Weismann, Wittgenstein and the homunculus fallacy

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (3):263-271 (2010)
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Abstract

A problem that has troubled both neo-Darwinists and neo-Lamarckians is whether instincts involve knowledge. This paper discusses the contributions to this problem of the evolutionary biologist August Weismann and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Weismann discussed an empirical homunculus fallacy: Lamarck’s theory mistakenly presupposes a homunculus in the germ cells. Wittgenstein discussed a conceptual homunculus fallacy which applies to Lamarck’s theory: it is mistaken to suppose that knowledge is stored in the brain or DNA. The upshot of these two fallacies is that instincts arise through a neo-Darwinian process but are not cognitions in the sense that they involve knowledge. Although neo-Lamarckians have rightly argued that learning processes may contribute to the development of instincts, their ideas about the role of knowledge in the evolution and development of instincts are mistaken

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References found in this work

Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
The problems of philosophy.Bertrand Russell - 1912 - New York: Barnes & Noble.
Weismann rules! OK? Epigenetics and the Lamarckian temptation.David Haig - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):415-428.
The Homunculus Fallacy.A. Kenny - 1971 - In Marjorie Grene & I. Prigogine (eds.), Interpretations of life and mind. New York,: Humanities Press. pp. 155-165.
Wittgensteinian themes: essays, 1978-1989.Norman Malcolm - 1995 - Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Edited by G. H. von Wright.

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