Darwin’s theory thrust human life into time and nature and subjected it to naturalistic rather than spiritual or moral analysis. Insisting on gradual and regular–lawful–change, Darwinian thought nevertheless requires acknowledgment of chance and randomness for a full explanation of biological phenomena. George Levine shows how these conceptions affected nineteenth–century novelists—from Dickens and Trollope to Conrad—and draws illuminating contrasts with the pre–Darwinian novel and the perspective of natural theology.Levine demonstrates how even writers ostensibly uninterested in science absorbed and influenced its vision. A central chapter treats the almost aggressively unscientific Trollope as the most Darwinian of the novelists, who worked out a gradualist realism that is representative of the mainstream of Victorian fiction and strikingly consonant with key Darwinian ideas. Levine’s boldly conceived analysis of such authors as Scott and Dickens demonstrates the pervasiveness and power of this revolution in thought and sheds new light on Victorian realism.
There has always been a mystery surrounding Darwin: How did this quiet, respectable gentleman come to beget one of the most radical ideas in the history of human thought? It is difficult to overstate what Darwin was risking in publishing his theory of evolution. So it must have been something very powerful—a moral fire, as Desmond and Moore put it—that helped propel him. That moral fire, they argue, was a passionate hatred of slavery.
In opposition to the apologists for slavery who argued that blacks and whites had originated as separate species, Darwin believed the races belonged to the same human family. Slavery was a “sin,” and abolishing it became his “sacred cause.” By extending the abolitionists’ idea of human brotherhood to all life, Darwin developed our modern view of evolution.
Drawing on a wealth of fresh manuscripts, family letters, diaries, and even ships’ logs, Desmond and Moore argue that only by acknowledging Darwin’s abolitionist heritage can we fully understand the development of his groundbreaking ideas.
Charles Darwin’s monumental The Origin of Species, published in 1859, forever changed the landscape of natural science. The scientific world of the time had already established the principle of the “intelligent design” of a Creator; the art world had spent centuries devoting itself to the celebration of such a Designer’s creation. But the language of the book, and its implications, were stunning, and the ripples Darwin made when he rocked the boat spread outward: if he could question the Designer, what effect might there be on the art world, and on mortal designers’ renderings of Creation.
Published in partnership with the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art to accompany its exhibit, this catalog of essays and more than fifty color exhibition plates invokes these two senses of “intelligent design”—one from the debates between science and theology and the other from the world of art, particularly architecture and the decorative arts. The extensive exhibition includes furniture, metalware, glassware, textiles, and designs on loan from public and private collections in the United States and England. Among the artwork included are items from William Morris, C. R. Ashbee, Christopher Dresser, C. F. A. Voysey, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis Sullivan. Through these pieces and the accompanying examinations, the book explores how popular conceptions of the theory of evolution were used or rejected by British and American artists in the years that followed Darwin’s publication.
Upon its publication, The Origin of Species was critically embraced in Europe and North America. But how did Darwin’s theories fare in other regions of the world? Adriana Novoa and Alex Levine offer here a history and interpretation of the reception of Darwinism in Argentina, illuminating the ways culture shapes scientific enterprise.
In order to explore how Argentina’s particular interests, ambitions, political anxieties, and prejudices shaped scientific research, From Man to Ape focuses on Darwin’s use of analogies. Both analogy and metaphor are culturally situated, and by studying scientific activity at Europe’s geographical and cultural periphery, Novoa and Levine show that familiar analogies assume unfamiliar and sometimes startling guises in Argentina. The transformation of these analogies in the Argentine context led science—as well as the interaction between science, popular culture, and public policy—in surprising directions. In diverging from European models, Argentine Darwinism reveals a great deal about both Darwinism and science in general.
Novel in its approach and its subject, From Man to Ape reveals a new way of understanding Latin American science and its impact on the scientific communities of Europe and North America.
