Respond to the conclusion of Gould’s essay (paragraphs 28 and 29)

Summary/Response Essay

Length: 5-6 paragraphs

Requirements: Introductory paragraph

Thesis statement (at the end of the introductory paragraph) and topic sentences (beginning each body paragraph)

Concluding paragraph

Your thesis should appear as the last sentence of your introductory paragraph and should state your analysis of the significance of the passage. The majority of your paper will then support your thesis statement and be your response to what you understand to be the significance of the selected passage.

· Respond to the conclusion of Gould’s essay (paragraphs 28 and 29)

Be sure to follow the assignment directions. This assignment asks you to respond, in an argument essay, to a selected passage. In your introductory paragraph, be sure to identify the author and the essay title; indicate and summarize the specific passage you’ve chosen to discuss. For example: “In the concluding paragraphs of Stephen Jay Gould’s essay ‘Nonmoral Nature,’ Gould argues that . . .”

Be sure that your thesis is the last sentence of your introduction and that it states your argument about the selected passage. You will then focus on this argument as you analyze several aspects of the selected passage in the body of your essay.

This is the selected passage:

Since ichneumons are a detail, and since natural selection is a law regulating details, the answer to the ancient dilemma of why such cruelty (in our terms) exists in nature can only be that there isn’t any answer — and that framing the question “in our terms” is thoroughly inappropriate in a natural world neither made for us nor ruled by us. It just plain happens. It is a strategy that works for ichneumons and that natural selection has programmed into their behavioral repertoire. Caterpillars are not suffering to teach us something; they have simply been outmaneuvered, for now, in the evolutionary game. Perhaps they will evolve a set of adequate defenses sometime in the future, thus sealing the fate of ichneumons. And perhaps, indeed probably, they will not.

Another Huxley, Thomas’s grandson Julian, spoke for this position, using as an example — yes, you guessed it — the ubiquitous ichneumons:

Natural selection, in fact, though like the mills of God in grinding slowly and grinding small, has few other attributes that a civilized religion would call divine. . . . Its products are just as likely to be aesthetically, morally, or intellectually repulsive to us as they are to be attractive. We need only think of the ugliness of Sacculina or a bladder-worm, the stupidity of a rhinoceros or a stegosaur, the horror of a female mantis devouring its mate or a brood of ichneumon flies slowly eating out a caterpillar.


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