Charles Hartshorne taught at the University of Texas where he was Ashbel Smith Professor of Philosophy. He had a distinguished career at several other universities, particularly the University of Chicago and Emory University. His most recent book, Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method, was published by Open Court.
The following article appeared in Process Studies, pp. 276-288, Vol. 30, Number 2, Fall-Winter, 2001. Process Studies is published quarterly by the Center for Process Studies, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
A book review article by Hartshorne of John Bowlby’s Charles Darwin: A New Life. Hartshorne comments about Darwin’s theology.
[ Editor’s note: The following paper began as a book review of John Bowlby’s Charles Darwin, A New Life (New York: W. W Norton & Company, 1990) An examination of the various fragments and the four manuscript versions -- not all complete -- reveals that Hartshorne expanded it into a review article. For the most part, and with a few exceptions that I indicate in the endnotes, the paper published here incorporates what is in the other versions while the other versions leave our much of what is published here. In its original form there is no title; later versions carry different tides: "Darwinism and Some Related Topics: A Review Article," "Darwinism: A Review Article," and "Darwin and Some Philosophers: A Review Article." The manuscripts indicate that Hartshorne was working on this article as late as 1993 -- see endnote . -- Donald Wayne Viney]
That a psychiatrist should undertake so elaborate a biography is remarkable, that it should be so readable and insightful is fortunate indeed. At last we begin to see something like the full truth, so far as we humans can know it, about "the greatest biologist who ever was." We learn that this rightly famous person was as remarkable for his goodness as his genius. His relatives, hosts of acquaintances, offspring, in the end even his somewhat tyrannical father (I imagine), all admired him. His wife deeply loved him and cared for his needs with zeal and wisdom. One of the photographs of her suggests her strength of character.
The photos of Charles are helpful too, especially the one as a father with his four-year-old son; what a noble kindness in the parent’s face! This man was ideal parent as well as scientific discoverer. That his pious wife helped to edit his writings and did everything she could to help him shows he was a lovable husband.
A virtue of the book is the fairness to Alfred Wallace, co-discoverer of natural selection. His unpretentiousness in never claiming anything like equality with Darwin was an example of honesty on a high level. Partly because of bad luck in the sinking of a ship containing Wallace’s collection of specimens, he produced nothing remotely like the immense mass of facts assembled by the primary founder of the new science of living things. (Yet Wallace was the founder of Zoogeography, dealing with the regional distribution of animals, a subject important to me since boyhood.) When, however, it comes to the question of the religious meaning of the discovery; the great Workaholic, as Bowlby once called Darwin, was not the best person to find the answer. Nor, I suspect, was Wallace, though I have not read him enough to be sure of this. He evidently did not share the other’s agnosticism, approaching though not quite reaching atheism.1 (The Origin did end with a positive reference to the Creator.) Three of Wallace’s books came out after Darwin’s death. His book on The Theory of Natured Selection was in published 1871.
That even the greatest human discoverers have limitations is, unsurprisingly, true of these two and of their biographer. I use the word limitations rather than mistakes, for none of the biographer’s statements seems to me false.2 What I miss in the book is awareness of some intellectual advances during the century or more between the end of Darwin’s career and the publication of this biography. I refer to new ideas in physics, chemistry, physiology, philosophy, theology, all of which are pertinent to the religious significance of Darwinism.3 What many seem not to understand is that the crux of the religious issue is not between fundamentalism -- which I recall no one whose intelligence I greatly admire defending -- and evolution, but between two kinds of theism and two kinds of evolutionism.
