“In spite of all gradualness, the transition from one form of motion to another always remains a leap, a decisive change.”
Nothing to add; quoted because I think it’s worth bearing in mind.
“And just as the law of wages has maintained its validity even after the Malthusian arguments on which Ricardo based it have long been consigned to oblivion, so likewise the struggle for existence can take place in nature, even without any Malthusian interpretation.”
I just like this. Dare I apply this method to art? Suppose a critic were to claim that Edgar Rice Burroughs was a bad writer (a subject I’m not prepared to discuss). Roger Zelazny based his brilliant story “A Rose for Eccelesiastes” on Burroughs work; therefore, is this critic obliged to hate the Zelazny story? Not so much. The same is true in theories of the sciences: that Darwin was inspired by the work of Malthus neither validates Malthus nor invalidates Darwin.
It is a real pleasure to read Engels vehement defense of Darwin just for it’s own sake; that’s one of the things I love about this book.
Dühring berates Darwin for not knowing what causes alterations in separate individuals. He does not, however, have anything to offer on the subject himself. Engels: “To Darwin it was of less immediate importance to discover these causes– which up to the present are in part absolutely unknown, and in part can only be stated in quite general terms — than to find a rational form in which their effects become fixed,acquire permanent significance.”
Another example of working with a science in its earliest stages.
“It is true that in doing this Darwin attributed to his discovery too wide a field of action, made it the sole agent in the alteration of species. . . once again, the man who gave the impetus to investigate how exactly these transformations and differences arise is no other than Darwin.”
“…it has not yet succeeded even in producing simple protoplasm or other albuminous bodies [ie, life-SB] out of chemical elements….” What I love about this sentence is the word “yet.” In 1876, Engels was convinced that the creation of life in a laboratory was simply a matter of time.
“… the colossal impetus which natural science owes to the driving force of the Darwinian theory….”
“The theory of evolution itself is however still in a very early stage, and it therefore cannot be doubted that further research will greatly modify our present conceptions, including strictly Darwinian ones, of the process of the evolution of species.”