A diverse population is a necessity for the proper working of natural selection.(Darwin’s success meant that typologists, for whom all members of a class are essentially identical, were left with an untenable viewpoint.) Because of the importance of variation, natural selection should be considered a two-step process: the production of abundant variation is followed by the elimination of inferior individuals. By adopting natural selection, Darwin settled the several-thousandyear- old argument among philosophers over chance or necessity.
A Secular View of Life Darwin founded a new branch of life science, evolutionary biology.
Four of his contributions to evolutionary biology are especially important, as they held considerable sway beyond that discipline.
Darwin’s accomplishments were so many and so diverse that it is useful to distinguish three fields to which he made major contributions: evolutionary biology; the philosophy of science; and the modern zeitgeist.
Although I will be focusing on this last domain, for the sake of completeness I will put forth a short overview of his contributions—particularly as they inform his later ideas—to the first two areas.
The principle remained unknown throughout the more than 2,000-year history of philosophy ranging from the Greeks to Hume, Kant and the Victorian era.
The concept of natural selection had remarkable power for explaining directional and adaptive changes. It is not a force like the forces described in the laws of physics; its mechanism is simply the elimination of inferior individuals.
Change on the earth is the result of both, the first step being dominated by randomness, the second by necessity.
Darwin was a holist: for him the object, or target, of selection was primarily the individual as a whole.
Finally, he reasoned that the mechanism of evolution was natural selection.
These four insights served as the foundation for Darwin’s founding of a new branch of the philosophy of science, a philosophy of biology.