Tautology Wiki

Henry Fairfield Osborn[]

{{{ On Nov 7, 8:08 pm, backspace <stephan...@gmail.com> wrote: > === rephrased === > ".... The weak and insufficiently endowed among all forms tend to drop > out.....The strongest.... win. .... The naturally weak fall by the > wayside............."

And then follow the non-sequitur by John Burroughs >Species have come to be what they are through this process..

The same theme is carried forth in the book "From the Greeks to Darwin" by Henry Fairfield Osborn http://www.archive.org/stream/fromgreekstodarw00osborich/fromgreekstodarw00osborich_djvu.txt

p.117 ".... It is rather a form of the Survival of the Fittest theory applied, not to entire organisms, but to the particles of which it is composed. Blind and ceaseless trials, such as those imagined by Empedocles, Democritus, and Lucretius, are made by these particles, impelled by their rude sensibility. As a sequel of many failures, finally a favourable combination is formed, which persists until a recombination is rendered necessary....."

This was essentially the interpretation of Burroughs of Darwin, but note how Osborn and Burroughs differed over the term natural selection.

...Morley (not knowing of Empedocles' hypothesis) speaks of as an anticipation of a famous modern theory, referring of course to * Natural Selection.' This is especially valuable because it affords another conclusive proof that the idea of the ' Survival of the Fittest' must actually be traced back to Empedocles, six centuries before Christ. It is contained in an imaginary dialogue upon the teleological view of Nature between ' Saunderson ' and the ' Professor ' : " ... all the faulty combinations of matter disappeared, and that those individuals only survived whose mechanism implied no important misadaptation (contradiction), and who had the power of supporting and perpetuating themselves....."

Tautological essence[]

" ... all the faulty ...disappeared, and that those that survived.... had the power of .....perpetuating themselves....."

Darwin's predecessors[]



While it is true, as Prof. H. F. Osborn puts it, that "'Before and after Darwin' will always be the ante et post urbem conditam of biological history," it is also true that the general idea of organic evolution is very ancient. In his admirable sketch From the Greeks to Darwin,[1] Prof. Osborn has shown that several of the ancient philosophers looked upon Nature as a gradual development and as still in process of change.

In the suggestions of Empedocles, to take the best instance, there were "four sparks of truth,—first, that the development of life was a gradual process; second, that plants were evolved before animals; third, that imperfect forms were gradually replaced (not succeeded) by perfect forms; fourth, that the natural cause of the production of perfect forms was the extinction of the imperfect."[2] But the fundamental idea of one stage giving origin to another was absent. As the blue Ægean teemed with treasures of beauty and threw many upon its shores, so did Nature produce like a fertile artist what had to be rejected as well as what was able to survive, but the idea of one species emerging out of another was not yet conceived.


Aristotle's views of Nature[3] seem to have been more definitely evolutionist than those of his predecessors, in this sense, at least, that he recognised not only an ascending scale, but a genetic series from polyp to man and an age-long movement towards perfection. "It is due to the resistance of matter to form that Nature can only rise by degrees from lower to higher types." "Nature produces those things which, being continually moved by a certain principle contained in themselves, arrive at a certain end."


"....that imperfect forms were gradually replaced (not succeeded) by perfect forms...."

This is a subtle hidden tautology. The fact that the forms were replaced implies that they were therefore imperfect. replaced and imperfect in the context used alludes to the same fact but doesn't explain why they were imperfect.

".... the cause of perfect forms was the extinction of the imperfect....."

We see here the Democritus Atomist theory in a different formulated form.

From the Greeks to Darwin by Henry Osborn[]

p.246 "...The idea of Evolution, rooted in the cosmic evo- lution and ' movement ' of Heraclitus and Aristotle, has passed to the progressive development and succession of life seen in Empedocles, Aristotle, Bruno, Descartes, Goethe, and in the more concrete mutability of species ' of Bacon, Leibnitz, Buffon, Lamarck, and St. Hilaire.

The direct transition from the inorganic to the organic is seen to have had a host of friends, nearly to the present time, including, besides all the Greeks, Lucretius, Augustine, Maillet, Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Treviranus, Oken, and Chambers- Then we have seen the difficulty of ' origin ' removed one step back by the ' pre-existent germs ' of Anaxa- goras, revived by Maillet, Robinet, Diderot, and Bonnet. Again, the rudiments of the monistic idea of the psychic properties of all matter, foreshadowed by Empedocles, are seen revived by Maupertuis and Diderot. The difficulty of origin has been avoided by the assumption of primordial minute masses, which we have seen developed from the ' soft germ ' of Aristotle, to the 'vesicles' and 'filaments' of Buffon, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, Oken, and finally into our primordial protoplasm.

To the inquiry : Where did life first appear ? we find the answer, ' in the sea,' given by Thales, Anaximander, and Maillet; 'between sea and land,' is the answer of Anaximenes, Diogenes, Democritus, and Oken; 'from the earth,' is the solitary reply of Lucretius. Now we are too wise to answer it. For the succession of life we have followed the ' ascend- ing scale ' of Aristotle, Bruno, Leibnitz, and others, until Buffon realized its inadequacy, and Lamarck substituted the simile of the branching tree. Of man as the summit of the scale, and still in process of becoming more perfect in his endowments, we learn from Empedocles, Aristotle, Robinet, Diderot, Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck, and Treviranus....|


"....The modern theory of Natural Selection was ex- pressed first by DR. W. C. WELLS, in 1813, then by St. Hilaire the elder, then by Matthew, in 1831, and finally, with considerably less clearness, if at all, by Naudin, in 1852. Darwin gives us references to the two English writers. That of Wells is the first statement of the theory of the survival, not simply of fittest organisms, as understood by previous writers, such as Buffon and Treviranus, but of or- ganisms surviving because of their possession of favourable variations in single characters. Wells' paper, read before the Royal Society in 1813, was entitled, " An Account of a White Female, part of whose Skin resembles that of a Negro " ; it was not published until iSiS. 1 He here recognizes the principle of Natural Selection, as applied to the races of men, and to the explanation of the origin of single characters....."

TAutology part[]

"....That of Wells is the first statement of the theory of the survival, not simply of fittest organisms, as understood by previous writers, such as Buffon and Treviranus, but of organisms surviving because of their possession of favourable variations in single characters....|


The theory of the survival, is organisms surviving because of favorable variations.


"...Those that survived had favorable variations...." Obviously or they would be dead.

Tautological expressions and propositions[]

The tautological expression (an unmarried bachelor) contains a redundant word ("unmarried"), but has meaning and can be used to form a meaningful proposition, e.g. "John is an unmarried bachelor". This proposition is not a rhetorical tautology because the intent isn't to deceive. It could be considered as unnecessarily language verbosity. The tautological proposition (all bachelors are unmarried) stated in a class on formal logic theory on the other hand, gives us no information that is not already contained in the definition of the word "bachelor". The Pragmatics or context with 'unmarried bachelor' by the user would determine whether it is a proposition,expression, logical validity, or language verbosity. In an academic setting such as a journal propositions are put forward in an attempt at deriving an independent explanation for an observation. Tautologies in such a setting would be a tautological proposition and unacceptable. Tautological expressions used in an informal setting such as a sports event with its associated colloquial speech is acceptable because of the [[Pragmatics] with it. The dividing line between a tautological proposition and expression is Pragmatics.