Talk:Asa Gray

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Add external link[edit]

Please add a link to <http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/>, which is editing and publishing all of the correspondence of Charles Darwin. Asa Gray was a significant correspondent of Darwin. Eadp 14:17, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Several of these letters are in the article now. HalfGig talk 16:08, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Gray and Charles Darwin met at Kew, introduced by Joseph Dalton Hooker.[edit]

when? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 193.196.166.161 (talk) 10:02, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

This has been answered. HalfGig talk 16:08, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Working note[edit]

For future use : [1] HalfGig talk 16:07, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

HalfGig talk 20:07, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

Gray and Special Creation[edit]

This passage under “Relationship with Darwin” troubled me because it seemed inconsistent with Gray’s support of Darwin.

Gray strongly objected to the idea of transmutation of species but not special creation. Perceiving law in the universe, he saw all species "that they not only had a Creator but have a Governor".[129].

“Special creation” rules out the ability of natural selection to produce new species. I was not able to consult the book referenced in the note, but I did find something written by Gray that supports his rejection of special creation. Arguing against the “anti-evolution” arguments of Dawson’s The Story of the Earth and Man, Gray clearly rules out “special creation” as an appropriate explanatory argument.

This belief [that evolution is “bad and irreligious”], and the natural anxiety with which [Dr. Dawson] contemplates their prevalence, may excuse a certain vehemence and looseness of statement which were better avoided, as . . . where he despairingly suggests that the prevalence of the doctrines he deprecates "seems to indicate that the accumulated facts of our age have gone altogether beyond its capacity for generalization, and, but for the vigor which one sees everywhere, might be taken as an indication that the human mind has fallen into a state of senility.

This is droll reading, when one considers that the "evolutionist" is the only sort of naturalist who has much occasion to employ his "capacity for generalization" upon "the accumulated facts" in their bearing upon the problem of the origin of species; since the "special creationist," who maintains that they were supernaturally originated just as they are, by the very terms of his doctrine places them out of the reach of scientific explanation.

— Asa Gray, “The Attitude of Working Naturalists Toward Darwinism [VI-1]” original published in The Nation (October 16, 1873) and reprinted in Darwiniana.[1]

I am no expert and came here for basic information. I don’t think I know enough to edit the article, but I am concerned that Gray is being misrepresented. Tpmpmurphy (talk) 02:32, 25 June 2016 (UTC)

Here's exactly what the paragraph says:

He left no doubt that he considered the idea of the transmutation of the species instead of special creation most objectionable both theologically and philosophically. He saw the "unity we perceive in nature" to which "sound science has ever delighted to point, as the proof that all direct handiwork of a single omniscient Creator." He saw law operating in the universe, to be sure, but the regularity with which the species reproduced their like impressed him "that they not only had a Creator, but a Governor". He felt that "abler pens than ours have shown, that the agencies now in operation will not account for the origin of any created thing." To Gray, creation did not limit itself to the beginning of time, and, while admitting that land animals did not appear til a late geologic era, "we are still to be convinced that they were not then created as perfect as they are now." The direct creative agency of the Deity was "the only cause, so far as we yet know, which will account for the facts." Those who "adopt the other view, and carry the principle nec Deus intersit to this length, are bound to show that natural agencies are competent to produce such results as these. The burden of proof rests upon them."

HalfGig talk 01:32, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

Yes, I have to agree that special creation is not what Asa Gray favoured. Agassiz's view that all species were created even with the exact geographic distributions that they now cover, would match that more closely, but Gray is arguing for natural selection being "governed" by a creator. "One, indeed, who believes, from revelation or any other cause, in the existence of such a Creator, the fountain and Source of all things in heaven above and in the earth beneath, will see in natural variation, the struggle for life, and natural selection, only the order or mode in which this Creator, in his own perfect wisdom, sees fit to act."[1] I've attempted to clarify.

Sminthopsis84 (talk) 21:17, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

Thank you very much. HalfGig talk 22:11, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Asa Gray. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, please set the checked parameter below to true or failed to let others know (documentation at {{Sourcecheck}}).

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 09:15, 19 October 2016 (UTC)

Tangential hodgepodge tendency[edit]

One of this article's main authors did not wish to edit down the Dupree biography to its essentials, but rather converted it into this article! Meaning that the wealth of little details normally found in a full-volume biography is not pared down sufficiently to make the narrative which an encyclopedia article requires. Time of death, to the minute, geographic extent of a cemetery, and similar factoids clogged up this article. Anyone who has the time may continue declogging this otherwise useful and interesting article.--Quisqualis (talk) 21:28, 8 November 2016 (UTC)

This has been worked on. HalfGig talk 22:10, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Asa Gray/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: I'll have a go at this. Chiswick Chap (talk · contribs) 09:10, 27 May 2017 (UTC)

Comments[edit]

Lead[edit]

  • The lead is rather short. In particular it doesn't mention (let alone summarize) his contribution to evolutionary thought (something the article body doesn't handle too well either, see below). Needs some expansion, probably after you've addressed the comments below.

Harvard professor[edit]

  • No need for his name in the Whipple photo.

