852)

[For information on further anticipators visit: Natural Selection before Darwin and Wallace.] 

Types of comparison
Biologists distinguish analogous traits from homologous traits. Analogous traits are similar, because of convergent adaptation towards similar environmental conditions. An analysis of the fine structures of these traits, however, will show differences proving that they have been derived from different ancestral traits. The similarity is only superficial. The eyes of vertebrates and octopuses often serve as an example of analogous traits. Although they look extremely similar, superficially, analysing the fine structure reveals, for example, that the innervation of the retina is inverse in vertebrates, but not in octopuses.  
      Homologous traits can look similar or different, depending on the similarity or difference in environmental conditions to which they have been adapted. An analysis of their fine structure, however, will show identities proving that they have been derived from the same ancestral trait. The standard example for homologous traits are the limbs of vertebrates. Although they can look as different (divergent) as the wings of bats and birds or the legs of horses and humans, the fine structure (of bones, tendons, muscles) reveals that they have been derived from the same ancestral limb.
     With this distinction, we can categorise comparisons as follows. If a comparison highlights differences in effects but does not compare the underlying causes, it will be a superficial contrast. If it highlights similarities in effects but does not compare the underlying causes, it will be a superficial analogy. If it highlights similarities in effects but also shows that these are due to the different underlying causes, it will be a deep analogy. Finally, if effects are similar or divergent, but the underlying causal machineries are identical, it will be a homology.

Categories of comparisons

superficial analogy deep analogy superficial
contrast
homology

effects

similar


similar


different

similar
or divergent

causes

--

different


--


identic
"--" means that the causal relations are not being compared.

M. L. Vilmorin's contrast
The house of Levêque de Vilmorin is a famous family of botanists, seed dealers and breeders (note: one French synonym for breeder is "sélectionneur"). Its history reaches back to the Parisian seed store of Claude Geoffroy and her husband Pierre Andrieux, who were the chief seed suppliers for king Louis XV. Their daughter, Jeanne Marie Adélaïde Andrieux (1756-1836), married Philippe Victoire Levêque de Vilmorin (1746-1804). They created the Vilmorin-Andrieux house (1775), which grew into the Vilmorin-Andrieux company (1815). Today Vilmorin & Cie is, according to its own website, the fourth biggest seed producer in the world.

At 6 January 1847, M. Trochu wrote a letter to L. Vilmorin, describing his experiments in trying to fix a variety of Gorse without thorns, which he had found near his house. He Failed but inspired M.L. Vilmorin to write an article in turn (Vilmorin, M.L. 1851. "Notes sur un projet d'exprérience ayant pour but de créer une variété d'ajonc sans épines se reproduisant par graines; par M. L. Vilmorin, membre correspondant de la Société Industrielle, à Paris. Bulletin de la Société Industrielle d'Angers 22: pp. 253-261).

After describing the efforts of his colleague, Vilmorin speculates about species and varieties, about the forces that keep the species fixed in nature, and of the spectre of breeding and fixing new varieties. Vilmorin thought that a balance of forces prevailed in nature keeping the species close to its type, but that humans could upset this balance in favour of the force that pulled varieties away from the type. He therefore thought of these two forces as a centripetal and a centrifugal one pulling away or towards the type respectively. He also referred to these "forces" as "laws," calling the centripetal one the law of atavism (or similarity to species type) and the centrifugal one the law of individual variation or idiosyncrasy. Here's my translation: 
"From what we know about the power of nature in the law of individual variations, it must look very likely that there exists on the extent of the Bretagne any number of Gorse individuals without thorns in the middle of an immense number of thorny individuals. However, it is sufficient that one of these individuals to print direct descent from seed a little more pronounced character, and as any part of its products were unarmed like him, that it was then possible to arrive quickly enough by a well-understood selection, completely free the new breed. But if we think that individuals more or less devoid of thorns which were met so far were from thorny parents, we will conceive the chance to get spineless relatives of products that are likewise is necessarily slightly larger, and that this opportunity will increase as the number of successive generations will grow for the modified plant.
     If we consider a seed when planted and will create a new individual, we can look at it as attracting two distinct and opposing forces, regarding the characters that will present the plant that must be born. These two forces, which act in the opposite direction and balance each other results in the fixity of species that can be considered as follows: The first, or centripetal force, is the result of the law of similarity for children to fathers, or atavism; its action results in maintaining the species within the assigned limits of variation, while the differences is produced by the opposing force.
     The former, or centrifugal force, resulting from the law of idiosyncrasy that each individual in a species, although it may be supposed born of an individual (or couple), features unique differences that constitute its own physiognomy and produce the infinite variety in unity that characterizes the works of the Creator.  
     For simplicity, we first consider atavism as constituting a single force; but if you think about it, we will see that it is rather a bundle of forces acting approximately in the same direction and is composed of the individual attraction of all ancestors. In order to facilitate the understanding of the action of this force, however, we first have to abstractly consider the force of similarity in/as the mass of ancestors, which can be considered to constitute the attraction of the species type, and to which we will reserve the name of atavism; then separately and in a more special way, the attraction or force of similarity to the direct father, which, less powerful but closer, tends to perpetuate in the child the proper characters of the immediate parent.  
     As long as the father is not appreciable far from the type of the species, these two forces act in parallel and blend, and changes that may occur in this case, by virtue of the law of idiosyncrasy, may occur in all directions without altering any particular. It is no longer so if the direct parent is significantly distant from the species type; the force of similarity to the direct parent now combines with the one of individual variation leading to excessive deviation in the direction of the resultant of the two forces, or, if one prefers, the new changes then radiate, not around the species type as center, but around a point placed on the line, which separates the type from the first deviation [variant] obtained.  
     Abandoned to nature, individual variants almost always die in the overflowing mass of individuals that it [nature] sacrifices continually. Hence the fixity of natural species. But obtained by humans, these variations are protected; their descendants multiply; while obeying the more complex laws governing now, they produce the many changes he was able to fix for his use. It was then also the influence of man, choosing to multiply through offspring only the modified individuals, counterbalancing, by constant efforts, the constant force of atavism, and comes to free or fix the modified races." (p. 255-257)
We can here see a specimen of a what might be called a physicalistic 'force paradigm.' Herbert Spencer' Synthetic Philosophy also had many pairs of forces keeping each other in moving equilibria (see here). In Vilmorin's case, these forces are called Atavism and Idiosyncrasy (the law of individual variations). After these pseudo-Newtonian speculations about pseudo-forces, however, he arrived at the insight that artificial selection can transform species (see quote above). 
     That is, humans can protect variants or sports from nature that would otherwise eliminate them. As Vilmorin also thinks that more complex laws are governing under the human regime than under nature, he sees a contrast between artificial and natural selection, not an analogy or homology.

Naudin's homology
A reprint of Vilmorin's article (Vilmorin, L. 1852. "Ajonc sans épines1. Notes sur un projet d'expérience ayant pur but de créer une race d'Ajonc sans épines se reproduisant de graines." Revue Horticole, Ser. 4, Tome 1: 22-29 [the footnote (1) in the title states that this article is an extract from the earlier one]) inspired Charles Naudin (1852 Considérations philosophiques sur l'espéce et al variété. Revue Horticole, Ser. 4, Tome 1: 102-109) to ponder the species problem in turn. He opened as follows:
"No doubt, the readers of the Revue Horticole have read with interest, in the issue of January 16, an article of M. L. Vilmorin about a variélé of thornless Gorse, whose fixation would be of great importance for agriculture, where this clever experimenter develops a theory already confirmed by the experience of the possibility of creating, in species such as nature provides us with, varieties, races, or even new artificial species most directly relevant to our needs. This theory, we say, is confirmed by experience; strictly speaking, it is a statement of the methods used empirically for centuries, and those used today by horticulturists almost instinctively, and without really realizing it, to obtain new varieties in useful and ornamental species that are introduced every day in our gardens." (p. 102f)
Unlike Vilmorin, Naudin saw natural and artificial selection as homologous in their causal machinery a with similar effects:
"We do not think that Nature has made its species in a different fashion from that in which we proceed ourselves in order to make our varieties; or better, we carried it's [Nature's] process into our practice." (p. 104)

"Such is, in our ideas, the course followed by nature; like us, it wanted to form races appropriate for their needs; and with a relatively small number of primordial kinds, she gave birth in succession and at various times, to all plant and animal species that inhabit the globe." (p. 104)

"Nature has operated on an immense scale and with immense resources; we, on the contrary, we do so with extremely limited means; but between its processes and ours, between his results and those we get, the difference is in any amount; between its species and those we create, there are only the more and less." 
Naudin even mentions Lamarck, praises and criticises him, and improves his scala naturae into a tree of life (p. 105f). Thereafter follows a long discussion of the implications for classification.