Modern science began, as did ancient Greek science, with the adoption of an ultra-simple and essentially negative notion of causality, the belief that, given the causal conditions, what concretely happens is the only thing that then and there could happen. Leibniz’s principle of Sufficient Reason means just that, and he was preceded by Democritus, followed by the Stoics, with their talk of universal necessity. For me, and I hope many others, the last word in Ancient Greece on this topic was given by Epicurus and his talk about a mixture of chance and necessity, and the bits of free "swerve" in the movements of atoms. He believed firmly in his own freedom and generalized this for creatures as such. Temporally between the significantly different atomic views of Democritus and Epicurus came Plato, in his mature and late dialogues asserting the "self-activity" of souls or minds, any and all of them, even the supreme or divine mind whose body, Plato says, is the cosmos, including all lesser bodies or minds. Modern knowledge has repeated this move from freedomless causation to freedom-permitting, indeed enhancing causation. The last great partisan of unfreedom was Einstein. I once heard him argue for this view before an audience of philosophers. He made it as clear as this view can he made that by freedom he meant only doing what one wishes to do, even though these wishes were determined by events taking place before one existed. I briefly expressed my disagreement with this. Einstein, before his death, I am told, somewhat relaxed his insistence on complete determinism, but never gave up his rejection of the Quantum idea. This I see simply as mistake. Discreteness is what makes our world intelligible. Actualizations of possibilities come in definite bits, only possibilities can be continuous. His not seeing this hampered Charles Peirce in his life-long and in some ways admirable attempt to achieve success in metaphysics, a success he predicted for our century. The idea of much postmodernism that metaphysics is a thing of the past is for me the opposite of the truth. So long as deterministic science dominated there could be no coherent metaphysics. Now there can be.
The famous "chance variations" of offspring showed Darwin himself paradoxically taking the anti-freedom interpretation. He said the variations are not really by chance, and he meant by this what Leibniz meant by causation as sufficient reason. Worse still, Hume and Kant both reiterated this unfreedom view of causality, as do many admirers or critics of each today. Insofar they are back with Democritus, not with Plato or Epicurus; they are not even with Aristotle as some scholars (though not Wolfson) interpret him. In the late 19th century Clerk Maxwell rejected this ultra-simple, negative and not possibly justified view in physics and so did Willard Gibbs, the great Yale chemist; Peirce, himself a chemist (as well as several other kinds of empirical scientist, also mathematician, logician, and philosopher) radically repudiated determinism. He even seems to have been influenced by reading about Epicurus.
With Heisenberg’s uncertainty article, 1927 (I read it as it reached the Harvard Library, thanks to a young physicist friend I had), many physicists began to get the message. I also, in Chicago, talked to Heisenberg. Moreover, even without the quantum of Planck (whom I once heard lecture in Berlin) there were other indications against determinism. The cell theory of organisms was a change in principle, not merely in degree, compared to all ancient thought. Moreover there is a quantum involved, for electro-chemical exchanges among neurons are subject to an all-or-nothing law. Nature does make finite leaps. Then too, if three body interactions are mathematically difficult, what about interactions among millions or billions of neurons in higher animal brains. Unqualified determinism, mechanism has always been a bluff that only needed to be called to show its arbitrariness. Nature’s leaps may be small on the micro-level but, as Leibniz, in another aspect of his monadology said, there are an infinity of fractions between any one size or degree and zero. In this he was talking about mind, a zero of which he and I, also the ancient Buddhists and some Hindus, have denied. So-called identical twins are finitely different. I had a pair as brothers.
The unplausibility of theism without creaturely freedom4 and the absurdity of deity, or any actuality, as wholly timeless was apparent to Plato, who in late dialogues said that in God was "being and becoming" that God cares about the creatures, and is soul and therefore self-changing For him a changeless soul is a contradiction. He also said that being is power, to be is to influence others; obviously, though he failed to quite say this, it is also to be influenced by others. Without creaturely freedom God would be the murderer in all homicides and the torturer in all torturing. In no way can a coherent theism be formulated without taking the Platonic-Epicurean pro-freedom turn. Determinists grossly beg the question against theism; theologians who treat deity as the cosmic tyrant who timelessly decides the details of the temporal cosmos are not friends of religion at its best.5
One of these dubious deterministic friends of religion is a former student of mine named Huston Smith, a pleasant, likeable person, who enjoys his complex view, in which he finds places for a number of recent writers, though he knows how little some of us agree with it. My snide reaction to the scheme is to quote Mortimer Snerd, the sarcastic puppet of some time ago, "That’s the way it goes" (sometimes, in theorizing about religion).
