In Becoming Undone, Elizabeth Grosz addresses three related concepts—life, politics, and art—by exploring the implications of Charles Darwin’s account of the evolution of species. Challenging characterizations of Darwin’s work as a form of genetic determinism, Grosz shows that his writing reveals an insistence on the difference between natural selection and sexual selection, the principles that regulate survival and attractiveness, respectively. Sexual selection complicates natural selection by introducing aesthetic factors and the expression of individual will, desire, or pleasure. Grosz explores how Darwin’s theory of sexual selection transforms philosophy, our understanding of humanity in its male and female forms, our ideas of political relations, and our concepts of art. Connecting the naturalist’s work to the writings of Bergson, Deleuze, and Irigaray, she outlines a postmodern Darwinism that understands all of life as forms of competing and coordinating modes of openness. Although feminists have been suspicious of the concepts of nature and biology central to Darwin’s work, Grosz proposes that his writings are a rich resource for developing a more politicized, radical, and far-reaching feminist understanding of matter, nature, biology, time, and becoming.
The reaction to Darwin's Origin of Species varied in many countries according to the roles played by national scientific institutions and traditions and the attitudes of religious and political groups. The contributors to this volume, including M. J. S. Hodge, David Hull, and Roberto Moreno, gathered in 1972 at an international conference on the comparative reception of Darwinism. Their essays look at early pro- and anti-Darwinism arguments, and three additional comparative essays and appendices add a larger perspective. For this paperback edition, Thomas F. Glick has added a new preface commenting on recent research.
Of paramount importance to the natural sciences, the principles of Darwinism, which involve variation, inheritance, and selection, are increasingly of interest to social scientists as well. But no one has provided a truly rigorous account of how the principles apply to the evolution of human society—until now.
In Darwin’s Conjecture, Geoffrey Hodgson and Thorbjørn Knudsen reveal how the British naturalist’s core concepts apply to a wide range of phenomena, including business practices, legal systems, technology, and even science itself. They also critique some prominent objections to applying Darwin to social science, arguing that ultimately Darwinism functions as a general theoretical framework for stimulating further inquiry. Social scientists who adopt a Darwinian approach, they contend, can then use it to frame and help develop new explanatory theories and predictive models.
This truly pathbreaking workat long last makes the powerful conceptual tools of Darwin available to the social sciences and will be welcomed by scholars and students from a range of disciplines.
Codiscoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace should be recognized as one of the titans of Victorian science. Instead he has long been relegated to a secondary place behind Darwin. Worse, many scholars have overlooked or even mocked his significant contributions to other aspects of Victorian culture. With An Elusive Victorian, Martin Fichman provides the first comprehensive analytical study of Wallace's life and controversial intellectual career.
Fichman examines not only Wallace's scientific work as an evolutionary theorist and field naturalist but also his philosophical concerns, his involvement with theism, and his commitment to land nationalization and other sociopolitical reforms such as women's rights. As Fichman shows, Wallace worked throughout his life to integrate these humanistic and scientific interests. His goal: the development of an evolutionary cosmology, a unified vision of humanity's place in nature and society that he hoped would ensure the dignity of all individuals.
To reveal the many aspects of this compelling figure, Fichman not only reexamines Wallace's published works, but also probes the contents of his lesser known writings, unpublished correspondence, and copious annotations in books from his personal library. Rather than consider Wallace's science as distinct from his sociopolitical commitments, An Elusive Victorian assumes a mutually beneficial relationship between the two, one which shaped Wallace into one of the most memorable characters of his time. Fully situating Wallace's wide-ranging work in its historical and cultural context, Fichman's innovative and insightful account will interest historians of science, religion, and Victorian culture as well as biologists.
Philosopher Daniel Milo offers a vigorous critique of the quasi-monopoly that Darwin’s natural selection has on our idea of the natural world. In popular thought, Darwinism has even acquired the trappings of an ethical system, focused on optimization, competition, and innovation. Yet in nature, imperfect creatures often have the evolutionary edge.
An astute study of Alfred Russel Wallace’s path to natural theology.
A spiritualist, libertarian socialist, women’s rights advocate, and critic of Victorian social convention, Alfred Russel Wallace was in every sense a rebel who challenged the emergent scientific certainties of Victorian England by arguing for a natural world imbued with purpose and spiritual significance. Nature’s Prophet:Alfred Russel Wallace and His Evolution from Natural Selection to Natural Theology is a critical reassessment of Wallace’s path to natural theology and counters the dismissive narrative that Wallace’s theistic and sociopolitical positions are not to be taken seriously in the history and philosophy of science.
