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Persons, organisms and... primary qualities


Reprinted from History, Humanity and Evolution Edited by James R. Moore
Ó Cambridge University Press 1989

John Greene's The Death of Adam was one of the first books I read in the history of biology. He treated the subject as part of the history of ideas. This was a boon. (Indeed, he was kind enough to sign my copy of the book when we first met.)1 Before that, the way he thought about science and social theory in his article on Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer was important in my doctoral research.2 And in recent years, his integration of history of science with broader historical issues, especially in his essay 'Darwin as a Social Evolutionist', has provided both inspiration for and reassurance about my own work.3 His observations on that work and its influence have also been very supportive. For all these things, and for his gentlemanliness, I am grateful. Hence this essay in his honour, where I first spelled out my own view of what the history of the biological and human sciences has to say to the philosophy of science and the philosophy of nature.


Since I first drafted the essay, my own views have broadened and deepened in the direction of humanistic marxism. It is the last piece I wrote before that process was entered into. Although I have mentioned it from time to time and mined it for various purposes, it has remained unannotated and unpublished, and I offer it here more or less as it was first written. (I am aware that some of my generalizations might be cast in different terms if I were now writing it for the first time.) The process of recontextualizing its ideas was so daunting and so vertiginous that I have taken a long while to see that its basic position on the philosophy of nature still underlies the later developments in my thinking. Unlike Rip van Winkle, I keep waking up twenty years on and discovering that the fundamental issues are the same and wishing I had a greater sense that historians of science were engaged with them. Surely the reason we do history of science is to try to shed light on the meaning of life - of life itself, of humanity, and the husbanding and enhancement of generous values? I would say that reductionism is facing in the opposite direction and that there must be another way.

The foundations of defensiveness

The concept of mind has made it difficult for persons to be seen as organisms. Similarly, the phenomena of biology have repeatedly been explained in terms of secondary qualities and even less quantifiable concepts, while the paradigm of physical explanation requires that appeals should only be made to primary qualities. The title of this paper was chosen to draw attention to these hiatuses in the conceptual framework of modern science - gaps which have not disappeared with the development of the theory of evolution or with microtechniques in neurophysiology and molecular biology. The question, of course, is whether they are empirical, conceptual or philosophical gaps.


If one looks at the history and philosophy of science from the point of view of biology, psychology and the social sciences, it looks very odd indeed. It is possible to write about these disciplines in terms of the traditional historiography of Thomas Kuhn's 'scientific revolution' and Charles Gillispie's advancing 'edge of objectivity'. One can also write about the philosophy of these disciplines as special, albeit refractory, cases within the paradigm of explanation of the physico-chemical sciences. Indeed, if one attempts to apply the Kuhnian analysis of paradigms to these disciplines, it turns out that the further one moves away from micro-processes, the more difficult it is to apply the concept of paradigm at all. There seems to be a sort of continuum that extends from mathematics and the physico-chemical sciences to biology, psychology and the social sciences, and as one moves along it, one encounters increasing difficulty in applying the Kuhnian analysis. Kuhn himself points out that the first universally received paradigms in parts of biology are very recent. And there are still 'schools' of psychology - a sure sign of 'immaturity' in science. Finally, it remains an open question what parts of social science have yet acquired paradigms at all. 'History', Kuhn concludes, 'suggests that the road to a firm research consensus is extraordinarily arduous.'4

The attractiveness of the conception of scientific progress that is exemplified by Gillispie's approach5 and has to some extent been given a formal expression in the Kuhnian analysis, highlights the historical and philosophical difficulties of the student of the biological and human sciences. They can be relegated to the Kuhnian limbo of pre-paradigm' sciences and await the advancing edge of objectivity, but this 'solution' has resulted in a great deal of unsatisfactory writing.


If one looks at the relevant secondary literatures, it appears that many writers have taken an implicit version of this position. The biological, psychological and social sciences are seen as laggard; the standard histories are least illuminating and their authors least keen with respect to these problems. Attempts are made to force important figures in the history of biology into an empiricist, positivist, mechanist mould. Vesalius is treated in terms of the method of observation and the alleged overthrow of Galen, while apologies are made for his physiological views. Harvey is distorted out of all recognition and becomes a positivist mechanist. John Ray is seen as a taxonomist, while the pervasiveness of his anti-mechanist natural theology is played down. Lamarck is dismissed as a romantic counter-offensive: 'the last, though one of the most explicit, of a whole series of attempts, some sad, some moving, some angry, to escape the consequences for naturalistic humanism, of Newtonian theoretical physics'.6 With Charles Darwin, 'Biology Comes of Age'.7 'In the concept of natural selection, Darwin put an end to the opposition between mechanism and organism through which the humane view of nature, ultimately the Greek view, had found refuge from Newton in biology.'8

Darwin did better than solve the problem of adaptation. He abolished it. He turned it from a cause, in the sense of a final cause or evidence of a designing purpose, into an effect, in the Newtonian or physical sense of effect, which is to say that adaptation became a fact or phenomenon to be analyzed, rather than a mystery to be plumbed.9


In the light of these renderings of important figures in the history of biology, it is not surprising to find that the eminent historian who gives them has difficulties with Darwin. He writes:

What fundamental generalization ever came into the world in so unassuming guise as Darwin's theory of evolution? Is there any "great book" about which one secretly feels so guilty as On the Origin of Species? None in the history of science gives me, at any rate, such uphill work with students.10

This confession, repeated a year later,11 illustrates the difficulty many scholars find in making the biological sciences fit into the official historiography of modern science. It may be that a more fruitful approach would be to abandon the attempt to force biology into this mould, to pay greater attention to the philosophies of nature of figures such as Harvey, Ray and Darwin, and to refrain from distorting and obscuring the theoretical contexts within which they saw their work.


If one turns to the philosophical literature, there is an analogous lack of enthusiasm. The philosophy of science journals publish very few articles on biology, psychology and the social sciences, and most of these are bad. Having worked as an assistant editor of one such journal, I can attest to the fact that those submitted in these fields are of a far lower standard than the run of articles on other topics in the philosophy of science. The good articles, furthermore, reflect the difficulties in this field: either they are attempts to transform teleological into mechanistic explanation, or they are maverick pieces, difficult to classify.


In the remainder of this essay, I should like to attempt a tentative diagnosis of how the history and philosophy of the biological and behavioural sciences got into such a mess and then to suggest that we might pay closer attention to a number of concepts which appear to me to be basic to these disciplines. The lack of enthusiasm of historians and philosophers with respect to these topics, coupled with the defensiveness of scientists in the primary disciplines, may have a more fundamental explanation than the refractoriness of their subject matters: they may reflect problems in the deep structure of scientific explanation. In what follows, then, I hope to point to the metaphysical foundation of methodological defensiveness in the biological and human sciences. The discussion falls into three parts: an exposition of the 'official' paradigm of explanation of modern science, a review of its symptomatic problems by means of examples of the continuing refractoriness of biology and psychology to physicalist reduction since the seventeenth century, and finally a very tentative look at the oddity of a hierarchy of concepts to which we might fruitfully direct our attention. In this last section I want to draw attention to the record of question-begging, laggard behaviour and shoddiness of much that has passed for the philosophy of the best biologists, if one judges their work by the standards of the physico-chemical paradigm. In doing so, my aim is not to indulge in historical pornography but to suggest that a patient who goes on complaining really does have a pain, although he may well be mistaken about its cause.


