transmutation

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First, the "savage delight" and desire to internalize the "wildness" represented by the woodchuck "stealing across my path," described at the beginning of "Higher Laws," introduces a transmutationist narrative that runs counter to the more visible progressionist one (210).
Where progressionists argued that the increasing complexity of organisms evident in the fossil sequence reveals a goal-directed ascent (or "progress") toward humankind and the unfolding of a divine plan, transmutationists interpreted the history of life as a material history of genealogical descent down to humankind.