A third gifted Englishman contemporary with Darwin and Wallace was Charles Kingsley, the clergyman and prolific author writing for children, also adults, in both cases about religion, philosophy, and science. He did what no one else at the time seems to have done, with brilliant insight he discussed the positive religious significance of evolutionism. He wrote Darwin twice, first to say, "I must consider this," second to say, "I accept it." He did much more: he said what Wallace ought to have said but, I gather, did not.6 Speaking for Pan, the Spirit of Nature (i.e. God), this other Charles wrote: "I tell the creatures they must [partly] make themselves." In the long run why should their doing this not make new species? This extraordinary and strangely underestimated writer made a further insightful remark. He pointed out that the theism which evolution should do away with could be called the "magical" phase in the development of theology, according to which God said (or shall we say thought?), Let there be light and there was light, let there be a man and there was Adam, etc. In short, God does everything, the creatures do nothing. Then finally the creatures begin to do things . . . or do they?7
Is it not about time some historian recognized the fact that in a few adroit asides Kingsley in principle raised the level of reflection about the mystery of creation? If we can significantly say "God creates" there must be something in our world that furnishes the meaning of create. Surely it cannot be what a watch-maker does making a watch. The Cartesian idea of an animal as just a machine insults not only you and me, it insults the merest fly or plant cell.8 It even insults Epicurus’ atoms. Unfortunately Kingsley’s learning probably did not include Plato’s suggestion, that to furnish an analogy for what God does for the world we should look to the bodily aspects of our own deeds, as when we decide to do something, say to utter a word or write a sentence. Our experience of willing to do this produces changes in our brains (to modernize the discussion) and these produce changes in our muscles, etc. Why do our neurons respond to our wishes or volitions? What is the relation of mind to matter when the matter is in our central nervous system? Also why do we suffer when some of our cells are injured? Plato gropingly wrote of the sympathy of parts of the body for one another. Why have so many sages said that love is the key? The simplest genuine form of love is sympathy; without that the rest is something else, lust for example. Or take Plato’s word: care. Why care about or believe in God? Because God 9 cares about us and all other active singulars, and cares in a more excellent manner than we can care about ourselves or anything; God preceded us and made us possible, and is the law-giver of the freedom-sustaining laws of nature. That evolution favors freedom was seen immediately by Peirce, who did not need Kingsley for this. Right away on receiving the information about natural selection as factor in the becoming of animal species Peirce said to Chauncey Wright that he’d have to give up his determinism; animal habits are not absolute regularities. The basic postmodernism is evolution; Kingsley and Peirce saw what many still refuse to see, that evolution favors a reasonable theism. It opens the door to Whitehead’s insight that creativity cannot be uniquely or solely divine; if it were how could the word have a human meaning? Rather creativity is, as Whitehead says, "the category of the ultimate," or what the Scholastics called a transcendental.
None of the reasons for theism work unless simple, or as I see it simpleminded determinism, is entirely false. I have yet to see a cogent argument for its truth. Rorty does not argue for his determinism, he simply declares it. As John Searle says, Rorty insinuates, he does not argue.10 I judge by arguments, not insinuations.
The simplicity of the love idea I see as profound. It is not negative, like timeless, mindless, absolute (extending freedom and contingency); it is a positive relation of one sentient subject to another. Even one’s past selves are not strictly the same subjects. Ordinary language and several philosophical and psychological traditions accept this. One can say, I love me, but not, I love I. This bit of grammar tells us that personal identity is far indeed from strict identity. Nor is the non-identity between you and me an absolute non-identity. We have a lot "in common."