Conclusion
Now, Wallace and Darwin had not yet published and it is highly unlikely that the French horticulturist Naudin had read the book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture by Matthew (1831). Furthermore, Naudin's comparison observes that the effects of natural and artificial selection are similar and claims that this is due to a homology of the causal relations underlying both processes. Matthew (1831), on the other hand, observed that effects of natural and artificial selection are in conflict with each other and did not explicitly compare the causal machineries of both processes. His proposal is either a superficial contrast or an implied homology of causes with divergent effects.
      Therefore, it is more likely that Naudin's inspiration for the strong homology with similar effects came from Lamarck's observation that nature and culture had similar effects that were due to homologous causes (see next post).

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A mammoth literary mystery

Just saying. Blogger Archie used Google Books in 2009 to ferret out Lyell as the original source of a succession of uncited reproductions.

Why do I find this interesting? On the one hand, it is quite clear that at least on of the persons involved simply copied the words of a source verbatim without marking it as a quote, though he does mention his source in a footnote. On the other hand, the passage in question and its replications are clearly only reporting about the discovery by M. Middendorf of a mammoth in excellent condition. None of the reporters, including Lyell's, claims the discovery to be his own. That is, all reporters, including the parrots, respect the priority of Middendorf.

According to our standards, this would probably be plagiarism, because copying the words of a source without marking it as a quote is probably enough, even if a footnote refers to the source. Nevertheless, it is not a theft of a discovery or an invention.

According to past standards this sort of parroting was probably borne with nonchalance signifying only that the parrot was not able to improve on the language of his source. This parroting of sensational findings also occurs today in what is called science journalism (though journalists usually mark their quotes properly). Anyway, I disagree with Archie on the interpretation of this case. Words were copied, but no idea or discovery or invention stolen. I do not think the Victorians cared.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Cider Crisis, the crab apple and the Golden Pippin

The Golden Pippin was one of the most famous apple varieties of the country. But to suggest that Charles Darwin must have gotten his musings on Golden Pippins from Matthew (1829) is not convincing. What Matthew (1829) has sent to the Caledonian Horticultural Society (vol. 4, pp. 467-477) was a mere list of apple and pear varieties grown in Gurdie Hill with some additional remarks praising the qualities of a variety called Scarlet Golden Pippin, which Matthew believed to have been derived from THE Golden Pippin.

Now this is not convincing, because scientific literature on the status of the Golden Pippin as a variety of the wild crab apple, its incipient decay, and what could be done against it, was as important an issue in the 18th century as naval timber used to be. The sailors were fine with Rum, but the rest of the population needed its cider. The decay and degeneration of cider apple varieties was at least as severe a crisis as the lack of oak forest trees for naval timber.

This is a tale of the crab apple, the Golden Pippin, and what Darwin may actually have meant by his cryptic note: "They die; without they change; like Golden Pippens. it is a generation of species. Like generation of individuals." 