My argument falls somewhere between the history and philosophy of science. It would be safest to present it as straightforward history, but one of my aims is to ask if such persistent historical themes may not be of philosophical interest. This approach raises difficulties. The first is that my philosophical colleagues insist that it is simply a logical mistake to suggest that philosophical conclusions might be drawn from the history of science. Necessary conclusions cannot be drawn from contingent matters, and one is doing just that in pointing to the persistence of efforts to avoid the injunctions of the paradigm of explanation of modern science, then using this evidence to argue that there may be important problems in the assumptions of the paradigm. I am afraid that I do not feel the force of this criticism, because, to compound the putative fallacy, this is what people have persisted in doing in the history and philosophy of science. In biology, for example, the ideas and discoveries of Harvey, Descartes, Wöhler, Darwin and the molecular biologists have, in their respective periods, been used as a basis for arguing that there was no place in biology for vitalism and teleology.


My aim, however, is a more modest one. I only want to point out that the explanatory paradigm of modern science was elaborated to serve certain purposes. If it has served those purposes well, others less well, and still others very badly, it would seem open to us to look for a more useful one. If this argument leads to the well-known difficulties of utilitarian and pragmatic epistemologies, then so be it. I find that history is opportunistic. People make what they need of others' writings and of nature. I have tried to show this with respect to the admirers of Thomas Malthus.12 I would also say that nature is manifold, and our priorities and the resolution of historical forces lead humanity to notice and shape the features of nature that resonate with the values and vision of the epoch. There are, of course, a number of overlapping and partially contradictory voices and forces at work in any period.


A second difficulty is more worrying. I shall argue that in certain key episodes in the history and philosophy of biology since the seventeenth century, purposive explanations were persistently offered by means of covert or overt appeals to concepts drawn from the idea of human 'intention'. Ad hoc, question-begging terms were self-consciously used in biological explanations, which disobeyed the injunction to explain all phenomena in terms of matter and motion. When one reviews this record and attempts to outline its current manifestations, it sounds very much as though one is making a straightforward appeal for the reintroduction of final causes or teleological explanation in the biological and behavioural sciences. Thus, when one draws attention to attempted explanations in terms of functions, adaptations, biological properties (to say nothing of explanation in social science in terms of the intentions of human actors), and when one alludes to the persistene of teleological, emergentist, intentional, holist, gestalt or organic theories, one seems to be making an implicit case for these points of view. In appearing to do this, one invites the traditional question of the seventeenth century and later: how do final causes push and pull? How do gestalts organize wholes, how do emergents get new properties, and so on?

I only want to make three points about this in the hope that they add up to a sort of defensive scholium. First, my intentions are diagnostic. I want to gather symptoms and direct others' attention to them. I am in no position to offer any other prescription than 'Dig here.' Secondly, I believe that the use of putative explanations in terms of faculties, functions, adaptations, emergents, gestalts, organic wholes, and so on, does not solve problems, but hypostatizes them and offers them in the guise of solutions. Thirdly, in pointing to the persistence of such explanations I am drawing a historical conclusion, but I believe that it has prescriptive force in the following sense: if we have such difficulty in obeying a paradigm of explanation in investigating certain aspects of nature, it may be worth while to take another look at the paradigm itself.


Now, what is that paradigm and how have people disobeyed its injunction?


The official paradigm of explanation

The paradigm of explanation of modern science is a set of interrelated ontological, epistemological and methodological decisions to which biologists and, a fortiori, students of psychology and the social sciences have found it very difficult to conform. The ontological aspect is best seen in the work of Descartes, whose ontology codified a rupture that was becoming increasingly likely because of strains apparent in the explanatory scheme of the Aristotelian tradition. In the Aristotelian scheme, formal, final, material and efficient causes had no independent status apart from the particular phenomena that could be analysed according to these four aspects of 'coming to be'. However, it became increasingly difficult to avoid anthropomorphic expressions of final causes, and for certain purposes, final causes seemed irrelevant. Material and efficient causes, on the other hand, were relatively easy to handle in numerical terms, and formal causes could be reduced to the organization of particles of matter in motion and expressed in terms of mathematical formulae. Descartes replaced the organic analysis of phenomena with a dualist ontology: matter was extended, divisible, passive and subject to determinist natural laws; mind was defined negatively as having the attributes that could not be referred to matter. It was unextended, indivisible, active and free. Its essence was thought or will. Final causes were banished from scientific explanation and had status only in the intentions of God (about which it was sometimes thought impious to speculate) and in human will (which was not subject to scientific investigation). This ontology led to well-known difficulties in explaining the interaction of mind and body in experience and behaviour: namely, how do sensations cause ideas and how do intentions cause muscular motions? As a persisting framework for thinking about nature, it made theories of learning and evolution metaphysically absurd and codified a dichotomy between dualism and the principle of continuity, which continues to plague evolutionary theory, comparative psychology and the social sciences.13


The epistemological aspect of the paradigm found expression in Descartes' Principles of Philosophy (1644), but various versions of the same doctrine also appeared in the writings of Democritus, Galileo, Gassendi, Boyle, Newton, and lesser figures such as Charlton, Hartley and Priestley. According to this doctrine, the material world is characterized by the primary qualities of extension (or size), figure (or shape), motion or rest, number, and solidity or impenetrability (some would substitute mass here). These qualities appeared to be inseparable from objects and invariant under different conditions of observation. The senses can rely on them, while all other qualities are subject to variation and illusion: for example, colours, odours, tastes, sounds and tactile impressions. These were relegated to the mental realm as secondary qualities, along with all of the rest of subjective experience - pleasure, pain, love, hope, fear, status and (latterly) upward social mobility.

The problem of the relationship between primary and secondary qualities forms the basis of the history of modern epistemolgy. Although the realm of mind is supposed to have an independent existence, the status of secondary qualities is ambiguous at best. They are not properties of matter and do not persist in the absence of an observer. Rather, they are the consequences of an interaction between the attributes of matter and a perceiving organism. Secondary qualities are caused by the effects on our organs of the motion of bodies. As Edwin Burtt says, 'We cannot conceive how such motions could give rise to secondary qualities in the bodies; we can only attribute to the bodies themselves a disposition of motions, such that, brought into relation with the senses, the secondary qualities are produced.’ 14 Thus, the distinction treats primary qualities as objective and independent of the perceiver, while the secondary ones are subjective and exist only in the consciousness of perceiving persons.15

This picture of reality came under severe criticism in the writings of Foucher and other contemporaries of Descartes, and aspects of the criticism were reiterated by Bayle, Berkeley and Hume. It was quickly pointed out that primary qualities also vary and that they, too, are represented through the fallible medium of sense perception. These objections imply that the distinction is difficult to maintain on philosophical grounds. However, in the context of the seventeenth century it is clear that the uses to which the distinction was to be put determined the emphasis on primary qualities. In the cases of Galilieo, Descartes and Newton, the amenability of these qualities to mathematical and geometrical treatment, and their interpretation in increasingly mechanical and corpuscular terms, were the fundamental determinants. The primarily astronomical and physical interests of seventeenth-century scientists led to a particular definition of external reality.