When Peirce, a theist virtually all his life, and an evolutionist virtually all his adult life, was fourteen, he wrote, "Love is the foundation of everything desirable or good." At almost the same age I wrote in poetry a similar view about the supreme importance of love. These basic common beliefs, there were others about the falseness of materialism and mechanism, are part of the explanation of the fact that when I was given (I had not asked for it) the job of editing an edition of Peirce’s mostly unpublished philosophical papers, I immediately began to like what I found in them. All the better that I felt similarly about another task which I was given (again without asking), in the same year (1925-26) to help A. N. Whitehead grade papers, hence listen to him lecture, and read what he wrote as a philosopher, rather than just a logician, mathematician, and physicist. He took "sympathy" as basic in his concept of prehension, or what memory and perception have in common, the feeling by one subject of the feelings of other subjects, as theirs. Except for some hesitation in his early adult life, he too was a life-long theist. He took quantum theory seriously, and I saw to it that he knew about Heisenberg’s revolutionary essay (He had decided before that time not to try to keep up with physics after 1924 when he came to Harvard to teach philosophy for the first time in his life.) Of course he knew about Planck’s and Einstein’s contributions to physics.
The great little country of England produced Darwinism in the nineteenth century, and the great Churchill’s No to Hitler’s 1000 year kingdom in the present century, but notable intellectual creativity was, by the two world wars and the Holocaust, substantially, driven to the American side of the Atlantic.11 Harvard, Johns Hopkins, or the University of Chicago, not Oxford or Cambridge, became the centers. The price for those two horrible wars and religious intolerances was naturally high. I visited a number of those to us Eastern yet Occidental countries in the twenties, also late forties. I have some knowledge of what went on there intellectually. Leadership in disciplined knowledge, not only in empirical science, also in philosophy and theology, is no permanent national possession. It skips about. In applied science Japan and several other countries are now formidable rivals to this country. I know some Christian Japanese that I feel theologically closer to than to most religious sects or most Roman Catholics in this country. Also a small branch of Hinduism (in Bengal) exalts love as sympathy above such empty abstractions as "the absolute," "the infinite," or "the eternal."
About a hundred years after the Origin the SCM Press published Metaphysical Beliefs: Three Essay, by the English philosophers S. Toulmin, R. W. Hepburn, and A. MacIntyre. In my opinion none of these writers are in the same class with Wallace, Darwin, or Kingsley. In the General Introduction to the series of which this book was one, R. Gregor Smith says that "neither the idealist nor the linguistic philosophy, neither the liberal nor the neo-Calvinist nor the neo-Thomist theology is able itself to speak properly to the needs of our time." Nothing is said in the book about Methodism, the most numerous American sect, non-fundamentalist and reasonably open to science, nothing about the Society of Friends, with similar characteristics, nothing much about the importance of liberal Anglican or Episcopal forms of religion, already open to Darwinism in Darwin’s time, and soon after that for at least three of my four grandparents. Also, if idealism means the doctrine that mind in various forms and manifestations is all we can possibly know, then I am one of many around the world who find no cogent argument against this. The Buddhists held and hold it, at least one sect of Hinduism ditto, Peirce, perhaps the greatest cognitive genius this country ever had, and the Anglo-American (as I call him), A. N. Whitehead held it, as did Haeberlin, a Swiss philosopher and my best psychology teacher at Harvard, Leonard Troland. Nor do I know any careful argument against it. Of course mind-only partisans do not mean by "mind" just human mind, or even only the mind of cells or atoms, but rather mentality; in all platonically "self active" singulars. For brevity I call them active singulars. Rivers or mountains are not such singulars, nor are rocks or other solids, or clouds, or liquids, but molecules, atoms, particles, are. I see a decline in English culture in this mid-century book compared to the great Darwinian phenomenon in the previous century.