With exoplanets being discovered daily, Earth is still the only planet we know of that is home to creatures who seek a coherent explanation for the structure, origins, and fate of the universe, and of humanity’s place within it. Today, science and religion are the two major cultural entities on our planet that share this goal of coherent understanding, though their interpretation of evidence differs dramatically. Many scientists look at the known universe and conclude we are here by chance. The renowned astronomer and historian of science Owen Gingerich looks at the same evidence—along with the fact that the universe is comprehensible to our minds—and sees it as proof for the planning and intentions of a Creator-God. He believes that the idea of a universe without God is an oxymoron, a self-contradiction. God’s Planet exposes the fallacy in thinking that science and religion can be kept apart.Gingerich frames his argument around three questions: Was Copernicus right, in dethroning Earth from its place at the center of the universe? Was Darwin right, in placing humans securely in an evolving animal kingdom? And was Hoyle right, in identifying physical constants in nature that seem singularly tuned to allow the existence of intelligent life on planet Earth? Using these episodes from the history of science, Gingerich demonstrates that cultural attitudes, including religious or antireligious beliefs, play a significant role in what passes as scientific understanding. The more rigorous science becomes over time, the more clearly God’s handiwork can be comprehended.
Born on the same day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were true contemporaries. Though shaped by vastly different environments, they had remarkably similar values, purposes, and approaches. In this exciting new study, James Lander places these two iconic men side by side and reveals the parallel views they shared of man and God.
While Lincoln is renowned for his oratorical prowess and for the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as many other accomplishments, his scientific and technological interests are not widely recognized; for example, many Americans do not know that Lincoln is the only U.S. president to obtain a patent. Darwin, on the other hand, is celebrated for his scientific achievements but not for his passionate commitment to the abolition of slavery, which in part drove his research in evolution. Both men took great pains to avoid causing unnecessary offense despite having abandoned traditional Christianity. Each had one main adversary who endorsed scientific racism: Lincoln had Stephen A. Douglas, and Darwin had Louis Agassiz.
With graceful and sophisticated writing, Lander expands on these commonalities and uncovers more shared connections to people, politics, and events. He traces how these two intellectual giants came to hold remarkably similar perspectives on the evils of racism, the value of science, and the uncertainties of conventional religion.
Separated by an ocean but joined in their ideas, Lincoln and Darwin acted as trailblazers, leading their societies toward greater freedom of thought and a greater acceptance of human equality. This fascinating biographical examination brings the mid-nineteenth-century discourse about race, science, and humanitarian sensibility to the forefront using the mutual interests and pursuits of these two historic figures.
First published in 1974 as a companion volume to Darwin on Man by Howard E. Gruber, Paul Barrett’s transcriptions of Darwin’s M and N notebooks served to shed new light on the evolutionist’s methods and motivation.
According to Stephen Jay Gould in the New York Times Book Review, “Darwin kept [these notebooks] primarily in 1838, when he was 29 years old. In them, he recorded his early conviction of evolutionary continuity between humans and all other animals. . . . These notebooks display all the features of humanistic intellect that his detractors denied. We find erudition in his comments on Plato, Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Whewell, Burke, Montaigne, Lessing and Spencer. . . . We appreciate an artistic bent in his delight with nature and her prophet Wordsworth. . . . We grasp the breadth of his bold attempt to clothe all human thought and behaviour in a new evolutionary garb. . . . Charles Darwin was reconstructing the world and he knew exactly what he was doing.”
Grosz develops her argument by juxtaposing the work of three major figures in Western thought: Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Henri Bergson. She reveals that in theorizing time as an active, positive phenomenon with its own characteristics and specific effects, each of these thinkers had a profound effect on contemporary understandings of the body in relation to time. She shows how their allied concepts of life, evolution, and becoming are manifest in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Luce Irigaray. Throughout The Nick of Time, Grosz emphasizes the political and cultural imperative to fundamentally rethink time: the more clearly we understand our temporal location as beings straddling the past and the future without the security of a stable and abiding present, the more transformation becomes conceivable.
