Let Darwin Be

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RAJGOPAL NIDAMBOOR

The general argument is Charles Darwin, the legendary naturalist, was not ‘politically’ correct, unlike philosopher Baruch Spinoza who called his highest being, god or nature. It was obvious that Darwin thought of his spectacular doctrine as ‘allocation’ of design throughout nature, creating in the natural ‘Tree of Life’ an entirely distinctive and unique foundation — a tangible pattern in the immeasurable expanse of a universal design space that could not be duplicated, in its innumerable details, without error. Darwin also thought and, perforce, rightly, that such a design just happened, not astoundingly, or instantly, but slowly, over billions of years — a magnificent marriage of possibility and inevitability, in a trillion places at once, and at a trillion different levels.  Hence, the big question. Did the ‘Tree of Life’ create itself, where one could pray, or fear?

To ‘cull’ Friedrich Nietzsche’s wisdom in the context, “I could not pray to it, but I can stand in affirmation of its magnificence.” This holds true for all human life, because a human life worth living, as Darwin espoused, is not something that can be definitively measured — this is its wholesome splendour. Darwin provided tangible support to the maxim that nature also does not make leaps. To highlight a point: nothing can describe evolution better than this concluding sentence of his magnum opus, “There is grandeur in [this] view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into new forms, or into one; and, that whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Interestingly, the bearded English naturalist’s own notion of the fittest was truly in consonance with philosophy too — Immanuel Kant’s ‘practical reason,’ or Arthur Schopenhauer’s ‘exaltation of the will.’ Modern biology upholds this captivating narrative in terms of an equally extraordinary and striking voyage of our genes — this was reason enough why the term, organism, disappeared from Darwin’s biology as the elementary unit of life. While the most essential and central component of life in Darwin’s aphorism is, consequently, the ‘gene,’ the naturalist in him could not, however, ‘divine’ how this story of stories would unfurl. Yet, the fact is our genocentric biology is a flawless, logical consequence of the mode Darwin chose to describe evolution in terms of inheritance. In other words, from the essence of random variation and natural selection, not to speak of the survival of adapted species. Through this wisdom alone, Darwin was far ahead of his time, far ahead of philosophy and far ahead of science and scientific analogy — or, call it what you may.

Most importantly, Darwin belonged to an epoch that had discovered historical explanations and was getting preoccupied with change. Hence, it goes to his acclaim, that despite his stiff article of faith that there was nothing beyond biology, he grudgingly accepted that nothing was, of course, predictable in science — even when it was being clued-up with several interlocking levels of subtle understanding and/or gradations. This was simply because the Darwinian theory contradicts the notion that comes from intuitive biology. Yet, it does not mean that the notion of ‘essence’ vanishes from our deepest mental aspect — because, any, or every, knowledge of a theory does not create a type of intuitive preferentials that would be consistent with ‘that’ theory and/or substitute to previously held intuitive beliefs. This also connotes that science plays no function in the surfacing and/or progression of intuitive biology — primarily because the subject is more like a barrier that scientific thinking, or advance, must relentlessly battle against.

Let Darwin be. Darwin.

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