These same interests led Galileo to reject explanations in terms of final causes as irrelevant to his purposes, just as Boyle made the same move in his application of the mechanical philosophy to chemistry. According to E.J. Dijksterhuis:


The new conception rapidly gained ground, and in the second half of the century the distinction between the primary, geometrico-mechanical qualities, which were considered to be really inherent in a physical body as such, and the secondary qualities, which were the names for the perceptive sensations and the feelings of pleasure or pain experienced in consequence of, or in connection with, physical processes in the external world, was (almost) universally accepted, and in fact considered to be almost self-evident.16


A close student of the early critics of Descartes' formulations of ontological dualism and the primary-secondary quality distinction once said to me that much of Western philosophy today is in a broad sense Cartesian. However, twentieth-century critics of the modern scientific world picture have been eloquent in their attempts to draw our attention to the price that science has paid for the convenience of handling nature mathematically. A.N. Whitehead points out that the spatio-temporal relationships of material substances were seen to constitute nature, while their orderliness constitutes the order of nature:


The occurrences of nature are in some way apprehended by minds, which are [somehow] associated with living bodies. Primarily, the mental apprehension is aroused by the occurrences in certain parts of the correlated body, the occurrences in the brain, for instance. But the mind in apprehending also experiences sensations which; properly speaking, are qualities of the mind alone. These sensations are projected by the mind so as to clothe the appropriate bodies in external nature. Thus the bodies are perceived as with qualities which in reality do not belong to them, qualities which in fact are purely [I think Whitehead is slightly lost here] the offspring of the mind. Thus nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its scent; the nightingale for its song; and the sun for its radiance. The poets are entirely mistaken. They should address their lyrics to themselves, and should turn them into odes of self-congratulation on the excellency of the human mind. Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying of material, endlessly, meaninglessly.17

On the other hand, Whitehead grants that these abstractions have been enormously successful. The problem lies in accepting them as reality itself. 'Thereby', he concludes, 'modern philosophy has been ruined.' It has oscillated in a complex manner among three extremes: dualists who accept both mind and matter, monists who put matter inside mind and monists who put mind inside matter.18

Burtt draws out the consequences of the paradigm in nearly identical terms:

The world that people had thought themselves living in - a world rich with colour and sound, redolent with fragrance, filled with gladness, love and beauty, speaking everywhere of purposive harmony and creative ideals - was crowded now into minute corners in the brains of scattered organic beings. The really important world outside was a world hard, cold, colorless, silent, and dead; a world of quantity, a world of mathematically computable motions in mechanical regularity. The world of qualities as immediately perceived by man became just a curious and minor effect of that infinite machine beyond. In Newton the Cartesian metaphysics, ambiguously interpreted and stripped of its distinctive claim for serious philosophical consideration, finally overthrew Aristotelianism and became the predominant world-view of modern times.19

Lest it be thought that the force of the paradigm has weakened, it may be worthwhile to allude to some more recent expositions of it. It has been forcefully defended by Jonathan Bennett in his article, 'Substance, Reality, and Primary Qualities',20 and in a philosophical compendium, R.J. Hirst writes:

Science can adequately explain and describe the nature of the physical world solely in terms of primary qualities; hence, while primary qualities must characterize objects, there is no need to suppose that secondary qualities must also. The latter would be otiose, and on principle of economy, or Occam's razor, ...it would be unscientific to suppose that they exist as intrinsic properties of objects.... Investigation of the causal processes on which perception depends shows that the only variables capable of transmitting information about the properties of external objects are spatiotemporal ones, which are associated with primary qualities.21


It might be thought that this doctrine is held only by philosophers or that it has no practical effect. As I was annotating this essay for publication, I came across the following in a book review in The New Statesman, written by a distinguished mathematical physicist, Felix Pirani:

Much of modern science is rooted in the method of reduction, which entails, in the first place, studying the parts to understand the whole. For societies, you study individuals; for individuals, their organs; for organs, their cells; for cells, their molecules; for molecules, their atoms; for atoms, their protons and electrons....

Nobody would deny that this is one successful way of working, but many scientists insist that the parts are in some way more fundamental than the whole and that, if you could describe them completely, you could predict everything about the behaviour of the whole. In the end, for example, a complete knowledge of atomic structure would explain completely the behaviour of the DNA in genetic material, a complete knowledge of DNA would explain completely the behaviour of each individual and this, in turn, would completely explain society.

The danger inherent in such arguments is apparent. For example, if the behaviour of the individual is determined by his or her DNA, then misbehaviour can be dealt with by interfering with the DNA (or some larger structure "determined" by it). For thorough-going reductionists, things have to be the way they are: racial, sexual and class oppression are all determined, in the last analysis, by the properties of atoms, and so nothing can be done about them.22

So the view is widespread, and the stakes are high.


This leads to the third - methodological - aspect of the paradigm, which was considered inseparable from the ontological and epistemological aspects. The methodological aspect was prescriptive. More or less enthusiastically, it was urged that people do experiments, but whatever the varying views on this issue, it was agreed that scientific conclusions should take the form of explaining all phenomena in terms of matter and motion. This injunction is summarized in the preface to Newton's Principia: 'All the difficulty of philosophy seems to consist in this - from the phenomena of motions to investigate the forces of nature, and then from these forces to demonstrate the other phenomena.’23 In these days it is not worthwhile to claim that one knows exactly what Newton meant, as much attention is being devoted to what he was trying to hide by what he said. Therefore, perhaps, one can venture an eighteenth-century paraphrase and say that the injunction was taken to mean that no appeal should be made to secondary qualities in explaining the phenomena of the natural world.


It is the failure successfully to apply the programmatic aspect of this paradigm of explanation in the biological and behavioural sciences that provides the subject of the remainder of this paper. However, before moving to this, I should like to make my own position explicit. First, it seems clear to me that Cartesian dualism, and the doctrine of primary and secondary qualities, remain central to the philosophy of science. Secondly, recent discussions of the concept of 'action' and, a fortiori, the development of phenomenology on the Continent and in America, do not appear to me to succeed in transcending these problems. Rather, they confine the philosophy of nature to a realm that is a modern manifestation (mutatis mutandis) of the Cartesian world of subjectivity and thinking substances. Whatever progress may have been made in transcending the epistemological dualism of the subject-object distinction has been bought at the price of further separating the study of humanity from the categories of natural science. Briefly, phenomenology improves our conception of the person's relations with other persons and the external world by widening the gulf between subjectivity (mind) and the external world (body), and ontological dualism becomes more, not less, intractable.


