“The Succession Affair” by Paul Colinvaux
What is the set of “data” (65-6) examined in this essay? What is observed regarding the "natural" growth of plants? What does it mean to say that there are “grand designs in nature”? (66-7) What sorts of scientists tend to hold to such a position?
Why does Colinvaux recount the work of the 19th century American botanist Frederick Clements? (68) How would you describe Clements’ position in light of this essay? What evidence does Clements appeal to in order to defend his view?
What is Colinvaux’s judgment (68) on Clements’ claims? How does Colinvaux argue to defend his position (list the arguments)? (69-74) How would you identify their respective positions? What are the "opportunist" and "equilibrium" species? What is an "umbrella-shaped" tree?
Which of the positions appears most valid to you? Can you explain why you think that position is the better on to hold?
Examine carefully the concluding paragraph of Colinvaux’s essay (74). What is he attempting to do in these final statements? How do they relate to the earlier exposition of his essay?
What relationship does this reading have to the themes of this step of the intellectual journey? To any of Bonaventure’s assumptions?