The "Asa Gray disjunction"[edit]

  • What is intended by "Neogene, which is not the "early Tertiary", ..."? Some explanation is missing.
    • IIRC, @Sminthopsis84: helped me with that part. So I'm asking Sminth to chime in, if that's okay. HalfGig talk 12:05, 27 May 2017 (UTC)
      • Won't do her any harm to join in a GAN occasionally!
        •  Done Went back to the academic article and changed this. Can't recall exactly how this happened. HalfGig talk 17:41, 3 June 2017 (UTC)

Later career[edit]

  • "largely promoting Darwinian ideas" ... which he didn't believe in. Hmm?
    • See your Relationship with Darwin section below HalfGig talk 17:45, 3 June 2017 (UTC)

Research regarding the American West[edit]

  • This looks a good place for an illustration or two, how about from Plantae Wrightianae for example? Or Plummera?
    • You already added one that takes up the section. Do you think it'd look ok with another? HalfGig talk 11:07, 27 May 2017 (UTC)
      • Very likely. We can have one left, one right a bit further down.
        • I added one from the area being discussed, the American West, and it seems to fit fine. HalfGig talk 19:49, 27 May 2017 (UTC)
          • No problem with the fit. Of course it'd be nicer to have Gray's own work to illustrate Plummera. Ideally a photo of the herbarium sheet! But the section certainly looks brighter with the examples.
  •  Done HalfGig talk 17:42, 3 June 2017 (UTC)

Relationship with Darwin[edit]

  • "Gray strongly objected to the idea of transmutation of species"; "Agassiz was adamantly opposed to the idea of evolution, whereas Gray was a staunch supporter". Perhaps something needs to be explained here, given the apparent straight contradiction!
    • This has come up before. Please see thread above on the talk page, Talk:Asa_Gray#Gray_and_Special_Creation, especially User:Sminthopsis84's response. Then please let me know what you think. HalfGig talk 14:08, 27 May 2017 (UTC)
      • I'm not asking about special creation, readers will just have to be very attentive to catch that point which is definitely tricky but at least logically consistent (I do think it could be made less confusing, btw), but about 'transmutation of species', i.e. evolution including speciation.
  • species concept ... transmutation of species ... theistic evolution (needs to be wikilinked somewhere) ... pangenesis ... the rather long section seems to me to need some subdivision and reorganisation to point up the major intellectual ideas and their timeline of development in Gray's mind. Perhaps subsections on the Darwin friendship, theistic evolution, maybe more?
    • User:Chiswick Chap...this section is so intertwined, so let's do a sanity check here. I've added the theistic evoluion bit here as that is clearly where Gray stands. Sminth hit it on the head on the talk page on Jan 24th: "Gray is arguing for natural selection being "governed" by a creator. "One, indeed, who believes, from revelation or any other cause, in the existence of such a Creator, the fountain and Source of all things in heaven above and in the earth beneath, will see in natural variation, the struggle for life, and natural selection, only the order or mode in which this Creator, in his own perfect wisdom, sees fit to act."" Let me know what you think at this point. I want to do the lead last. HalfGig talk 18:08, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
That's already better. But when you say "Gray strongly objected to the idea of transmutation of species" you basically need to say when that was, and that he changed his views later, or the section is incomprehensible. Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:25, 3 June 2017 (UTC)
User:Chiswick Chap...I just made one edit. Let's collaborate on the next. I'm not sure Gray ever changed his mind. I think we need to clarify his position better. He seems to object to no genetic connection and hybridization the most. Inputs on wording welcome for next edit. Here are some quotes, all from Dupree:
(p. 217) "Gray formulated in the early '50s (that's 1850s) a clearly concept of a species as the basic unit of taxonomy and as a description of a genuine discontinuity in nature....(species) stood to one another as parent and offspring....as time went on...a true genetic connection between all members of a species, became by far the more important for him...Like breeds like, was his primary article of faith. In comparison, special creation of a species in the beginning was of minor importance. He believed it, yes, but the beginning was lost in the mist, no direct evidence for it existed...crucial for him...was the question...whether one species could undergo a transmuation into another...in one generation...Permanency of present species...seemed to him to be necessary if natural history was to have any meaning" (local conditions can vary)..."but an eventual check was placed on variation by the inability of unlike species to breed together"...(this is what creates the species border)
(p. 218) "he was also a campaigner against the crude kind of popular transmutation theory which made farmers claim they had stalks on which two kinds of grain were growing simultaneously...characteristics of a plant...were determined by the characteristics of an organic ancestor"...(he was opposed to spontaneous generation)
HalfGig talk 11:23, 4 June 2017 (UTC)
So he was a reluctant convert, but all the same he supported and encouraged Darwin, precisely on transmutation. That needs to be said briefly and simply, and then we're complete. All that remains after that is to redo the lead to summarize each section of the article. Chiswick Chap (talk) 11:26, 4 June 2017 (UTC)
Chiswick Chap check edit just made. HalfGig talk 13:02, 5 June 2017 (UTC)

Legacy[edit]

  • Section is a somewhat bitty list - one entry is a five-word sentence. Perhaps group these into themed paragraphs such as 'In his lifetime', 'Posthumous honors'. Those could be subsections.
    •  Done HalfGig talk 11:56, 27 May 2017 (UTC)
      • That does look better.

Works[edit]

  • Please wikilink the co-authors. |authorlink2= etc
  • Personally I find it odd to have "Gray, Asa" in every entry of "Works", as they're all redundant in the context. Why not just have the list bullet and date, except for "with Torrey, John" etc when there are co-authors?

Sources[edit]

  • There are different Darwin Correspondence Project sources with identical text. Please clarify and relabel.
    •  Done HalfGig talk 14:00, 27 May 2017 (UTC)
      • The 1957 one says it's now not linked?
        • Yes. It looks like they combined that and the remaining web page into the new url I dropped in. HalfGig talk 19:34, 27 May 2017 (UTC)

Summary[edit]

I'm satisfied that with these changes the article is well up to the required standard and am happy to award GA status now. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:46, 6 June 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 2 external links on Asa Gray. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 06:10, 10 July 2017 (UTC)