[Letter to Editors]

Abstract

DR. WADDINGTON'S interesting essay which was published in NATURE of September 6, p. 270, suggests that he is still wavering between the theory that when you have explained a thing you have explained it away, and the fundamental but usually unspoken postulate of science that everything has an explanation, even though this implies an infinite series of causation. In Dr. Waddington's opinion, Marxists say that ethical systems are epiphenomena which may be left out of account when we are considering the mechanism of social development. T. H. Huxley invented the word ‘epiphenomenon’ to mean a mental event caused by physical events, but not in its turn causing physical events. I believe that in the long run science has no room for such loose ends. Certainly Marxism has not. “It would be totally absurd”, wrote Lenin in “Materialism and Empirio–criticism”, “that materialism should maintain the ‘lesser’ reality of consciousness.” Marxists hold that mind is real, but secondary to matter because matter existed before mind. Similarly, they think that economic and social structure largely determines the ethical system. “Thou shalt not commit adultery” is meaningless in a society with no marriage. “Thou shalt not steal” is replaced by “Thou shalt not waste” as property becomes socialized.

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HALDANE, J. [Letter to Editors]. Nature 148, 343–344 (1941) doi:10.1038/148343a0

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