A Note on Dr. Herbert Nichols' Paper (Amer. Nat., Sept., 1896)

Readers of Dr. Nichols' paper on my article entitled' A New Factor in Evolution " will understand that its intemperate spirit should rule out all reply. I may say, however, that Dr. Nichol's "home thrusts" are all directed at my view of pleasure and pain, which he considers, quite mistakenly, the point of my paper. On the contrary the " factor " is entirely the influence of the individual's adaptations on the course of evolution; not at all the particular way in which the individual makes its adaptations. I took pains to reiterate this distinction in the paper, saying (AMER: NAT., 1896, p. 542-3) " So far we have been dealing exclusively with facts . . . . . without prejudicing the statement of fact at all, we may inquire into the actual working of the organism in making its adaptations . . . . . . Before taking this up, I must repeat with emphasis that the position taken in the foregoing pages, which simply makes the fact of ontogenetic adaptation a factor in (race) development, is not involved in the solution of the farther question as to how the adaptations are secured." So I see absolutely no point in Dr. Nichols' criticisms.

The other question, which involves pleasure and pain, is discussed in the latter part of my paper; but it is not that, but my book which Dr. Nichols attacks with the grossest misunderstanding. I do not at all believe the main things which he attributes to me; first, the position that there are no pain nerves, and second, that there is a "psychic factor" which is an "efficient cause" in evolution. Psychologists know Dr. Nichols' hobby and allow for his intemperateness.

J. Mark Baldwin
Princeton, Sept 25, 1896.


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