Número 13. Ludus Vitalis

Ludus Vitalis

Revista científica. Nº 13. Vol. 8. 2000. Ciudad de México (México)
Editado por: Centro de Estudios Filosóficos, Políticos y Sociales Vicente Lombardo Toledano

ISSN: 1133-5165
Ciencias Naturales: Evolucionismo, Antropología, Etnología, Historia.
Palabras clave: Ciencia, filosofía, historia, filosofía de la biología


Historia y filosofía de las teorías evolucionistas / History and philosophy of evolucionist theories


La révolution scientifique manquée de 1830 ou l’échec d’Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire à imposer le transformisme dans la communauté scientifique française (Pág. 5-34)

Cédric Grimoult

The defeated revolution of 1830. The failure of Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire to establish transformism among the french scientific community In France, between 1825 and 1832, a famous scientific controversy opposed Georges Cuvier, who defended the dogma of biblical creationism, and Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, a friend of Lamarck, who was convinced by evolutionism. Although the theory of descent with modification was the solution accepted by the international scientific community in due time, Cuvier succeeded in preventing his colleagues from it. To understand the defeat of evolutionism at this period, we have proposed three hypotheses, all based on several historical works. The first one considers, as Cuvier argued in his time, that evolutionism was not built on enough factual arguments. This naturalist wished to separate absolutely all theories, which can be altered by some possible discoveries, and facts, which are supposed to be final results. Actually, Saint-Hilaire proved the evolutionist theory with a lot of observation and experiments. The second hypothesis supposes that, in French biology in the early XIXth century, the researches about the origin of species were considered as theologic or metaphysical problems, not scientific ones. But if Cuvier defended an empirical conception of science, he rarely could prevent himself from theorizing. His anatomical laws are still famous, as well as his theory of earth, called catastrophism. On the question of human fossils, for example, he did not submit to facts, but to his supposition on the discontinuity of our planet history. The last historical hypothesis consists in stating that Cuvier’s victory among the scientific community was due to social causes. With the help of his considerable institutional and political influence, he succeeded in ruining the reputation of his colleagues Lamarck and Geoffroy. The question is not whether Cuvier’s catastrophism was justified by religious beliefs, but if he used his enormous power to enforce creationism. This can be proved by Cuvier’s attitude toward Saint-Hilaire and the arguments of authority he imposed against all the evolutionist theories. Cuvier also had scientific reasons to reject that paradigm. His a priori can be seen notably in the mechanism of fossilisation during the “revolutions du globe” he defended. In conclusion, this debate shows that internal and external factors of science dynamics must be studied together, not separately. The synergic theory of human sciences, based on D. Buican’s works will guide us to study more precisely the analogy between the evolution of ideas and that of living forms.

Palabras clave / Keywords: Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, révolution scientifique


El problema de los monstruos en la evolución (Pág. 35-50)

Igor Y. Popov

The problem of monsters in evolution One trend in modern evolutionist biology is the elaboration of new models of macroevolution. In this regard, the idea of R. Goldschmidt about “hopeful monsters” is often used, i.e., that the main mechanism of evolution is characterized by the appearance of rare or monstrous anomalies which, coincidentally, are more highly developed and better adapted to the environment than normal organisms. This notion suffers from several important gaps: the lack of a historical analysis of analogous hypotheses; the lack of an analysis of the “norm-anomaly” problem in biology; the lack of references in the results of special research on these anomalies. Research on anomalies is scarce, and its notion on evolution not only is inconsistent with the one put forward by Goldschmidt, but goes against it. Works on anomalies reach the following conclusions: the appearance of anomalies is subject to regularities; anomalies cannot be of whatever type; abnormal structures do not necessarily affect viability and reproductive success; the boundaries between norm and anomaly are conventional; “norm” and “anomaly” are definitions of particular features in certain organisms. All these principles state that anomalies may be used for analyzing the regularities of variation, or to establish phylogenetic relationships, but it will be impossible to discuss the significance of anomalies in evolution “as a whole” without concrete criteria. The idea of monsters in evolution was put forward as early as the eighteenth century. In some works written towards the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth, a more profound analysis of the normanomaly problem was undertaken than the one carried out by modern variants of saltationism. The appearance of anomalies is considered as the confirmation of saltationism, even though it is not so. Viable anomalies or monstrosities known in the practice of selection, experimental teratology or taxonomy are never described as new species, genera, families and so on, because they affect isolated features of organisms. Macroevolution consists of the appearance of the set of abnormal features in regard to the preceding group.

