Der Kampf der Theile im Organismus: ein Beitrag sur Vervollständigung der mechanischen Zweckmässigkeitslehre


SINCE the first dawn of methodical inquiry one of the largest and most important problems that has always been presented to scientific thought is the explanation of the endless number and complex variety of those apparently purposive adaptations of structures to functions which are everywhere to be met with in organic nature. Until within the last few years the solution of this problem was all but universally sought in the hypothesis of a designing mind, and as no other cause had been suggested as adequate to produce such a multitude of seemingly teleological effects, it became a habit of philosophical thinking to regard these effects as evidences of a creating intelligence. And although the scientific instincts of an individual here and there pointed towards the belief that in some unaccountable manner the facts were due to physical as distinguished from metaphysical causes, the scientific instincts which pointed in this direction were unable to justify themselves on grounds of reason, inasmuch as they were unable to suggest any non-mental principle which could reasonably be taken to explain a class of phenomena bearing so suggestively the appearance of a mental origin. The tide of thought in this matter therefore rose without interruption or perceptible hindrance in the direction of supernaturalism, until it attained its highest level in the “Argument from Design” as elaborated by the natural theologians of the past generation. Then with a suddenness only less surprising than its completeness the end came; the fountains of this great deep were broken up by the power of one man, and never in the history of thought has a change been effected of a comparable magnitude or importance.

Der Kampf der Theile im Organismus: ein Beitrag zur Vervollständigung der mechanischen Zweckmässigkeitslehre.

Von Dr. Wilhelm Roux, Privatdocent und Assistent am Anatomischen Institut zu Breslau. (Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann, 1881.)

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ROMANES, G. Der Kampf der Theile im Organismus: ein Beitrag sur Vervollständigung der mechanischen Zweckmässigkeitslehre . Nature 24, 505–506 (1881).

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