Evolutionary theory ranks as one of the most powerful concepts of modern civilization. Its effects on our view of life have been wide and deep. One of the most world-shaking books ever published, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, first appeared in print over 130 years ago, and it touched off a debate that rages to this day.Every modern evolutionist turns to Darwin’s work again and again. Current controversies in the life sciences very often have as their starting point some vagueness in Darwin’s writings or some question Darwin was unable to answer owing to the insufficient biological knowledge available during his time. Despite the intense study of Darwin’s life and work, however, many of us cannot explain his theories (he had several separate ones) and the evidence and reasoning behind them, nor do we appreciate the modifications of the Darwinian paradigm that have kept it viable throughout the twentieth century.Who could elucidate the subtleties of Darwin’s thought and that of his contemporaries and intellectual heirs—A. R. Wallace, T. H. Huxley, August Weismann, Asa Gray—better than Ernst Mayr, a man considered by many to be the greatest evolutionist of the century? In this gem of historical scholarship, Mayr has achieved a remarkable distillation of Charles Darwin’s scientific thought and his enormous legacy to twentieth-century biology. Here we have an accessible account of the revolutionary ideas that Darwin thrust upon the world. Describing his treatise as “one long argument,” Darwin definitively refuted the belief in the divine creation of each individual species, establishing in its place the concept that all of life descended from a common ancestor. He proposed the idea that humans were not the special products of creation but evolved according to principles that operate everywhere else in the living world; he upset current notions of a perfectly designed, benign natural world and substituted in their place the concept of a struggle for survival; and he introduced probability, chance, and uniqueness into scientific discourse.This is an important book for students, biologists, and general readers interested in the history of ideas—especially ideas that have radically altered our worldview. Here is a book by a grand master that spells out in simple terms the historical issues and presents the controversies in a manner that makes them understandable from a modern perspective.
A radical abolitionist and early feminist, Francis George Shaw (1809–1882) was a prominent figure in American reform and intellectual circles for five decades. He rejected capitalism in favor of a popular utopian socialist movement; during the Civil War and Reconstruction, he applied his radical principles to the Northern war effort and to freedmen’s organizations.
A partnership with Henry George in the late 1870s provided an international audience for Shaw’s alternative vision of society. Seeking the One Great Remedy is the biography of this remarkable and influential man. In compelling detail, author Lorien Foote depicts the many aspects and exploits of the Shaw family. Their activities provide a perspective on the course of American reform that calls into question previous interpretations of the reform movement of this period.
Francis George Shaw is perhaps best known as the father of Robert Gould Shaw, subject of the movie Glory. Francis and his wife, Sarah Blake Shaw, achieved considerable notoriety for their activities, including their effort to shape public opinion during the Civil War. Turning the tragic death of their son into a public relations and propaganda triumph, they altered Northern opinion about the war and shaped a historical perception of the famous Massachusetts Fifty-fourth that continues today.
Seeking the One Great Remedy argues that social radicalism was pervasive among elite reformers before and after the Civil War and finds in the dramatic story of Francis George Shaw a model of that cause.
Being human while trying to scientifically study human nature confronts us with our most vexing problem. Efforts to explicate the human mind are thwarted by our cultural biases and entrenched infirmities; our first-person experiences as practical agents convince us that we have capacities beyond the reach of scientific explanation. What we need to move forward in our understanding of human agency, Paul Sheldon Davies argues, is a reform in the way we study ourselves and a long overdue break with traditional humanist thinking.
Davies locates a model for change in the rhetorical strategies employed by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species. Darwin worked hard to anticipate and diminish the anxieties and biases that his radically historical view of life was bound to provoke. Likewise, Davies draws from the history of science and contemporary psychology and neuroscience to build a framework for the study of human agency that identifies and diminishes outdated and limiting biases. The result is a heady, philosophically wide-ranging argument in favor of recognizing that humans are, like everything else, subjects of the natural world—an acknowledgement that may free us to see the world the way it actually is.
Charles Darwin is often credited with discovering evolution through natural selection, but the idea was not his alone. The naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, working independently, saw the same process at work in the natural world and elaborated much the same theory. Their important scientific contributions made both men famous in their lifetimes, but Wallace slipped into obscurity after his death, while Darwin’s renown grew. Dispelling the misperceptions that continue to paint Wallace as a secondary figure, James Costa reveals the two naturalists as true equals in advancing one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time.Analyzing Wallace’s “Species Notebook,” Costa shows how Wallace’s methods and thought processes paralleled Darwin’s, yet inspired insights uniquely his own. Kept during his Southeast Asian expeditions of the 1850s, the notebook is a window into Wallace’s early evolutionary ideas. It records his evidence-gathering, critiques of anti-evolutionary arguments, and plans for a book on “transmutation.” Most important, it demonstrates conclusively that natural selection was not some idea Wallace stumbled upon, as is sometimes assumed, but was the culmination of a decade-long quest to solve the mystery of the origin of species.Wallace, Darwin, and the Origin of Species also reexamines the pivotal episode in 1858 when Wallace sent Darwin a manuscript announcing his discovery of natural selection, prompting a joint public reading of the two men’s papers on the subject. Costa’s analysis of the “Species Notebook” shines a new light on these readings, further illuminating the independent nature of Wallace’s discoveries.
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