IN Prof. Mills' communications on 'Instinct' he seems to have missed the point in the case of each of those criticised -- the 'writer of the note,' Prof. Morgan and myself. In the case of the fowl's drinking, it is not the mere fact that drinking and eating may differ in the degree to which the performance is congenital; the reports seem to show that this varies in different fowl; but that instincts (in this case drinking) may be only half congenital, and may have to be supplemented by imitation, accident, intelligence, instruction, etc., in order to act, even when the actions are so necessary to life that the creature would certainly die if the function were not performed. That is the interesting point.

Then, in criticising me, Prof. Mills accuses me of ignoring the 'effects of environment and of use.' On the contrary, these are just the facts which I appeal to. By adaptations to the environment and by use the creature manages to keep alive; other creatures die off; so certain determinate directions of congenital variation are singled out and inherited. Thus phylogenetic variations become determinate, just through these ontogenetic adaptations. This takes the place of the Lamarckian factor. Lamarckism is an 'obvious' resort in all cases, of course, but it seems to me so easy that in many cases it is shallow in the extreme.

But my view is very far from being Weissmanism. I reach determinate variations by means of new functions or adaptations which keep certain animals alive to propagate. It is really a new theory, as Prof. Osborn, who has reached about the same point of view, declares. This is also just the value which Prof. Morgan attaches to his observations.

PRINCETON, April 17, 1896.


No Notes

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict Valid CSS2