Thirdly, we are in a position to examine the alternative interpretations of the status of secondary qualities as a result of a very lucid analysis and classification of theories by D.M. Armstrong.24 Assuming only the independent existence of the external world, Armstrong shows that five different ontologies and nine different views of the status of secondary qualities are available and that each of these positions has been or is being held by one or more philosophers whom one must take seriously.


Finally, I should mention that I am satisfied that the paradigm of explanation, which has been characterized above, results in only one relatively consistent position, one that I find most convincingly argued in May Brodbeck's essay on 'Mental and Physical: Identity versus Sameness'.25 Her interpretation will not be repeated here, although I am inclined to argue that some version of identity theory26 is the only reasonable and consistent philosophy of physical science and the only valid application of the paradigm of explanation of modern science to biology, psychology and the social sciences. There is considerable evidence that these disciplines have not shown themselves to be adequately catered for by this paradigm. The persistent appeal to concepts that belong to the realm of mind or secondary qualities as a part of attempted explanation in these disciplines, reveals insubordination that I think should be taken seriously.


Some disobedient biologists

In the examples that follow, recourse can be had to at least four interpretations. First, one can argue that failure to reduce phenomena to explanation in terms of matter and motion simply reflects the limited scientific progress at the time in the subject. Thus, for example, Galen pointed out that 'so long as we are ignorant of the true essence of the cause which is operating, we call it a faculty'. Similarly, we could claim that Harvey lacked an adequate physiology of respiration and muscular contraction; Haller did not know about the electro-chemical transmission of the peripheral nervous impulse; Hartley was ignorant (as we largely are) of central neurohumours and the molecular basis of memory. Finally, Charles Darwin suffered from the lack of a particulate, genetic theory of inheritance and a molecular biology.


The second view that is available has been outlined by Ernest Nagel and hinted at by Gillispie.27 Purposive and other non -reductionist accounts do not represent an explanatory alternative to mechanistic explanation but are only a matter of selective attention to certain features of biological processes. They are an alternative point of view, not an alternative explanation. Physicists can also adopt this approach but seldom do. However, a sustained attempt to do so can be found in Lawrence Henderson's essay, The Fitness of the Environment, where he draws many of his examples from nineteenth-century natural theology without adopting the associated question-begging explanatory scheme of design and vitalism.28


A third interpretation is related to the first two. That is, either because of the limited state of knowledge of micro-processes or because one wants to be brief (or provocative), one might speak in metaphorical or summary terms. Thus, Darwin thought of 'natural selection' as a metaphor and not as a mechanism itself.29 Similarly, cyberneticists are prone to refer to the activities of their machines in mentalist terms in order to tease mentalists without implying that there are special vital laws at work in their semiconductors or a ghost in the machine.


A fourth interpretation has a strong and a weak form. The strong form is that special explanatory concepts are, after all, required in biology and the human sciences. This view is certainly held, albeit defensively, by some biologists and by even more students of animal and human behaviour. The weak form is a view I hold - that people, as a matter of fact, do continue to make some appeal to concepts drawn from the realm of secondary qualities and/or the concept of intention itself. They write papers in these terms that get published in reputable journals, get funds to support their research, and have distinguished careers. It remains to be seen whether or not this fact is philosophically interesting. I believe it is.


I should now like to refer to certain key episodes in the history of biology and psychology. In each case reference will be made to modern analogies in the use of question-begging, secondary qualities and mentalist concepts. One might caricature the accounts of historians who write about these episodes in terms of the advance of the official paradigm of explanation by saying that the persistence of the alternative modes of explanation reflects the disobedient, sorry, question-begging record of biology, psychology and the social sciences.


Let me begin with DESCARTES and HARVEY. When the paradigm of explanation of modern science was applied to living systems, it did not fare very well. Indeed, mechanistic physiology got off to a very bad start. Descartes used Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood as the key to all the rest of the investigation of living systems. He - and most historians of these developments - wrenched Harvey's discovery from its context in the Aristotelian philosophy of nature and interpreted it mechanistically.


Relying heavily on A.R. Hall, Gillispie gives the following picture of Harvey's achievement:


His work was the first, if partial, breach opened by the scientific revolution in the life sciences. His subject is not the ineffability of life. It is a problem in fluid mechanics. The heart is a pump. ... The veins and arteries are pipes. The blood ... is simply a liquid, a lubricant to be passed periodically through the air filter of the lungs. No vital spirit, no principles of nourishment intrude into the analysis.30

Galileo had excluded biological metaphor from physics. Harvey went further and introduced mechanistic thinking into organic studies. And by a simple though systematic extension, Descartes would find a machine in man.

[Harvey's] hydraulics of the bloodstream destroyed a whole philosophy of the body in order to establish a single phenomenon of nature.31


The above quotations tell us something about historians who either have not read or have forgotten the books about which they are writing. To be slightly less rude, historians will falsify their sources in order to substantiate an oversimplified view of the onward movement of the 'edge of objectivity'. However, this observation would not justify recounting a bad account in such detail. The second reason for doing so is that Gillispie's version of the matter tells us something about Descartes and about the subsequent progress of biology. Gillispie is wholly inaccurate in fact and in judgement with respect to Harvey, but his account does accurately reflect the effect of Harvey's work on the development of physiology: that is, on mechanistic thinking. To put it another way, historians distort their sources to substantiate a particular view of the history of science - but so did Descartes. There are at least two versions of 'what somebody said'. The first is what we make of what they said, and the second is what their contemporaries and subsequent thinkers made of it. 'What they really said' is a will-o'-the-wisp - a noumenon.

John Passmore has reflected in a very interesting way on this matter.32 The circulation of the blood might appear to be a simple fact, of no interest to philosophers. For example, the passage in Descartes' Discourse on Method that deals with Harvey is omitted from the Anscombe and Geach and the Smith editions of Harvey's works. Yet Harvey is the only Englishman mentioned in Hobbes' Elements Of Philosophy, and Harvey and Galileo are the only persons named in Descartes' Discourse on Method, while Harvey is the only person mentioned in Descartes' Passions of the Soul. Copernicus and Galileo had applied mechanism to heavenly bodies, identifying them with terrestrial mechanics. Harvey allowed Descartes to extend mechanics to the living organism. Only the soul was left outside.


Descartes examined Harvey in detail, rejected Harvey's conclusions, and reverted to certain medieval views, even though he accepted the fact of circulation. Descartes supposed that the heart performed its functions by virtue of containing a peculiar source of heat. Are we to see this merely as a scientific difference? Descartes differed from Harvey's account because he wanted all of the body's functions to be explained in terms of concepts derivable from general mechanics - in this case, heat and expansion of the blood. Harvey, on the other hand, considered the contraction of the heart a fact, whose cause is either unknown or explained, for the time being, by a faculty. Descartes saw this as a pseudo-explanation, a reversion to the medieval mode of speaking: the 'faculty pulsifica', which Harvey actually mentioned several times. Thus, appeal to 'brute fact' is suspicious for Descartes.33


In his La description du corps humain (written in 1648-9), Descartes said of Harvey, 'If we suppose that the heart moves in the manner in which Harvey described it we shall have to imagine some faculty which causes this movement, the nature of which is much more difficult to conceive than everything he claims to explain by it.’34 Descartes is not simply saying that Harvey resorts to faculties; he is saying that he must do so.


