Philosophy Issues: Paley’s Argument of Eye and Telescope Term Paper

I. I. “I know of no better method of introducing so large a subject, than that of comparing a single thing with a single; an eye, for example, with a telescope. As far as the examination of the instrument goes, there is precisely the same proof that the eye was made for vision, as there is that the telescope was made for assisting it.” (William Paley).

Paley argues that an eye and a telescope are so much specialized in their function that they cannot be the product of an accident. They must have been designed. Even if we have never seen the designer, we should not claim that there is none. Paley (1) started his argument by the perception that someone has when he randomly meets stone and a watch.

The person who meets a stone will conclude that the stone could have been there all along or been there purposelessly. However, the watch must have been made by someone because there is no way different parts can come together by themselves to perform a single function.

The strength of Paley’s argument is that a good product is rarely the outcome of chance or an accident. An eye and a telescope are almost similar in the parts that they assemble to provide vision, particularly in the use of lenses and the formation of the image behind the lenses. If the parts of the telescope must be assembled by a designer, it follows that the parts of an eye must have been assembled as well (Paley 2).

Paley’s argument creates the impression that living things have parts that are so much specialized that they must have an author. In a human being, there are sets of organs that perform specialized functions. The organs operate more efficiently to conserve energy. According to Darwin, the parts evolved from simple forms to more complicated and specialized forms.

Whewell (194), in response to Lyell’s Principles, declared that there should be evidence of the cause of the change from one form to another. Darwin (8) argued that the cause of change is the struggle for existence. It allows individuals who are highly adapted to propagate their genes at the expense of the weaker ones of the same species. There is evidence of a continuous struggle for existence among living things.

The question that can be raised is that a species cannot develop an eye if it is not encrypted in their DNA. Someone would want to know how the struggle for existence has finally resulted in the encryption of new parts into the DNA of a certain species.

Biology indicates that animals may change the size, color, and shape of existing parts only because they already exist in their DNA. In Biology, only certain chemicals may result in the change of the DNA. The struggle for existence cannot change the DNA that can result in the formation of new parts. However, it can result in stronger and better-adapted parts and forms of life (Darwin 8).

Hume (4) dismissed the adaptation of parts because the animals that become adapted finally die and new ones are produced. However, Darwin’s approach is that animals that have certain better abilities propagate their genes because of their specialized abilities. In the example of the eye, a human being with the best vision survives in the jungle and is able to produce offspring.

The one with a poor vision dies with no offspring. In the end, only those with a perfect sight remain. In this case, only eagles with the best vision and the swiftest grasp remain. However, what would have forced human beings or eagles to form eyes cannot be described with certainty in the first place.

Stumbling upon some chemical that alters the DNA cannot produce eyes. The struggle for existence may not change the DNA. Paley argued that something that happens by chance could produce “a wart, a mole, a simple, but never an eye” (5). A pimple is possible because it is not an assembly of different parts performing one function. In all cases, the argument is the same. A stone is not an assembly of parts. It can be formed through chance. Human beings would like to develop wings to fly.

When the struggle for existence can be used as a cause for the prevalence of the more specialized forms, there is no evidence of struggle among celestial bodies arranged in sustainable patterns. Isaac Newton’s thought is that “the stars are so evenly spaced throughout the heavens and cannot be understood without reference to God’s intentions” (“Darwin, evolution and modern history: Dar Rev 2014 Slides Living 1” 7).

One would wonder what made the stars evenly distributed that they do not collide or merge to become one huge body. They do not struggle to exist. It is similar to Paley’s argument where an assembly of different parts results in a system that functions together harmoniously.

They cannot assemble by chance without the outcome of an accident. The outcome of an accident is likely to involve a waste. Waste may include parts that do not add value to the functioning of the system. According to Darwin (8), unused parts are eliminated through time.

Organic fossils need to be studied similarly to the rocks. Whewell discussed that “the fossils and medals found under city ruins are to be used in the same spirit and purpose” (500). Scientists face the problem of creating a link between stages. For example, the small gradual changes from Homo Habilis to Homo Erectus.

Lyell explained that it would have been possible if “it was part of the plan of nature to preserve an unbroken series of monuments to commemorate the vicissitudes of the organic creation” (34). Scientists have tried to develop a link between different stages in the evolution of mankind. However, there are millions of species that would need a similar linkage.

Both Darwin and Paley base their argument on the vertebrates, which have similar body structures in terms of bone formation and body functions. However, the two authors differ on the issue of the origin of species. Paley holds that a similar body structure is a sign of contrivance, which assures the existence of a designer.

Darwin uses a similar body structure to infer a common origin. Paley gives a valid argument that an assembly of different parts cannot occur by chance. Darwin’s theory is left with the difficult task of proving how new parts are encrypted into the DNA of young ones because they may not be of generic value (Darwin 12). The solar system is an assembly of celestial bodies that do not struggle to exist. One would wonder what made the planets develop different masses and atmospheric characteristics if they have the same origin.

II. “It is remarkable how Darwin recognized among beasts and plants his English society with its division of labor, competition, opening up of markets, ‘inventions’, and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’ —with Darwin the animal kingdom figures as a bourgeois society.” (Karl Marx in correspondence with Friedrich Engels.)

Darwin recognized that among beasts and plants there is a division of labor. Plants provide animals with food and oxygen. In return, animals provide carbon dioxide and manure for plants (Marx and Engels par. 2). There is competition whenever beasts have an interest in the same resources. Lions will kill hyenas to reduce competition for meat. Wolves and cheetahs will target the same animals for food. The same competition occurs among human beings when there is a conflict of interest.

Division of labor may also occur in animals of the same species. For example, male lions may guard the boundaries and lionesses may specialize in hunting. There is a great division of labor among human beings. Division of labor increases productivity among human beings.

The farmer has ample time to carry out his duties as a result of taking his children to school. Some animals feed while others watch out. It allows those that feed ample time to find the best food and adequate quantities. It also eliminates distraction from those that are on the lookout for predators.

According to the statement, the struggle is an occurrence of chance emerging from overpopulation and the struggle for existence. It leads to the invention in animals as in mankind. As a result of the struggle and invention, a baboon finds out that it can be more satisfied by feeding on a single flamingo rather than plant shoots. However, there is difficulty in catching flamingoes.

Opening up of markets is where animals will go further than usual in such food and water. During periods of scarcity, animals may widen the boundaries in which they search for food. Plenty of food in an area may also invite animals from far regions. In English society, merchants were known to bring supplies of goods that were scarce in England.

In return, they would export those that are in plenty. In the animal kingdom, animals have several options among different animals that they can hunt for food. The ones found in plenty are easily killed. They will be frequently hunted until their numbers are reduced. Paley (7) argued that it is a system to prevent overpopulation.

In business, inventions come as a result of trying to gain a competitive advantage over other businesses. In the animal kingdom, the invention provides better knowledge that allows an animal to use less effort in the struggle for existence. The need for invention comes as a result of competition.

The propagation of species is such that animals of the same species have certain advantages over other species different from their own. Darwin (59) argued that there is intense competition among animals of the same species because of the similarity of abilities. The differences among species create a form of divided labor.

Animals of different species tend to target different parts of the same resources. Their abilities are increasingly being adapted for the different resources they target. The division of labor among species reduces the struggle for existence and increases the chances of survival.

A giraffe feeds on trees and a gazelle on the grass. The height of the giraffe and its kicks prevent a lion from reaching its throat easily. The gazelle’s speed is its best rescue. Each species survives, according to their different abilities. Within the species, those which display stronger qualities of their competitive abilities can propagate their genes.

Competition emerges from seeking the same resources and from overpopulation. Paley (7) argued that “pain teaches vigilance and caution, gives notice to danger, and excites those endeavors which may be necessary to preserve the species” (7). As a result of scarcity of resources brought about by overpopulation, the proletariat would turn against the bourgeoisie. Hume (5) described a situation where insects can molest lions despite their strength.

The Malthusian theory predicts the intensification of the struggle for existence as a result of overpopulation. In the animal kingdom, the search for green plants intensifies as the population of herbivores increase. However, their population is kept at a sustainable number by the carnivores. Mankind has been able to reproduce at a high rate after reducing the struggle for existence from the struggle of necessities to the struggle for additional pleasures.

The bourgeoisie society has been described with a continuous class struggle for necessities and enjoyment (Marx and Engels par. 4). Engels draws a difference between the bourgeoisie struggles in mankind from that of animals because animals only gather finished products and are more concerned about necessities (Marx and Engels par. 4). Some animals may show an indication of enjoyment too. Birds satisfied with the necessity of food and water may bathe in the soil as a form of relaxation.

The bourgeoisie is known as a society where everyone seeks his own benefit (Marx and Engel par. 13). The animal kingdom is similar. Animals may also be friendly to their own kind once they have satisfied their individual needs. The struggle where everyone seeks to satisfy their individual needs leads to those who are more adapted to the changing conditions to survive when the weaker of their species are wiped out by scarcity.

Division of labor may have resulted in better-performing parts. The different body parts form systems that are better adapted for their function. Different species also specialize in areas that provide a better chance of survival. Adam Smith claimed that a “workman not educated to this business, has by the division of labor rendered a distinct trade” (8).

It is the situation when a workman gains skills through practice rather than education. It is similar to Darwin’s view that different species have gained competitive advantages by repeatedly using certain abilities (Darwin 8). The abilities that provide a species with its distinction become a common feature among the offspring that will be able to survive in the struggle for existence.

Marx and Engel (par. 2), in the statement, were not surprised that the same theory used in history could be used in natural sciences. At a glance, human beings may appear free from the struggle for existence. Invention and innovation have allowed mankind to live in numbers that would be considered overpopulation if human beings lived in their natural state. A closer look at animals, one realizes similar struggles as those of mankind.

The search for new markets and division of labor are inventions that tend to create an advantage over individuals and nations. The individual that innovates becomes dominant. Historically, the most successful men were able to sire more children than the less successful men.

Currently, the trend has changed because men are afraid to have more children alarmed by economic difficulties. It goes back to Paley’s argument that the struggle creates an awareness of danger, which reduces overpopulation in human beings. Today, in a more developed country like England, there is hardly direct combat in the struggle for resources.

However, the struggle for existence has not stopped. It will be evident in firms that restructure to remain in the market place. There are individuals who develop rare technical skills, which allow them to tap into resources that are hardly available to the majority. Animals as well may develop rare skills that allow a species to tap into resources unreachable to others.

Works Cited

Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. 6th ed. 2009. New York: Cambridge University Press. Print.

Darwin, evolution and modern history: Dar Rev 2014 Slides Living 1”. Web.

Hume, David. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779). Passages distributed in class.

Lyell, Charles. Principles of Geology [1830-1833, vol. 3], London: John Murray. Passages distributed in class.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Marx-Engels Correspondence 1875: Engels to Lavrov 12 November 1875. n.d. Web.

Paley, William. Natural Theology or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature. 12th ed. 1809. London: Fauldner. Darwin-online Organization. Web.

Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [1776], 5th ed. 1904. London: Methuen. Passages distributed in class.

Whewell, William. History of the Inductive Sciences (1837). Passages distributed in class.

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