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Thoughts on Week 1

the.believer's picture

 Based on my education on the topic of evolution, I have been taught to believe that evolution is exclusively applied to organisms. Darwin's observations and conclusions coupled with Mendel's genetic experiments on living organisms told me that evolution is "survival of the fittest", "natural selection" and that the inheritance of these fit traits are guided by a set of rules and probability. After this first week of class, I found myself thinking too close-minded about this topic. At it's core, evolution is about perpetual changing so the term can generally encompass anything that changes over time such as language and culture. Because my education has always tagged evolution to biology and the Darwinian concepts, my thoughts have been biased. I feel that this class may challenge many foundations I have about science and literature and I welcome it. 



ewashburn's picture

I can see what you mean by

I can see what you mean by saying, "At its core, evolution is about perpetual changing." However, I don't think you've been entirely close-minded in saying that evolution is exclusively applied to organisms, especially with the counter-examples of language and culture. Language and culture are created and changed by organisms. I think that the phrase "evolution" applies to anything alive, but only to things that are alive, as was said during the expansion-vs.-evolution kerfluffle. It is through the process of living that evolution occurs, whether it be the personal evolution of an organism or the larger, collective evolution of many organisms and the effect that such evolution has on language and culture. To claim that evolution applies to anything that changes, even non-living objects, is to trivialize the importance of an organism's agency to change itself and to change the things around it. Rocks and pieces of furniture don't change; they are changed by the living organisms around them. Stars don't change; they are changed by the astrophysical forces which control them. To perpetuate and experience evolution, I still think you have to be a living organism, even if "evolution" is taken to mean all perpetual changing.

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