Facts were an irreducible foundation for Harvey, while for Descartes resorting to them was a confession of failure. They should be deducible from first principles. In the sixth part of the Discourse, Descartes did confess to the need for observations and experiments, but still, for him, this was a concession. He needed to connect the circulation with the general principles of mechanics. He would accept the explanation in terms of heat, as this was a valid mechanical principle of broad applicability. He rejected the special explanation of its dependence on the contractile properties of the heart.


Thus, Descartes would say of Harvey what he said of Galileo: without having considered the first causes of Nature, Galileo only looked for certain particular effects, and upon this he built without foundations. Harvey, on the other hand, was content with facts. He was also vigorously opposed to faculty explanations (see his 'Second Disquisition to Riolan'). For Descartes, not to explain was equivalent to appealing to occult faculties. The facts must be explained, because explanation is deducible from first principles, thereby demonstrating what the facts must be. For Harvey, demonstration was examination by the senses, ocular demonstration by experiment. In fact, he said of Descartes, rather laconically, that he had observed wrongly.


The point of this example is to show, as I shall re-emphasize below, that Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood can in no sense be considered a triumph of mechanism - the first great discovery in mechanistic physiology - even though that is what Descartes wished to make of it. Moreover, if we consult a modern textbook of physiology (the one I have to hand is the one I studied in medical school Fulton's), it reads rather more like a text by Harvey than one that follows Descartes' strictures. The modern explanation of the heartbeat is put in terms of 'spontaneous automaticity', 'inherent irritability', 'intrinsic or autonomous rhythmicity', 'automaticity'. These are not faculties but biological properties (of which more below). The heartbeat is said to begin in the sino-auricular node near the termination of the great veins in the right atrium. The contractile property variously described above is characteristic of all heart tissue, but the heart is driven by the one with the highest rate. Electrical pacemakers work by taking over this role. We are dealing here with an essential physiological property of pacemaking miocardial cells. We find it localized in the muscle cells - it is 'myogenic'. It is localized but it is not 'explained' in the Cartesian sense. This is not to say that such explanations will not be forthcoming or that they have not appeared since the edition of Fulton that I studied.35 My point is that biologists, including physiologists, feel quite at home with explanations that are not couched in terms of mechanistic first principles.


Returning to Harvey, Walter Pagel is emphatic about Harvey's vitalism and offers the following quotation from Harvey's writings On Generation:


It is a common mistake with those who pursue philosophical studies in these times, to seek for the cause of diversity of parts in the diversity of the matter whence they arise. Thus medical men assert that the several parts of the body are both engendered and nourished by diverse matters, either the blood or similar fluid .... Nor are they correct who like Democritus, composed all things of atoms; wherewith Empedocles, of elements. As if generation were nothing more than a separation, or aggregation or disposition of things.36

The quotation goes on to appeal to Aristotle and to the divinity of nature, which is said to work as an efficient cause. Indeed, none of Harvey's contemporaries thought of him as a mechanical philosopher. De Ceneratione contains a more general natural philosophy. Harvey was unsympathetic to the mechanical approach of his contemporaries. He was emphatic in repeating Aristotle's criticism of atomism: it errs in ignoring formal and final causes.


Next, I should like to make a partial contrast between ROBERT BOYLE and JOHN RAY, two of the most effective exponents of the investigation of the phenomena of living organisms as a form of worship: natural theology. Although Boyle adhered to the mechanical and corpuscular philosophy, and sought explanations in terms of matter and motion,37 he also wrote a very sober and restrained defense of the use of final causes in biological explanation, After making diffident gestures towards Galileo and Descartes' reasons for banishing final causes, he concluded 'that all consideration of final causes is not to be banished from Natural Philosophy', but that "tis rather allowable, and in some cases commendable, to observe and argue from the manifest uses of things, that the Author of Nature pre-ordained those ends and uses'.38 However, Boyle cautioned 'that the Naturalist should not suffer the search of the discovery of final cause of Nature's Works, to make him undervalue or neglect the studious indagation of their efficient causes'.39 The neglect of efficient causes would render physiology useless to me but the studious indagation of them, will [also] not prejudice the contemplation of final causes.’40 In short, we must simply be cautious in the use of final causes and not employ them as a substitute for mechanistic explanation. Once again, there are abundant modern analogies in the descriptive teleology that is a commonplace among ethologists.


The views of Ray were in marked contrast with those of Boyle. His classic work in taxonomy and in establishing an unequivocal concept of species was conducted in the context of an explicitly antimechanistic natural philosophy and natural theology, which was spelled out in his essay On the Wisdom of God, which appeared in 1691, three years after Boyle's Disquisition about Final Causes and a year after Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Ray's philosophy of nature drew heavily on the ideas of the Cambridge Platonists. He opposed the mechanical philosophy on philosophical, theological and practical grounds. He felt that 'the Atomick Theists utterly evacuate that grand argument for a God, taken from the phaenomena of the artifical frame of things, . . . the atheists are meanwhile laughing in their sleeves, and not a little triumphing, to see the cause of Theism thus betrayed by its professed friends and assertors', who do the atheists' work for them.41 On the practical issue of the success of the mechanical philosophy, Ray remarked that its advocates are

in no way able to give an account [of the formation and organization of the bodies of animals] from the necessary motion of matter, unguided by mind for ends, and prudently therefore break off their system there when they should come to [the topic of] animals and so leave it altogether untouched.42

And those accounts which some of them have attempted to give of the formation of a few of the parts, are so excessively absurd and ridiculous, that they need no other confutation than ha, ha he.43


Ray rejected the concept of animal automatism. It could be said that no Englishman could pass the crucial test of loyalty to the Cartesian doctrine: guiltlessly kicking a dog. Ray appealed to a vitalistic force - the Plastick Nature - as God's purposive agent and medium in the natural world. Echoes of this view persisted in biological theory in Britain throughout the eighteenth century and it was being advocated well into the 1840s, in the writings of William Kirby and William Whewell, for example. There are modern analogies in emergentism, holism and gestalt.