Palabras clave / Keywords: evolución, biología, filosofía de la biología


On changing views about physical law, evolution and progress in the second half of the nineteenth century (Pág. 53-70)

Sergio F. Martínez

There has been deep disagreements about the significance of Darwin’s theory of evolution on changes on the notion of progress that prevailed during the nineteenth century in Britain and many other countries. As part of a widespread view it is generally argued that Darwin was fully aware of the important implications of his views for overthrowing the traditional Victorian notion of progress and thus that in an important sense Darwin was more a thinker of our times than of the nineteenth century. Important replies to this traditional view have argued that Darwin’s views are tinted with the teleological view of progress and evolution common in his times. In this paper I want to argue that both views are to some extent right. It will be shown that even though there is a close affinity between Spencer and Darwin concerning their common adherence to a teleological and moral notion of progress, there are important differences as well. These are related to the role that Darwin thought contingency plays in evolutionary explanations. This view of Darwin is importantly different from the view of most contemporaries and lead to a different characterization of evolution. For Darwin, but not for most of his contemporaries, progress is not to be seen as the necessary result of the existence of a physical law that would supposedly ground the explanatory power of evolution. As Chauncey Wright points out in the early 1870’s, one should not look at Darwin’s theory of evolution in analogy with mechanics, but rather with meteorology. From this perspective, natural selection is not really “a cause” described by a law, rather it is the mode of operation of a certain limited class of causes. Wright’s comparison is the first suggestion that the theory of evolution is a different sort of theory because of the role that contingencies play in framing the ontology for explanations. As Boutroux will clearly formulate the basic idea in 1874, the recognition of the central role of contingencies in explanations leads to a view of reality as consisting of different domains, each one explicable by different sets of laws. Wright and Boutrox are used in this paper to argue that, even though Darwin never formulates the idea explicitly, his view requires taking stand against a problematic notion of physical law that was widely assumed to be a point of departure for the discussion about the nature of progress.

Palabras clave / Keywords: Darwin, evolucionismo, antropología, filosofía de la biología


Condillac y el niño de Aveyron (1800): sensación y silencio (Pág. 71-90)

Raymundo Mier

Condillac and the wild boy of Aveyron (1800): sensation and silence This text is a meditation on the contemporary notion of language, on its history, engraved in the complex web of experiences, which has incited the appearance of identities, of subjects, of conceptions of sensibility and anomaly. Thus, the history of language reveals itself not as an autonomous discipline, but as a dense map of trajectories implanted in other manifold histories of different qualities: psychiatry and its institutions; the family, abruptly transformed since the XVIIIth century; the symbolic identities of kinship; the mutating visions on sexuality; the emergence of pedagogy, the intellectual frames for the conceptions of anomaly. This paper seek, through the reading of Condillac, to explore this history that outlines not a lineal transformations of the notion and categories of language within the margins of a discipline, but the outcome of accumulated echoes, the resonance of the paradoxical impact and equivocal alliances between modes of institutional behaviour and the building of knowledge and experience.

Palabras clave / Keywords: lenguaje, pedagogía, conocimiento, sexualidad, familia


Consideraciones en torno a los orígenes de la política: Las comunidades de chimpancés (pan troglodytes) como modelo referencial (Pág. 93-124)

Catarina Casanova, Luis Vicente, Antonio B. Vieira

On the origins of politics: The chimpanzees’ communities as referential models In this paper we consider different definitions of politics and apply them to several examples of social relationships in chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). We also present some definitions of alliance, coalition, justice, morality and other concepts. Taking in account the discoveries coming from the primatological field of the last thirty years, and our own field work experience at the Lisbon Zoo, we present all these concepts as not being exclusively human.

