Angel "Java" Lopez en Blog

Publicado el 27 de Junio, 2013, 8:20

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Hace unos días publiqué enlaces sobre Charles Darwin. El tema de la evolución biológica puede ser encarado desde muchas lados: desde la historia de la ciencia, la epistemología, la biología, la influencia en la sociedad, etc. Hoy quiero inaugurar una serie de post de simplemente, leer y comentar a Darwin. Hay mucho para aprender simplemente leyendo y tratando de comprender su razonamiento. Y también viendo qué es lo que lo movió a él.

Comencemos por su obra más conocida, El origen de las especies. Me encontré:

http://www.literature.org/authors/darwin-charles/the-origin-of-species/
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/origin.html

donde está publicado en línea, en inglés. Tendría que visitar el Project Gutenberg, donde también están sus obras:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/485

para bajar en este caso.

El Origen de las Especies no es un libro para leer en la playa, requiere cierta concentración, pero no es un libro académico. Darwin lo escribe para el público, con una publicación rápida, luego de años de meditar sobre el tema de la evolución biológica. La escribe motivado por la recepción de un informe de Alfred Russel Wallace, el 18 de Junio de 1858. En veinte páginas, Wallace esboza un mecanismo evolutivo, y le pide a Darwin que se lo alcance a Charles Lyell, si lo considera apropiado. Darwin está agobiado: todo su trabajo original, que viene preparando desde hace años, va a diluirse. Así le escribe a Lyell, presentado el trabajo de Wallace. Lyell y el botánico Joseph Dalton Hooker, que conocen el trabajo privado de Darwin desde hace tiempo, resuelve presentar dos "papers", uno de Wallace y otro de Darwin a la Linnean Society, el 1ro de Julio de 1858. También se presenta un resumen de una carta de Darwin a Asa Gray. Los "papers" llevan como título On the Tendency of Species to form Varieties, y On the Perpetuation of Varieties and Species by Natural Means of Selection. Veamos un poco más en detalla la historia.

Los trabajos se presentan en la sociedad, con un texto firmado por Lyell y Hooker, con fecha 30 de Junio:

MY DEAR SIR,—The accompanying papers, which we have the honour of communicating to the Linnean Society, and which all related to the same subject, viz. the Laws which affect the Production of Varieties, Races, and Species, contain the results of the investigations of two indefatigable naturalists, Mr. Charles Darwin and Mr. Alfred Wallace. The gentlemen having, independently and unknown to one another, conceived the same very ingenious theory to account for the appearance and perpetuation of varieties and of specific forms on our planet, and both fairly claim the merit of being original thinkers in this important line of inquiry; but neither of them having published his views, though Mr. Darwin has for many years past been repeatedly urged by us to do so, and both authors having now unreservedly placed their papers in our hands, we think it would best promote the interests of science that a selection from them should be laid before the Linnean Society. Taken in the order of their dates, they consist of:—


I. Extract from an unpublished Work on Species, by C. DARWIN, Esq., consisting of a portion of a Chapter entitled, "On the Variation of Organic Beings in a state of Nature; on the Natural Means of Selection; on the Comparison of Domestic Races and true Species."

II. Abstract of a Letter from C. DARWIN, Esq., to Prof. ASA GRAY, Boston, U.S., dated Down, September 5th, 1857.

III. On the Tendency of Varieties to depart indefinitely from the Original Type. By ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE.

Describe los "papers" y declaran que el trabajo de Wallace fue enviado primeramente a Darwin:

... with the expressed wish that it should be forwarded to Sir Charles Lyell, if Mr. Darwin thought it sufficiently novel and interesting. So highly did Mr. Darwin appreciate the value of the views therein set forth, that he proposed, in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, to obtain Mr. Wallace's consent to allow the Essay to be published as soon as possible. Of this step we highly approved, provided Mr. Darwin did not withhold from the public, as he was strongly inclined to do (in favour of Mr. Wallace), the memoir which he had himself written on the same subject, and which, as before stated, one of us had perused in 1844, and the contents of which we had both of us been privy to for many years. On representing this to Mr. Darwin, he gave us permission to make what use we thought proper of his memoir, &c.; and in adopting our present course, of presenting it to the Linnean Society, we have explained to him that we are not solely considering the relative claims to priority of himself and his friend, but the interests of science generally

Todo esto fue el desencadenante para que Darwin escribiera El Origen, y fuera publicado al año siguiente, el 24 de Noviembre de 1859.

El argumento de Darwin se basa en dos pilares: uno, la existencia de variabilidad heredable en plantas y animales. El otro: la existencia de una selección natural. Darwin primorosamente va tejiendo la trama de esos dos argumentos, con lo que tenía disponible en ese momento, y sin poder citar fuentes en detalle como en un trabajo científico.

Es notable el trabajo que realizó por años para soportor esas conclusiones. Por hoy, basta recordar el final de la obra, un párrafo que Stephen Jay Gould me hizo conocer y apreciar:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Es una hermosa descripción del aporte de Darwin. Se ve que estaba conmocionado por todo lo que su teoría explicaba.

Tengo una versión en español, en cuanto pueda la agrego a este post.

Fuentes consultadas:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Origin_of_Species
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Tendency_of_Species_to_form_Varieties;_and_on_the_Perpetuation_of_Varieties_and_Species_by_Natural_Means_of_Selection

Nos leemos!

Angel "Java" Lopez
http://www.ajlopez.com
http://twitter.com/ajlopez

Por ajlopez, en: Ciencia