After Darwin many would say that Sewall Wright, the American population geneticist, was the next at all comparably great biologist. He and his wife, I and my wife (before two illnesses reduced her to a helpless invalid) were close friends for more than fifty years. His last letter may have been one to her. My brother Richard, a famous geographer, and his family attended the same Unitarian church in Madison as Sewall, after he went there to live. So we kept in touch with him. Wright’s philosophy; and he definitely had one, was mind-only and he rejected unqualified determinism. We disagreed about God but I understood his difficulty in that subject. It was not something in his biology but only in relativity physics. It is perhaps the greatest difficulty in my theism. But physicists have yet to come to a definite decision about mind and matter. Mind and body, yes, mind and in some cases mindless matter, that is the problem.
Nothing in the above should be taken as retracting much from the view of Bowlby’s book as a superb example of the important science-art of biography. It is greatness dealing with greatness. The psychiatrist author shows that Darwin’s illness came mostly from the death of his mother when he was eight, but partly’ from his domineering, but too-Victorian father. But so did some of the money’ that made the biologist’s family life and his rather long career of continued work possible.12 In half a century England gave the world great gifts.
The sad thing is that none of these people except the neglected Kingsley knew how to deal positively with the religious import of the new knowledge of nature. In the next century in England came the three critics of religious ideas who did not quite believe this or quite disbelieve that. A similar figure whom I knew rather well was John Wisdom, They were all pre-Kingsley, pre-Plato, pre-Socinian, with no suspicion of what I call neoclassical metaphysics. They mostly ignore Whitehead, the greatest metaphysician England ever produced -- with some help from another country. (For details see Victor Lowe’s three volumes about Whitehead.) Although still, I think, a British citizen, he had left England and gone to another country. The British, of course, like William James, try to be completely empirical; they also greatly trust specialization. Whitehead was mathematician, logician, and physicist, so what was he doing trying to be a philosopher?
The answer to this was given by my great Harvard advisor and friend, named after my maternal grandfather, James Haughton Woods. He read what Whitehead had written as physicist and said to himself and others, "This man should be teaching philosophy." Woods came from business people and was knowledgeable about money. He got the capital needed to guarantee that the elderly Englishman would be able to teach indefinitely past the ordinary retirement age, sent a cablegram which Whitehead read to his wife, adding "to teach philosophy, something I have always wanted to do." His wife told me that after the word philosophy she was about to say, "but you won’t do it," then, as she heard the rest, she saw that no such response could be considered ("I would have bitten my tongue out"). They were going to live in a country they had never seen. She was from Ireland. I consider Woods not only a very learned scholar but also the most important and wise departmental chairman I have known, and I’ve known many, and not thought poorly of any while they held that office. At Harvard the question had been, should we have Russell or Whitehead? I never heard -- and I was there during much of the time -- any regret about the choice they had made and I heard several of the faculty say the choice had been the right one. The human aspect of philosophy is more important and relevant than that of science. In neither is it insignificant. So far as I am aware I am the first to give Woods anything like his due in this matter.13
Whitehead, like Darwin, had the perfect luck of one ideal marriage, lasting until he died. Peirce had a mixture of good and not at all good in both his marriages. This is not the only reason why Whitehead’s set of ideas was better recorded by him and more in conformity with what is now taken as true in science, but it is one reason. On the other hand, Peirce was much more of an empirical experimentalist than Whitehead. A contrasting difference is that Peirce had a powerful mathematician as father who tutored him in that subject, helped him in other ways, but was almost brutally unkind at times and a possible cause of a psychosomatic illness in his son. His biographer, Joseph Brent, a professional historian whose philosophy I find congenial -- he is even knowledgeable about birds -- tells the story of the good and great, but also the very sad aspects of the career. A distinguished English mathematician, Sylvester, said of Charles Peirce, that he was a "much greater" mathematician than his father, Benjamin.14 The word "great" has not been used of Whitehead as mathematician, though his pupil Bertrand Russell said of him that as teacher of that sub1ect he was "perfect."