Author Michael A. Flannery provides a cogent and lucid account of a crucial—and often underappreciated—element of Wallace’s evolutionary worldview. As co-discoverer, with Charles Darwin, of the theory of natural selection, Wallace willingly took a backseat to the well-bred, better known scientist. Whereas Darwin held fast to his first published scientific explanations for the development of life on earth, Wallace continued to modify his thinking, refining his argument toward a more controversial metaphysical view which placed him within the highly charged intersection of biology and religion.
Despite considerable research into the naturalist’s life and work, Wallace’s own evolution from natural selection to natural theology has been largely unexplored; yet, as Flannery persuasively shows, it is readily demonstrated in his writings from 1843 until his death in 1913. Nature’s Prophet provides a detailed investigation of Wallace’s ideas, showing how, although he independently discovered the mechanism of natural selection, he at the same time came to hold a very different view of evolution from Darwin.
Ultimately, Flannery shows, Wallace’s reconsideration of the argument for design yields a more nuanced version of creative and purposeful theistic evolution and represents one of the most innovative contributions of its kind in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, profoundly influencing a later generation of scientists and intellectuals.
On Fertile Ground
Peter Thorpe ELLISON Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress QP251.E43 2001 | Dewey Decimal 612.6
Reproduction is among the most basic of human biological functions, both for our distant ancestors and for ourselves, whether we live on the plains of Africa or in North American suburbs. Our reproductive biology unites us as a species, but it has also been an important engine of our evolution. In the way our bodies function today we can see both the imprint of our formative past and implications for our future. It is the infinitely subtle and endlessly dramatic story of human reproduction and its evolutionary context that Peter T. Ellison tells in On Fertile Ground.
Ranging from the latest achievements of modern fertility clinics to the lives of subsistence farmers in the rain forests of Africa, this book offers both a remarkably broad and a minutely detailed exploration of human reproduction. Ellison, a leading pioneer in the field, combines the perspectives of anthropology, stressing the range and variation of human experience; ecology, sensitive to the two-way interactions between humans and their environments; and evolutionary biology, emphasizing a functional understanding of human reproductive biology and its role in our evolutionary history.
Whether contrasting female athletes missing their periods and male athletes using anabolic steroids with Polish farm women and hunter-gatherers in Paraguay, or exploring the intricate choreography of an implanting embryo or of a nursing mother and her child, On Fertile Ground advances a rich and deeply satisfying explanation of the mechanisms by which we reproduce and the evolutionary forces behind their design.
On the Organic Law of Change
Alfred Russel Wallace Harvard University Press, 2013 Library of Congress QH375.W35 2013 | Dewey Decimal 508.598
Marking the centennial of Alfred Russel Wallace's death, James Costa presents an elegant edition of the "Species Notebook" of 1855-1859, which Wallace kept during his Malay Archipelago expedition. Presented in facsimile with text transcription and annotations, this never-before-published document provides a window into the travels, trials, and genius of the co-discoverer of natural selection.
In one section, headed "Note for Organic Law of Change"--a critique of geologist Charles Lyell's anti-evolutionary arguments--Wallace sketches a book he would never write, owing to the unexpected events of 1858. In that year he sent a manuscript announcing his discovery of natural selection to Charles Darwin. Lyell and the botanist Joseph Hooker proposed a joint reading at the Linnean Society of his scientific paper with Darwin's earlier private writings on the subject. Darwin would go on to publish On the Origin of Species in 1859, to much acclaim; pre-empted, Wallace's first book on evolution waited two decades, but by then he had abandoned his original concept. On the Organic Law of Change realizes in spirit Wallace's unfinished project, and asserts his stature as not only a founder of biogeography and the preeminent tropical biologist of his day but as Darwin's equal.
The Tinkerer's Accomplice
J. Scott Turner Harvard University Press, 2007 Library of Congress QH375.T87 2007 | Dewey Decimal 576.82
Physiologist Scott Turner argues eloquently that the apparent design we see in the living world only makes sense when we add to Darwin's towering achievement the dimension that much modern molecular biology has left on the gene-splicing floor: the dynamic interaction between living organisms and their environment. Only when we add environmental physiology to natural selection can we begin to understand the beautiful fit between the form life takes and the way life works.
Darwin is credited with discovering evolution through natural selection, but Alfred Russel Wallace saw the same process at work in nature and elaborated the same theory. Dispelling misperceptions of Wallace as a secondary figure, James Costa reveals the two naturalists as equals in advancing one of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time.