from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Derivation of a species or type from more than one ancestor or germ cell.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The genesis of a species from more than one ancestor.
- n. The theory that living organisms originate in cells or embryos of different kinds, instead of coming from a single cell; as opposed to monogenesis.
- n. The theory that languages developed independently in different places at different periods, as opposed to originating from a single source.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. The theory that living organisms originate in cells or embryos of different kinds, instead of coming from a single cell; -- opposed to
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- In biology, generation or origination from several separate and independent germs; the doctrine that organisms took rise from cells or embryos of different kinds.
- n. Origination or derivation from more than one species, or, in a very restricted sense, from more than one pair: contrasted with monogenesis. Compare polyphylesis.
The Modern Synthesis replaced "one gene – one trait" with "one gene – one enzyme", then added polygenesis and pleiotropy.
For example, militant nativist Euro-Americans, who first arose in the late 1730s, believed in polygenesis, asserting that the Master of Life engineered separate creations of Europeans, Africans, and Indians and placed them on different continents.
David Hume's position on the conflict between polygenesis versus monogenesis is the subject of some scholarly debate.
Eventually staying on and making his career in America, and continually struck by the physical character of African Americans, Agassiz officially announced his turn to polygenesis at the 1850 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Charleston, South Carolina.
Although the Catholic Gobineau initially espoused monogenesis, he later leaned towards polygenesis and ended up ambivalent on this issue
This may or may not be tied into debate about the genesis of pidgins, with one school of thought claiming there was a single source (monogenesis) and one arguing that pidgins arose separately (polygenesis) (a second battle is over substrate, superstrate, or bio-program, a glossary to figure out the terminology is here)
Furthermore, when he states that the (later so-called) Indo-European languages have a “stronger affinity” than could be produced by accident, he takes sides in another popular controversy, namely that of possible polygenesis.
He did not think he was seeing the gradual improvement of the human species, but assumed rather the polygenesis theory: the different races arose from separate divine creations and were designed with a range of quality.
Go check out the views known as monogenesis and polygenesis that appear as scientific cover for a growing view of white supremacy that did not exist prior to the 1800's.