The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin is universally recognised as one of the most important science books ever written. The Origin of Species is also a work of great cultural and religious significance, in that Darwin maintained that all organisms, including humans, are part of a natural process of growth from simple forms. This Companion commemorates the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species and examines its main arguments. Drawing on the expertise of leading authorities in the field, it also provides the contexts - religious, social, political, literary, and philosophical - in which the Origin was composed. Written in a clear and friendly yet authoritative manner, this volume will be essential reading for both scholars and students More broadly, it will appeal to general readers who want to learn more about one of the most important and controversial books of modern times.
With insight and wit, Robert J. Richards focuses on the development of evolutionary theories of mind and behavior from their first distinct appearance in the eighteenth century to their controversial state today. Particularly important in the nineteenth century were Charles Darwin's ideas about instinct, reason, and morality, which Richards considers against the background of Darwin's personality, training, scientific and cultural concerns, and intellectual community. Many critics have argued that the Darwinian revolution stripped nature of moral purpose and ethically neutered the human animal. Richards contends, however, that Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and their disciples attempted to reanimate moral life, believing that the evolutionary process gave heart to unselfish, altruistic behavior. "Richards's book is now the obvious introduction to the history of ideas about mind and behavior in the nineteenth century. "--Mark Ridley, Times Literary Supplement "Not since the publication of Michael Ghiselin's The Triumph of the Darwinian Method has there been such an ambitious, challenging, and methodologically self-conscious interpretation of the rise and development and evolutionary theories and Darwin's role therein. "--John C. Greene, Science "His book . . . triumphantly achieves the goal of all great scholarship: it not only informs us, but shows us why becoming thus informed is essential to understanding our own issues and projects. "--Daniel C. Dennett, Philosophy of Science
Presenting an ardent defence of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, this book offers a clear and comprehensive exposition of Darwin's thinking. Michael Ruse brings the story up to date, examining the origins of life, the fossil record, and the mechanism of natural selection. Rival theories are explored, from punctuated equilibrium to human evolution (including the recently found 'hobbits', Homo floresiensis). The philosophical and religious implications of Darwinism are discussed, including a discussion of Creationism and its modern day offshoot, Intelligent Design Theory. Ruse draws upon the most recent discoveries, writing with a minimum of jargon in order to appeal to all readers, from professional biologists to those concerned that Darwinism is a naturalistic religion that is forced on school children despite their own Christian convictions. Openly revealing his own beliefs, Ruse presents readers with all the information and critical tools they need to make an informed decision on evolutionary theory.
Charles Darwin is easily the most famous scientist of the modern age, and his theory of evolution is constantly referenced in many contexts by scientists and nonscientists alike. And yet, despite how frequently his ideas are evoked, there remains a surprising amount we don't know about the father of modern evolutionary thinking, his intellectual roots, and the science he produced. Debating Darwin seeks to change that, bringing together two leading Darwin scholars--Robert J. Richards and Michael Ruse--to engage in a spirited and insightful dialogue, offering their interpretations of Darwin and their critiques of each other's thinking. Examining key disagreements about Darwin that continue to confound even committed Darwinists, Richards and Ruse offer divergent views on the origins and nature of Darwin and his ideas. Ruse argues that Darwin was quintessentially British and that the roots of his thought can be traced back to the eighteenth century, particularly to the Industrial Revolution and thinkers such as Adam Smith and Thomas Robert Malthus. Ruse argues that when these influences are appreciated, we can see how Darwin's work in biology is an extension of their theories. In contrast, Richards presents Darwin as a more cosmopolitan, self-educated man, influenced as much by French and particularly German thinkers. Above all, argues Richards, it was Alexander von Humboldt who both inspired Darwin and gave him the conceptual tools that he needed to find and formulate his evolutionary hypotheses. Together, the authors show how the reverberations of the contrasting views on Darwin's influences can be felt in theories about the nature of natural selection, the role of metaphor in science, and the place of God in Darwin's thought. Revealing how much there still is to investigate and interrogate about Darwin's ideas, Debating Darwin contributes to our understanding of evolution itself. The book concludes with a jointly authored chapter that brings this debate into the present, focusing on human evolution, consciousness, religion, and morality. This will be powerful, essential reading for anyone seeking a comprehensive understanding of modern-day evolutionary science and philosophy.
Beginning with the lividity of Georges Cuvier at Etienne Geoffroy Saint Hillaire for daring to suggest, in 1830, the anatomical similarity between humans and animals and ending with the current efforts of creationists to discredit Darwinism with scientific-sounding jargon, this work provides an overview of the intellectual debates that have raged between supporters and detractors of Darwin, as well as within the ranks of his adherents (classicists, neo-Darwinists, sociobiologists, etc.) The author summarizes the arguments of the various factions and offers his own assessments of the relative values of the cases.
Thomas S. Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was a watershed event when it was published in 1962, upending the previous understanding of science as a slow, logical accumulation of facts and introducing, with the concept of the "paradigm shift," social and psychological considerations into the heart of the scientific process. More than fifty years after its publication, Kuhn's work continues to influence thinkers in a wide range of fields, including scientists, historians, and sociologists. It is clear that The Structure of Scientific Revolutions itself marks no less of a paradigm shift than those it describes. In Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" at Fifty, leading social scientists and philosophers explore the origins of Kuhn's masterwork and its legacy fifty years on. These essays exhume important historical context for Kuhn's work, critically analyzing its foundations in twentieth-century science, politics, and Kuhn's own intellectual biography: his experiences as a physics graduate student, his close relationship with psychologists before and after the publication of Structure, and the Cold War framework of terms such as "world view" and "paradigm."
A biography of the controversial German evolutionist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919)
In tracing the history of Darwin's accomplishment and the trajectory of evolutionary theory during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most scholars agree that Darwin introduced blind mechanism into biology, thus banishing moral values from the understanding of nature. According to the standard interpretation, the principle of survival of the fittest has rendered human behavior, including moral behavior, ultimately selfish. Few doubt that Darwinian theory, especially as construed by the master's German disciple, Ernst Haeckel, inspired Hitler and led to Nazi atrocities. In this collection of essays, Robert J. Richards argues that this orthodox view is wrongheaded. A close historical examination reveals that Darwin, in more traditional fashion, constructed nature with a moral spine and provided it with a goal: man as a moral creature. The book takes up many other topics--including the character of Darwin's chief principles of natural selection and divergence, his dispute with Alfred Russel Wallace over man's big brain, the role of language in human development, his relationship to Herbert Spencer, how much his views had in common with Haeckel's, and the general problem of progress in evolution. Moreover, Richards takes a forceful stand on the timely issue of whether Darwin is to blame for Hitler's atrocities. Was Hitler a Darwinian? is intellectual history at its boldest.