Palabras clave / Keywords: justicia, moral, primatología,


Systematics of humankind Palma 2000: an International Working Group on Systematics in Human Paleontology (Pág. 127-130)

C. J. Cela-Conde, E. Aguirre

Palabras clave / Keywords: Paleontología, arqueología, evolucionismo


Sistemática de la humanidad Palma 2000: Grupo Internacional de Trabajo Sobre la Sistemática de la Paleontología Humana (Pág. 132-134)

C. J. Cela-Conde, E. Aguirre

Palabras clave / Keywords: paleontología humanam antropología, evolucionismo, filosofía de la biología


¿Desde África? Una perspectiva de los elementos poblacionales en la aparición de los seres humanos modernos (Pág. 135-156)

Francisco J. Ayala

Palabras clave / Keywords: África, evolucionismo, antropología, humanos modernos


La genética de poblaciones y la trazabilidad genética de la historia de la vida: El poder de los marcadores moleculares (Pág. 157-161)

Andrés Moya

Palabras clave / Keywords: ADN, genética, evolucionismo, antropología

Procedimientos utilizados por la Evolución Molecular para entender el origen del hombre moderno (Pág. 163-170)

Francesc Mestres

Palabras clave / Keywords: evolución molecular, evolucionismo, filosofía de la biología


Dimensions éthiques du débat sur les organismes génétiquement modifiés statuts, impacts et limites d’une nouvelle biotechnologie (Pág. 173-205)

Philippe Goujon

As Hans Jonas states in his book Le principe de responsabilité, “A definitively unchained Prometheus, to whom science grants forces previously unheard of, and an economy with an unrestrained impetus, call for an ethics that imposes freely accepted restraints and prevents man from becoming a curse for himself.” (Hans Jonas, Le principe de responsabilité: une éthique pour la civilisation technologique, E. Du Cerf, Paris, 1990, 1a., preface.) The making of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is but one result of such unrestrained process of submission of nature, fruit of the pursuits of those modern-day Promethei that are the researcher, the scientist, the engineer and the technician. More active than ever, this Prometheus must encounter resistance not only from things, matter or nature, but also from men, institutions, society. The revolution of transgenic products is already under way, and arouses passion and controversy. It is a problem that touches the most intimate of our daily life, since it concerns our food, our health and that of our close kin. It is also a true social problem conditioning tomorrow’s lifestyles and, hence, the future of our children and grandchildren. Although it does not aim to deprecate science and technics, and keeping in mind that the essence of technics is not at all technical, the aim of this paper is making questions, taking into account the potentials and risks of GMOs, how complex the problem regarding the status of the biotechnology is, and its ethical dimensions. Technical choices always have weighty consequences, and it is more important than ever to find the interdisciplinary ways of a civic science and technics, within a true scientific democracy, genuinely at the service of tomorrow’s men and society, which contributes to the development of the human condition’s potentials. Living a human life is not restricted to living biologically. It is, besides and above all, living for something. We cannot keep from asking ourselves about the status of these new technological beings and of the techniques presiding their birth as long as we believe that reason and language are products of social and cultural life. “The instinct of knowledge is dominated by imagination within the people’s civilization… Every fecundity and every motor force are held in these glimpses of the future” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Le livre du philosophe).

Palabras clave / Keywords: GMOs, ingeniaría genética, modificación genética, filosofía de la ciencia, filosofía de la biología


Filosofía de la Tecnología: Marx entre nosotros (Pág. 209-211)

José A. López Cerezo

Palabras clave / Keywords: Marx, filosofía de la tecnología


Eucariosis y neolítico (Pág. 213-219)

J. Félix Fuertes

Palabras clave / Keywords: neolítico, eucariosis, antropología