Although Darwin is not normally termed a mathematician, in his writings one sees that his work is quantitative. He is aware that to know we must, as Fermi says, measure. And in the numerous cases in which exact measurements are not possible one must at least measure the degree of probable error, something that determinists tend to forget. Materialists who assign a total absence of mentality to much of nature egregiously commit the zero fallacy, as I call it. Peirce argued that, since zero magnitude is one of an infinity of possible magnitudes, all except one greater than zero but too small for us to definitely detect in nature, the improbability of the zero size being the exact truth is infinite. This applies to two properties found even in very’ small things, as I, with many others, would say freedom and mentality are, for instance in ants, also protozoa, and (with Plato) in all self-active beings.
Does not Peirce’s argument for the improbability of an exact zero of a property found in highly variable degrees, and in highly variable extents of space, hold against the exact truth of Euclidian geometry? So much for Kant’s argument on that subject. Similar arguments dispose of the exactly circular view of planetary orbits. Ultra-simplicity is an argument against rather than for a view about nature. Male-favoring views about genetic inheritance is another dismal example. Zero eggs were imputed to mothers, against rather than for what evidence there was on the subject.
The ultra-simple view of divine creation was the Dark Age to Reformation non-evolutionary one: God, the absolute power, does it all, we are God’s deeds -- puppets, only apparent doers. In current physics actual puppets have constituents the puppeteer cannot fully control. Besides, "doing" is a word with a definite human meaning. No wonder "humanists" reject theism, so-conceived.
Of course, if ultra-simplicity is a sign of theoretical error, ultra-complexity may also be such a sign. The supposed perfect circles, that is simplest conic sections, of planetary orbits, taken together, form a very complicated whole, painfully lacking in the apparent simplicity of any single circle. Anyway the logical possibilities are covered by the mathematics of conic sections and deviations there from, so sooner or later that is what one should come to. Before finding definitely expressible structures In nature we need to consider possible ones. Simply by looking at the sun one sees approximate roundness but what the sun is doing at night in relation to the earth has to be imagined.
Another example of dubious complexity is in primitive religious views, thus the gods and goddesses of India and ancient Greece. From all this, ancient Judaism largely escaped into monotheism, except for some angels and demons, especially the latter, as in Satan. Socrates seemed to accept polytheism, Plato struggled mightily to overcome it, but seemed never fully clear on the topic, even in the Laws, Book 10. The New Testament made much of angels and demons, and seemed to deify a human male person, and to give maleness to God. My only recollection of having a visual image of deity is as a great light, which I took to symbolize love; a "magnified, non-natural man in the sky" (Matthew Arnold), never, so far as 1 know, in my case.
Let us return to the great Charles and the not-to-be-forgotten Alfred, why’ was it two Englishmen who did what they’ did? I see three reasons. For a high probability of making their discovery one had to get out of England and even out of Europe. The farther from the equator one is the fewer the species of plants and animals one can observe in their habitats. Also it is on islands that the most striking evolutionary evidences are found (as in the Galapagos group), and incomparably the most numerous islands are in the tropics. A third reason is that it is not in the tropics where sciences, including biological ones, have flourished but in the North-Temperate Zone. It follows that the discoverers would need financial resources to go to the right far-off places, and these would be more likely’ to be available in an advanced country in which world-wide ventures were customary. The British empire uniquely furnished all these requirements. It furnished something additional: of all the forms of religion then known it was the official Anglican church that was the most open to basic revisions In its view of relations between God as creator and the cosmos of the creatures. With Catholics it was the popes and archbishops, also (until the good Pope John) Thomas Aquinas, that one had to face. With the Protestants it was, in most countries, Luther or Calvin, but England became Protestant by the action of Henry the Eighth, and who in the 19th Century knew or cared about his theological view? In the U.S.A. the Episcopalians, also the Quakers and Unitarians, were similarly free from Dark Age or Medieval beliefs. I personally benefited from all of these post-reformation influences, and never had to fight what is now called "creation science," which for me is mere verbiage so far as anything I ever believed is concerned.