Let's go straight for Thomas Knight (1801. A Treatise on the Culture of the Apple & Pear, and on manufacturing of Cider and Perry. 2nd Edition. London: Longman, Rees; and White). This book opens with a salvo: stating up front that animals and plants vary more strongly under domestication than in nature and that humans profit from this by artificial selection:
"The effects of cultivation on the animal and vegetable system are extremely similar. A change in form, in colour, and in size or stature, takes place in each; and in each those changes appear to arise from similar causes—from a more abundant and regular supply of nourishment than is afforded in a state of nature, with a favourable climate, or protection from the bad effects of an indifferent one. The offspring of every plant and animal, when unchanged by cultivation, bears a very close resemblance to it's parents; but amongst the cultivated kinds of each, it is extremely various; still, however, generally shewing some similarity to them. By taking advantage of incidental variations, and by propagating from those individuals which approach nearest to our ideas of perfection, improved varieties of fruit, as well as of animals, are obtained." (p. 3)
From there, he directly plunges into the topic of Apple cultivation.
"The Apple (on the culture of which I propose to offer some observations in the following pages) is not the natural produce of any soil, or climate; but owes its existence to human art and industry; and differs from the crab, which is a native of every part of England, only in the changes which cultivation has produced in it." (p. 5)
Alas, the best varieties of apples trees are in decay and degeneration.
"The Moil, and its successful rival the Redstreak, with the Musts and Golden Pippin, are in the last stages of the decay and the Stire and Foxwhelp are hastening rapidly after them." (p. 6f)
After pointing out the difference to animals, which cannot be propagated by vegetative (asexual) means, he advances an explanation that could, with anachronism, be called one of cloning the trees through grafting.
"The art of the planter readily divides a single tree into almost any number that he wishes; but the character of the new trees, thus raise, is very essentially different from that of a young seedling plant; they possess a preter-natural maturity, and retain the habits and diseases of the tree of which they naturally formed a part." (p. 8)
The cure, of course, is breeding afresh from seeds and crossing breeds (p. 37). Astonishingly, Knight also provides a qualitative observation that is strikingly reminiscent of Mendel's later quantitative proof of segregation:
"If the male and female be taken from two permanent varieties of different characters, the immediate offspring will present a mixture of both characters, in nearly an equal proportion; but the progeny of this offspring will be extremely various. Some will take nearly the form of their male, and others of their female ancestry, and it will be long before a new permanent character is acquired." (p. 88f)
Let's leave Thomas Knight, here, and see how Sir Humphry Davy (1815. Elements of Agricultural Chemistry. New York: Eastburn, Kirk & Co.) picked up the ball and ran with it. After recapitulating the experiments and findings of Knight (1801), he continues with the selection that is necessary after crossing breeds:
"The power of the horticulturist extends only to the multiplying excellent varieties by grafting. They cannot be rendered permanent; and the good fruits at present in our gardens, are the produce of a few seedlings, selected probably from hundred of thousands; the result of great labour and industry, and multiplied experiments.
Given all this, what could Charles Darwin have been thinking about, when he wrote in his notebook about Golden Pippens that die without change and the generation of species being like generation of individuals?

The answer should be clear now. Thomas Andrew Knight (1801) claimed that apple varieties that were propagated by grafting were nothing more than parts of the trees they stemmed from. Nothing rejuvenated them and they died from old age ("they die, without they change"), no matter on what youthful stock they were grafted. What Knight (1801) had argued quite forcefully was that they were not to be counted as two generations but merely as one individual having been divided by horticulturists ("It is a generation of species. Like generation of individuals"). What does that mean? It means that Charles Darwin has read Thomas Knight's Treatise shortly before he made his cryptic note. 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Ralph Palin (1822) on artificial selection

The general themes of variation under domestication, artificial selection, natural selection, and even species transformation are as old, at least, as Buffon's 36 volumes of Histoire Naturelle published between 1749 and 1788 (see here, here and here). To show that the particular theme of apple tree varieties and Golden Pippins was a staple food of thought for British naturalists, I cite from Ralph Palin (1822) Observations on the influence of habits and manners upon the health and organization of the human race. London: T. Hookham Jun. and Co.
"But while cultivation suppresses some qualities it creates others of the most valuable kind, as we see in the conversion of the crab into the golden pippin, and of the common colewort into the improved forms of the cabbage and cauliflower. Even the vegetable which furnishes us with what we term the staff of life, is, according to Buffon, a factitious production raised to its present state by the art of agriculture. From this we may deduce that those persons who would persuade us to feed our offspring on vegetable food, on the idea that such is the simple order of nature, reason upon a somewhat false theory; since even on vegetable nutriment, we may make great deviations from a natural diet, according as the original properties of vegetables are changed by cultivation, and climate." (p. 130)
Just one example to show, how widespread this Buffon–artificial selection–Golden Pippin topos has been. At 29th of October 1827, Joseph E. Muse delivered an address to the third annual exhibition and fair of the Dorchester Agricultural Society, which has been published in the American Farmer, Vol. 9 (No. 36: pp. 281-283). In it we find Buffon, factitious wheat and the Golden Pippin again, and vision to change useless vegetables into food by culture that is clearly not science but propaganda, contains some questionable factual claims, but nevertheless shows that the Golden Pippin and all that has been a topos regurgitated at any other possibility. Darwin can have received it from anywhere:
"By the influence of culture, many of our indigenous plants, now useless, and even poisonous, may be metamorphosed into wholesome and nutritive food; we have the authority of Buffon, for the fact, that wheat is a factitious production, from a worthless weed, by the force of culture: and Columella states, that the peach possessed deleterious qualities, when first introduced, from Persia, into the Roman empire; it is well known, that the potato, a native of South America, (there a wild and common weed,) "bearing small tubers, too bitter for use," has been reclaimed by cultivation; and ranks among our choicest vegetables.      In the language of an acute enquirer into the arcana of nature, if there be any who feel sceptical upon the subject of such metamorphoses, let him visit the fairy bowers of horticulture, and he will there perceive, that her magic wand has not only converted the tough coriaceous covering of the almond, into the soft and melting flesh of the peach; but, by her spells, the sour aloe, has ripened into the delicious plum; and the austere crab, of our woods, into the golden pippin; the acrid and poisonous apium gravolens, has been changed into delicious celery; and the common colewort, appears, by culture, under the improved forms of cabbage, savoy and cauliflower."