My next example is concerned with the concept of a biological property and relates to the example of Harvey and Descartes. If Descartes can be said to have laid down the fundamental principles of mechanistic thinking in biology, ALBRECHT VON HALLER can lay claim to being the 'father of modern physiology'. His Elementa is recognized as the first modern handbook or systematic treatise in the field. It appeared between 1757 and 1766 in eight volumes. What interests me in Haller's thinking is the easy way in which he relied on biological concepts without feeling under any obligation to reduce them to mechanistic explanations. I shall focus on his concept of 'irritability'. This concept was first put forward by Francis Glisson in the seventeenth century and was an important step in providing a scientific - but not mechanistic - version of the phenomena that had formerly been explained by the dreaded faculties.44


Between Glisson and Haller, most investigators tried to explain irritability by either mechanical or vitalistic ideas. On the one hand, the iatromechanists tried and failed to account for everything in terms of matter and motion. On the other, the followers of Stahl insisted that everything depended on the soul, Ray invoked a Plastick Nature as a vitalistic principle, and so on. Haller's achievement was to ignore these alternatives and to characterize vital properties as phenomena in their own right. Irritability and sensibility were to be defined experimentally. He would not consider the question of mechanism. By explicitly and selfconsciously refusing to carry out the reductionist programme, he licensed his colleagues and those who came after him to use question-begging intermediate concepts under the general heading of 'biological property'. I see this as the thin edge of a wedge for separating biology and the sense of humanity from reductionism.


Haller based his views on experiments performed by himself and Dr Zimmerman in 1746 and 1751. He wrote that, since 1751:

I have examined several ways, one hundred and ninety animals, a species of cruelty for which I felt such a reluctance, as could only be overcome by the desire of contributing to the benefit of mankind, and excused by that motive which induces persons of the most humane temper, to eat everyday the flesh of harmless animals without any scruple.45

He added, 'I am persuaded that the great source of error in physic has been owing to physicians, at least a great part of them, making few or no experiments, and substituting analogy instead of them.’46

Haller is very matter of fact: the purpose of his essay is to distinguish those parts of the body 'which are susceptible of Irritability and Sensibility, from those which are not':

But the theory, why some parts of the human body are endowed with these properties, while others are not, I shall not meddle with. For I am persuaded that the source of both lies concealed beyond the reach of the knife and microscope, beyond which I do not chuse to hazard many conjectures, as I

have no desire to teach what I am ignorant of myself. For the vanity of attempting to guide others in paths where we find ourselves in the dark, shows, in my humble opinion, the last degree of arrogance and ignorance....

I call that part of the human body irritable, which becomes shorter upon being touched; very irritable if it contracts upon slight touch, and the contrary if by a violent touch it contracts but little.

I call that a sensible part of the human body, which upon being touched transmits the impression of it to the soul; and in brutes, in whom the existence of the soul is not so clear, I call those parts sensible, the Irritation of which occasions evident signs of pain and disquiet in the animal. On the contrary, I call that insensible, which being burnt, tore, pricked, or cut till it is quite destroyed, occasions no such pain, nor convulsion, nor any sort of change in the situation of the body. For it is very well-known, that an animal, when it is in pain, endeavours to remove the part that suffers from the cause that hurts it; pulls back the leg if it is hurt, shakes the skin if it is pricked, and gives other evident signs by which we know that it suffers.

We see that experiments only can enable us to find what parts of the human body are sensible or irritable, and what the physiologists and physicians have said upon these qualities, without having made experiments, has been source of great many errors, both in this case and in a number of others.47


Haller's conclusions were based on a very large number of experiments for his time. He condemned a sensibility dependent on the nerves and continuous with the brain. Irritability, by contrast, was an inherent property of the muscles, independent of the nervous connection, because they contracted on stimulation after the nerves were detached. This was an important defeat for the spiritualists, as irritability persisted after connection with the organ of the soul was eliminated. Once again, I want to point out the modern analogy. We now consider contractility to be a specific property of muscles, while irritability is a general property of living matter to respond to stimuli. The spectre of faculty explanations has completely receded, and there is no fear, when we mention biological properties, that we are offering them as sufficient explanations.


DAVID HARTLEY would appear at first sight to be a poor candidate for question-begging because of appeals in his work to non-material causes in psychology. Locke and Newton are the two main sources for his doctrine, and his Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty and His Expectations (1749) is a tour de force in the explanation of psychological and behavioural phenomena in terms of the vibrations of material, corpuscular particles in the nervous system. Hartley retained the doctrine of separate mental and bodily substances but abandoned the Cartesian concepts of the indivisibility of mind and free will, adopting psychological atomism and mental determinism as a parallel to corpuscular determinism. In the first chapter of his book he laid down a programme for physiological psychology that served as the basis for nineteenth-century associationist psychology and its integration with physiology, a programme that is still being pursued in brain and behaviour research.48


The Doctrine of Vibrations may appear at first sight to have no connection with that of Association; however, if these Doctrines be found in fact to contain the Laws of the Bodily and Mental powers respectively, they must be related to each other, since the Body and Mind are. One may expect that Vibrations should infer Associations as their Effect, and Association point to Vibrations as its cause. I will endeavour ... to trace out this mutual relation.49

For the next thousand pages Hartley did just that, using the concept of association by repetition as the mental analogy to the universal law of human nature, just as gravity was of physical nature (it was Hume who formulated this analogy). All mental phenomena are explained in terms of the vibrations (and 'vibratiuncles') of the corpuscular philosophy. In particular, the secondary qualities are discussed, one by one, in these reductionist terms.


Thus, Hartley's doctrine conforms perfectly to the paradigm of explanation of seventeenth-century science. However, as with Descartes, the uses to which it was put were very different. Beginning with Erasmus Darwin and, by a different route, in the doctrines of Lamarck (now mixing with the English associationist tradition), associationist psychology was used as a cloak for reintroducing purposive variables into biological theory. The fundamental significance of Hartley's hypothesis is that for the first time a mechanism had been worked out for the evaluative and teleological principle of utility. Put another way, adaptations can be acquired through experience. Perfect adaptation is obtained by the pleasures and pains resulting from the correlation of external phenomena, the vibrations that these cause in the nervous system, the sensations, ideas and motions that these build up by repetition, and the pleasures and pains that they engender. Adaptation is assured by experience. This became a powerful explanatory principle, not only in psychology, but also in biological - including evolutionary - theory. A massive dose of purposiveness got injected into living nature in the theories of Erasmus Darwin, Lamarck and Herbert Spencer, as well as Charles Darwin. Striving is common to the theories of the first three. For them, evolution occurred as a result of perceived challenges and effort, the results of which were passed on to the next generation. As Spencer put it, evolution becomes a simple extension of sensationalist -associationist learning theory from the tabula rasa of the individual to that of the race. Biological evolution was thus explained by the paradigm of learning - not a very materialist reduction, I would say.50


But surely, it would be objected, we know that the so-called 'Lamarckian mechanism' involved appeals to progressive tendencies and more or less intentional striving. That is why we had no scientific theory of evolution before the appearance of Darwin and Wallace's theory of natural selection. The objector would continue to make sure that I do not argue that natural selection implies a selector, as we all know that neo-Darwinism put this problem to sleep in the 1930s, and if any lingering doubts remained, they were certainly solved by the late 1950s, with the establishment of the structure of DNA and the specification of the alphabet for amino acid sequences.