Note too that the ancient Greeks were, like the English, sea-going people, aware of the wide world so far as was then possible. Even the Jews knew about whales, about Egypt and the Africans, as well as the Romans and perhaps a little about the Greeks.
Consider Darwin’s luck in getting his father’s permission, without which he said he would not go, for the voyage on the Beagle. At first Dr. Robert Darwin, the medical father, a domineering but generally kind person, said no, but as his son continued to protest, the Doctor said, if you can get the support of someone whose good sense I respect, I’ll agree. Then -- and how the world should thank him for this -- Uncle Josiah Wedgewood II said, Yes, let him go, and the matter was settled. That uncle is on my list of heroes. By chance he had to mediate a momentous dispute and his unambiguous choice was the right one. So England gave everything that was needed for the evolutionary cause.15
A final fact, this time about American history Why is it left for me to tell a neglected truth about Henry D. Thoreau? I forget how I learned it, but that young friend of R. Waldo Emerson became an evolutionist "immediately" when the Origin reached him. Moreover, he began right away to look for factual evidence to further support and particularize the new view. His premature death was a great loss. This is one more example of how we must partly do our own history of our special subject (or subjects) and not leave this entirely to professional historians. For their work we are all indebted, but we must supplement it with our own investigations or we will pa~’ a price for our neglect. Historians always overlook something and there is no guarantee it will be unimportant. From biology many examples could be given. For one, the territorial function of bird song had to be rediscovered several times before a final discoverer could get the attention of the busy world. The true history of this came to me via a housewife living a few blocks away from my home in Chicago. The lady was Mrs. M. M. Nice, she had lived in Germany for a time and knew the literature of ornithology in at least two languages. She was a highly competent scientist in one of my favorite subjects. By luck I knew her well. My pro-feminist attitude did not need her example; it was settled long before I came to Chicago or knew about her. Masculine stupidity’ on that subject is a deep mystery to me, as is masculine violence and preference for irrational ways of dealing with disagreements. Right now there are hideous examples of it in Bosnia. Alas, what a species is ours.
However, we men sometimes do right things.
I add a less gloomy touch. Mr. Nice was exactly that, a good and I presume competent school teacher of physiology. (if I recollect correctly); he was helpful to his wife in her specialty; not in the least upset, it seemed, by her being the famous member of the family. There are of course such men, an elite minority.
I hope the readers have not forgotten Emily Darwin’s loyal and clearly capable assistance to her husband in the writing of his books. This is one of doubtless many cases of famous writers (and their readers) benefiting from editorial wives. My wife from the outset began to grasp my beliefs and my style at its best and in detail showed me where and how and why it was not at its best. As a successful professional editor she knew (and only a few professionals do not know) better than to try to change the style of an already good writer into someone else’s style, for example, the editor’s, or to make it accord with a rule open to occasional reasonable exceptions. For an example, take Winston Churchill’s "This is an (editorial) interference up with which I will not put."
1. Two manuscripts add: [Darwin] was sometimes afraid, perhaps not wholly wrongly; that his co-discoverer did not go all the way in accepting our human place in the new scheme. He may perhaps have wanted to retain some idea of future human careers in heaven. This needs to be looked into. Three of his books . . .
2. Three manuscripts add: His explanation of the psychosomatic illnesses of the biologist is convincing.
3. One manuscript adds: We are told little about this in the book. Wallace, of course, was on the side of theism, Emma’s position is left somewhat unclear.
4. Three manuscripts read: the ugliness of theism without creaturely freedom . . .
5. In place of "are not friends of religion at its best" two manuscripts read: enemies of religion at its best. One manuscript reads: among the worst enemies of religion at its best.
6. In place of the sentence, "He did much more, he said what Wallace ought to have said but, I gather, did not" one manuscript has: He went well beyond mere acceptance; he said what CD[arwin], had he been even greater than he was, might have in effect said.