Buffon's Natural History on artificial selection

Buffon's Histoire Naturelle was a world bestseller. It got translated into many languages. Translations into English appeared several times, piecewise or in larger chunks. Every educated household owned a version of it.

I will cite from Barr's Buffon (Buffon's Natural History Containing a Theory of the Earth, a general history of man, of the brute creation, and of vegetables, minerals, &c. From the French. With notes by the translator. London: J. S. Barr) published in ten volumes between 1792 and 1807.

Although Buffon rejected the idea that species could be transformed into new species, he believed that human could produce new varieties and races of domestic animals and plants. Nevertheless, he regarded these varieties and races as being degenerated in comparison with the species in their original state, which he believed to be perfect creations.

Starting with an observation about the variation of dogs with external conditions, Buffon shows how dogs and other domestic species are productions of artificial selection by humans. Here's a relevant passage from page 310ff of volume 5 in Barr's Buffon (see here or here):
"From the same causes [climate, food etc.] arise that great variety so visible in the height, figure, length of the snout, form of the head, length and direction of the ears and tail, colour, quality and quantity of hair, &c. so that there seems to remain nothing constant in these animals but the conformity of their internal organisation, and the faculty of procreating together. And as those which differ most from each other can intermix and produce fertile individuals, it is evident that dogs, however greatly they may vary, nevertheless constitute but one species." (p. 310)
"Those animals which are independent and can chuse for themselves both their food and climate, are those which best preserve their original impressions, and we may believe the most ancient of their species are the most faithfully represented by their descendants. But those which mankind have subdued, transported from climate to climate, whose food, customs, and manners of living he has changed, may also be those which have changed most in their forms; and it is a fact that there are more varieties among domestic than wild animals; and as among domestic animals the dog is the most attached to man, lives also the most regularly, and who possesses sentiments to render him docile, obedient, susceptible of all impressions, and submissive to all restraints, it is not astonishing that he should be that in which we find the greatest variety not only in figure, height, and colour, but in every other quality.     There are also other circumstances which contribute to this change. The life of the dog is short, his produce is frequent, and in pretty large numbers; he is perpetually beneath the eye of man, and whenever by an accident, which is very common in nature, there may have appeared an individual possessing singular characters, or apparent varieties, they have been perpetuated by uniting together those individuals, and not permitting them to intermix with any others; as is done in the present time, when we want to procure a new breed of dogs, or other animals." (p. 311)
From artificial selection of dogs, Buffon takes a discourse into plants, where he believed the annual plants to be particularly likely to vary, because of their short generation time. Here, he contradicts his own doctrine, according to which varieties are degenerations of the original stock, because he admits that man can "improve" the species. He also states that the more domesticated or cultivated species vary the strongest:
"It is the same with annual plants (some of which may be said to be artificial or factitious), when compared with other vegetables. Wheat, for example, has been so greatly changed by man that it is not at present to be any where found in a state of nature; it certainly has some resemblance to darnel, dog-grass, and several other herbs of the field, but we are ignorant to which its origin ought to be referred; and as it is renewed every year, and serves for the common food of man, so it has experienced more cultivation than any other plant, and consequently undergone a greater variety of changes. Man can, therefore, not only make every individual in the universe useful to his wants, but, with the aid of time, he can change, modify, and improve their species; and this is the greatest power he has over Nature. To have transformed a barren herb into wheat is a kind of creation, on which, however, he has no reason to pride himself, since it is only by the sweat of his brow, and reiterated culture, that he is enabled to obtain from the bosom of the earth this, often bitter, subsistence. Thus those species, as well among vegetables as animals, which have been the most cultivated by man, are those which have undergone the greatest changes; and as we are sometimes, as in the example of wheat, unable to know their primitive form, it is not impossible that among the numerous varieties of dogs which exist at present there may not be one like the first animal of his species, although the whole of these breeds must have proceeded virtually from him." (p. 312f)