I do not feel shaken by these objections and will refer to current biological concepts below. For now, I want to remain in the historical mode and recall some of the features of Charles Darwin's thinking that did involve purposive and intentional variables. First, it should be recalled that Darwin's initial work on the mutability of species was done with domestic varieties and that he explicitly sought a natural analogue for the intentions of the breeder, which gave persistent directionality to random variation by means of purposive selection. Artificial selection was replaced by natural selection as a result of Darwin's use of Malthus' theory of population (which, it is worth noting in passing, was not reductionist but Hartleyan-utilitarian in its ancestry). Although Darwin felt that he had found a natural, non-teleological mechanism, he was plagued by doubts and criticisms. The title of his book reflects the risks: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Selection? Preservation? Favoured? Struggle? Where do these explanatory concepts appear in a physicist's reductionist textbook? What place have they in the paradigm of explanation of modern science?


Darwin's response to criticisms of his theory of inheritance was to become increasingly Lamarckian, while Wallace eventually abandoned natural selection and appealed directly to the Will of the Creator to explain certain aspects of human evolution. None of the mainstream nineteenth-century evolutionists - with the partial exception of Robert Chambers - considered that evolutionary continuity overthrew the separation of mind and body, much less the doctrine of primary and secondary qualities. Vestiges of the Cartesian dualism and the separation of men and animals remained in the theories of Darwin's most ardent disciples. For example, Huxley, Wallace and Lyell were all troubled by the anthropomorphic aspect of Darwin's theory, and Tyndall confirmed the worry in his famous 'Belfast Address'. 'Can nature thus select?' he asked. 'Assuredly she can.51 Among friends, this kind of talk was permissible; others used the metaphor - which Darwin claimed to use only for brevity's sake but found indispensable - as an excuse for speaking of Designed Evolution. I will not dwell on this example, as I treat it at length elsewhere,52 but before moving on, it is worth recalling that Spencer never abandoned his belief in use-inheritance and Progress, that the distinction between language users and non-language users was held by Huxley, and the distinction between savagery and culture was retained as a qualitative leap by most students of anthropology. These, it seems to me, are Cartesian vestiges.


My discussion of Hartley and utilitarian and intentional aspects of evolutionary theory has been designed to show the persistence of taboo concepts in biology. Other examples might be drawn from research in psychology and the study of the nervous system in the late nineteenth century up until the present, but there is an extensive literature on these topics, so I will not dwell on the matter.


Reintegration of teleology

I want to turn now to current concepts in biology, psychology and social science and suggest that they are very oddly related to mind-body dualism on the one hand and the doctrine of primary and secondary qualities on the other. In my view, the biological, psychological and social sciences are very defensive with respect to the reductionist paradigm. However, there is a large gap between what practitioners in these disciplines do when they are writing normal papers and what they do when they are reflecting as philosophers at prize-giving ceremonies and in presidential addresses. Among the key concepts in the biological, psychological and social sciences are adaptation, utility, function, property, goal, purpose and drive. Attempts systematically to reduce these to the phenomena of matter and motion have been spectacular failures. I am thinking of Hull's behaviourism, operationism, operant conditioning, and other forms of positivism and reductionism. Indeed, it has been impressively argued that in order to speak about living organisms, we find ourselves doing so by analogy to human intention. Charles Taylor's strike me as the best arguments for this, although I have attempted some myself.53 Concepts such as function, adaptation and utility are common to disciplines extending from field biology through physiology and psychology to sociology and social anthropology. The use of such concepts in the human sciences has extended from phrenology through Comtean positivism and includes the powerful influence of Spencer on the growth of functionalist thinking in psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science and architecture. Concepts such as milieu intérieur , homeostasis, feedback and cybernetics are all ways of retaining purposive explanation in the biological and human sciences. The widespread use of such concepts and their pedigree - as outlined above - makes me think that the official reductionist paradigm of explanation in modern science never got a proper foothold in the biological and human sciences.54


In my view, scientists in these disciplines lead a split existence. They adhere to one paradigm of explanation in their philosophical reasonings, while happily practising another in their day-to-day work and published writings. Purposive, evaluative and teleological explanations have been as influential and have been as routinely extended down the line from the human towards the physical, as reductionist explanations have been used in successfully accounting for biological and human phenomena. Indeed, I think that the purposive has been more influential than the mechanistic.


The philosophical consequence of these historical observations would be that we should be more tolerant of conceptual hiatuses. Instead of the official reductionist programme, which I set out at the beginning of this essay, we might have a much looser (though no less structured) one. Here is a story that extends from the clinical to the material:


A patient is a person in a role.

A person is an organism.

Organisms are analysed in terms of functions.

Functions are about properties.

Properties are interpreted in terms of certain (secondary) qualities (colours, odours, tastes, temperature).


According to the rules of scientific explanation, these qualities, in turn, are to be interpreted in terms of primary qualities - extension, figure and motion, with number as the key concept. They are also supposed to be caused and explained by primary qualities.


The reason for the three dots in my title is that I do not think that we can pass smoothly across this divide. The reasons, as I indicated in my introduction, have to do with the limitations of the model of explanation seventeenth-century natural philosophers chose. Put another way, if a set of laws are enacted, and a whole section of the population fails to obey them, it may turn out that the laws (pun intended) are bad ones. Whitehead - to whom I have continued to return as a guide since I first read him as a second-year undergraduate - points out that during the seventeenth century there evolved a

scheme of scientific ideas which has dominated thought ever since. It involves a fundamental duality, with material on the one hand, and on the other hand mind. In between them lie the concepts of life, organism, function, instantaneous reality, interaction, order of nature, which collectively form the Achilles heel of the whole system.55

He says: 'The field is now open for the introduction of some new doctrine of organism which may take the place of the materialism with which, since the seventeenth-century, science has saddled philosophy.' His approach 'would lead to a system of thought basing nature upon a concept of organism, and not upon the concept of matter'; he calls his theory 'organic mechanism'.56


I believe this way of thinking has been implicit throughout the history of the biological and human sciences and that it is time to say so and to embark upon a radical metaphysical reconstruction in the light of this persistent way of thought. Moreover, I believe that if we avowedly (as opposed to surreptitiously) reintegrate purposes and values with material explanations, many forms of alienation will be more transparent and more amenable to being contested.



1. John C. Greene, The Death of Adam: Evolution and Its Impact on Western Thought, 1959 (New York: Mentor Books, 1961). See my Mind, Brain and Adaptation: Cerebral Localization and Its Biological Context from Gall to Ferrier (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), esp. ch. 5.

2. John C. Greene, 'Biology and Social Theory in the Nineteenth Century: Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer', in Marshall Clagett, ed., Critical Problems in the History of Science (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1959), pp. 419-46.

3. John C. Greene, 'Darwin as a Social Evolutionist', in idem, Science, Ideology and World View: Essays in the History of Evolutionary Ideas (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), pp. 95-127. See my 'Darwinism is Social', in David Kohn, ed., The Darwinian Heritage (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985), pp. 609-38.

4. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), p. 15.

5. Charles C. Gillispie, The Edge of Objectivity: An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1960).

6. Charles C. Gillispie, 'Lamarck and Darwin in the History of Science', in Bentley Class, Owsei Temkin and William L. Straus, jreds., Forerunners of Darwin, 1745-1859 (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins Press, 1959), pp. 266-91 (279). See the almost identical wording in idem, Edge of Objectivity, p. 276.

7. The title of ch. 8 in Edge of Objectivity.

8. Gillispie, 'Lamarck and Darwin', p. 286.

9. Gillispie, Edge of Objectivity, p. 317.

10. Gillispie, 'Lamarck and Darwin', p. 282.

11. Gillispie, Edge of Objectivity, p. 303.

12. Robert M. Young, Darwin's Metaphor: Nature's Place in Victorian Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), ch. 2.

13. I have outlined these issues in 'The Mind-Body Problem', in J. Christie et al., eds., Companion to the History of Science (London: Croom Helm, in press).

14. E.A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science, 2nd edn (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1932), pp. 111-12.

15. E.J. Dijksterhuis, The Mechanization o the World Picture (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), p. 431. See also A.C. Crombie, 'The Primary Properties and Secondary Qualities in Galileo Galilei's Natural Philosophy', in Saggi su Galileo Galilei (Florence: G. Barbera, 1967).

16. Dijksterhuis, Mechanization of the World Picture, p. 431.

17. A.N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, 1925 (London: Free Association Books, 1985), pp. 68-9,

18. Ibid., p. 70.

19. Burtt, Metaphysical Foundations, pp. 236-7.

20. Jonathan Bennett, 'Substance, Reality and Primary Qualities', American Philosophical Quarterly, 2 (1965), 1-17.

21. R.J. Hirst, 'Primary and Secondary Qualities', in Paul Edwards, ed., The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 8 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1967), V, 455-7 (456).

22. Felix Pirani, 'Little and Large', New Statesman, 19 Feb. 1988, pp. 33-4.

23. Quoted in Burtt, Metaphysical Foundations, p. 204.

24. D.M. Armstrong, 'The Secondary Qualities: An Essay on the Classification of Theories', Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 46 (1968), 225-41.

25. May Brodbeck, 'Mental and Physical: Identity versus Sameness', in P.K. Feyerabend and G. Maxwell, eds., Mind, Matter, and Method: Essays in Philosophy and Science in Honor of Herbert Feigl (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1966), pp. 40-58.

26. What I have said here is too cryptic. Because I am not going to develop it at present, I will note some of the ambiguities in 'identity' theory with re-spect to my topic. There are at least four senses of identity in identity theory:

1. Identity theory is thought to refer to the logical concept of identity. In this sense, the theory is simply false.

2. Identity theory also refers to explanation of mental states in terms of physiological processes, thus conforming to the paradigm of explaining all phenomena in terms of matter, motion and number.

3. Identity theory alludes covertly to the scientific claim that 'the brain is the organ of the mind' in the sense that mental states are caused by physiological processes, not conversely.

4. [again related to (2)] We try to get out of the epistemological difficulties involved in identifying mental states by relating them to physiological processes of physical objects. This is an attempt to make mental events public.

On the relations between (4) and (2), see A.O. Lovejoy, 'Cartesian Dualism and Natural Dualism', in idem, The Revolt against Dualism: An Enquiry concerning the Existence of Ideas (LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court, 1969), pp. 1-46.

27. Ernest Nagel, The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1961, chs. 11, 12. See also Gillispie, Edge of Objectivity, p. 285.

28. L.J. Henderson, The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter (New York: Macmillan, 1913).

29. This is the point of the title essay in my Darzvin's Metaphor, ch. 4. I have spelled out the philosophical implications in a subsequent essay (see below, n. 52).

30. Gillispie, Edge of Objectivity, p. 73.

31. Ibid.

32. John Passmore, 'William Harvey and the Philosophy of Science', Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 36 (1958), 85-94. Much of what follows below is taken directly from Passmore's article.

33. Ibid., p. 90.

34. Quoted by Passmore from the Adam and Tannery edition, vol. 1, p.243.

35. J.F. Fulton, ed., A Textbook of Physiology, 17th edn (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1955).

36. Walter Pagel, 'William Harvey and the Purpose of the Circulation', Isis, 42 (1951), 22-38.

37. Dijksterhuis, Mechanization of the World Picture, pp. 435-56.

38. Robert Boyle, A Disquisition about the Final Causes of Natural Things (London, 1688), p. 235.

39. Ibid., p. 229.

40. Ibid., p. 232.

41. John Ray, The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of Creation, 5th edn (London: Benj. Walford, 1709), p.47.

42. Ibid., p. 49.

43. Ibid., p. 341.

44. Owsei Temkin, 'The Classical Roots of Glisson's Doctrine of Irritation', Bulletin of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 38 (1964), 297-328; Walter Pagel, 'Harvey and Glisson on Irritability with a Note on Van Helmont', Bulletin of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 41 (1967), 497-514.

45. Albrecht von Hailer, 'A Dissertation on the Sensible and Irritable Parts of Animals' (with an introduction by Owsei Temkin), Bulletin of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 4 (1936), 651-99 (657).

46. Ibid., p. 658.

47. Ibid., pp. 657-8, 658-9.

48. Robert Young, 'Association of Ideas', in P.P. Wiener, ed., Dictionary of the History of Ideas, 4 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1968), 1, 111-18; idem, Mind, Brain and Adaptation; idem, 'David Hartley', in Charles Coulston Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 16 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970-80), VI, 138-40; idem, Darwin's Metaphor, ch. 3.

49. David Hartley, Observations on Man, His Frame, His Duty, and His Expectations, 2 vols. (London: Leake and Frederick, 1749), I, 6.

50. All these issues are spelled out in greater detail in my two essays, 'Animal Soul', in Edwards, ed., Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I, 122-7, and Darwin's Metaphor, ch. 3.

51. John Tyndall, Address delivered before the British Association assembled at Belfast (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1874), p. 40.

52. Young, Darwin's Metaphor; idem, 'Implications of Darwin's Metaphor for the Philosophy of Science' (talk delivered in Geneva, Switzerland, 1986); idem, 'Charles Darwin', in the BBC-2 television series, Late Great Britons, first broadcast 2 Aug. 1988.

53. Charles Taylor, The Explanation of Behaviour (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964); Young, 'Animal Soul'.

54. I have discussed these matters briefly in 'Why Are Figures so Significant? The Role and the Critique of Quantification', in J. Irvine et al., eds., Demystifying Social Statistics (London: Pluto Press, 1979), pp. 63-74, and, at length, in 'The Naturalization of Value Systems in the Human Sciences', Problems in the Biological and Human Sciences ' A381, 'Science and Belief: from Darwin to Einstein', block 6, unit 14 (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1981), pp. 64-118.

55. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, p. 71.

56. Ibid., pp. 47, 93, 90.


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