AT THE DEATHBED OF DARWINISM
A SERIES OF PAPERS
E. DENNERT, Ph.D.
By E. V. O'HARRA and JOHN H. PESCHGES
GERMAN LITERARY BOARD
By R. NEUMANN
|CHAPTER I.—The Return to Wigand—The Botanist, Julius von Sachs—The Vienna Zoologist, Dr. Schneider
|CHAPTER II.—Professor Goethe on "The Present Status of Darwinism"—Explains the Reluctance of certain men of Science to Discard Darwinism
|CHAPTER III.—Professor Korchinsky Rejects Darwinism—His Theory of Heterogenesis—Professor Haberlandt of Graz—Demonstration of a "Vital Force"—Its Nature—The Sudden Origination of a New Organ—Importance of the Experiment.
|CHAPTER IV.—Testimony of a Palaeontologist, Professor Steinmann—On Haeckel's Family Trees—The Principle of Multiple Origin—Extinction of the Saurians—"Darwinism Not the Alpha and Omega of the Doctrine of Descent"—Steinmann's Conclusions
|CHAPTER V.—Eimer's Theory of Organic Growth—Definite Lines of Development—Rejects Darwin's Theory of Fluctuating Variations—Opposes Weismann—Repudiates Darwinian "Mimicry"—Discards the "Romantic" Hypothesis of Sexual Selection—"Transmutation is a Physiological Process, a Phyletic Growth"
|CHAPTER VI.—Admissions of a Darwinian—Professor von Wagner's Explanation of the Decay of Darwinism—Darwinism Rejects the Inductive Method, Hence Unscientific—Wagner's Contradictory Assertions
|CHAPTER VII.—Haeckel's Latest Production—His Extreme Modesty—Reception of the Weltraetsel—Schmidt's Apologia—The Romanes Incident—Men of Science Who Convicted Haeckel of Deliberate Fraud
|CHAPTER VIII.—Grottewitz Writes on "Darwinian Myths"—Darwinism Incapable of Scientific Proof—"The Principle of Gradual Development Certainly Untenable"—"Darwin's Theory of "Chance" a Myth"
|CHAPTER IX.—Professor Fleischmann of Erlangen—Doctrine of Descent Not Substantiated—Missing Links—"Collapse of Haeckel's Theory"—Descent Hypothesis "Antiquated"—Fleischmann Formerly a Darwinian—Haeckel's Disreputable Methods of Defense
|CHAPTER X.—Hertwig, the Berlin Anatomist, Protests Against the Materialistic View of Life"—No Empiric Proof of Darwinism—"The Impotence of Natural Selection"—Rejects Haeckel's "Biogenetic Law"
|CONCLUSION.—Darwinism Abandoned by Men of Science—Supplanted by a Theory in Harmony With Theistic Principles
The general tendency of recent scientific literature dealing with the problem of organic evolution may fairly be characterized as distinctly and prevailingly unfavorable to the Darwinian theory of Natural Selection. In the series of chapters herewith offered for the first time to English readers, Dr. Dennert has brought together testimonies which leave no room for doubt about the decadence of the Darwinian theory in the highest scientific circles in Germany. And outside of Germany the same sentiment is shared generally by the leaders of scientific thought. That the popularizers of evolutionary conceptions have any anti-Darwinian tendencies cannot, of course, be for a moment maintained. For who would undertake to popularize what is not novel or striking? But a study of the best scientific literature reveals the fact that the attitude assumed by one of our foremost American zoologists, Professor Thomas Hunt Morgan, in his recent work on "Evolution and Adaptation," is far more general among the leading men of science than is popularly supposed. Professor Morgan's position may be stated thus: He adheres to the general theory of Descent, i.e., he believes the simplest explanation which has yet been offered of the structural similarities between species within the same group, is the hypothesis of a common descent from a parent species. But he emphatically rejects the notion—and this is the quintessence of Darwinism—that the dissimilarities between species have been brought about by the purely mechanical agency of natural selection.
To find out what, precisely, Darwin meant by the term "natural selection" let us turn for a moment, to his great work, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. In the second chapter of that work, Darwin observes that small "fortuitous" variations in individual organisms, though of small interest to the systematist, are of the "highest importance" for his theory, since these minute variations often confer on the possessor of them, some advantage over his fellows in the quest for the necessaries of life. Thus these chance individual variations become the "first steps" towards slight varieties, which, in turn, lead to sub-species, and, finally, to species. Varieties, in fact, are "incipient species." Hence, small "fortuitous" fluctuating, individual variations—i.e., those which chance to occur without predetermined direction—are the "first-steps" in the origin of species. This is the first element in the Darwinian theory.
In the third chapter of the same work we read: "It has been seen in