-1

In Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, volume 2, In LIFE AND LETTERS OF CHARLES DARWIN Volume 2, Darwin was writing a letter to his friend about a difficulty regarding "sexual selection":

My difficulty is, why are caterpillars sometimes so beautifully and artistically coloured? Seeing that many are coloured to escape danger, I can hardly attribute their bright colour in other cases to mere physical conditions. Bates says the most gaudy caterpillar he ever saw in Amazonia (of a sphinx) was conspicuous at the distance of yards, from its black and red colours, whilst feeding on large green leaves. If any one objected to male butterflies having been made beautiful by sexual selection, and asked why should they not have been made beautiful as well as their caterpillars, what would you answer?

I think that it means "like", but I found that it is rarely used in such a sense in comparison to using it in the sense of "in addition to", does it really mean "like"? Because I can't understand the contradiction between the objection and the question; he objects to the existence of something, and then asks why shouldn't this very thing exist?

7
  • 1
    I find the usage very peculiar. It's obvious that logically, the point Darwin is making is that someone might suggest that since "sexual selection" is irrelevant as regards beautiful / gaudy caterpillars (because caterpillars don't have sex! :) there's no reason why we should assume sexual selection is the reason for beautiful male butterflies. That's to say, the meaning of the highlighted text must surely be ...and asked why they couldn't have been made beautiful for the same reason as their caterpillars. In short - I think Darwin's phrasing is quirky and/or out of date. Sep 26 '21 at 16:54
  • 1
    (It's also peculiar because most people today probably think of caterpillars as being on a par with "ugly ducklings" - the immature forms are seen as "plain, unattractive" compared to the adult butterfly / swan. But Darwin's observation is absolutely predicated on the idea that the caterpillar is at least as attractive as the adult butterfly it will become.) Sep 26 '21 at 17:01
  • @FumbleFingers That makes sense. Sep 26 '21 at 17:04
  • 1
    I'd find it perfectly natural if the text had simply ended with ...and asked why should [butterflies] not have been made beautiful likewise, but I can't see any way to shoehorn as their caterpillars in alongside likewise. Sep 26 '21 at 17:26
  • 1
    Don't worry. I am not suggesting you can't re-post what you've asked on WR. But it'll be helpful if you include a link to your WR post in your future questions.
    – Eddie Kal
    Sep 26 '21 at 20:43
-1

'As well' means also, too.

For example:

I invited all my employees, as well as their families.

Your example is asking why should a species of butterfly not be beautiful and its counterpart caterpillar be beautiful, too.

4
  • Thanks for your answer, but I think that he has already admitted they are being beautiful, and just objected the means, i.e "sexual selection", so he can't admit that they are beautiful and in the same time asks why they are not beautiful, so he just asks "why they are not beautiful, by the same means as their caterpillars. Oct 4 '21 at 10:22
  • @AhmedSamir No, that isn't correct. Why ask the question if you believe you already have the correct answer? Butterflies mate, caterpillars do not. There would be no need for a caterpillar to have attractive colours for sexual selection. The point of this statement is considering how one would answer a question from a person who did not accept sexual selection as the reason for a butterfly having bright colours. That particular question is why a butterfly AND its caterpillar should not be similarly attractive?
    – Astralbee
    Oct 5 '21 at 8:02
  • I'm not sure of the correct answer, but the previous comment just gave me a hint. @Astralbee Oct 6 '21 at 10:48
  • So, given that this imaginary questioner only objected to the reason of beauty, because the caterpillars are already beautiful without this reason, he asks about why should the butterflies, too, not have been made beautiful without this reason? Oct 6 '21 at 11:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .