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Additional resources for [Article] Beyond Use, within Reason: Adorno, Benjamin and the Question of Theology

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Lastly, the tail, which is in this case much used for supporting the animal and carrying out its chief movements, has acquired an extremely remarkable thickness and strength at its base. 13 Evolution and Creationism These well-known facts are surely quite sufficient to establish the results of habitual use on an organ or any other part of animals. If on observing in an animal any organ particularly well-developed, strong, and powerful, it is alleged that its habitual use has nothing to do with it, that its continued disuse involves it in no loss, and finally, that this organ has always been the same since the creation of the species to which the animal belongs, then I ask, Why can our domestic ducks no longer fly like wild ducks?

These repeated efforts must have resulted in its claws reaching a size and curvature which would have greatly impeded them in walking or running on stony ground: in such cases the animal has been compelled to make further efforts to draw back its claws, which are so projecting and hooked as to get in its way. From this there has gradually resulted the formation of those peculiar sheaths, into which cats, tigers, lions, etc. withdraw their claws when they are not using them. Hence we see that efforts in a given direction, when they are long sustained or habitually made by certain parts of a living body, for the satisfaction of needs established by nature or environment, cause an enlargement of these parts and the acquisition of a size and shape that they would never have obtained, if these efforts had not become the normal activities of the animals exerting them.

What effect would this discovery have, or ought it to have, upon our former inference? What, as hath already been said, but to increase, beyond measure, our admiration of the skill, which had been employed in the formation of such a machine? Or shall it, instead of this, all at once turn us round to an opposite conclusion, viz. that no art or skill whatever has been concerned in the business, although all other evidences of art and skill remain as they were, and this last and supreme piece of art be now added to the rest?

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