7. One manuscript closes here with the following paragraph: Is it not about time some historian recognizes the fact that England produced a third person who did what was not done by Darwin, Wallace, or Huxley; by moving the issue about divine creation beyond the sterility of ultra-simple causal determinism[?] The laws of nature are valid but they’ are not deterministic, they allow for freedom, and so for conflicts and frustrations that are not specifically providential (divine punishments, educational devices, or. . .) but are simply examples of creatures partly making themselves and one another, under the general guidance which insures that symbiosis and mutual helpfulness are as real as self-assertion and predation. My formula is, the risks of harm from freedom are justified by the opportunities for good. With high levels of freedom great harms are possible, with also great benefits. Our species is clearly the best and the worst in its possibilities. We cannot, it seems destroy our solar system but we can this planet and its surface as livable for high animal life; however, the galaxy and the island universes are remarkably safe from our interference. I suspect this separateness of the solar systems and their probable planets is providential. Only God not such as we are can appreciate anything remotely like the wealth of concrete life there presumably is in the vastness that surrounds us. Well did Kant, in one of his best utterances, declare his awe for the starry’ skies, together with the ethical principles by which we, and any other comparably thoughtful animals, should live.
8. One manuscript reads: The Cartesian idea of an animal as just a machine insults not only the elephants and whales, it insults the merest fly or plant cell.
9. One manuscripts inserts a parenthetical comment (or the Gods -- for, like so many of the non-Jewish ancients, Plato had trouble eliminating polytheism).
10. One manuscript includes the following sentence at this point: That is why I take him as fashionable rather than impressive.
11. One manuscript includes the following two sentences at this point: Especially after WWII, or shortly before it, many capable scientists and philosophers left Germany or other European countries, many coming to the U.S.A., or to Canada, Latin America, or Australasia. Some of those who came to the last ended up in my country.
12. Two manuscripts include the following: The small country of England gave the world some great gifts in two or three decades, beginning in 1959 [l859?]. In our present century Julian Huxley, and English mathematician, Fisher, and J. B. S. Haldane (who went to live in South India), with Wright, found needed mathematics for evolutionism, but did nothing much to clarify its religious significance.
13. Two manuscripts introduce the following paragraph as follows: A tragic aspect of the life of Woods occurred before I knew him well; his first marriage was a dismal failure ending in her suicide by jumping off a boat in the Atlantic. He had married an emotionally unstable person hoping to stabilize her. His second marriage, to a mature philosophical lady he came to know in one of his classes, was as happy as the other was miserable. They were a joy to see. Two other cases of this kind were R. M. Hutchins and T. S. Eliot. There were no suicides in the other two cases, but otherwise they were undoubtedly two more examples of unhappy failures followed by happy marital successes.
14. Two manuscripts give a lengthier ending to the paragraph: This has not been said about Whitehead. So on some issues and in two ways, he enables me, not very advanced in mathematics, though in some ways an empirical scientist, to see mistakes in Whitehead. My marriage finally became tragic because of two illnesses of Dorothy’s but this happened only after I had had superlative help for some 55 years. One of my many agreements with Sir Karl Popper is with his statement that worldly fame or success is mostly a matter of luck. Those who deny this are probably much luckier than they know. The first and very important piece of luck, good or bad, is in one’s parents or first caretakers and appreciators. Mine were close to ideal. So were most of my cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, only one of whom I failed to encounter, the paternal grandmother. I went to no mediocre schools or colleges. I just about had to make some discoveries. My medical help has been nearly perfect. My parents lived healthily and used the best medical help they could get. At ninety-six I think and read almost as vigorously as ever though for some years now I have taught no classes and given few talks at meetings. Some of my best discoveries in their best presentations are not in any of my published books. This I hope will soon change.
15. One manuscript has this variation: Then, and how the world should thank him for this, uncle, who believed in evolution in a pre-Darwinian sense, said emphatically, Yes, let him go. That uncle is on my list of heroes. Note too that in the long run the father was helpful financially. England gave all that was needed in that cause.