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Regular version of the site

Article

Дарвин: пора прощаться?

Информационный вестник ВОГиС. 2009. Т. 13. № 2. С. 440-447.

Paying the due respect to the historical importance of the intellectual revolution caused by Ch. Darwin and his «Origin of species» (1859) one should not misunderstand its place in our current scholarly life. The complex development of science is based on production of new facts and theories in the course of negotiations allowing us to tell facts from their interpretations, «real» facts from systematic observational errors, to formulate, test and reshape theories, etc. Darwin is a wrong partner for this negotiation process. One can not any longer force him to accept the current standards of scientific validity, to reconsider his views, or to put them into other words. The whole world of facts and theories changed over the past 150 years. Some scientific concepts taking their origin from the works of Darwin are present in the now current theories of evolution in such a form that would not be intelligible and, perhaps, even agreeable for Darwin and his contemporaries. The notions of selection and competition attained a far higher degree of counterintuitivity and mathematical sophistication than one could imagine in the nineteenth century. Some ideas, e. g., Darwin's vague views of heredity, were completely rejected. Two principal fallacies in the treatment of Darwin's heritage are thus identified: the dogmatic literalism infollowing his views, and the readiness to engage in a scholarly debate with «Darwinism» by criticising or denigrating Darwin's original ideas. The dogmatic literalism in following Darwin's views on heredity was characteristic, e. g., for the infamous Trofim Lysenko and his adherents. On the other hand, those who are now seriously involved with criticising Darwin are performing their scholarly duties poorly. Darwin's works should remain where they are, in the history of science, situated in the culture of the nineteenth century. The current debate should be centered upon the current theoretical problems. What is no less important is that the scientists should play a more active role in reshaping the public understanding of science, introducing the increasingly complex new World to the general public.