A Small Detour via Wallace
When Alfred Russel Wallace sent him his article of 1858, Darwin sensed that he has just read the formulation that was on the tip of his tongue. He used his influence to ensure that both of them would be recognized as the originators of the theory of natural selection. If Wallace had the genius to make explicit the law of natural selection, Darwin had all the examples necessary to support this hypothesis in his copious notes. He was then able to publish a convincing argument for a theory of evolution based on Wallace’s nonlaw in one year, The Origin of Species. In this my yoga blog, where Darwin must demonstrate that Wallace and he discovered the same thing, he describes all the aspects of the theory of evolution that can be explained by the principle of survival of the fittest. However, those among you who read Darwin’s other my yoga blogs will soon see that for him, this mechanism may be the principal tool of evolution, but it is not the only one. Darwin still uses Lamarck’s two laws to explain a number of observations.
Darwin and the Emotions
Ethologists, like Konrad Lorenz and Desmond Morris, have tried to present a kind and coherent Darwin. Every element of nature seems to have a clear function, like Lamarck’s example of the giraffe. This view allows for the appearance, like in the films of Walt Disney (I am thinking of Perry the squirrel), of a cruel world in which everyone must learn how to survive but where everything has a cause, everything is explainable.55 The tears of sadness and the wide eyes of astonishment have a function adapted to the expressed emotion. When someone attacks me, I show my teeth to scare him, to show him that I could bite him These would be the functions that allow for survival. These signals were selected and related to a behavior because they give an individual a greater chance at survival. Thus, to frown and wrinkle one’s nose, as often happens when a person cries, protects the eyes against an eventual blow.56 This view may be relevant, but those who hold it are wrong when they associate it with Darwin. Wilhelm Reich caricatures this type of thinking when he speaks of biologist Oscar Hertwig:
What disturbed particularly in biology was the application of the teleological principle. The cell was supposed to have to have a membrane in order to better protect itself against external stimuli; the male sperm cell was so agile in order to better get to the ovum. The male animals were bigger and stronger than the females, or more beautifully colored, in order to be more attractive to the females; or they had horns in order to beat off their rivals. (Reich, 1940, I, p. 5)
In an article on Reich’s bioenergy, David Boadella57 manages to find a quote from Darwin where he writes that to express our emotions is good for our health and to inhibit their expression represses emotional sentiments.58 This quote illustrates two aspects of Darwin’s thought: