斉一説に関する学説史的考察 -その変容, 謬説, 現代的意義- A Historical View of Uniformitarianism : Change, Misconceptions and the Modern Meaning

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斉一説は160年の長期間にわたり使用されてきた言葉である.その意義は地質学・地形学の進歩に対応して変容してきた.同時に斉一説に関する多様な誤記・謬説が生み出されてきた.本稿では,斉一説の意義を歴史的に整理して,誤記・謬説のルーツを追いながら誤りを訂正し,斉一説の現代的意義について考察した.その結果,「斉一説」という用語は,歴史的用語として,初期の斉一説に限定して使用すべきことを主張した.また,それ以後の斉一説(方法論的斉一説など)は科学一般に採用されるべき常識的な考えになってしまっている.今日,斉一説を唱えることは時代錯誤になっている状況を概説した.

(1) “Uniformitarianism” has been used as a term in the geological sciences for 160 years, but its meaning and significance have been changing and confused. The author outlines uniformitarianism in this article, and suggests that it is already a historical concept. He proposes that “uniformitarian-ism” should be used for the original meaning as advocated by Lyell in the early 19th century. He cor-rects the misconceptions and errors in Japanese textbooks and dictionaries, and adds some notes on James Hutton, Géorge Cuvier and William Buckland, some of whose achievements have been ignored or misunderstood.<br> (2) Lyell's early adovocation of unitormit-y in the first edition of “Principles of Geology” (later called substantive uniformitarianism) successfully excluded traditional preconceptions, but it is not safe to say that uniformitarians won the controversies against catastrophists. Lyell's uniformitarian-ism was a theory or a hypothesis implying that the magnitude or intensity of forces that operated on the earth in the past are almost the same as those now in operation. This theory discouraged uni-formitarians from accepting the glacial theory advanced by catastrophists such as Agassiz and Buckland.<br> (3) Uniformitarianism has borne a number of meanings in a long history, and thus various mis-understandings have resulted. Progress in geology in the middle of the 19th century made the con-cept of original uniformitarianism flexible, and it developed into an inductive method, later called “methodological uniformitarianism.” This new inductive method was thought to be applicable to past geological phenomena. But it is impossible to explain the controversies between the uniformitarians and the catastrophists in the early 19th century in relation to methodological uniformitarianism, be-cause they were debating whether the earth's surface had developed throughout gradual processes, as we see now, or through episodic catastrophic events between stable periods. This is a preparatory question before discussing if geological phenomena on the present earth surface can safely be as-sured to have occurred throughout geological history.<br> (4) The main root of the misconceptions or errors surrounding uniformitarianism today is the mis-taking of the later developed methodological uniformitarianism for the original concept of substan-tive uniformitarianism. The term “uniformitarianism” has been held as a tenet for over a century. Un-derlying the controversies among geological scientists was another conflict between science and Chris-tianity (theology), in the 19th century. Geologists in Europe needed to persist in advocating uniform-itarianism although the meaning had changed. This social background different from Japan seems to have led them to errors in explaining the controversies in the early 19th century by methodological uni-formitarianism.<br> (5) The past environments which produced present landforms were not always uniform. Land-forms on the earth were formed through changes in Pleistocene environments, and in general are poly-genetic. It is not correct to estimate that the Catastrophic theory having proposed for mosaic land-forms in the early 19th century is unscientific.<br> We now know about magnetic inversion, and have discussed the possibility of a worldwide cataclys-mic event caused by the impact of a gigantic meteorite. We should be aware of having already lost ground if we conclude that it is unscientific to speculate about such worldwide catastrophic events as Cuvier and Buckland proposed.<br> (6) “Uniformitarianism” is already a historical term. The meaning should be limited to the origi-nal usage, as Whewell (1832) did in designating “the Uniformitarians” and “the Catastrophists.” It is in-adequate to call “uniformitarianism” an inductive methodology in geological sciences.

収録刊行物

  • 地理学評論. Ser. A

    地理学評論. Ser. A 68(8), 527-549, 1995-08

    公益社団法人 日本地理学会

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    10002429624
  • NII書誌ID(NCID)
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    Z8-571
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