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inheritance). But one can readily go to Spencer's own words to see that this was not the case (e.g., Spencer, 1882). Spencer did not oppose natural selection, he thought it was an important evolutionary mechanism, but he did not think it was suitable as a first principle, or that it was an "explanation" for evolution, and this was principally because he did not view evolution in the very narrow sense of contemporary Darwinism.

Evolution for Spencer was a universal process of spontaneous ordering or self-organization with biological or organic evolution as a component process, or special case. "Evolution", wrote Spencer (1862, p. 215), "is a transformation of the homogeneous into the heterogeneous, the indefinite into the definite, or the transformation of the incoherent into the coherent [the less ordered into the more ordered]", and this universal process which he called the "law of evolution" is the same"[w]hether it be in the development of the Earth, in the development of life upon its surface, in the development of society...[f]rom the earliest traceable cosmical changes down to the latest results of civilization" (Spencer, 1857, p. 10). The study of evolution for Spencer was first and foremost a search for the nomological basis for this universal ordering, and clearly natural selection did not provide such a basis since it was simply a particular mechanism, the particular kind of dynamics, entailed in a particular kind of ordering (viz., "replicative ordering" e.g., see Swenson, 1991b, 1992, 1996). Rather than explaining evolution, natural selection, on the Spencerian view, was a mechanism that was part of a process that awaited the right universal principles to explain it. Natural selection on the Spencerian view, in different terms, rather than explaining evolution or biological ordering was something that waited to be explained by a general evolutionary theory that put it in the context of universal ordering.

Revolutions are defined by replacing one theoretical core with another, and the Darwinian Revolution was about replacing the theory of evolution as a universal ordering process with a theory about biological ordering following from natural selection. The revolution, or change in core assumptions, hinged entirely on the redefinition of the term evolution and with it the scope of the evolutionary discourse. Without this redefinition the revisonist claim that with natural selection Darwin had discovered the explanation for evolution can not possibly hold since natural selection does not explain evolution defined in the general or universal sense. Implicit in the Darwinian definition of the evolutionary discourse is a positive heuristic promoting the idea of the autonomy of biology from physics (Swenson & Turvey, 1991), and a negative heuristic against universal principles. The idea that the history of evolutionary theory effectively began with the publishing of Darwin's Origin in 1859 at which point he convinced the world of the fact of evolution and at the same time explained it with the mechanism of natural selection is a revisionist account by contemporary Darwinism