Wordsworth, I believe, accurately described how the physical world is both seen and created by humanity in his work, Tintern Abby. No two people can truly perceive an object or phenomenon the same way. We approach our perceptions of the world around us with a mold of our values, beliefs and experiences and often see ways in which we can fit our observations into them. It is unlikely then that Darwin was not influenced in such a way while devising his theory on natural selection, and that our current understanding of evolution has not been warped by the way we view the world around us.
In our class so far we have described Darwin as artistic in his ability to create links between things where there was no apparent connection, or where there lacked evidence. I would not argue with that view point, but ask if that method seems like a credible manner in generating a scientific theory? Further more, if this is the manner in which he created his theory we should not treat it as fact, which is the trend in western society. Darwin’s theory is very reminiscent of Linnaeus’s classifications of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. He noticed a connection between the organisms around him and from that postulated how that could have happened. However, natural selection being a process that, as he stated, required time, there was little evidence for his theory. He had to rely on his own creative powers to develop his ideas. With modern science some of Darwin’s theories have proven correct. Darwin was extremely perceptive, he noticed patterns of variation and natural selection before there was a strong understanding of genetics and heritability of traits. However, Darwin has also been proven false in areas of his theory. Ideas such as use and disuse changing organic structures in successive generations or that natural selection would slowly remove extraneous and unwanted organs fell under the notions of laws of variation within chapter five of his theory. Our current understanding have falsified both. Granted having these minor concepts as false does not cause his theory to crumble, but it should cause one to question it more. With something that is partially perceived and partially created, we should be tempted to question the lack of evidence to confirm the role of science.
For my presentation I will be using a Pechakucha format on chapter five, “Laws of Variation,” to convey the potential issues with a scientific premiss that is both perceived and created. Natural selection was a theory created by Darwin’s perceptions of nature. Modern science widely accepts his theory, but how much of the “laws” and observations within his work are influenced by his perceptions of what he witnessed? It could be further asked,” How much are our own observations influenced by what we think we perceive?” It is possible that due to skewed perceptions, both Darwin and modern society have misunderstood what was seen in nature and “The Origin of Species”. Darwin was unable to explain all that he witnessed in his research. He argues that aspects such as habitat, use and disuse, and the correlation of growth explain variation, but only to an extent. “Our ignorance of the laws of variation is profound.” (Origins. 155) Darwin felt confident that, with progress in science, these weaknesses in his theory would be solved. However, there are still gaps in the theory that persist today and questions that remain unsolved. Are we then taking the same stance as Darwin and believing that with more time we can find the answers to theses weaknesses? Or are we looking at the issue with a preconceived notion, an already formed mold for our perceptions, that prevents us from objectivity?